Most Mental Health Center (MHCGM) employees are aware that we offer services to homeless people in our catchment area but how is this accomplished? One way is through the PATH Homeless Outreach Specialist position. But what is PATH?
SAMHSA provides PATH grant funding to programs in all US states and territories. The purpose of PATH is to outreach, engage and deliver services to eligible persons who are homeless and have serious mental illnesses. There are over 600 local organizations across the United States that offer PATH services. New Hampshire has 7 programs, 6 of which are housed within community mental health centers.
The MHCGM PATH program is housed in the ES Department and focuses on providing outreach and engagement services to eligible individuals in order to assist them obtain mental health treatment. This entails providing a wide range of services in order to build trust. A homeless person becomes enrolled in the PATH program when deemed eligible due to their homelessness and serious mental illness. An electronic record is then started in the Homeless Management Information System. Services are provided as a means to engage the person with the ultimate goals of them entering into treatment with MHCGM and finding housing. Services may include assistance with applying for benefits and housing assistance programs. Transportation is provided to intake appointments. In most instances, once clients become open cases of MHCGM, they are closed from the PATH program and services are then provided by the case management team to which they are assigned. In addition, the Homeless Outreach Specialist can assist MHCGM case managers with locating and getting messages to their clients who are experiencing homelessness. The Homeless Outreach Specialist also acts as a liaison between homeless service providers and MHCGM staff.
The Homeless Outreach Specialist finds homeless individuals in different ways. The area homeless shelters and homeless service providers refer individuals who they think may need mental health services. The Homeless Outreach Specialist meets with these individuals to screen for eligibility into PATH services. The meeting can take place at the referring agency, during office hours at New Horizons or any other location that is convenient and comfortable for the homeless individual, including campsites. The Homeless Outreach Specialist also takes part in joint street outreach efforts with Child and Family Services Street Outreach Team, The Mobile Community Health Team’s outreach nurses, and New Horizons outreach case manager. Outreach is provided in parks, various campsites scattered throughout the city, or anywhere else homeless people might stay.
The 2016 Point in Time homeless count, conducted on January 27th, counted 400 homeless persons in Manchester on that day, 54 of whom were unsheltered. 124 persons were reported to have a serious mental illness. In FY 2016, the Homeless Outreach Specialist had contact with 155 homeless individuals, 147 of whom became enrolled in the PATH program. 88 of those be-came open cases of MHCGM, which is a 60% engagement rate.
Please contact me at (603) 668-4111 ext. 8620 with any questions about services available to the homeless.