Watch Lindsay and her mother Michele tell their heartwarming story.
A Safe Place
Grace’s* third day in CMHA’s after school program was also her ninth birthday. When she was surprised by a birthday cake presented by singing staff and children, Grace ran. She ran as if her life depended upon it. Around and around the building she went, with a mental health worker in close pursuit. Suddenly the staff member turned around and ran in the opposite direction. As he turned the corner, he came face to face with Grace, who froze and then screamed out in fear and began to cry hysterically.
“You’re safe! You’re safe!” the mental health worker kept assuring her until finally, in a quiet room, Grace became calm. Such is a typical moment in the early stages of treatment for children who have undergone trauma. Grace’s years of physical abuse by her father had left her hyper vigilant and unable to trust adults. Even a pleasant experience such as a birthday celebration can trigger acute anxiety in a child who has had a history of unpleasant and violent surprises.
Physical or sexual abuse, divorcing parents, poverty, witnessing violence – all are factors that can create behavioral health problems. All are beyond a child’s ability to avoid. Children are truly vulnerable, and they depend upon caring adults to help them overcome the devastation caused by trauma. For Grace, a growing trust in the adults in her after school program at CMHA is enabling her to overcome her anxiety and to build healthy relationships with other children.
Please consider partnering with CMHA so that you can help us reassure children like Grace that they’re safe now and there can be a better tomorrow. With your help, we can continue to provide treatment, healing and hope.
During the past three years, Maggie* has been somewhat of a nomad, living in shelters, with friends, in hotel rooms, and other places most of us would never call home. But for Maggie, where she lands on a particular night is her home. She has faced much adversity in her life, losing one of her best friends in the past year, as well as losing family members. She has been hospitalized countless times for a variety of reasons, almost always stemming from past trauma and depression. And yet, she perseveres. She has built a strong support network around her, as her personality is one that cannot be ignored.
The Peter Sutton* of today is far from the individual he once was. Peter spent many years in the community undiagnosed, un-medicated, and a danger to himself and others. Today, through the treatment and support he has received at CMHA’s Intensive Assertive Community Treatment Team (IACTT), Peter is thriving. He has made significant strides and continues to exceed expectations of staff and himself.