As a young adult living with schizophrenia, Amika struggled every day to trust others and make social connections, even with her family. The feeling of isolation was crushing. Paranoia was ever-present, which made focusing on school a nearly impossible task. Hearing voices and unable to make friends, Amika was desperate to beat her illness—she would no longer let it control her life. After many visits to hospitals and trying different programs, she found LifeWorks NW.
Amika started in the Transition Age Youth (TAY) program. TAY is a program designed for older adolescents and young adults who are moving out of the children’s mental health system and into adult mental health services. It targets individuals with complex needs who may be transitioning out of the state hospital, residential treatment, juvenile correction facilities, intensive outpatient programs or local hospitals. Its goal is to assist individuals to become as independent as possible, while reaching developmental milestones such as independent housing, education, employment and development of social relationships.
Involvement in TAY helped Amika re-integrate herself in society. “They got me out of the house and going on outings. They helped me get into the community rather than sheltered in the house all day long. I also did a yoga group and it helped me relax…I joined the Supported Employment Program with the goal of finding my first job.” Amika also transitioned into the Alta Program, which provides therapy, case management, skills training, support and treatment for individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, and other mood disorders. The program also provides supported employment services to qualified clients and employers.
All of Amika’s hard work in TAY, Alta and the Supported Employment Program paid off; she landed her first job at Fred Meyer in January of 2018, has made lasting friendships with co-workers, and continues to gain self-esteem through her involvement in the community. “I think the confidence I gained from work influenced me to try college. I started my first college class at Clackamas Community College this summer (2018). Also, because I have been so active since starting work I have lost 50 lbs. I am now considering the idea of learning to drive and saving to buy a car.”
Amika continues to participate in Supported Employment and the Alta program. Looking to the future, there’s no telling the success Amika will achieve with her newfound confidence and the life skills she has gained.