Finding the Good in Everyone

Speaking frankly, Stephen Jarrell, the Executive Director of Headwaters Counseling, describes his agency’s work as “dealing with everybody that no one else wants to deal with.” Jarrell has been at Headwaters since 1998, and has led the agency, which acts as an outpatient clinic serving those with mental illness, since 2001. At Headwaters, he and the staff see children, adults, criminals and victims. Headwaters offers “services for anyone who needs it” and can be helped by counseling.

They do not prescribe drugs, but act as a supplemental treatment for patients who need them, like those suffering from bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Many patients struggle with obsessive-compulsive behavior, depression and addiction. Some are responsible for appalling crimes. In these cases especially, Jarrell suggests we need to “judge the act,” but not the person, and work to help them change their behavior. As Jarrell thoughtfully puts it, “You wouldn’t want to be labeled by what you did on the worst day of your life.”

Jarrell suggests we need to “judge the act,” but not the person…

Changing the lives of people who are mentally ill is certainly not an easy task. One of the keys to recovery, according to Jarrell, is making people realize they have choices in life. “Having a choice is a powerful thing,” he says, and once that’s understood, it helps “[bring] them away from the incident.” They need to realize they have the choice and the ability to do the right thing. However, this task is made more difficult when the patients have come to believe that they are the “monsters” they are labeled as being.

The Poor Handmaids’ beliefs and values advocate for “dignity and respect for all”—including those whom the general population treats as modern-day lepers. In the Bible, Jesus Christ ministered to those shunned by the general population. In this way, Jarrell and Headwaters are nothing short of Christ-like in their treatment of the mentally ill, and because of this, The St. Joseph Community Health Foundation has been honored to provide grant support to Jarrell and his team at Headwaters since 2000. This not only enables them to continue treatment to some of the most vulnerable and forgotten in our society, but also to continue the legacy of the Foundation’s sponsor, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ.

Written by: Charlie Klingenberger, Communications Intern