Abby* had always enjoyed elementary school, earned good grades, and made many close friends. The transition to middle school, however, proved far more challenging. Her peers began to bully her and she lost trust in her friendships. She gradually withdrew from people and began experiencing symptoms of anxiety. As these symptoms intensified, Abby began to have trouble attending school.
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced students to attend class virtually, Abby’s symptoms of anxiety became even more pronounced. She began to spend all day in her bedroom and felt unable to leave the house to complete routine tasks, like taking out the garbage or accompanying her mother to the store. She had trouble attending her virtual classes and would experience panic attacks when her mother discussed the prospect of returning to in-person schooling.
Abby’s school described her as intelligent and capable, but the excessive absences prompted them to file a Child Requiring Assistance (CRA) application with the juvenile court. The Judge ordered an evaluation to be completed by an ACS clinician to help determine what support Abby needed to be able to reengage in her education.
Abby told her clinician about the persistent negative thoughts she experienced, including contemplating self-harm and suicide. Abby told her clinician, “I just want these feelings to stop.” The ACS clinician reviewed Abby’s medical records, interviewed her parents and teachers, and spent hours meeting with Abby. The clinician understood that, in addition to anxiety, Abby was also struggling with depression. She was able to educate Abby and her mother about anxiety and depression, teach them new and effective coping skills, and help them find treatment services.
At Abby’s last meeting with her clinician she said, “I want to thank you for listening. I feel like you really heard me and understand me.”
*To protect confidentiality, ACS does not use the names, photos, or identifying features of our clients.