Intensive Mobile Treatment: Housing, meals, cell phones, medication
Throughout the pandemic, as many service providers switched to tele-mental health services, Bridgette Callaghan and her team continued to hit the streets to deliver in-person mental health treatment to vulnerable New Yorkers.
Ms. Callaghan leads the Institute for Community Living’s (ICL) Brooklyn Intensive Mobile Treatment (IMT) team, made up of mental health and substance use professionals who provide ongoing, clinical treatment to people in their communities. Clients typically have had recent contact with the criminal justice system, have serious mental health needs, and may be experiencing homelessness or substance use. ICL’s team meets with clients regularly to bring them medication and other support as well as connect them to essential services, like housing and meals.
During the pandemic, Ms. Callaghan and her team went above and beyond to make sure that clients had the care they needed. They purchased phones for clients who couldn’t afford them, so they could continue to receive services remotely. For others who preferred in-person care, they continued traveling to these clients to deliver treatment—even when that meant going as far as two hours away upstate.
Ms. Callaghan’s daily outreach helps her build strong relationships with her clients. Some even view her as family. Over the summer, one client, a young woman in her twenties, urgently needed housing. She turned to Ms. Callaghan, who helped her adhere to the treatment plan necessary to qualify for supportive housing. Ms. Callaghan takes real satisfaction in helping her clients, and her team follows her lead.
“Bridgette gets a lot of gratification from working with people others may have trouble working with,” said Jose Cotto, Vice President, Treatment & Recovery Services at ICL, Inc. “She can empathize with people on a level that other people can’t. Whereas other people would quickly give up when someone says ‘I don’t want to work with you,’ Bridgette hears, ‘I’m in pain, or I’m isolated.’ That’s why she’s able to provide really great work.”
Another testament to Ms. Callaghan’s leadership: since ICL’s Brooklyn IMT team was created two years ago, nearly everyone she has hired still works on her team. This is impressive because the work can be emotionally challenging, especially during a pandemic. As team leader, Ms. Callaghan ensures that her colleagues are able to process their emotions before going back into the field. This exemplifies Ms. Callaghan’s approach: a deep commitment to the well-being of her team and her clients underlies everything she does.
From Ms. Callaghan:
“Every day I wake up proud to call myself a social worker. I am honored to have the opportunity to work in this field and have a positive impact on the lives and communities of others.”
AT A GLANCE: Intensive Mobile Treatment
• Full-service mental health treatment teams include psychiatrists, social workers, case managers, nurses, and peer specialists
• Teams serve clients who have:
o Had recent and frequent contact with the mental health, criminal justice, and homeless service systems,
o Displayed recent behavior that is unsafe and escalating, and
o Been poorly served by traditional treatment models
• Currently, there are 11 Intensive Mobile Treatment teams in New York City, with the capacity to serve 297 clients at any given time
• Since 2016, 91% of Intensive Mobile Treatment clients have continued to receive services for a year or more
• Since 2016, half of Intensive Mobile Treatment clients experiencing homelessness have secured non-shelter housing while working with Intensive Mobile Treatment teams