Brad* had a normal childhood with no problems at home or school and lots of friends. All that changed one September morning as he walked toward his new school. “I walked three blocks when this flood of emotion hit me. My hands and knees started shaking and I nearly collapsed. I had a lump in my throat as I raced home.” His mom recognized the symptoms of an anxiety attack, having experienced them herself. Brad’s attack marked the beginning of two very difficult years in which he lost friends, self-confidence and eventually, overwhelmed with feelings of depression, he considered taking his life.
His mom contacted Front Door – a partnership between Carizon and Lutherwood that helps families get immediate counselling and access to the children’s mental health system. “They were great,” she recalled. “They listened to us, helped us understand our situation and then connected us with Lutherwood’s Day Treatment program.”
In Grade 9, Brad came to Lutherwood’s Children’s Mental Health Centre. A partnership with the Waterloo Region District School Board, Day Treatment offers therapeutic and skill training activities to help students experiencing mental health difficulties achieve their treatment goals. “I expected an insane asylum,” Brad recalled, “but Lutherwood is very nice inside. I met the seven students in my classroom, my teacher Emily, and Kevin [the Child and Youth Counsellor]. It is not like a normal school because when the staff ask you how you are doing, they really want to know.”
After learning how to cope with his anxiety and suicidal thoughts at Lutherwood, Brad was ready to enroll in his community high school. To ease the transition, the team arranged for him to visit his new school, meet his guidance counsellor and tour the building before starting.
While the transition was not easy, Brad eventually began making friends and enjoying school. “I took a ‘Power Fit’ course and loved it! Everyone motivates each other so I worked really hard and lost 90 pounds. It boosted my confidence. Now my marks are way up; I got a 90 in math and am on the honour roll!”
“I didn’t think I would ever get through it. I thought it would never end. With help from Mom, Dad, my sister and Lutherwood staff, I finally got past it.”
*Due to the stigma of having a mental health diagnosis, we are using a pseudonym to protect our former client’s identity.