This story highlights the incredible impact our team has on the youth we work with, and the importance of patience and empathy when working with our youth. Often, kids simply need an adult they can trust, and supports tailored to their needs. Please enjoy this recent story from one of our amazing CYS team members.
[Pseudonyms are used to protect confidentiality.]
“Michelle is my longest standing client here at CYS. Both mom and Michelle participated in our program. We worked collectively to implement a great plan, in addition to a service plan, to get her back on track. Michelle was referred to our services due to trouble in school and reported drug use. During our meetings, Michelle was able to open up and talk through what led her to making these decisions.
For Michelle, and for many kids, quarantine and virtual-schooling was extremely detrimental to her mental health. Mental health struggles, especially for a young person, can often lead to drugs and isolation as a way to cope. When Michelle discussed her mental space leading up to her schooling troubles and drug use, she reflected that her shift in happiness was very scary. It caused her to feel isolated. She saw other kids in school experimenting the drugs and began using them as a way to cope and subsequently stopped trying in school. Typical teen stress or anxiety, coupled with many months of quarantine is not easy. Without proper tools or outlets, some teens (and adults) turn to drugs.
As our sessions progressed, as well as our trust, Michelle was able to express what was causing these shifts, which allowed me to better understand exactly what her needs were. I think I earned her trust by showing up consistently and proving that I was there to hear what she had to say and follow that up with appropriate supports.
While it may be easier to simply offer our youth a whole slew of resources and wait until one sticks, it is much more impactful to do a bit more work before then. Through communication, like the communication I had with Michelle, we can build trust, hear what is going on, and curate appropriate supports to each individual. No one person is alike, and everyone deserves to be heard and properly supported.
I believe Michelle saw that I wasn’t giving up. I maintained a positive mindset in hopes that it could transfer to her, and promised a judgement-free zone. I’ve worked with girls just like her for 13 years, and so I know that by continuing to show up, we would be able to get somewhere, together. I continued to provide service linkages so that she could have options when she needed them, and also provided praise for the smallest victories-- "I'm proud of you for getting out of bed today, Michelle. That's amazing. Now, do you think you could do some stretching and light exercise? Let me know when you do, and how that feels for you."
I am glad to report that Michelle has made the decision to attend school and has been doing so consistently for the past few weeks. She has been receptive to various resource linkages, much more engaging, and displays a happier disposition. When I mentioned how happy she looked, she reported that she was and is grateful that I was patient and understanding throughout this entire process. We will be moving forward with a successful completion, and I would say, this case has been a success indeed.”
Learn more about our services: www.cys-la.org/our-programs