Lynn O. was introduced to Jefferson Center during a time of crisis in her family. A teenage family member’s behavior had changed drastically, and no one knew what was happening or what they could do to help their loved one. Was it teenage rebellion or the result of parental divorce? No one could tell for sure. Their behavior resulted in failing grades, the usage of drugs and alcohol, encounters with the police, and a complete loss of motivation. Lynn and her family’s hearts were breaking. They had always had access to private insurance, and they tried finding help through school and private counselors, therapists, and psychiatrists, but nothing made a significant difference. The situation escalated, causing multiple trips to the emergency room and three different month-long stays in a psychiatric hospital over the course of fourteen months.
At this point, Lynn and her family felt absolutely exhausted. During their last hospital visit, the staff at Porter Hospital reached out to Jefferson Center. Lynn was not familiar with community mental health centers, but she was willing to try anything.
“Jefferson Center walked WITH my family through this.”
Jefferson Center provided resources that helped Lynn and her loved ones get through this difficult period. Case managers offered wrap-around services and knew where to direct them for each of their needs. Support grew for the member in crisis as well as for Lynn and the rest of her family. They were encouraged to try new things and were referred to community support groups. Jefferson Staff helped with medication stabilization, counseling, and eventually getting back into education and the workforce.
“I want to help people the way they have helped me.”
Educational programs offered by Jefferson Center helped cultivate connection, normalizing their family’s experience and putting it into perspective in a way that created space for gratitude.
“It’s an honor to be a board member.”
Lynn was asked to join the Jefferson Center Board of Directors in 2017. In the past five years, her admiration for those who work in mental health as well as the center’s community partners has continued to grow. The knowledge, passion, and diligence they exhibit are heartwarming and comforting.
Lynn’s first piece of advice for people impacted by mental health struggles is to know that you are not alone. So many families face similar issues, and the chaos brought about by COVID over the past couple of years has only magnified the number of people and families that need help. Don’t be afraid to ask for this help, and you don’t need to figure things out on your own. Understand that the healing process takes time. “I heard a quote many years ago that I’ll never forget,” Lynn said. “Mental illness is like a wildfire in the brain. First, the fire must be put out. Once the fire is out, the brain can start to heal.” This healing process can take the form of medication, therapy, and the support of family and friends. It’s been almost twenty years since Lynn’s family first connected with Jefferson Center. Her loved one has held down a full-time job for several years and is now thriving and lives independently.
Has your life improved because of mental health treatment? Do you wish to use your experience to help others?
Sharing your experiences with mental health treatment can help others who are struggling, and it can help fight the stigma of seeking mental health care.
You can remain anonymous.
For more information, please email VoicesOfHope@jcmh.org.