With his cat, TK, underfoot, and the time and space to focus on his art and talk with friends on the phone, Dan is finding social distancing rather pleasant. Thanks to LOFT’s unfaltering support, he’s in a good place these days. But that was once far from true.
Dan lives with schizophrenia, and coupled with a drug addiction, he struggled to function, often experiencing homelessness and spending time in jail.
Lacking the mental health supports he desperately needed, Dan was living at a shelter 13 years ago when he was accepted into LOFT’s Mental Health and Justice Initiative.
This donor-supported program changed Dan’s life. With the help of LOFT staff, Dan has developed strategies to manage negative thoughts and approach challenges with mindfulness. Over time, he’s come to understand he can’t change others, but he can control his behaviour. “I can only work on me alone,” he explains. Transitioning to a new case worker recently has been especially helpful. “He’s been wonderful,” says Dan. “I can relate to him.”
Practicing gratitude has been a big help, and Dan actively works to reframe negative narratives utilizing the 90-second rule (after the initial physiological response to a trigger, you can change your emotional response). “In 90 seconds, the negative thoughts will be gone,” he explains. “I take a deep breath, identify the thought, and let it go.”
To pay it forward, Dan shares the 90-second rule with other LOFT clients, helping them cope with their negative thoughts and mental illness. Before the pandemic, he also contributed by volunteering as a co-facilitator of art classes.
While he’s mostly doing well these days, there are ups and downs associated with his mental health. But Dan notes LOFT’s ongoing support has made such a difference in his life. “It’s been incredible. I have nothing but gratitude to LOFT.”
LOFT’s Mental Health and Justice Initiative provides supportive housing and intensive case management services for individuals with serious mental illness and recent or current involvement with the criminal justice system.
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