Grantee: RECLAIM (formerly University Beyond Bars)
Timeframe: October 2023 – September 2024 | Amount: $30,000
To shift the mental health disparities that formerly incarcerated community members face, RECLAIM will pilot three projects that offer free services to individuals who have been released from prison and their loved ones. RECLAIM understands that when it comes to a person’s mental, emotional, and relational wellness, one-size does not fit all. Therefore, the strategy is to pilot and provide the following projects that provide our communities with access to mental health services:
- Peer Counseling: RECLAIM will sub-contract 3 formerly-incarcerated community members to become peer counselors to those in the midst of their own reentry transition. Peer Counselors will complete a 60 hour training to become certified WA state Peer Counselors through WA State Health Care Authority and complete a training on Black Mental Health & Healing Justice for Peer Supporters from BEAM (Black Emotional & Mental Health Collective). Research consistently shows that many formerly incarcerated participants prefer peer support in a trusted community setting instead of one-on-one therapy in a clinical or outpatient environment. RECLAIM believes Peer Counselors, who share lived experiences with the prison system and their own mental health challenges, will be the most effective support. To mitigate secondary trauma, each Peer Counselor will be paired with a certified mental health practitioner who will act as coach and support system while they serve our participants.
- Community-Based Family Support Group: RECLAIM will provide formerly incarcerated individuals and their loved ones a place to connect on a regular basis with other families experiencing similar transitions. RECLAIM will subcontract with three formerly incarcerated community members to be Peer Facilitators and conduct ten support group sessions. Peer facilitators will complete a training on Black Mental Health & Healing Justice for Peer Supporters from BEAM. RECLAIM is filling the absence of mental health support groups for families impacted by incarceration that are organized by facilitators with similar experiences. It gives a space for communities impacted by incarceration to bring issues out of isolation and build a practice of collective mental wellbeing.
- Professional Mental Health Practitioner Support: RECLAIM will broaden their pool of mental health providers prepared to support individuals experiencing reentry and increase access to therapeutic resources. RECLAIM will continue partnerships with Darkness Rising Project (an organization that provides therapy for formerly incarcerated individuals of color) and the Therapy Fund Foundation (an organization focusing on providing therapy to the Black community). Both organizations offer between 8-10 free therapy sessions and RECLAIM will subsidize additional therapy costs. This activity addresses the difficulty in finding mental health providers who have experience supporting formerly incarcerated individuals. By building a network of practitioners and paying for the cost of individual therapy sessions, RECLAIM is mitigating systemic and economic barriers to access therapists.
About Our Grantee
RECLAIM provides reintegration support that centers the mental, emotional, and relational health of individuals and families impacted by the criminal legal system to better prepare them for the return home. They are an organization led by individuals impacted by the prison system, who are committed to expanding access to individual and collective care for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, as well as Queer and Transgender communities that are over-represented in our prison system. Their mission is rooted in the knowledge that healthy relationships with oneself, loved ones, and with community nourish our lives and are central to collective healing, action, and liberation.