Jace*, 19, from Newcastle attended Triple Care Farm in Semester 1 of 2012. Jace has graduated from Outbound after successfully completing the program.
At the time of his referral, Jace was a homeless young man living in a men’s shelter, queuing up each night to get a bed and meal. He had never seen a Psychologist, but he had sporadically engaged in some counselling. Jace was referred to Triple Care Farm by Wesley Mission, after seeking help for methamphetamine use. Jace had tried to quit many times on his own, however during the withdrawal period, anxiety and paranoia affected his mental health so severely that he would go back to using.
Jace also had a gambling problem which made it impossible for him to save enough money to get a place of his own. He wanted to live independently, but was stuck living night to night in a men’s shelter, having to carry all his possessions in his backpack everywhere he went. If he didn’t get to the shelter in time to get a bed for the night, Jace would sleep on the trains. Jace was feeling hopeless and helpless, and had thoughts of suicide. Drug use was making his life unbearable.
“I want it [drugs] out of my life. I’ve been in a loop for years, from crisis to crisis. I want to make a change.”
Jace’s methamphetamine use was leading him to feel paranoid and anxious. When he felt like this, he displayed a pattern of aggression and violence, and this behaviour had isolated him from education, employment and housing options. His relationship with his mother and step-father deteriorated, and he was only seeing his mother in her 20 minute lunch breaks at work a couple times a month. Jace’s father had a terminal illness and alcohol dependence and the relationship was very strained. Jace’s only support was from the men’s shelter.
“When I first started the program it was very nerve racking and confronting to be coming to a drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation program, however I knew that it was necessary.”
In the program at Triple Care Farm, Jace displayed a pattern of paranoia and anxiety in his withdrawal period. Once this subsided, the staff noticed patterns in his mood. These patterns were identified as an untreated diagnosis of Bipolar disorder. The team worked with Jace on understanding his mental health, and the need for counselling and medication. Jace found it hard to accept a diagnosis, but through the encouragement to make his own choices, Jace eventually agreed to treatment.
“I knew that I had to change my attitude and my action.”
The GP and psychologist treated his Bipolar Disorder, and educated him about the links between mental health, drug use, mood, sleep, medication and a healthy lifestyle. Jace attended the gym and boot camp regularly and learnt strategies to manage distress and relationships in groups. He attended our ‘Links to Learning’ program to enhance his employability through improvements in his literacy, numeracy, and job seeker skills. Jace completed his bobcat and forklift licences, a short course in contemporary Café Skills and a Certificate II at TAFE. While at Triple Care Farm, Jace finalised his year 10 equivalent. He had actually done most of the work before, but didn’t know how to gain a copy of his certificate. Support from his case manager meant that Triple Care Farm could advocate for Jace to complete his certificate and receive recognition for his prior learning.
Jace is currently in the Triple Care Farm, ‘Stepping Out: placement and aftercare’ program. He is linked in with supported semi-independent accommodation in Newcastle. He has his own apartment which he shares with another young man; he is attending further education in hospitality and is currently on a work experience trial in a café.
Jace is stable on his medication and sees his doctor regularly; he says this has totally changed the way he thinks and feels. Jace is linked into St Vincent de Paul, who help him maintain the progress he has made. Triple Care Farm continues to provide case management and practical support with Jace’s material needs, like phone credit when he is looking for work, furniture for his new apartment and telephone support.
“Triple Care Farm has completely changed the way I think. I now care about my future and, with having my year 10 equivalent, now I have a lot more opportunities when it comes to further education.”
The Triple Care Farm ‘Stepping Out’ program will support Jace in his transition back to the community for a further 6 months. Jace is due to graduate from the program in December 2012, with his family planning to attend the annual graduation ceremony to cheer him on and celebrate Jace’s new lease on life.
* Name has been changed to protect identity