Overcoming Homelessness and Improving Mental Health

Eric stands in front of brick wall
by SalvationArmy.ca

Eric grew up in Alberta B.C., enduring an unfortunate childhood—his family being a victim of his father’s repeated beatings. By the age of four, Eric had suffered multiple concussions and injuries at the hands of his father. Following his parent’s divorce, his mother provided the best possible life with the limited resources available to her.

Into adulthood, life continued to have its challenges. Eric found himself living in Victoria after being laid off from his job. Shortly after that, his girlfriend left unexpectedly, and he was evicted into the streets with nothing.

“Without The Salvation Army, I would be dead”

Being homeless was a dark and scary reality for Eric. Depression set in quickly. Hopeless days and nights were filled with an empty stomach, cold, hard sidewalks and the inability to trust anyone.

“I bought a rope and was going to hang myself,” says Eric. “I didn’t know what else to do.” Then he walked through the doors of The Salvation Army. It was an unbelievable relief to have a roof over his head and not worry if he would get to eat that day.

Until that moment, Eric didn’t realize what the Army did to help people in need. He had donated before but not fully understood the extent of the programs and services offered. The turning point for Eric was in the Brain Injury Program. In his youth, he was wrongly diagnosed with bipolar disorder—having this clarified and traced back to numerous concussions he received as a youngster at his father’s hands. The program helped him understand himself a little more and turn the page to a new chapter.

“My life was saved by having the courage to walk through those doors”

Today, Eric is getting back to living life, working to transition to a place of his own and becoming a contributing member of society.

“Eric has grown significantly since coming to The Salvation Army,” says Kathleen Scheurle, a caseworker. “He is now aware of his mental health challenges, is more confident, is helpful to other clients, and lives a healthier life.”

‘Without The Salvation Army, I would be dead,” says Eric. “My life was saved by having the courage to walk through those doors to ask for and accept the help I needed.”

By Michelle Boileau