Your Donation is Connecting Youth and Families to Much-Needed Mental Health Support
Seven-year-old Addy has been attending the Club at Hampshire Unit School for over a year. This summer, she was enrolled at our Mt. Pleasant Elementary location. It was there that two Youth Development Professionals, Ms. Abby and Ms. Elise, noticed some concerning behaviors from Addy.
Addy had begun distancing herself from her peers and was not participating in group activities. One day, they saw her tearing up while working on an art project. Elise and Abby pulled her aside and asked some questions to figure out what was going on.
Addy told them that she had been having thoughts about dying.
As soon as our staff heard this, they reached out to Addy’s parents and began keeping a closer eye on her.
After speaking to her mom Allison, we learned that Addy’s grandfather had been diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma cancer. Addy is extremely close with her grandfather, and the news of his illness and the treatments he began to undergo caused a lot of devastation in Addy.
“It did get bad,” Allison says. “She went into a depression. She started hearing voices telling her that if he died, she needed to kill herself and go to heaven with him.”
It is hard to imagine what Allison felt when she heard her daughter say she was thinking of killing herself.
“As a parent of a seven-year-old little girl, that’s very hard to hear. And to feel like there’s nothing you can do other than answer as many questions as she wants to ask…”
Because of you, Boys & Girls Club stepped in to support their family.
One day Addy told Ms. Elise that she wanted to hurt herself and even drew a picture of her killing herself. At that point, two of our full time staff members—Mr. Brady and Mr. Christian—visited the site to talk to Addy.
Our staff used their Mental Health First Aid training to ask direct questions and listen nonjudgmentally to whatever Addy had to say.
It quickly became apparent that we needed to talk to Addy’s parents and advise professional help. When Mr. Christian spoke to Addy’s mom and dad, they shared that they really wanted to get professional help for Addy but had been waitlisted.
Unfortunately, Professional Counseling Resources are Scarce for Youth in Our Area
“We called all the local counselors and either they didn’t take children, or they were full and didn’t have any more space,” Allison shared.
“We called Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital to see if they had any psychologists who could talk to her, but because she didn’t have a Vanderbilt doctor they couldn’t take her.”
“We felt like we were stuck and didn’t know what to do. The constant fear that your seven-year-old little girl is going to hurt herself was very hard…”
When 7-year-old Addy started struggling, you were there for her.
Fortunately, our organization has a partnership with Ronda Brown, LPC-MHSP of Uplifted Haven. This partnership allows us to refer Club members to her for professional counseling.
The counseling was immediately a huge help for Addy. Shortly after her sessions began, Addy told her mom that she no longer heard voices telling her to hurt herself, and that now she could tell the voices to “shut up”.
“She got the help she needed,” Allison says. “I will forever be grateful for the fact that the staff had the training they did and supported her. They took care of her while I was at work and when she was in their care, they never once turned around and said ‘we can’t do this’ or ‘this is too much’.”
“Everyone there listened to my daughter just as much as I did. You don’t find the training they had to be able to listen the way they could, to be able to be there for her.”
Through all of this, Allison realized the lack of resources available for kids, or how their feelings may be swept under the rug because we don’t understand that they really need help.
“If it hadn’t been for the help that my daughter got through Boys & Girls Clubs and Ronda, I don’t know if I would be able to sit here and tell you that my seven-year-old is still here.”
According to Mr. Christian and the staff at her site, Addy has made great strides in her mental wellness.
“I just want to thank Boys & Girls Clubs for their support, and I want to thank each and every one of you that continues to support the Club,” Allison says. “To be able to reach more kids like Addy, and the ones that need help and don’t have the support or resources they need. To have that one person that says ‘I hear you, let me help you’ – that stems from you all helping them, and I just want to thank you for your support.”