Personal Stories

At her Wit’s End

Jennifer has friends with children who have benefited from The Brien Center’s services, so when she found herself desperate for help with her own daughter’s psychiatric crisis, she knew where to turn. “I have a beautiful 13-year-old daughter who has thrown some pretty tough challenges at me since she was about six or seven years old,” Jennifer explains. “To be honest, I did not think I could get through it. My daughter suffers from some mental illness and behavioral issues. These issues did not just happen overnight. They started when she was very young.”

What began as isolated incidents of Jennifer’s daughter acting out physically against her younger siblings, as the girl grew up, the behavior problems grew exponentially with each passing year. By 12 years of age, the girl was not only physically harming Jennifer’s other children repeatedly and losing time at school, but she started spreading dangerous rumors that could have snowballed out of control. The situation progressed to the point that her daughter was admitted to the Crisis Stabilization Unit for children at Mercy Medical Center’s in Holyoke for 10 days. It was only when Jennifer and her daughter were connected to a Family Partner at The Brien Center for intensive care coordination that her daughter and she made real progress.

“If I was not given the Family Partner that I was, and she did not come into my home to help me and my daughter when she did, I don’t know if my daughter would be home today or that we would be a complete family. [The Family Partner] brought out things in me that I did not know I had in me, helping me be a better mother, have patience, and understand that my daughter’s problems are not my fault nor her fault. She just needs love, consistency, reassurances, and structure. I am proud to be a Brien Center success story, because they have helped me keep our daughter at home. If they can help us, they can help anyone.”

When people suffer from mental health and addiction disorders, evidence shows that community-based treatment and services can improve outcomes people of all ages, and that they are effective in preventing or reducing out-of-home placements. The Brien Center’s Community Services focus on the power of the larger community to positively impact a person’s care, growth and recovery.

Living an Independent Life

Amy has been a client of the Brien Center for 27 years. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 20 years of age, Amy found her way to The Brien Center while she was suffering a manic episode. She has since been diagnosed with co-occurring disorders, including depression.

“I have had a lot of different therapists throughout the years,” Amy said. “I want to say how much The Brien Center has impacted my life and helped me get to where I am today.”

In addition to receiving treatment from Brien Center clinicians for her diagnosed disorders, Amy is an active participant in the Wellness, Recovery and Employment program, which provides real-world skills development opportunities as well as a sense of being an integral member of a nurturing community. With the help of her therapist and these programs, has been living independently for 27 years, and she has achieved goals that she previously only dreamed of achieving.

“I am on the board of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and I do public speaking for them as part of their “In Our Voice” program. And I started driving last October and I have my own car, which was a huge goal of mine. I just want to thank the Brien Center for all their assistance.”