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Published on May 26, 2021

Youth in Crisis Finds Help at Bryan

abby, mom and dog

Abby, mom, Daisy, and dog Molly. 

Mental health issues and suicide are on the rise among Nebraska’s young people. Indeed, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among teens and young adults.

“We can clearly see that many of our young people are experiencing serious mental health crisis situations," says Dave Miers, PhD, LIPC, Bryan behavioral health services director. "Treating youth in crisis, including those who are suicidal, is therefore an essential part of what we do at Bryan’s youth mental health services.

Therapy Insights Become Abby’s Strengths

Daisy Mejia of Tecumseh became very concerned about her 11-year-old daughter Abby during fall 2018. “She had persistent crying spells and sadness, and I just couldn’t pull her out of it,” Daisy recalls.

“I was upset and I felt I didn’t belong,” Abby says. “I just wanted to sit in my room, and I didn’t feel any interest in anything.”

Over several months, Abby and Daisy worked with an outpatient counselor. But in January 2019, Abby hit an all-time low. She was in a dark place, with thoughts of suicide. Her school counselor suggested Bryan’s mental health emergency department.

“Abby was hospitalized at Bryan for five days, and once more in April 2019," Daisy says. "There, and through outpatient counseling, we found the perfect balance of therapy and medication treatment, and Abby began to make progress.”

Decision Leads to Breakthrough

Working with Daisy, Abby’s treatment team made a decision that led to an important breakthrough in her healing.

Abby’s counselor, mental health therapist Sandra Breach, LICSW, of the Bryan Outpatient Counseling Center, says, “Daisy and I felt it would be helpful for Abby to have detailed mental health testing. Those tests showed severe emotional stress earlier in her life that we hadn’t known about.”

That stress, in turn, was causing Abby’s depression, anxiety and suicidal feelings.

“We used this new insight in her therapy,” Sandra says. “Working with her mother and me, Abby used her creativity and imagination to solve problems causing her stress, and began to move forward. For example, we identified what triggered her stress at school, and she developed better ways of managing these problems, like talking over disagreements rather than just feeling upset.”

Says Abby's mom: “When your child is facing mental illness, it’s important to let them know they’re not fighting that battle alone. Parents have to show their child that they care, that they’re worth it, and fight for them.”

Be the Best of Who You Are

Abby says she’s learned a lot while working with her therapist.

“I understand now that we’re all doing the best we can,” she says. “I also know there will always be people out there who will bring you down, but you don’t have to listen to them. You are the best sum of who you are, and when times are hard there are people out there who can help you feel better.”

24-hour Emergency Services

Bryan Health has long been dedicated to caring for the mental health of youth and support of their families. In 1986, Bryan began a youth inpatient treatment program; in 1993 it created Nebraska’s first mental health emergency department. The Bryan mental health emergency department is open 24 hours a day, every day. Each year more than 6,500 patients receive this vital service, including 2,000 youth.

To expand these services, Bryan began offering telemedicine mental health emergency services in other Nebraska communities in 2016. Today, Bryan collaborates with hospitals to offer this care in Beatrice, Columbus, Crete, Neligh, Tecumseh, Valentine and Wahoo.

The mental health telemedicine service provides expert evaluations quickly to young patients in their own communities. Youth and families can stay close to home, near relatives and friends, and avoid a long drive to Bryan for crisis assessment because telemedicine connects their local hospitals with providers here.

Bryan offers free, confidential online screenings to all ages. Learn more about help for youth in crisis here.

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