Our peer-led and peer staffed Polaris Transition Team partners with SAMHSA, Oregon Health Authority, and the Washington County Forensic Team to provide peer-based transition support for individuals exiting the Oregon State Hospital Community Restoration Services under the “370” designation, which means they are in various stages of determination for fitness for a court trial. This critical mental health work is made possible through funding provided by the Oregon Health Authority through grant-based SAMHSA funds. Referrals began in the Fall of 2022.
This is a new and creative program that highlights the ever-growing recognition that peer support services are a crucial part of our service offering.
William joined Polaris in September at the Northwest Regional Re Entry Center (NWRRC) and was immediately enthusiastic about sharing his life story and dreams with the world. A year prior William had been experiencing houselessness and trauma, which impacted his mental health significantly due to the challenges of living in an unstable and often unsafe environment. During this period of time he was charged with menacing an individual and found unable to aid and assist in his own defense, which resulted in him going through the Washington County Jail and Oregon State Hospital before coming to NWRRC.
After meeting with Polaris and having long discussions about goals of his, William realized he wanted to give back to the community, particularly to those who have experienced houselessness as he did. He mentioned he had never met people who had mental health conditions like him that were able to use their lived experience to support others. Feeling inspired and driven, he asked Polaris to help him set up volunteering placement at a drop-in mental health center he frequented while awaiting a judgment from the Court. William went through the process of getting connected with WorkSource Oregon with Polaris’ guidance, and is hoping to find a job, as well as permanent housing.
As of October 2022, William had been found “Able” and the judge has permitted him to continue giving back to the community and work with the staff on the Polaris team to find housing that is right for him, as well as work on his goal of one day becoming a Peer Support Specialist. We are so proud of William’s progress to achieve his goals! Follow this link to read an additional account of William’s story posted by our partner HereTogether Oregon.
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