Hi there! My name’s Lauren. I’m the Executive Assistant here at SunCloud Health. I am overjoyed about our Adolescent IOP Program that just started in our Naperville and Northbrook locations! When I say I’m overjoyed, I sincerely mean it. I come from a blue-collar family. Therapy was thought of something for the elite or just “straight up crazies”. As with many peoples upbringing, talking about emotions was frowned upon, in fact almost alien. Emotions were a foreign concept to be feared and reprimanded. Entering teenage years, it was so easy to brush off adolescent distress. “Oh, you’re a teenager, this is just hormones” or “what do you have to be stressed about? You don’t even pay rent!” And so on. And it’s warranted. I think of the mass hardships both personally, socially, and emotionally previous generations have endured. The explicit racism, economic hardships, sexism, toxic masculinity, physical abuse and intolerance that was and, in some ways, still is baked. I think about how there was a time that if someone went to a psychiatric hospital it would be in the newspaper! (Seriously, look up the WBEZ article on Read Mental Health Institute on the northside of Chicago). This also met with an inadequate understanding of mental health, the stigma wrapped around it- it’s no wonder how much is “brushed off”, or really, feared.
Thankfully, things have changed. Society has evolved and we have a new understanding of mental health. And that is the case for adolescents as well. Because the unfortunate reality is kids can get sexually assaulted and abused. Kids can have chemical imbalances in which they experience deep depressions and anxieties. Kids deal with overwhelming amounts of social pressure to either look a certain way or think a certain way. And kids are humans, resilient humans, who will scramble to find any way to make them “feel normal” or really to feel numb. Sometimes that comes in the form of cutting themselves. Sometimes it’s drinking, drugs, or even whatever concoction they can make with other the counter medications. Sometimes it’s restricting food or purging it. More often though, it’s a combination of these things. And mixed with the impulsive wiring of a younger brain it can get real bad, real quick.
So that’s why I say I’m overjoyed that SunCloud has been able to start an adolescent program. I am overjoyed that adolescent programs exist in the first place, but especially happy that the SunCloud model is available to our local youth. I’m happy that we have a program that can let them talk about struggles, traumas, and we can provide coping skills. I’m happy that we have such an amazing adolescent psychiatrist who has high ethical standards, a passion for psychiatry and keeps children’s safety and wellbeing the top priority. I’m happy we have clinicians that go above and beyond to attend to adolescent needs.
When I see these teens come in for programming, I get excited for them, which is not what anyone walking into treatment would want to hear. But I’m excited that they are given an opportunity to begin to start their journey of healing. It’s exciting to know that they are going to be taught coping skills, that their experiences of going to be heard and validated. That they’ll get to express themselves freely without judgment or being reprimanded. And personally, it’s the art therapy I’m most excited for them. Creative expression can be such a powerful way to express emotions that can’t always be found with words.
I hold these adolescents in high regard. It takes bravery to say something is wrong and wanting to get help. There’s a level of vulnerability I believe they long to express but due to past negative experiences, don’t. I’m glad that we can hold a space for these brave young people for them to be themselves, discover themselves, and plant the groundwork to flourish.