A Visit to the Village: Lessons in Recovery by Jacquie Hernandez, MSW student

The 2015-2016 Mental Health Training Program (MHTP) Stipend Recipients had the pleasure of joining Professor Candy Elson in visiting The Village, an adult integrated services recovery program that is a part of Mental Health America of Los Angeles. The agency is a recovery oriented agency that focuses on meeting clientsMHTP village where they are and assisting them during their recovery process.

The mission statement of The Village is “to assist people with mental illnesses, recognize their strengths and power to recover and achieve full participation in community life,” as well as, “to encourage system-wide adoption of the practice and promotion of recovery and wellbeing.” The way they do this is through an ACT team. All clients are assigned to a team in which all persons in the team are part of the client’s recovery which is tailored to the client’s needs whether those needs be basic skills like grocery shopping or individual/group therapy. They also have education and employment programs for clients who want to return to school and/or obtain employment.

The agency utilizes 4 levels of the building they are housed in. The top level is mostly staff and a conference room. Most of this area is where staff can do charting and other admin tasks. The 3rd level is where the ACT teams are. There are both offices and a big open area where staff sit to meet with clients but the interesting thing is clients can utilize these desk when they are empty to do paperwork, fill out job application, etc. On the 2nd floor is where the administrative offices are and “The Deli” which is a café in the building. The Deli and client run café in which clients are employed and learn basic job skills in the food industry. They also have a bank where clients can cash their checks without having to visit a bank within the community. The 1st floor is the drop-in center. This is where any homeless person can drop in to get a few pieces of clothing from the clothing closet, take a shower, do their laundry for free and use this address to receive their mail. It’s a very different and innovative program.

This agency is different from other agencies I’ve visited. They are very open with their clients and they make sure the clients feel like they are part of the agency as a whole. As we toured the agency, you could see how comfortable the clients were with all the staff members. Everyone knew each other’s names and interacted in a very casual way. At times, you couldn’t tell who was a staff member and who was a client as the attire the staff wear is laid back and causal.

Overall, the visit to The Village was a very rewarding experience. It gave insight as to what it means to meet the client where they are and what a recovery based agency can accomplish with the recovery based and client centered approach. For more information please visit, http://mhavillage.squarespace.com/.