Talking Treatment Endings with Kelsey Sonn
When clinical improvement has been limited, the end of treatment can be a challenging time not just for young people but also their families and for practitioners. This is a critically important but sadly under-examined aspect of mental health treatment.
Today we hosted a breakfast briefing to report on a series of round table discussions around treatment endings. We traveled the country having open and honest conversations with affected people and seeing what can be done to address this important issue.
If you missed it, our Young Champion Kelsey Sonn describes her experience of treatment endings,
Treatment endings can be a scary phrase to hear. It can feel almost as though as if everybody is saying “you’re better, you’ve recovered”. Well I am pleased to say from my experience you’re not alone with that feeling. The feeling of abandonment because you no longer need help, but everyone needs help, right? So, the word treatment. Sounds scary, almost as though it sounds like there is something completely wrong with you and it must be fixed, that feels wrong.
Then the word endings, like the story has finished, the last page has been written and closed, rather than continuing with a new chapter. It can feel like utter dismissal once you hear that word, especially when you have been rejected a lot within life with close ones all the way to those who I have never met before. Lastly, you feel like the bond that has been created by both yourself and therapist is about to be lost, almost like all the hard work to trust someone is about to disappear.
Within my own personal experience, it is almost like cutting down a tree, that is how I and a few others envision mental health. Trees. Who would think trees would come into a blog about treatment endings? Well I have managed it, metaphorically of course. Trees almost certainly grow back after being cut down and tidied up, almost like mental health, we try and cut away what we struggle with to allow room for growth within our minds. Sometimes it doesn’t quite work that way, the tree stays the same for a while, growing steadily, then before you know it it’s engulfing the space around it, preventing daylight. This almost represents how bad periods of mental health work and if your treatment has ended, the tree is left to grow, and you’re left back at square one having to cut leaf by leaf and branch by branch, exhausting you of all your energy.
We can almost relate the growth of the tree to the chemicals that take bad bits away. Ultimately if you are not given these ‘chemicals’ to get rid of the bad bits you will not be able to fight off this ever-growing tree. These chemicals symbolise the treatment and ensuring you have the right ways to cope and fight off those demons inside of you.
If you were able to take one thing away from this blog I would remember this: Mental health is a journey, and whether your treatment has ended or not, the power to fight it is there. That’s a promise. Ending your treatment can symbolise that you could be ready for independence and explore the world free of worrying of when your next appointment is, free of the constant worry that your tree will keep growing, because it can blossom into something amazing.