When Rhys Abraham was a young teen, she began seeing a private psychologist in relation to issues she was facing stemming from a childhood trauma, including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Even with the support of a therapist, things were not improving for her. It was clear she needed more intensive support, so Rhys was referred to the mental health team at the IWK.
In 2018, she began seeing a social worker who was able to help her work through some of the trauma she’d experienced; however, her mental health continued to decline—it was causing insomnia and affecting her performance at school. Rhys was prescribed at least ten different medications during this time, but none seemed to help her. Rhys recalls feeling like she was not in a place where she could act on her social worker’s advice. As a next step, she was referred to Adolescent Intensive Services (AIS), a day program for youth with mental health disorders, in early 2019.
When she began this program, Rhys was feeling quite hopeless about her situation and she was quite skeptical about whether this program could help her. Despite her cynicism, she attended this program four days per week while continuing to go to school on Fridays. Rhys says that she was reluctant at first to accept help, but as her care team worked with her, she began to make progress. She found herself participating more in the programs group sessions and became more engaged in her private sessions.
Rhys was discharged from AIS in January 2020 and she began to have regular visits with her transition support worker, first at her school then online when COVID-19 surfaced. Rhys believes her ability to maintain this follow-up support virtually was the key to her success.
In 2020, Rhys graduated high school with high honours and she began attending Acadia University this past fall. While her classes were online, she was able to enjoy life on campus and fell in love with the town of Wolfville, Nova Scotia.
The pandemic has been a very challenging time for young people and families. If your child or teen is experiencing mental health challenges, there are resources and supports available.
Provincial Mental Health Crisis Line: 1-888-429-8167 Toll-free and available 24/7
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 Toll-free and available 24/7