Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I was sitting in my office one afternoon, meeting with a patient online, when they asked, “Dr. Beck, am I going to be able to finish high school?”
As Clinical Director of Youth Mental Health at The Royal, this is one of the many questions I’ve received from my patients since COVID began. Like many of us, teens are frightened by the virus, but their worries have shifted to their future and all of the unknowns that come with a pandemic.
I work with transitional age youth (16-18 years). Although some people may feel teens don’t think much about their education, this isn’t at all the case. Most of the youth that I work with know that education is key to better jobs and a better life…but they – and their parents – are nervous and unsure about what September will look like.
When I first began the conversation with my patients about going back to school this fall, many of them said they were scared they might not be able to graduate high school. They worried they’d fall behind with online learning, or that they wouldn’t do well enough to get into college or university – a dream for many of them and their families.
With the announcement of an equal divide between attending high school in-person and online learning from home, many youth are trying to adjust to this “new normal”. For teens who are already living with a mental illness, and have been socially distancing from their friends for months, this adjustment could be debilitating.
As one of our caring community members, I hope that we can count on you in this time of need.
Your gift today will help our patients – youth, adults and our seniors – who are living with mental illness during the pandemic and need your support right now.
I miss seeing these youth in person – speaking with them in the halls, cooking with them, planning holiday parties, hearing about their time at the cottage or summer vacations with family… but most of all, I miss seeing their beautiful artwork and poetry scattered across the walls and bulletin boards of our youth department.
Expression in the form of art has healing properties, and I encourage them to use their creativity. Poetry has a calming impact on anxiety, and in the coming days, as teens are returning to school in this pandemic era, anything that helps them feel less anxious is welcome.
I know how hard my patients work to be and stay well. I’ve been the person who held open the doors they had to walk through to connect with their best lives.
This isn’t only my job – it’s my passion – to not only provide mental health support to youth and their families, but to be there for them as a support, mentor, and as someone who truly cares.
The best thing about being a psychiatrist for youth is that I’ve watched many of my patients grow up to be happy and successful. They are the people they dreamed of being in their poems and artwork.
It’s because of the kindness of people like you that they were given the opportunity to succeed in life. When I think about all of the ways that donors have positively transformed the youth program – a new kitchen and a dedicated courtyard, to name just two – I am so grateful to have such a generous community by our side!
Join me today to ensure the best possible care for our patients at The Royal. Your gift right now is also a message of hope to those who may feel hopeless during these difficult times.
The words of a poem by Erin Hanson – written when she herself was a teen – is a piece that I like to share with my patients. Not surprisingly, they can always relate.
“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask, “What if I fall?”
Oh, but my darling,
“What if you fly?”
They still have so many years left to live their best lives…and with your support, we can ensure they soar to greater heights, reaching their life goals, and becoming the person they are meant to be.
Dr. Gail Beck
Clinical Director, Youth Mental Health
P.P.S. I’ve been keeping a blog since the beginning of COVID. If you’d like to read more about some of my thoughts and experiences with our youth patients and the pandemic in general, you can find my blog at drgailbeck.com/category/my-blog/