We all know that teens often try and keep their problems hidden; they want to sort it out for themselves. For 17-year-old Daniel, keeping his issues hidden led him to a mental health crisis.
This is Daniel’s story.
Daniel’s father died when he and his sisters were very young.
Since then, he has taken an active role in helping his mother, Jen, around the house with grocery shopping and looking after his sisters when his mother goes to work in the evenings as a cleaner.
They get by, but the family’s finances are always tight.
During the past three years, Daniel became anxious and had great difficulty concentrating on his schoolwork. Lockdowns didn’t help and once back at school, he wasn’t able to catch up which heightened the crisis he faced.
When he felt stressed, Daniel skipped meals giving him a sense of control when much of his life felt out of control.
At night he stayed up late playing video games. He believed this relaxed him, taking him away from his worries about his school, eating and family.
Daniel has been a leader in the Jewish youth movement for many years. He knows how much his friends and the younger participants get out of youth groups and he finds it a great distraction from his life where his responsibilities weigh heavily.
Recently, Jewish Care facilitated a Youth Mental Health First Aid course for youth group leaders. It was an eye-opening experience for Daniel as he realised that he ticked a lot of the boxes in terms of signs and symptoms of a mental health issue.
With great sadness, he recognised he was suffering from anxiety and depression.
After the Youth Mental Health First Aid course, Daniel went home and straight to his room. His sisters noticed something was wrong and told Jen.
When Jen asked what was wrong, Daniel confessed that he wanted to harm himself most days but put on a brave face as he felt that Jen had enough to worry about.
Jen knew Daniel needed to get help immediately.
Thankfully, the Jewish Care facilitator at the Youth Mental Health First Aid course had given the participants Jewish Care’s Front Door phone number, so Daniel agreed with Jen to reach out to Jewish Care.
Upon calling Jewish Care, Daniel and Jen were immediately referred to a Jewish Care social worker who spoke about a range of support services available through Jewish Care.
Jen was referred to a Financial Counsellor to review her financial situation. The financial counsellor helped to develop a budget to better manage her finances and successfully apply for some utility relief grants.
Jen was also referred to the Employment Centre and was soon able to change jobs and work during the day at a childcare centre while studying for a certificate in early childhood education.
Working during the day allowed Jen to be home in the evenings to cook and help her children with their homework, which took the pressure off Daniel. It also meant they could eat as a family which was essential to improving Daniel’s eating habits.
Daniel was encouraged to see a GP to assess his mental health and obtain a mental health care plan to see a psychologist specialising in eating disorders and anxiety.
Through Jewish Care’s Youth Mentoring Program, Aspire (an individualised mentoring program supporting young people who are experiencing personal or familial challenges), Daniel was matched with a mentor from the Jewish community who supported and encouraged him to strive toward achieving his goal to go to university.
Within weeks Daniel started feeling better. His eating habits and sleep routine changed and his energy levels increased. Improved sleep and nutrition helped Daniel’s grades as he was now able to concentrate.
After struggling for so many years, Daniel is now excited about his future.
With one phone call to Jewish Care, our social services team can assist individuals, families and young people with information, advice and direct support to address their needs, manage risk and live healthy, safe, productive and connected lives.
To maintain these essential services we urgently need to raise $4 million.
As the caring and generous community that we are, we need to stand together to help each other, which is why we are asking you to please give generously to Jewish Care’s 2023 Annual Appeal.