Zach’s Story

At times during the pandemic, it feels like the world has stopped. Yet, the need for Carizon’s work has ballooned as we work to support families struggling with complex challenges. Families like Zach’s. Zach is a young boy returning to elementary school, whose mental health began to deteriorate as he tried to cope with the disruption and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic.  

After months of isolation, Zach developed anxiety so debilitating that it often turned into panic attacks. He felt overwhelmed by fear and sadness, had trouble sleeping, and was unable to control racing thoughts.  

Zach fought with everyone in the house, to the point where his siblings began to avoid him, spending more and more time in their rooms. He felt more isolated and there was increased conflict in the home, making Zach feel even more hopeless and heavy.   

One night, the weight of Zach’s thoughts led to self-harming behaviour that resulted in a hospital admission. Zach, who was previously playful, creative, energetic, and had a zest for life now felt like it wasn’t worth living anymore.   

Unfortunately, COVID-19 is revealing new challenges to mental health that we have yet to fully grasp. The pandemic has made the need for high-quality mental health services more urgent than ever. That’s why we need you and our community to come together. 

When Zach’s parents were desperate and feeling hopeless, they found Carizon. Because of the programs you make possible through your support, they were immediately connected to services for Zach and the entire family.  

A team of child and family therapists worked with his parents to provide education about neurobiology, anxiety, and stress responses and gave them strategies on how they could support Zach without empowering his fears. His parents were also referred to a parent support group, which allowed them to feel comforted and connected to other parents experiencing similar challenges.      

Zach received individual counselling and was enrolled in a Children’s Mental Health group that used play-based cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to help him find healthy ways to express his emotions and cope.  Zach was able to connect with other children who were going through the same fears and he finally felt like he wasn’t alone.   

Our counsellor worked with the family on slowly increasing exposure to stimuli that Zach found most distressing.  Eventually.  he could begin to find success in some of the challenges he previously found insurmountable, like the simple act of completing a homework question.  

Zach’s self-esteem and confidence are increasing with every weekly session. He is feeling like he finally has control of his body and feelings again and he is equipped with strategies to use if his worried thoughts return. 

He is attending school and enjoys playing with his Grade 4 classmates.  His mood has improved, and things at home are going better.  

His parents are also feeling a sense of ease and immense gratitude, knowing that, with the right supports, Zach will develop his full potential. “We have hopes and dreams for our children, like other parents, and we want the very best for them,” says Zach’s dad. “We want them to fulfill their potential and live a happy life. I feel sure that with the right support, Zach will have a great future.”