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‘I was a walking zombie’ — a Utahn’s journey back to mental health
Mental health » Program helps “members” rebuild lives through work, making them self-sufficient.

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Building on what works » Looking ahead, Braun hopes to procure $70,000 from the state to combine with a $35,000 Hearst Foundation grant in order to double Alliance’s housing units.

At a glance

Facts about mental illness and recovery

Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders that fall along a continuum of severity.

About 1 in 5 » U.S. families affected by mental illness

About 1 in 17 » In the U.S. suffer from serious mental illness

Widespread » Mental disorders make up four of the 10 leading causes of disability in the U.S. and other developed countries.

Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness

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Of its 29 units, it owns nine and operates 20 in conjunction with Valley Mental Health and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Last fall, all the units were full, with a waiting list of 30 names. Alliance has attracted bipartisan fans on Utah’s Capitol Hill.

"I can’t praise them enough. I support their efforts and the funding they’re asking for," said Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross. "Every dollar invested there is probably saving $10 down the line."

Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, applauded Allian

ce House as a truly public-private partnership that works. "They have a proven track record," she said. "Hopefully, we can find something for them."

To Braun, the model not only makes people sense but also financial sense. A survey of 20 members who had lived in Alliance House apartments for five years showed that hospitalizations had dropped from 87 before moving into the units to 15 since,

a savings of nearly half a million dollars, Braun said. Incarcerations also fell, from 11 jail stays before Alliance House to none since, saving more than $120,000.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness pegs the U.S. economic toll for untreated mental illness at more than $100 million a year.

For Grey, the bottom line is more incalculable. He got back his life, thanks largely to Alliance House.

"If it wasn’t for this place," he said, "it wouldn’t have happened."


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Twitter: @catmck

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