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The Power of Your Story

October 11, 2017

“When you stand and share your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else.”
― Iyanla Vanzant

This quote is exactly what the STEP education and support program at Skyland Trail is all about. I stay connected to Skyland Trail because of what it provided our family. The STEP program helped me to navigate our family journey through the impact of mental illness. I believe that the family can be a huge resource for support to individuals who are struggling with a mental illness but only if they too have support. Participating in STEP gave me hope by seeing other families heal. It also provided me with a place where others understood what I was going through.  I continued to participate in STEP long after my daughter completed the Skyland Trail program because I wanted to be able to be there for new families. I often volunteer to speak to new families during family orientation to share with them what I wish I had known when our family started this journey.

My daughter went through the program twice and graduated in 2012. Today my daughter is happy, healthy and living a life with purpose. I don’t believe this would have been possible without the treatment she received from the dedicated staff at Skyland Trail. She has often said “that place saved my life”, well it also saved my life. Her journey inspired me to return to school in my 50’s to complete my masters in clinical social work. I currently work as a therapist in the Young Adult Psych program at Ridgeview Institute. I try to help families recognize ways they can start their own journey along with changing their interactions with their loved one to provide healthy support for recovery. My family would not have had access to this program without the financial assistance offered due to fundraisers and donations from other families. Skyland Trail is a non-profit organization which means their continued ability to provide some of the finest treatment available rests on continued financial support from the community. Skyland Trail touches many lives and I hope I will be able to help that continue with the small financial contributions and volunteer work my family is able to provide.

- Neitcha Thomsen, LMSW, parent of a Skyland Trail alumna
(pictured with her daughter Elizabeth)