Melody Bracken is the FSP Criminal Justice Case Manager for Community Solutions for children, families and individuals. The Full Service Partnership Criminal Justice Program for Community Solutions is a non-profit providing mental health services. Full Service Partnership means that they do “whatever it takes,” from finding appropriate housing, assisting in obtaining benefits (Social Security, General Assistance, food stamps), accompanying individuals to medical and psychological appointments, providing 24/7 crisis support and supporting individuals wherever they are, including jail, psychiatric facilities and in the community and much more. Bracken holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Justice Studies with a minor in Psychology from San Jose State University. She interned in United States Probation under their Mental Health Specialist Probation Officer, which taught Bracken a lot about the overlap between psychological disorders, addiction and criminality.
Scope and responsibilities of current role?
“I have a case load of clients who are deemed high risk, which means they have accessed Emergency Psychological Services several times in the past year. On this program, they are referred through Judge Stephen Manley’s Drug Treatment Court which allows adults who have a psychological disorder and have involvement with the Criminal Justice system to participate in treatment rather than sit in jail. I help to coordinate their release from jail once I have secured them appropriate housing in the community, provide therapeutic interventions with clients on symptom management, coping skills, substance abuse prevention and life skills. I complete an annual mental health assessment and create treatment plans with the clients at least every six months to keep track of their goals, which are often to reduce mental health symptoms, facilitate groups which teach life skills (everything from relationship and communication to budgeting), coping skills for symptom reduction and dealing with triggers to use drugs/alcohol.”
What is your favorite part of your daily duties?
“I love interacting with my clients, learning their stories and helping them to learning life skills and coping skills for their symptoms. This is definitely not an easy job, but it is so rewarding and there is something new to learn every day.”
Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role?
“My education prepared me for this role by learning about mental health and theories behind why people do what they do. I was able to get a
solid base of knowledge for my career and constantly build on it from what I learn from clients, training through work and personal reading.”
Do you have any advice for people who desire to pursue a similar career?
“Do an internship or volunteer! I started this position as a temporary role, loved it and luckily was able to be hired to this program. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved with this field such as volunteering for crisis lines, homeless shelters and obtaining internships in many companies. Read as much as you can about addiction and co-occurring psychological disorders – it will prepare you for working with people rather than judging them for a disease which they have no control over.”
Michelle Guilbeau is a writer, reviewer, teacher and business owner. She also has experience in school administration, literacy coaching and is proud founder of CraftKitsForKids.com and MichelleGuilbeau.com Michelle enjoys sharing her knowledge of cities, food, travel, education and parenting issues with her readers. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.