Maintaining sobriety during a pandemic can be challenging— in fact, statistics show that mental health problems and substance use issues have increased during COVID-19. However, with help from Father Joe’s Villages Behavioral Health Services and state-certified Addiction Treatment & Education Center, Kimberly has remained addiction free and is working towards her goals for a better future.
Mental Illness and Substance Use Increase Nationwide Due to COVID-19
After Kimberly lost her housing she was forced to live on the streets of downtown San Diego until seeking shelter at Father Joe’s Villages. There, she was welcomed with open arms and moved into a room at the Joan Kroc Center.
Once she had a secure roof over her head, Kimberly was able to focus on her mental health and subsequent
substance use issues. She sought treatment through Father Joe’s Villages’ state-certified Addiction Treatment & Education Center (ATEC), a program dedicated to helping individuals struggling with substance use disorders and homelessness achieve their goals. With the help of ATEC’s knowledgeable Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Counselors, Kimberly gained the tools she needed to move towards sobriety.
Now, though 2020 has been a year of hardship for so many, Kimberly has a lot to celebrate. Not only is she a proud new mom to a healthy baby girl, she has been substance free for over a year. Remaining sober during a pandemic is no easy feat— in fact, statistics show that mental health problems and substance use issues have increased during COVID-19. According to a Census Bureau survey, more than one-third of Americans have displayed clinical signs of anxiety, depression, or both since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Individuals like Kimberly who are dealing with substance use disorders are particularly vulnerable during these uncertain times. Stress from social isolation and other COVID-19 related life changes can lead to relapse for those who are in recovery. Due to nationwide shutdowns and physical distancing measures, many mental health facilities are having to turn people in need away, reducing available treatment options. Add poverty and homelessness to the list of stressors and the chance of a successful recovery can seem almost impossible.
ATEC Counselors Continue to Assist Those Experiencing Homelessness
That’s why Kimberly is grateful she found Father Joe’s Villages and has a safe place to stay at a time when she knows so many other people are struggling. At a time when many homeless individuals are worried about being forgotten or abandoned, the staff at Father Joe’s Villages’ continue to show up each day to help those in need.
“Anytime I have an issue with substance abuse or mental health or anything, the staff [at Father Joe’s Villages] is always right there for me. Even now, through all this, I can pick up the phone and call them,” Kimberly says.
ATEC Counselors have adjusted to new physical distancing protocols by offering individual or group sessions virtually during COVID-19. Kimberly and her ATEC Counselor have a scheduled call once every two weeks so they can discuss her goals for the future. It comforts Kimberly to know that support is only a phone call away.
“My ATEC Counselor calls and asks how I’m doing,” she says. “When I told her I was going stir crazy at first when everything shut down, she told me to try exercise because it was good for my mental health and will take my mind off everything. I did and she was right. I didn’t feel restless anymore.”
A Reliable Support System at a Stressful Time
Additionally, Father Joe’s Villages’ Behavioral Health Services program continues to provide a therapeutic
and safe environment for people experiencing homelessness and behavioral health challenges. Our team of
licensed clinical social workers and psychologists have moved to meeting with patients over the telephone to provide therapy sessions that help people in need manage their mental health.
After enduring an abusive relationship and living on the streets, Kimberly began suffering from PTSD and depression. Her Licensed Behavioral Health Clinician calls her weekly to ensure she’s coping with the stress of the pandemic.
“I feel like I can openly talk about my issues. Before, I was scared to talk to anybody about how I was feeling or what I was thinking. But my Behavioral Health Counselor actually really listens to me and doesn’t judge me. I’m not used to that.”
Although they operate as separate teams, ATEC Counselors and the Behavioral Health Clinicians work together to provide seamless services to clients who need mental health and substance use disorder treatment. For Kimberly, just knowing she has a support system and that she isn’t alone during this difficult time is enough to keep her strong.
“I’m glad I have Father Joe’s Villages,” she says. “There’s probably no words to describe how they’ve helped me. They really go out of their way to try and help people.”
Are you looking for resources for substance use disorders or mental health treatments in San Diego? Check our Get Help page here >>