Success Stories

From Surviving to Thriving: How Justin turned his life and his community around

In 2007 at the age of 23, Justin experienced a series of psychiatric crises that led to unstable living conditions, disruption of family and social supports, and brief involvement in the justice system.

Today, Justin is a Certified Recovery Peer Support Specialist working with the 11th Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project, a groundbreaking program created by Judge Steven Leifman to steer people with mental illnesses away from the justice system and into community-based care.

With the help of Judge Leifman’s program, Justin became engaged in treatment and support services in the community and today enjoys a full and productive life in recovery, serving as an inspiration and role model for others. As a successful graduate of the program, Justin has firsthand knowledge of the importance of ensuring the availability of timely, high quality behavioral health treatment services in the community.

Over the past decade, Justin has helped train over 2,500 law enforcement officers to more effectively respond to people experiencing mental health emergencies and assisted over 1,000 people diverted away from the justice system and into treatment and recovery. Justin has also travelled the country speaking at conferences and events to share his message of hope and inspiration.

His experiences make him uniquely qualified to speak to the importance of ensuing people have access to care when and where they need it, as well as the unfortunate consequences that can result when they do not. Having overcome significant challenges, Justin is now a proud homeowner, husband, and father.