You Deserve Hope – Teri Costello – The Buddy Program & The Parent Program
As shared by the CDC, more teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease combined. When a child is diagnosed with cancer, diabetes or chronic lung disease, the community rallies around them and their family, however if they are diagnosed with a mental health condition, they are often alienated, shamed, or worse. Stigma and misinformation about mental health prevent people from seeking out and participating in treatment, leaving vulnerable youth to feel alone and hopeless.
When my son began to show symptoms of a mental health conditions at the tender age of three and a half, I didn’t know what it was or how to help him. I was given well intended, but unhelpful and sometimes even cruel, advice. I was sent from doctor to doctor with “what it’s not” versus what it is or how to help him. Without having the team of doctors we now have working with us, I believe I would have lost my son to suicide, despite my love and herculean efforts to get help.
My son and I have since learned a lot about mental health conditions – including the fact that it is very treatable. So we decided to share this hard-won knowledge with other families to keep them from feeling alone and without hope, which is what inspired our organization – You Deserve Hope. With education, we can work towards removing the stigma surrounding this treatable medical condition and begin saving precious young lives. The seed grant from TPP will allow us to get the word out and begin helping people with our two programs: the Buddy Program and Parent Program. The Buddy Program is for youth and young adults to hang out in a safe space and learn tips to help them with mental wellness, while playing board game, and other stress free activities. In the Parent Program we will wrap around a family to improve their chances of finding and following through on treatment. We will share resources, information on what to expect from treatment, online encouragement through CaringBridge, and meal deliveries when possible. Pretty much all the things family and friends would do if a child was diagnosed with cancer.
We are so grateful to TPP and can’t wait to share our story as it unfolds!