By focusing their attention and resources on women in need in the Phoenix area, Hope Women’s Center can respond to changing needs from women in their community.
The sheer urgency of the material and medical needs of vulnerable populations often leaves an important aspect of individuals’ wellbeing—mental health—to the wayside. But as Hope Women’s Center, a Phoenix-based nonprofit for women in crisis, poverty, and abuse has discovered through the launch of its “Hope Heals” counseling program, mental health care can be a truly life-transforming experience for many.
Launched in October 2020, “Hope Heals” is an inspired response to the increased need for mental health support for Hope Women Center’s clients during the height of the pandemic, when many were siloed from their support networks or subject to greater abuse from their spouses and partners. Building on the success of the Center’s long-standing “Hope Empowers” program, which pairs women with highly-trained, trauma-informed volunteer mentors, “Hope Heals” takes support a step further for women who need extra care.
Hope Center staff and volunteers—all trained in detecting signs of mental distress—refer the Center’s clients to the program, which involves an intake and a total of eight to twelve sessions with a licensed therapist who provides each woman with crisis counseling, trauma assessment, and expert support. Sessions are hosted in-person in Hope’s Phoenix offices, or via telehealth in the facilities of Hope’s five other Arizona locations. No matter the format of the session, women are provided with everything they need to get the most out of their time, like childcare, quiet rooms, laptops, and Wi-Fi. Most importantly, perhaps, they’re also given the opportunity to process their experiences in a secure, safe space: one where they’ve already built a secure relationship of trust with volunteers and staff.
Hope Women’s Center offers women an additional avenue for care through the Hope Heals Support Group. Led by Hope’s licensed therapists, the group serves as a helpful transition into or out of individual counseling and promotes the nurturing of healthy and safe support systems. As the Hope Heals program expands, Hope plans to expand support groups across its six locations through the assistance of counseling interns.
In the first six months of the Hope Heals program, 21 women have benefited from crisis counseling sessions, and 95 women have participated in crisis counseling groups facilitated by the program’s therapist.
The hurdles to accessing mental health care in underserved communities—from a scarcity of providers who accept Medicaid, to long waitlists, to stigma and fear around the practice of therapy itself—can be nearly insurmountable for an individual experiencing a mental health crisis. By integrating appropriate interventions, counseling, and access to long-term care resources into their existing wraparound services for women in need, Hope Women’s Center has removed significant barriers to an indispensable form of health care for their clients.
Hope Women’s Center is a flagship example of a nonprofit stepping up creatively, nimbly, and attentively to serve the needs of its community. With their local focus, Hope is not endeavoring for “systemic change,” but they are touching and healing several women near their homes—and every life they serve is of ultimate value.
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