From Member to Employee: Christina’s Journey Through ؼ WIT Program

September is National Recovery month. It is a time dedicated toward educating Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with symptoms of a mental health diagnosis and/or substance use to live healthy, rewarding lives.

At Telecare, we not only treat those with co-occurring disorders, but also take pride in employing former clients who have lived experienced and continue in their recovery journey. Christina Roberts, a driver at Telecare STEPS Orange County, shares her inspiring example. By harnessing life’s setbacks, Christina has shown that it’s possible to navigate to destinations the previously may have seemed impossible.

“When I come into work now, I'm giving back. I can relate. I had a drug and alcohol problem. I now have two years clean. I struggled with homelessness, drug addiction, and mental illness. I hope that I can just take one member and lead them in the right direction and help change their life like it's changed my life,” said Christina.

After getting into trouble and ending up in front of a judge for sentencing, Roberts was given two choices: serve jail time or participate in the Orange County Collaborative Court (WIT) program. WIT, which stands for “Whatever It Takes,” began in 2012 as a collaboration between Telecare and the mental health courts of Orange County. It’s a four-phase, voluntary program where members who have a demonstrated history of mental illness are put on conditional release from prison.

While in WIT, they are required to be sober, transition up to new phases, and ultimately graduate from the program. The goal is to equip those in recovery with new skills and resources—things they might not receive through incarceration.

“To be honest, I had a relapse. It was too much. It was overwhelming. I was scared. I didn't want to follow directions. I wouldn't submit to the program,” she admitted. “I got arrested. When I got arrested, I had to serve some time, but then Telecare took me back. They gave me a second chance. WIT stands for ‘Whatever It Takes,’ and they stood by what that means.”

Christina then fully embraced WIT, the support groups, and most importantly, her peers. Actively participating in the programs is also what helped her find her true calling—wanting to go from Telecare member to Telecare employee.

“When I came back from my relapse, I told my probation officer and the staff at Telecare that I was going to work for Telecare. I didn't know how it was going to happen. A few months later, I spoke at an FSP luncheon and I got three job offers,” Christina said.

She chose to accept the offer as a driver at STEPS and hasn't looked back.

Christina credits Telecare for being the driving force in her personal recovery—a force that stood with her and believed in her when no one else did.

“Telecare saved my life,” said Christina. “It provided stability, and it's shown me how to become a productive member of society. It taught me that I can make it in this world and have a mental illness.”