I am fortunate to be in a place that is helping me to learn about the mental health field and how to not be stigmatized by a label. My goal is to find a job where an employer is willing to accept that I am seriously mentally ill.
My name is Demitrias Arrington and I am 26 years old. I was brought into this world, a child of a drug addicted mother. Because of the health issues that came with that, I was eligible as a child, for Social Security Disability and AHCCCS. When I turned 18 years old that immediately changed. I was expected to re-apply for Social Security and other benefits on my own as an adult. But how was I going to do that? I am unable to read or write.
Not only did I lose my benefit when I turned 18, I also entered the criminal justice system. Life seemed hopeless, I didn’t understand the system, and didn’t even know that I had rights. Finally, through the Maricopa County Superior court I heard about Hope Lives, a forensic peer support and diversion program that has taught me self-care, daily living skills and has given me job training opportunities. The programs at Hope Lives, have changed my life. The staff are helping me to apply for Social Security Disability and I recently completed Work Adjustment Training and earned a certificate as a licensed Peer Support Specialist. Someday, I hope to help others as they have helped me.
None of the support I have received would be possible without health care coverage. Through the AHCCCS program, I see a doctor regularly and receive the medications that I need to treat my mental illness. Folks don’t realize that AHCCCS is so much more than medical care. AHCCCS helps me to be a productive citizen, by providing transportation, behavioral health services and enrollment in the programs at Hope Lives that give me the socialization skills that help me reconnect with others and the community.
I do not know what the future holds. I do know that I want to live successfully, have a job or even go to school. Without AHCCCS, and the medical care and support it gives me, I think I might be back on the streets, maybe even back in the criminal justice system. I hope that never happens.