Musician Creates LGBTQ+ Shelter to Fill Vacuum in Mental Health Services

When Maree McRae’s transgender daughter suffered a mental health crisis, she had nowhere to go. So McRae created a place.

LITTLETON, Colo. — When county musician Maree McRae had to watch the person she loves most struggle with mental illness, her mission changed to create a space that helps people like her daughter.

Newspaper clippings and show posters dot the basement walls of McRae’s home in Littleton.

She is a professional singer and songwriter, but these days, the message of his lyrics is consistent.

“Tell me there’s a reason for this pain I see,” McRae sings, playing his keyboard.

She wrote “Reason” in the parking lot of an emergency room where her transgender daughter was being held after going through a mental health crisis.

However, after five days, McRae said hospital staff told her there were no mental health beds open and there was no place for her daughter to go. .

“From that moment on, I knew my calling was to use my music to speak,” said McRae, who has become an ambassador of music for mental health.

But she didn’t stop there.

“If we are not here to make things better and easier for another, then why are we here? asked McRae.

Last year, McRae bought a house she had originally planned to flip. But as she walked through the halls, McRae realized she could create the safe space to heal that her daughter didn’t have.

“So this is Haven of heart and mind“, said McRae entering the house. “It is a respite. It is a center for healing, recovery and well-being.”

Heart Mind Haven hopes to be where people can go after a crisis and get back on their feet. The home can accommodate eight residents and currently offers scholarships for those who are poverty-stricken, homeless, or unemployed due to mental health or addiction issues.

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Over the past six months, McRae said Heart Mind Haven has housed around 30 people.

“A lot of our transgender residents are either brand new to transitioning or have been here for a while but have just had very, very bad experiences, which unfortunately exists for a lot of us,” said Camryn Byrne, Director of Transgender. . and Recovery Services.

Byrne is a Certified Addiction Specialist who also helps coordinate addiction services for residents outside the home.

She believes this home is part of building a continuum of care for a community that lives so much of its life in crisis.

“Transgender people generally don’t seek out their own therapists,” Byrne said. “They don’t because we don’t think we’re going to find someone who understands us, knows us, where we feel comfortable explaining who we are to them.”

Currently, Heart Mind Haven is funded by the Centura Health Equity Grant and a grant of Report behavioral health.

Music will always be a way for McRae to share what she’s seen, but she said she was able to find her own purpose and a new mission.

“I think we have a choice to be a messenger where we come from,” McRae said. “And how do you walk through a war? And how do you feel about those bullets? And how do you see people dying from those bullets and doing something different with your life?”

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Richard F. Gandhi