I am originally from Ohio and came to Indiana to attend Anderson University where I earned a BA in Sociology in 2009. Shortly, after graduating from AU I began working with Aspire, then the Center for Mental Health as a case manager with Chase RST. I began my work with Aspire with very little knowledge of what community based mental health services entailed, but during my first couple years with Aspire, I developed a passion for working with the SMI population – specifically those who are involved in the criminal justice system and/or are dealing with the impacts of traumatic experiences. Because of these experiences, I decided I wanted to continue my education so I could expand my skill set and further my ability to aid in the recovery of this population. I am currently working toward my MSW through the University of New England and will graduate in December.
How long have you worked for Aspire?
I have worked at Aspire for approximately 5 ½ years.
What positions have you held with Aspire?
I have been a Case manager, a Care Coordinator, and am currently Direct Service Coordinator.
Describe your current position, including your responsibilities?
The Direct Service Coordinator position is great because it encompasses so many different roles and responsibilities. I have the opportunity to collaborate with our community partners, including DCS and Madison County Problem Solving Courts. I have a caseload with whom I get the opportunity to work. I also meet with clients who have been referred to RST services to assess their needs, strengths and goals in order to determine if wrap around services would aid in their pursuit of their recovery goal. In addition to that I get the opportunity to collaborate with staff on areas such as treatment planning, ANSAs and client care.
What does a typical day as Direct Service Coordinator look like?
I’m not sure that there is a typical day in my position. However, that is one thing I really enjoy; I could spend the day meeting with clients, in meetings related to agency development or staff training or, I may spend the day meeting with community resources. The variety of this position is one of the many components of the position that I enjoy.
What in your educational background and work experience prepared you for your current position?
I believe that my educational background provided me with a foundation for my practice and current position. However, it is my interactions with clients and my fellow staff that truly educate me and provide me with the tools to be successful.
If you weren’t working in this field, what would you be doing?
If I were not working in mental health then I would most likely be working with the geriatric population.
What is it that drew you to the field of mental health?
I do not know that it is any one thing, but a major factor is that I come from a family of educators and over my lifetime I have heard that so many of the problems experienced in the classroom come from unaddressed needs in the home. As I explored what that meant I found that often times there were families struggling with many generational issues including mental illness, and that alone had a major impact on me.
What impact do you feel your work has had on Aspire and its clients?
It is my hope that my work has helped to further Aspire’s mission to provide quality services. In providing such services, it is my goal to inspire clients to define and achieve their own sense of success and satisfaction.
What things do you do to help you cope with the demands of your job?
To decompress from the demands of this job I enjoy some time in the gym or a long walk with my dogs. But, I have also been known to put on my sweatpants and binge watch Netflix as well.
Kate Richards is a Direct Service Coordinator at Aspire Indiana. The beliefs and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Ms. Richards. You can learn more about Aspire Indiana at https://www.facebook.com/AspireIndiana.