Healthy Brain Network Family Gives Back

Abby* has always been concerned about her children’s mental and emotional health. She remembered her own feelings of anxiety and fear as a young girl, and she could see echoes of her own struggles in them. Her one daughter in particular seemed to have difficulty making friends and doing well in school. Abby worked hard to keep her own anxiety in check so she could be present for her family. When I asked her how that went, Abby responded “Parenting is hard for everyone, even without a mental health concern in the picture. I was just trying to power through.”

Then, last year, Abby started having panic attacks and became depressed. She was surprised when despite her best efforts, her mind began gravitating toward thoughts of suicide. These thoughts felt contradictory to her nature, like something foreign inside her head. Yet, she couldn’t stop them, and as time wore on, they got worse. She began looking for support, but despite having insurance she struggled to find anything she could afford. The specific treatment that was recommended for her, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, was pricey and her insurance wouldn’t cover it. She worked through a list of providers hoping to find an affordable rate. Time after time, she heard the same out-of-reach price, which only made her feel more despondent.

“Parenting is hard for everyone, even without a mental health concern in the picture. I was just trying to power through.”

For the first time in her life, Abby opened up and began telling people in her community how she was feeling, and what was going on. The response was swift and effective – in conjunction with Amudim (a non profit with crisis intervention services), her community came together to connect her with the funds she needed to get treatment in a private facility.

Around that same time, Abby’s daughter also began to struggle. Her grades tanked. Teachers observed that she sat in class with her hoodie pulled over her head as if she was hiding. Abby felt that her daughter was angry all the time, hiding in her room, and refusing to communicate with anyone. A friend told her about the Healthy Brain Network, and Abby reached out about getting an evaluation for her.

Abby recently received the results of her daughter’s evaluation in a detailed feedback report, including a diagnosis of ADHD and recommendations for what to do about it. The day we spoke she had just met with her school and was happy to report that everyone seemed committed to supporting her daughter.

“Sometimes having new found insight about what the problem is and how to address it – even if you are lucky enough to have insurance – may not be enough.”

And so, Abby and her family find themselves at a crossroads again. She says after her experiences finding the financial resources for her own treatment, she’s hopeful that her daughter will get the care she needs to get back on the right track. But she wants to do something to ensure that other families don’t find themselves in the same situation she was in last year. Abby says, “Sometimes having new found insight about what the problem is and how to address it – even if you are lucky enough to have insurance – may not be enough. If families can’t get access to treatment, what good does knowledge about the problem or having a proposed solution really do?”

Now, with the help and support of her therapist, Abby has created the Race for Hope. It’s an online fundraising effort that will pair 100% of monies collected with families and individuals in need of financial assistance for treatment of mental health and learning disorders. The goal is to get people to sign up to run a virtual marathon during the month of August and ultimately to raise $1 million by September, which is Suicide Prevention Month. Get details and sign up for race alerts on the Race For Hope website.

On August 1st, Race for Hope alert subscribers will be notified that the Race is ON and sent to the website to create their online racing account with a pledge attached to the miles they run. Once a person creates an account, they can log and track their miles, which will accumulate during the entire month of August, until the Race for Hope wraps up on August 31st.

The race website will track a participant’s cumulative miles and plot their progress on a route alongside that of their fellow participants – resulting in a virtual “race” (see screenshot, above). Because the race is virtual, racers from anywhere in the world and all kinds of backgrounds can participate at times that are convenient for them – no need to invest in travel to a specific location on a specific race day. Participants even can log activities such as dancing, swimming and cycling!

Once the race is over, 100% of the funds raised will be distributed based on need – via organizations selected by the race committee – to families who apply for mental health care financial assistance. It’s just one more way Healthy Brain Network families are doing their part to make sure people with mental health and learning disorders get the help they need to be successful in life!

*Names in this article have been changed to protect the privacy of the family.

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