In this moving TEDxNavesink talk, Covenant House President Kevin Ryan shares the journeys of three young people whose challenges, spirit and courage uncovered for him the essence of what 'home' really is...
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!
They say it takes a village … and at Covenant House Vancouver, we know we can only provide a wide range of programs and services for homeless youth because we have a community of incredible donors and supporters enabling our success. We recently held the Sleep Out: Mothers Edition in Vancouver for the very first time. The 32 moms who committed to sleeping on the street for a night worked together to raise an incredible $121,012! The event was a wonderful success, thanks in part to the support we received from some special members of our ‘village’. Huge thanks to IKEA Coquitlam, Sunflower Florist, Debra Stringfellow Photography, Rory Coomey Photography, and Noravera Visuals Ltd.
With gratitude from the Sleep Out Team, and the entire Covenant House Vancouver Family!
On Saturday, May 28, 2016 as Vancouver Whitecaps FC host Houston Dynamo at BC Place, funds will be collected for the #BuckUp for Mental Health campaign. All fans are encouraged to donate at least $1 to this campaign, with a goal of raising $22,000 at the match. All proceeds raised will be donated to Covenant House Vancouver!
In 2015, Vancouver Whitecaps FC successfully raised over $21,300 for #BuckUp. In addition to raising money, #BuckUp aims to encourage the conversation about mental health and end the stigma surrounding it.
There are many ways to participate. To learn more and support #BuckUp for Mental Health click here.
If you have any questions or want to get involved contact:
Our office will be closed on Monday May 23rd and we will return on Tuesday May 24th. If you are looking for information on dropping off clothing or other donations click here.
If you are in a youth in need of help over the long weekend please call 1-877-685-7474 toll-free to speak with a youth worker.
Have a great long weekend!