Mental Illness and Poverty: Magnifying Challenges in Times of Crisis

Health crises like the coronavirus pandemic impact us all. But, those who live with serious mental illnesses face unique challenges in times like this. Not only can uncertainty and fear trigger worsening of symptoms, but lack of access to things like healthy food, shelter and medical care can lead to a higher risk of illness.

The poverty faced by many who deal with life-altering mental health conditions plays a major role in magnifying the challenges of health crises. Below are several ways that those living with mental illnesses are especially impacted by lack of resources in times like these. Continue reading

A WELL WORLD: Lessons Learned in Uncertain Times

During these uncertain times, when all routines are disrupted and we have more questions than answers, I find it helpful to consider the plight of others to keep from focusing only on my own challenges. In a recent conversation with our Board Chairman, Jeff Lane, we talked about social distancing and social isolation. He had some great insights on how these relate to members of The Well, so I’ve asked him to share them with you.

Alice Continue reading

The End of Over a Decade of Homelessness

After suddenly losing his job over a decade ago, Anthony felt something inside him break. He soon found himself homeless, sleeping in a park or abandoned building. He recalls the street as a place where everyone wants to be somewhere else, but no one knows how to move away from their present situation. Continue reading

Housing in the Pursuit of Stability

So often, the challenges of housing insecurity and the struggles of living with mental illness compound one another. The daily issues faced by those without stable housing situations make it difficult for them to pursue mental health stability; likewise, dealing with a mental health condition can impede their ability to take steps toward more stable living conditions. Housing is truly a foundational issue in addressing the difficulties faced by those living with serious mental illnesses. Continue reading

A Well World: Continuing the Conversation

Just a few short years ago, it would have been hard to imagine that famous figures ranging from musicians to athletes would be openly sharing how they’ve wrestled with mental illness. We’ve made great progress as a society in increasing awareness of mental health conditions and tearing down the stigma that often surrounds them.

Yet, this stigma still overshadows the suffering of the one in five Americans who live with mental illnesses. Continuing to dispel misconceptions and negative attitudes requires keeping the conversation going, and I’m grateful for the many celebrities and everyday folks alike who are leading the charge. Continue reading

Talking About Stigma With Michelle Staubach Grimes

Last year on World Mental Health Day, when Michelle Staubach Grimes, daughter of Dallas Cowboys legend Roger Staubach and author of two popular children’s books, saw several people speaking out online about the difficulty of dealing with mental illness, she decided to do the same. It was an easy decision, she says, because she had little to lose, and she wanted to help normalize mental illness for the sake of those who are often stigmatized for it. While Michelle has struggled with mental health challenges since childhood—particularly acute anxiety and depression—until then she’d kept her struggles private. Continue reading

Speaking Differently and Speaking Up: Progress in the Fight Against Stigma

Our society has come a long way in the fight against stigma in recent years! An American Psychological Association poll revealed that 87% of American adults agreed that having a mental health disorder is nothing to be ashamed of. This is something to celebrate as acceptance of mental illness plays a big role in helping those who live with these conditions obtain the support they need to pursue mental health stability.

But, there’s still much progress to be made. A 2019 CBS News Poll found that while nearly eight in 10 people believe that mental illnesses are real medical conditions and over two thirds say that anyone can struggle with these conditions, negative attitudes about mental illness are far from being extinguished. An overwhelming majority of respondents—nearly nine in 10 people—think there is at least some stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness in society today. Continue reading

A Well World: The Integral Role of Interns

Creating community takes a team.

Here at The Well, we’re able to provide a place to belong for those who live with serious mental illnesses because of the efforts of many. Our dedicated staff members oversee numerous programs and provide case management services to help our members manage ongoing challenges. Our volunteers give of their time, energy and talents to prepare and serve meals, lead members in worship, teach life skills and more; and our donors’ faithful generosity allows us to continue to open our doors day after day.

Likewise, our interns play an integral part in serving our members. They come engaged, interested and ready to be involved. And, because the schools where they’re studying disciplines such as social work and psychology send such well-prepared students, they’re truly a part of our team. Continue reading

Serving The Well Through an Administrative Social Work Internship: Valencia Jefferson

Administrative social work intern Valencia with two Well Community members

Over and over, we see how internships at The Well Community truly benefit interns and members alike. University of Southern California Master of Social Work intern Valencia Jefferson has experienced these two-way rewards while attending to the behind-the-scenes tasks at The Well.

While working toward a master’s degree in social work with a concentration in administration at the University of Southern California (USC), Valencia Jefferson realized she would need to complete an internship before graduation. She asked her professors for a recommendation, and they pointed her in the direction of The Well Community, which had an opening for a graduate social work intern at the time. Valencia had grown up in the Dallas area, so spending a year in Oak Cliff seemed a good fit. She interviewed at The Well last spring, and for the past eight months has been working there as a graduate social work intern with an administrative focus. Continue reading

Internships at The Well: Benefiting Students and Members

Director Alice Zaccarello, Ericka Ruiz and Gemma Cardenas, with UTA interns

Program Coordinator Gemma Cardenas understands the benefits of The Well Community’s internship program firsthand, not only from her role in supervising the students who participate, but from her own time as an intern. “It gave me the opportunity to apply everything that I had learned at school,” she recalls, adding that serving at The Well was vastly different from merely hearing about mental health in a classroom. “I learned so much from being here, so much more than from a textbook. It gave me a lot of confidence as well.” Continue reading