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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 6/5/2013

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)


Elisa-Beth Gardener's Story

After my divorce in 1996, I had my first hospitalization due to a suicide attempt. There were four more hospitalizations after that due to the same thing. Because of these instances, my family wanted me to go down to Pennsylvania so they could keep an eye on me. I fought tooth and nail because New York was the place I grew up in. In February 2005, I moved down but had no services in place. My psychiatrist had given me medication to last 3 months, but it was running out quickly.

By the grace of God, I found a Clubhouse called Welcome House, which was my savior. The staff helped me get all the services I needed including a psychiatrist and therapist. Soon I was back on my medication and starting to feel like myself. I became very active in Welcome House, which led me to become secretary of the Pennsylvania Clubhouse Coalition. This is really when my recovery began. In October 2006, I was given the honor of getting the opportunity to take the first Delaware County Certified Peer Specialist training, which was one of the best experiences in my life. At the same time, I became very active in many different county committees including becoming co-chair of the Delaware County Community Support Program.

In 2007 I decided it was time to go back to work part time. With the help of Welcome House, I got a job at Elwyn in the accounts payable office as a file clerk. This was the first time I worked in 15 years. In 2008, I decided to leave Elwyn and moved on to Delaware County Office of Behavioral Health as the Peer Advocate. I am now there for a little over 3 years. In 2011, I went off Social Security benefits, which was very scary at first, but now I am making it on my own.

This is all from the girl who just wanted to end it all.

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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.