Mom finds relief and hope for troubled daughter in Buckelew’s Supported Housing programs

– Amy, client’s parent

Amy is her daughter’s champion.

It’s always been that way. From grade school and long into adulthood, Amy always tried to be there for Joanna. Although, Amy never imagined she’d need to be such a resourceful and fierce advocate for so many decades.

This is the story of how Amy finally found relief and support for her daughter – and for herself.

Joanna is Amy’s only daughter. At an early age, Joanna and her brother, close in age, were diagnosed with learning disabilities. Joanna also was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome.

Throughout grade school, Amy says, she lobbied for supports for her children and worked with them to make sure they graduated high school. But by the time Joanna reached her late teens, she’d begun exhibiting concerning and difficult behaviors. At 18, Joanna became pregnant. The birth was followed by severe postpartum depression and psychosis soon after.

Parents can be relentless advocates for a struggling child. Amy says she did everything in her power to help her daughter access the treatment and services she needed. All the while, Amy also was parenting her new grandbaby.

Joanna entered a supported housing program and began doing better. But after leaving the program she became involved with a boyfriend who Amy says was abusive and encouraged substance use that exacerbated Joanna’s mental health symptoms. For the next six years, Joanna moved in and out of emergency rooms and programs. She was frequently non-compliant about medication and treatment.

Amy became increasingly frustrated by her inability to compel Joanna to follow programs that could help stabilize her mental and physical health. Joanna was over 18, a legal adult, so Amy was often cut out of her daughter’s care team, even though as a parent and a nurse she knew her daughter’s health history best.

Most heart-wrenching was her feeling of helplessness while her daughter’s health declined. She couldn’t stop worrying that Joanna’s life was at risk.

Then in 2020, Joanna was referred to Buckelew’s Casa Rene, a short-term crisis residential center also known as a “Client Choice Hospital Prevention” program. The 10-bed facility in Marin is an innovative alternative to psychiatric hospitalization. Casa Rene clients typically stay 30 days and receive individualized, whole-person care – meals, medication management, support with independent living skills, intensive case management, social rehabilitation groups, therapeutic activities, creative arts and support with co-occurring issues.

Amy says Casa Rene was a turning point for Joanna.

The services and care Joanna received, and the way staff coordinated with Joanna’s doctors and included Amy, made the difference. Amy remembers with gratitude how the case manager and staff were steadfast and strong advocates for her daughter.

When Joanna completed treatment at Casa Rene, the team there recommended her for Buckelew’s Marin Assisted Independent Living (MAIL) program, where she would continue receiving case management, medication compliance support and learn independent living skills. Transition to the MAIL program offered a warm hand-off within Buckelew’s continuum of care system, where clients can move to programs with lower levels of care as their recovery progresses.

Thanks to Case Rene and MAIL, Amy says, she and her daughter finally had a holistic team on their side – a team that truly saw and heard both of them.

“Everyone is on board” with Joanna’s treatment, Amy explains. The Buckelew staff makes sure Joanna takes her medications and supplements for her mental health and co-occurring physical health conditions. “Now she’s getting all her health on track.”

Amy speaks proudly of her daughter’s hard-earned progress in recovery. Joanna recently received her certificate to become a peer provider, and her mom is optimistic about her future.

“Because of Buckelew,” Amy says, “My daughter’s going to be fine.”

Amy knows she’ll be fine, too. As parents of adults who live with a chronic mental illness know, self-care often takes a backseat to their loved ones’ crises. But now Amy is planning a vacation in nature, something she hasn’t been able to do in a long while and doesn’t take for granted.

“I’m going on a vacation! Because of Buckelew, I know Joanna is safe in her program.”