The Art of Healing

Stephanie was referred to the Oasis Teen Shelter by a hospital Social Worker after a suicide attempt. Her parents are divorced and there was a lot of family turmoil, making it difficult to cope. Oasis welcomed Stephanie and initiated intensive case management to identify needs. Stephanie was gentle and quiet; it was not easy for her to share her struggles. It was established that she had a home with each parent, but felt vulnerable at both. She expressed feeling safe at Oasis because she was most in danger at night; she was worried she would hurt herself when everyone slept. Additionally, she stated having a hard time relating and explaining how she felt to her parents and that they needed more help with accessing support. Although she could have returned home, she stayed a few extra days due to Oasis overnight staff being available for emergent support if needed.

Stephanie was encouraged to attend the Oasis Daylight Center program, in addition to the overnight shelter, where she painted for the first time. With a brush, colors, and a canvas, she found herself sharing the story she could not verbally. The parents also met with staff.  Although it was difficult for them to collaborate, and even be in the same room, they were willing to briefly focus on their daughter’s wellbeing. They identified the intensive and specialized community services Oasis could not offer that Stephanie so desperately needed in order for referrals to be made.

The day came when Stephanie was not able to deescalate herself from self harm thoughts while at the shelter. She asked for help and emergency responders transported her to the ER. While in the ER, Oasis provided her with canvas, paint, and brushes donated by the community. In the midst of service evaluations by providers, Stephanie’s parent came to Oasis asking to borrow money; a request that cannot be granted. Desperation was evident. Staff paused and gently asked about the circumstances in order to brainstorm and identify support. The parent needed $10 for gas to visit Stephanie before her admittance to a therapeutic mental health institution. Staff commended the parent’s willingness to ask for help.

Fortunately, Oasis receives support from generous churches and organizations. A Safeway gift card for gas was provided and the hospital was encouraged to keep Stephanie there for the visit. Oasis staff overheard the parent tell Stephanie over the phone that they “did not have money” in response a request; Stephanie wanted a hamburger. Staff was able to give the parent a second gift card to fulfill that request along with an additional supply of canvas. Stephanie’s testimony was that, aside from the medical care, painting soothed her while at the hospital. Her parent reported that hospital staff was proud of Stephanie’s art and that it decorated her patient room, giving it life.

The shelter was able to successfully discharge Stephanie and, upon stability, invited her to attend the Daylight Center for continued support. Oasis staff thanks the multiple partnering churches and organizations for helping to ensure we can meet the needs of our youth and families.  Thank you for helping us be available to families at such vulnerable times.