Thursday, April 24, 2014

Behind the Screen: Housing First in the Arctic.

Note: Moving Pictures is featuring the filmmakers from the CSWE 2014 Virtual Film Festival sharing the stories behind the making of their films. Contact us to learn how you can see the films and vote for the Virtual Ovation Award. The award consists of a $500 prize and will be presented to the top-ranked film in the Virtual Film Festival, as determined by the audience. 

Filmmaker and MSW student Cory Gordon explains below the background to Housing First in the Arctic, her film highlighting homelessness in Alaska of individuals with mental illness.

Filmmaker Cory Gordon
In fall 2012, I started my master’s of social work program at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA). As part of the program, we had to choose practicum placements. I wanted to work in a setting where I could combine my film skills with my passion for serving people who experience severe mental illness. My adviser recommended the Housing and Homeless Program of Anchorage Community Mental Health Services (ACMHS). ACMHS is Alaska’s largest mental health provider. 

I interviewed with Corrine O’Neill, the housing clinical manager and the housing expert in my film. She was open to the idea, and we signed a practicum contract later that week. In the first semester, I learned about all the different aspects of the program. My main role at that time was to do outreach to individuals in shelters and homeless camps in Anchorage who were experiencing a severe mental illness (SMI). I assessed them to see if they could benefit from services. It was a profoundly moving experience to meet people sleeping in the snow and in the overcrowded shelters. 

One of my proudest achievements was building a rapport with a young man who had spent years on the streets and was debilitated by his mental illness. I was able to introduce this man to a case manager who found him permanent housing and connected him with wraparound services. This client’s story is not unusual; I saw many individuals get help through ACMHS and the Housing First (HF) model.

The HF model is an innovative approach to house those who are chronically homeless and have a severe mental illness or co-occurring addictions. The HF model provides people with housing without expectation of psychiatric or substance abuse treatment. Research shows that it is an effective way to serve individuals, which also saves money for communities.

By the end of the first semester, I knew that I wanted to create a film to show the HF model as a solution to homelessness for the SMI population in Anchorage. I also wanted to show how ACMHS helps Anchorage’s most vulnerable people and to give a face and voice to homelessness in the community. This was very important to me because individuals who are homeless and experience an SMI and/or substance abuse disorder are highly stigmatized. It was especially important that I create a film that could educate and influence people’s perceptions of HF, because at that time in the community, there was great deal of resistance to new HF facilities.


Sidebar: Cory Gordon's Advice to Social Work Students New to Filmmaking

Monday, April 21, 2014

Call for entries, CSWE 2014 Film Festival.

Filmmakers can now submit films related to social work for consideration for the CSWE 2014 Film Festival. The festival will be held at the Council on Social Work Education’s Annual Program Meeting in Tampa, FL, from October 24-26, 2014. The following links may be useful:

• General information
Official entry form

Not sure if a film is suitable? Review the Official Selection for the CSWE 2013 Film Festival and the Official Selection for the CSWE 2012 Virtual Film Festival. The deadline for entries is June 6, 2014.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

New from CSWE: Integrated Arts & Media in Social Work Education.

Now posted on the CSWE website are two lesson plans that feature multimedia elements and oral histories:
  • Lesson Plan: Multimedia Social Justice Project
  • Media Engagement: Diverse Older Adults who Overcame Discrimination