16 year old John* struggled with a sudden onset of depression and tried to take his life multiple times. John was referred to the What Centre by the Crisis Team at A&E after the most recent attempt. John did not trust any other professional and had initially refused any help that was provided.
John was offered sessions with one of the centre’s senior counsellors. During their sessions, John explored the reasons for his attempts and his serious self-harm issues. Together, they were able to identify safer coping strategies and continue to work through his difficult background, loss of motivation and self-hatred. A few months into his sessions, John shared that he had been abusing drugs that contributed to his mental health decline. He had also previously accidentally overdosed as a result of this. With his consent, his counsellor was able to get John support via Switch and empower him to attend those sessions. John has since stopped abusing drugs and has not had any suicide attempts. The counsellor was also able to have a discussion with John and his family to ensure that John felt supported at home.
As a centre we also liaised with social work team and highlighted his risk which helped him and his family get a designated social worker. His vulnerable younger brother was also offered counselling in the centre and sessions were moved around to accommodate the family so that both boys were seen (by two different counsellors) at the same time in the centre. Both counsellors, parents, the social worker and school teachers regularly attend Child in Need meetings to help ensure that both boys are on the right track.
John has worked over a period of time with his counsellor and has recently felt better to end counselling. John has felt overall better and looks bad at his “dark times as a learning curve. I almost don’t recognise who this other person was but I’m proud of how far I’ve come”. John left his last session with a joke with his counsellor about how she, “needed a raise”.
*not real name
Nigel, a 14 year old young person attended a counselling assessment at the What centre following a referral made by his mum. Nigel was uncommunicative, and seemed extremely depressed. During his assessment, Nigel expressed a high level of suicidal intent. It also came out during his assessment that Nigel identified as being transgender.
His assessing counsellor got Nigel’s consent to speak to his mother about his risk. While the counsellor spoke to Nigel’s mum in another room, another counsellor sat in with Nigel to keep him company. The two counsellors were able to work in tandem to ensure that the safety of the young person was managed but also to ensure that Nigel felt supported and held throughout. Nigel was sent to A&E and the crisis team who sent him back to the centre after an assessment.
When he returned, Nigel was then offered the option to attend Transparent, a transgender support group set up for young people. Nigel was initial hesitant due to his past experience in school with bullies in group settings. However, on his first session, Nigel was noticeably more active, and was much happier. He even exchanged numbers with another young person in the group. Nigel continued to attend the group and expressed that he “finally found a place” that was his.
During this time, Nigel was also offered a counselling appointment with a senior counsellor at the centre and is thriving. He is enjoying simultaneously working on his emotional issues via counselling but also meeting new people and having a sense of belonging in the Transparent group.