Finding Mental Health Support for an Adolescent, A Mother’s Story

A mother and daughter sit with their backs to the camera and their arms around each other. The mother has short blonde hair, the daughter has long blonde hair. Both are wearing white shirts.

Finding the right treatment for an adolescent experiencing mental health challenges can feel overwhelming. Parents must consider factors like cost and time while deciding between treatment options that range from individual therapy and counseling to residential centers and telehealth services. They also need to determine treatment goals and understand each program’s outcomes. Parents often feel forced to make a choice and hope it is the right decision.

That’s the situation one Middle Tennessee mother found herself in during the height of the COVID pandemic. (To protect the privacy of the family involved we’re not using their names.) Her daughter began to withdraw from friends and school. She lost interest in activities she once enjoyed and spent more and more time alone. 

“We required her to eat at the dinner table with us, but she would scarf down her food and quickly want to isolate in her bedroom,” the mother said. “She wanted to do a lot of online time. It seemed to be that was where she related to people the most. She would try to connect with people online.”

A photo illustration of a girl looking sad, with her head against her knees, sitting in front of a pink background.

A Desperate Search

The mother said her daughter had “no motivation to study” or keep her grades up in school. Over the next two and a half years, her eating patterns fluctuated. She eventually stopped communicating with her family members and friends. The mother said she spent a lot of time researching and was desperately looking for treatment options. Her daughter began meeting with a school counselor and going to a therapist.

“She did start opening up and told a counselor that she was having intrusive and suicidal thoughts,” the mom said. “That was terrifying. We felt helpless. I thought we were trying everything we needed to do, but nothing was working. I was desperate.”

After more than a year of individual therapy, they tried an intensive outpatient program offering group therapy near their home, but the mother said it turned out to be “nothing like they said it would be.” She said her daughter and the other children in the program would sit in rooms using their phones instead of participating in group therapy. She was promised family therapy sessions, but those sessions never occurred. The mother looked for another treatment program and a friend recommended them to Embrace U.

Unscripted Treatment

“When I called Embrace U things were just totally, totally different from everywhere else I’d called,” the mom said. “The difference was night and day. They got us in for an assessment almost right away and the treatment was catered to whatever was needed.”

“Embrace U is unique, very unique,” she continued. “It wasn’t generic. At other places, you get people who are burnt out, or you know… reading from a script. At Embrace U there were no scripts. It felt very genuine and compassionate. They are really, really good at what they do, especially to be able to connect with my daughter.”

The mother said the changes she’s seen in her daughter after going through Embrace U’s intensive outpatient program have been drastic.

“When she went into the program she wouldn’t even let me touch her,” the mother said. “I couldn’t hug her and she wouldn’t make eye contact with me. Now I see the light back on in her eyes. I got my daughter back. Now she lets me hug her and for the first time in a long time I can see her teeth because she’s smiling.”

The daughter developed social skills, learned how to deal with intrusive thoughts and, according to her mom, has become much happier. She said her daughter bonded with her therapist at Embrace U and enjoyed spending time with other program participants in group therapy.

The mother said Embrace U kept her informed about her daughter’s treatments and progress throughout the program. The girl was able to see a psychiatrist, attend group therapy and meet with a therapist one-on-one. Meanwhile, the mother and her husband attended parent support meetings at Embrace U and met with their daughter’s therapist to get tips about how to deal with things at home.

“That was one of the biggest things for me personally,” the mom said. “My daughter was there for the treatment, and believe it or not she never once complained about going to Embrace U, but I had a coach. They gave me the tools and support I needed and didn’t leave me hanging when they discharged my daughter.”

We see a six sets of hands all connecting in a circle of what appears to be six young women in a group therapy session.

Continued Support

“I have seen a major change in my child and am confident that she has built a foundation in this program that has put her on a path to healing,” the mother continued. “I can’t thank the staff enough for bringing my baby back to me. We have continuous work to do but I am committed to making sure she has the support to continue her progress.”

The mother said that even though Embrace U was out of network with her family’s health insurance plan, the cost of the program ended up being less expensive than she’d anticipated. and I didn’t care how much it was going to cost. I mean, this was my child’s life. She needed help.

“We have a super high deductible and they negotiated with our insurance company to basically get us in-network benefits,” she said. “I ended up paying what I would have with an in-network provider.”

The mother said she strongly encourages parents who have a child experiencing a mental health challenge to get treatment. 

“Your child is worth it,” she said.

About Embrace U

Embrace U offers outpatient treatment programs specifically designed for young people aged 10-18. Our adolescent mental health clinic in Brentwood gives participants and their families the support they need through individual, group, and family therapy. Our program will help adolescents develop coping skills, stronger self-esteem, and better ways to communicate. With the help of our experienced treatment team, you and your teen can overcome mental health struggles and grow stronger together!

Does your child need help? Call Embrace U today!


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