Martinez said The Floating Hospital had seen “record show rates” for mental-health teleservices peaking at 92 percent over the summer. “Sadly, we also have a record number of individuals whom we have had to place on the high-risk list, meaning they require additional monitoring, support and outreach because we believe them to be at risk of hurting themselves or others,” she said.
Her peers also experienced spikes in stressors in the communities they serve.
“We expected it and had to anticipate how to respond with safety planning,” said Fernandez, whose organization focuses on domestic and other violent emergencies. She cited numerous stressors beyond the coronavirus as activators: housing concerns, food insecurity, unemployment and “just people being together 24/7” during lockdown. She said no matter the backstory, her organization takes a “people-centered approach without judgment” and in collaboration with other community partners.
“Our clients are the experts of their lives. They know what they want and we have to listen and advocate for them,” she said.
Bain, a self-described “serial social entrepreneur” has worked globally using human and healing justice models to realign and build communities affected by violence. His current initiative in the Queensbridge housing complex across the street from The Floating Hospital’s new clinic uses “violence interrupters” for on-the-ground interventions, communication and community engagement. Past initiatives have contributed to a 15 percent decline in shootings in the 17 highest violence precincts in New York City,
With different platforms and direct services, the three organizations share the view of meeting people where they are, applying sustainable, holistic approaches, creating open dialogue and staying in the game to support people.
“We need to understand when to be flexible and give support, and we want to lift each other up so we can help each other,” Martinez said. “Every organization knows what it can provide, but also what it can’t, and it is meaningful and beneficial to know community partners who can pick up where your organization leaves off. Together, we build a stronger community.”
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DOVE Initiative at Safe Horizon