Matt was homeless, depressed, and out of options. A random day on a park bench changed it all.
Matt had struggled with mental health issues, including depression and bipolar disorder, since his teen years. Being abused by a clergy member while in high school only caused more pain and despair. His parents had always been supportive, and got him the treatment he needed, including some bouts of hospitalization. As an adult, Matt married, had children, and set about finding his way in life.
But things didn’t quite work out.
Even as he climbed, it felt as if the rungs of the ladder were falling out from beneath him, one at a time. His aging parents became sick and moved to an assisted-living facility. His marriage began to fall apart. He was forced to leave his house. He lost his car. His father passed away. The money for motels ran out.
Finally, he became homeless. “I would never wish that on anyone,” Matt says, remembering the awfulness of the situation. “All I had in the world was the bag on my back.”
Homeless, he made the rounds of shelters, but the days stretched before him. He would often sit at Washington Park. One afternoon, a member of the GCBHS Homeless Team approached Matt and took the time to talk with him. “That day changed my life,” Matt says.
Matt had never had care management before. He didn’t even know what services were available. Once he had someone in his corner, helping him connect with the resources he needed, the rungs of the ladder appeared before him again. First, GCBHS helped him get an apartment. He also began seeing Dr. Tracey Skale. “She is the best doctor in Cincinnati. She listened to me, and she honestly cares,” Matt says. Not only did Matt get the therapy and medication to help him work through his depression and other mental health issues, he also used GCBHS vocational services to find a job. Though Matt gets some disability income (he did the work himself to file all the necessary paperwork), he is allowed to work. “My motto is: you can’t help those who don’t help themselves. I wanted to work.”
“GCBHS gives people the tools they need to be independent and self-sufficient.”
He now lives in a two-family house and works for the owner of a flower shop. He sees his kids (now teenagers) regularly, and takes great pride in his job—which he loves and looks forward to each day.
Matt knows that his disability and struggles with mental health are part of who he is—but they don’t need to determine what he can do. GCBHS didn’t swoop in and solve everything. But the homeless team, his care manager, the vocational department, and especially Dr. Skale did something very, very crucial: they cared. “They sat down with me and listened to my story. That saved my life,” he says.
Matt doesn’t know what’s in the future. Currently, he’s battling thyroid cancer. But his attitude stays positive. He has the tools to cope now. He dreams of someday moving south to a warmer climate, going to the ocean every day, and settling down with someone. “Who knows?” he says with a smile. He likes thinking about the possibilities. Mostly, he likes feeling empowered—and for that, he is eternally grateful to GCBHS.
“GCB gives people the tools they need to be independent and self-sufficient,” he says. “They have the right people here, who honestly care, and can be instrumental in your life.”