SOAR Voices

 

Achieving Positive Outcomes, Focusing on Recovery: The Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program at 7hills

Guest post by SAMHSA's Program to Achieve Wellness. This article was originally posted in SAMHSA's Program to Achieve Wellness' Winter 2017 Newsletter.

Seven Hills Homeless Center (7hills) has three main goals: 1) to mitigate immediate crisis and stabilize the housing situation; 2) to address mental and physical health issues by connecting to VA benefits and other community resources; and 3) to provide education and case management support to promote financial, social, and environmental success. And, this Arkansas nonprofit is making strides to achieve each one of these goals. Through their personal case management style and urgency toward prioritizing housing, 7hills is reinstating dignity, hope, and power for our country’s veteran families. For this reason, among others, 7hills received Honorable Mention in SAMHSA’s 2016 Recognition of Excellence in Wellness for Outstanding Integration of Recovery Supports.

7hills works toward their goals while operating a Supportive Services for Veterans Families grant. Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) is a nationally recognized, community-based grant program that was started by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). According to the VA, the SSVF program’s purpose is to provide supportive services grants to private non-profit organizations and consumer cooperatives who will coordinate or provide supportive services to very low- income Veteran families. 7hills, and the efforts put forth through its SSFV grant, were worthy of acknowledgement in the 2016 Recognition of Excellence in Wellness for their innovative, intense, and interactive person-centered case management style that is both highly effective and easily replicable.

7hills achieves SSVF goals while keeping the focus on recovery. 7hills case managers work with people they serve on issues related to housing, physical health, mental health, and substance use – infusing recovery practices into their work. The emphasis on recovery-oriented efforts has proven meaningful in this project, where outcomes illustrate the benefit of this approach. When a veteran enters the 7hills SSVF program, he/she completes an “Outcome Star,” developed to measure progress toward self-reliance and many other goals. The Outcome Star is broken down into several categories, including but not limited to Money Management, Employment, Mental Health, Substance Use, Housing Stability, Physical Health, and Support Network. Each person at 7hills reevaluates his/her Outcome Stars at 90 days after entry into the program and again upon exiting the program. From those Outcome Stars measured over a recent six month period, the efforts of the program demonstrated a 20% increase in Money Management, an 11.71% increase in Employment, an 11% increase in Mental Health Engagement, a 2% increase in Substance Use Treatment Engagement, a 20% increase in Housing Stability, a 12.4% increase in Physical Health, and a 22.8% increase in the Support Networks.

Supporting the financial wellness goals of individuals served through this program, all 7hills SSVF case managers have completed SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) training. This training allows case managers to assist individuals who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness and have a mental illness, medical impairments, and/or a co-occurring substance use disorder to apply for the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) disability programs: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). To learn more about SOAR, visit SAMHSA's SOAR Technical Assistance Center website at https://soarworks.prainc.com/.

These are much-needed efforts, as recent data indicate that more than 1.3 million veterans received specialized mental health treatment from the VA for mental health related issues in 2011. And, there were an estimated 40,000 Veterans experiencing homelessness on a single night in January 2016. In Northwest Arkansas, 7hills has provided respite and offered valuable services to hundreds of families, including 126 households served in fiscal year 2015.

SAMHSA’s Program to Achieve Wellness is pleased to congratulate 7hills, once again, for receiving Honorable Mention in the 2016 Recognition of Excellence in Wellness.

We would like to thank Charity Stillings at Seven Hills Homeless Center for taking time to talk with the Program to Achieve Wellness about their programs, achievements, and challenges. For more information about their work, please visit http://7hillscenter.org/.

To learn more about the Recognition of Excellence in Wellness, visit the Program to Achieve Wellness website. A call for applications for the 2017 Recognition will be announced in May 2017 as part of National Mental Health Month; winners will be announced in September 2017 as part of SAMHSA’s National Wellness Week.

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The views, opinions, and content expressed in SOAR Voices do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors.