I work as a Team Leader for Covenant House on the graveyard shift in our Crisis Program. In the early morning hours I found a youth by the name of Tyrone sitting in the dark in the common area with his head in his hands. Tyrone was rubbing his forehead and covering his eyes in a rhythmic, methodical motion. I sat down, asked him if he was alright and Tyrone replied “I think I’m having a mental breakdown”.
I asked Tyrone what he meant by a mental breakdown and he said “Staff are out to get me”. Tyrone went on explain that he hasn't been able to sleep for a long time because he is afraid people, both staff and youth are conspiring against him. I searched for an answer to why he felt this way. I asked some leading questions to get him to open up and he explained in a paranoid delusional string of sentences that staff want him gone and that people are laughing at him.
Tyrone observed staff laughing together in the office earlier that night and he asked with utmost certainty if staff were laughing at him. I assured Tyrone that staff were not laughing at him, that it had nothing to do with him. Tyrone asked “What were you laughing at then?” I disclosed that there was a youth that took a large amount of blankets and made a fort in his room with them and staff found a good amount of humor in that situation. Tyrone eyes went wild with excitement and he was staunch with his reply “Wow, you came up with that lie pretty quick didn’t you! I know staff are out to get me.”
I realized right then that Tyrone was either at the breaking point or in full paranoia so I made a verbal agreement with him that he would go to St Paul’s Hospital to see a Psychiatric Nurse. Even though Tyrone agreed to this he was having a hard time believing that I wanted to send him to the hospital to support him, not to send him away so he would lose his bed at Covenant House. Tyrone would agree that he needed help then revert to a state of questioning my intentions. I did eventually get him to the hospital and he was admitted, kept for 5 days to get stabilized and returned to the Crisis Program with a discharge report clearing him to be able to reside in a group setting. Tyrone went on to stay with us for a little over a month and then was able to get into supported housing.
Tyrone is an individual who had a mental break while he was residing at Covenant House Vancouver. I wonder what would have happened to him if he wasn’t here to get the proper supports he needed. Where would he have ended up or how long would his mental health have declined before he got to see a Psychiatric Nurse? I’m grateful that Tyrone was here in that critical moment and that we were able to transition him into supported housing. How amazing is that!