Jason makes subtle but important changes

When youth arrive at Covenant House, their stays are typically short; the average length of a stay in the Crisis Program is two weeks. However, there comes a critical moment during our time working with youth when they form an attachment and have a long stay.  In the case of “Jason”, his longest stay was over a month which for many youth struggling with mental health, addictions whom unaccustomed to a stable and consistent environment it is a significant accomplishment. While it is not entirely unusual for youth to make this critical milestone, it always is a rewarding and memorable occasion when you get to witness it first-hand. In the case of “Jason”, it happened on his sixth stay, after five previous stays over the course of a year ranging from two days to two weeks.

While some of the major milestones of a youth’s stay are often overt and recognizable, such as when they secure employment or obtain accommodation, it is important to acknowledge the more subtle moment when a youth has a long stay as this can set the stage for youth to have longer term success. Due to Jason’s willingness to stay in the program, he had a stay highlighted by a willingness to openly discuss and accept help for his anxiety – not a small feat considering facing one’s anxious feelings is often the only way to overcome them – and by getting the support of a Mental Health Clinician.

“Jason” also struggled with using substances as a way to cope with his mental health, but since his most recent stay he has made great progress in working towards abstaining. “Jason” not only has discussed his mental health with a clinician, but also his youth workers, which demonstrates how Jason has engaged with staff and the program. Working with this type of youth, one that makes incremental but important changes, is always a consistent reminder to look for the subtle improvements in youth from stay to stay, as these changes are often representative of more significant changes to come.