Since the launching of the Thielen Foundation, Adam and I had our first visit with the kids in the Behavioral Health out-patient unit! We saw about twenty one 12-21 year olds and about six 6-12 year olds. We sat in a circle and got to know them and we were vulnerable to allow them to ask us any questions they wanted! Of course, some questions were centered around football like “who is Adam’s favorite wide receiver?” And “If you weren’t with the Vikings, what team would you want to play for?” Things got real when someone asked why we wanted to support the Behavioral Health Unit? It was such a sweet experience to enjoy a time of genuine curiosity and see the kids faces when both Adam and I talked about our struggles, tough times and how we dealt with it.
Adam and I are not perfect and have had (and continue to have!) struggles just like some of these kids have. In both age groups the kids started off a little shy but as we got to talking they really started opening up and asking some great questions. We discussed social media bullying, ways to deal with anxiety and depression (i.e. working out, our family has a strong faith), and specific times where Adam and I have had to cope with our own personal issues. It was amazing to see the kids light up and to have some of the notes we've received from kids after that were too shy to speak about how much they loved it.
It was wonderful to hear from the nurses how excited and thankful they are that someone is taking the time to come in and hang out and invest in these kids. The staff and the kids see these other units like cancer, disabilities, etc getting attention and people doing fun things for them and sometimes these behavioral kids/and staff feel neglected. Mental health is a very important aspect in our day-and-age and Adam and I are grateful to be able to shine a light and offer hope to many kids so they can reach their full potential. Adam offered autographed footballs, we took memory-lasting photos and gave each child a journal as a tool to guide them to a healthy and happy future. As a family, we have certainly been blessed by our hospital visit last week and are already looking forward to another visit in the next few weeks!