What Was Best for Our Daughter

Parents of an adolescent program graduate and financial aid award recipients

Our daughter needed help. But where we live in North Florida, there are only stabilization options for adolescent treatment. We were always stuck in a loop, doing emergency room stabilization and then they’d send her home. Outpatient doctors and therapists seemed to “pass her off,” cycling through diagnoses and medications, and few made an effort to spend time with her or to really build a relationship.

When we started looking nationally for longer term treatment, most programs seemed very commercialized, and many were geared toward addiction treatment. When I called to learn more, I felt like I was talking to a salesperson. We were looking for a place where our daughter would feel comfortable, where the treatment was focused on the issues she was struggling with, and where the clinical staff were highly qualified. The only place we found that met all our criteria was Skyland Trail.

We liked the overall evidence-based approach and that a team of clinicians would work with our daughter. We liked that Skyland Trail was a nonprofit organization. When talking to the admissions team, I didn’t get a sales pitch. I talked to someone who was familiar with the problems and concerns we had and was able to answer all my questions about treatment with substantive answers. We liked that there would be a targeted treatment plan, specific to our daughter, where other programs described a basic “one size fits all” model.

By the time we picked Skyland Trail, our daughter was accepting. She is a very active person – in sports and music and school and friends – and her mental health issues were affecting everything. It was difficult for her of course, but she knew she needed help.

The initial hopeful feelings were confirmed as our daughter started treatment and we met with a physician, and a psychiatrist, and a dietician, and a psychologist, and a therapist. We knew they were going to actually pay attention to our daughter and find what was best for her while she was there.

While our daughter had been reluctant to talk to doctors and therapists before, she felt welcome and comfortable at Skyland Trail. The treatment team made her feel important and like she was at home there. I think she actually enjoyed it to some extent, in terms of making friends and feeling part of a community. I think that was a huge step in helping her open up and make progress.

Part of the treatment also was for parents. We had family therapy sessions and met with the treatment team regularly. When your kid is struggling, you just feel completely lost. Meeting with the other parents in a peer support setting was really useful. We had the experience of being the “new” parents and learning from other parents who were further along in the process, and that gave use insight and comfort. And then as we learned and gained experience, we got to share that with new families as they joined the program.

Our daughter enrolled in Skyland Trail twice. She needed the second stay to fully heal, especially during the pandemic, which hit teens especially hard. Skyland Trail understood what we were going through and did everything they could to help us financially. While our insurance covered the entire program the first time she enrolled, during her second stay, she needed to stay longer than our insurance would authorize. Skyland Trail helped us work with our insurance company and then offered financial aid to help us reduce our private pay costs.

It was still a significant investment for our family. But as parents, when your child needs help, in the moment you are willing to sign everything away to get them what they need. Skyland Trail helped us find the right balance so that we didn’t have to do that AND so that our daughter could get the full treatment she needed. Financial aid was definitely a part of that equation, and we are very thankful for that.

After our daughter graduated, we made a small gift back to Skyland Trail as part of the Grateful Families program to contribute to that journey for other families, and we plan to continue to give as we are able.

Today our daughter is doing much better. She’s confident and more mature. She’s taking responsibility for herself at a rate that I think is really healthy. Returning to North Florida after treatment, we didn’t have many local resources to support her mental health. So we were really appreciative of what we learned at Skyland Trail. We feel more educated and feel like we can support our daughter in some of the decision-making that she goes through. And I think that she is better educated about her condition and is able to take more responsibility for herself. This year, she finished her senior year of high school and then decided so take some additional classes to help her prepare for her next steps. I think she’s on her way.

Included in Journeys Magazine 2022