People Incorporated Partners with Our Saviour’s Community Services to Embed a Mental Health Professional into Emergency Shelter

Mar 1, 2024

In late 2023, Our Saviour’s Community Services (OSCS) acquired a grant from the Medica Foundation to embed a mental health professional into their Emergency Shelter to provide direct mental health support to guests at the shelter, and also help their shelter staff grow in their competencies for working with individuals with severe and persistent mental illness and/or substance use disorders. OSCS chose People Incorporated as their partner for this 12-month pilot project, which began in January and will continue through the end of 2024.

Kristi Betker, Mental Health Therapist, is now spending eight hours each week onsite at the Our Saviour’


s Housing Emergency Shelter working with individual guests to develop therapeutic relationships and offer one-to-one therapy, crisis counseling, care coordination, and other direct services. She began her service in mid-January, and in January alone she serviced 6 individuals out of the 21 total guests filling the shelter’s beds. With a significant percentage of shelter guests already showing interest in this resource, some have even set up recurring sessions to continue seeing Kristi.

OSCS already collaborates with other health care services to provide a range of services to their guests, including Fairview Health Services. Nursing staff employed by Fairview work part-time onsite at the shelter to help coordinate ongoing care for guests in the medical respite shelter program. Within this program, OSCS has noticed a barrier that was sometimes preventing guests from reaching their physical health goals – access to mental health care.

“In many cases, mental health concerns have been a barrier to accessing other kinds of medical treatment, whether that’s anxiety around doctors or fear of traumatic experiences,” said Robin Stramp, Development & Communications Manager at OSCS. “These concerns were limiting who was seeing success through that onsite service. We’ve always known there’s a need for low-barrier access to mental health services, and one benefit of this partnership is that it will help bridge the gap between mental and physical health and our guests’ other goals.”

This partnership is unique in that along with direct mental health support to shelter guests, People Incorporated has the opportunity to provide training and consultation to shelter staff. This collaboration will help staff continue to develop the skills and capacity to work more intentionally with individuals experiencing severe and persistent mental illness and/or going through acute crises. Over time, this partnership will create increasingly comfortable and high-quality interactions between OSCS staff and shelter guests.

Through the administration of Kristi’s one-on-one mental health support, OSCS hopes that individuals will experience success in other services offered at the Emergency Shelter and be equipped with the tools to reach their personal goals. Kristi’s approach to supporting shelter guests is in-line with People Incorporated’s mission – person-centered, community-integrated, and collaborative.

“Our goal is to build something that people want to use, and we are grateful to be able to partner with an organization like People Incorporated with a long and successful track record,” said Stramp. “We are working towards normalizing mental health services here and lowering barriers to mental health care.”

This partnership is one of People Incorporated’s multiple embedded mental health professional models, including collaborations with police departments, corrections systems, and libraries. To support this important ongoing effort and future partnerships to come, you can make a gift through the Give page on our website.