Behavioral Health: A Powerful Piece of the Reentry Puzzle

Over 60% of prisoners in the US have been diagnosed with mental health challenges.*

Incarceration, which can include prolonged periods of isolation and exposure to violence, can intensify mental health challenges. Even those who receive support while in prison face significant challenges in their efforts to successfully reenter the community when they release.

Sponsors Reach-In visits to meet with individuals in prison can be a first glimmer of hope for folks who are serving sentences in Oregon. Sara is one of these individuals. At the beginning of her three-year prison sentence, she was unable to imagine a life that would ever feel safe or stable. Then she met someone from Sponsors during a Reach-In meeting, and suddenly a path forward began to appear. As her release date approached, Sara eagerly applied for and was accepted into Sponsors Transitional Housing Program. When her release date arrived, Sara was afraid. But she pushed past her fear. She knew she was ready to begin confronting the challenges that she believed partially led to her incarceration.

Once she arrived at Sponsors, Sara was matched with a volunteer mentor who helped her get comfortable engaging in healthy social activities and hobbies. This might not sound like a big deal, but for Sara, it was a dramatic shift. She discovered that engaging in healthy activities lessened her stress and anxiety. She could finally envision a future free from crime and addiction. Sara began working with a Sponsors’ counselor and engaged in Neurofeedback Therapy. She also started attending a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Group.

Today, Sara is doing much better. She still experiences mental health challenges, but she finally feels like she is on a path to a better life. Sara continues to see her counselor and reach out to her mentor when she needs support.

Sponsors began integrating tailored mental health services into reentry programs in 2018. And with the generous support of friends like you, we continue to ensure folks like Sara have access to the compassionate support needed to begin their paths forward.

*US Department of Justice