*This story was submitted by Annmarie Arensberg, Residential Therapist for KVC Prairie Ridge Hospital
In August 2014, 18-year-old Jessica came from another state to KVC Prairie Ridge Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas. She came to KVC at a very low point in her life. Jessica had been through dozens of foster families. Often being asked to leave because the family could not handle how past traumas impacted her behavior and ability to cope with daily life. She was also kicked out of over 15 different psychiatric residential treatment programs.
Jessica felt a lot of rejection. Which resulted in her aggressive and destructive behavior, low self-esteem and thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Jessica would soon be aging out of foster care, and it seemed KVC Prairie Ridge was her last hope and opportunity for a chance at success.
Staff Refuse to Give Up
Throughout her stay at KVC Prairie Ridge, Jessica struggled with these challenges and more. She was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder. Despite the obstacles, KVC Prairie Ridge staff worked closely with her using Trauma Systems Therapy and Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports to support her treatment goals. Through emotional regulation and advocacy, her treatment team was able to get her to a more stable point in her life.
The hospital staff who worked with Jessica embraced KVC’s mission and philosophy, “Do not give up on kids”. Over time, Jessica began to make dramatic improvements. When Jessica first came to Prairie Ridge, she felt very jaded with “the system”. She was convinced that eventually staff would get “tired of her” and kick her out like she had experienced in previous situations. Jessica quickly realized this was not how things worked at Prairie Ridge.
No matter what obstacles Jessica faced, Prairie Ridge staff stuck with her and adjusted her treatment plan as necessary. KVC moved Jessica from the psychiatric residential treatment program to the intensive treatment unit for a calmer, more predictable environment. They identified a mentor for her in the community, and helped her get involved in community events. Jessica began to understand that regardless of her actions, behaviors, and resistance to help, Prairie Ridge staff would not give up on her.
Jessica was eventually discharged to an independent living facility in Kansas City, Missouri. She is currently employed and is living in an apartment by herself. She continues to receive outpatient mental health services. Jessica calls often to provide staff with an update of how she is doing.
If you know a child or young adult struggling with depression or experiencing thoughts of self-harm, please call 1-866-KVC-CARES (582-2273) to contact one of our psychiatric hospitals. Or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).