How Covenant House helped Emily turn her life around
Emily arrived at Covenant House Toronto feeling isolated, lonely and suffering from severe depression. She was exhausted, and stressed by her time experiencing homelessness, and she felt uncertain about her future; she rarely left her room at the shelter. She was too tired to care.
As part of the wraparound supports at Covenant House Toronto, an agency that provides a wide range of services to youth who are homeless or trafficked, Emily was referred to one of the organization's occupational therapists. Occupational therapists provide practical tools to cope with the effects of mental illness.
With a $20,000 grant from the TELUS Greater Toronto Area Community Board, Covenant House Toronto has been able to expand their mental health and well-being services to provide more youth like Emily with one-on-one support based on their unique health needs.
At their first appointment, the occupational therapist asked her what she wanted her life to look like, and Emily didn’t know how to answer. She had been focused on survival, and planning for her future wasn’t practical when she didn’t know where she would sleep that night. With her basic needs taken care of at Covenant House, she could now start thinking more about her future.
Emily decided that she wanted to go back to school, but the depression prevented her from seeing how that could be possible.
Her psychiatrist had prescribed an antidepressant, but Emily feared that taking medication was the easy way out. The occupational therapist led her through exercises that helped her question the stigma and reframe her thoughts. Instead of seeing medication as a weakness, they framed it as one useful tool among many on Emily’s journey to wellness.
At each appointment, Emily identified a concrete action that she could take the following week to get closer to her goals. After a few appointments, she started to take initiative and accomplish even more, sharing her successes at every meeting.
Emily turned her life around
It only took a few months to see the practical changes that Emily had made in her life: she was attending appointments dressed in outfits instead of her usual pajamas. It was clear her hygiene had improved, and she was taking her medication every day.
Now, feeling more confident and secure, Emily has started looking into going back to school. She has several options to consider, and thanks to the tools she learned in occupational therapy at Covenant House Toronto, Emily finally feels like she has control over her future.
Thanks to the support of our donors and partners, and life-saving organizations like Covenant House Toronto, we’re helping youth experiencing homelessness receive critical support and services when they need it the most.