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Patient Stories

Grieving child only seen once in six months

Published Wednesday, August 10, 2022

I’m a public high school teacher and in the spring of 2021, my father-in-law passed. He was one of the most important figures in my childrens’ lives. While balancing my mental health in the most difficult year of my career, I had to then be the emotional support for my wife and my 5-year-old son, who was affected the most by the passing. We anticipated a fair amount of grieving, but after a difficult holiday season, we reached out to Kaiser for mental health services. We made our first contact in early January, and were given the next available appointment two months later in mid March. I attempted to request a referral to Beacon Health but was told that they could not refer children under 6. The first meeting went well, the second meeting was exclusively with parents, and the third meeting was canceled because the doctor was sick – an unavoidable reality, but Kaiser Permanente had no alternative or options for rescheduling, even after we reported self-harm.

In our attempt to build a consistent and safe routine for our son to express and feel confident in his emotions, he has been seen one time in six months. We still cannot get the referral to Beacon Health.

At the same time, I never had my own time to grieve or express my own emotions. I reached out to Kaiser in June and was then ushered through three separate intake phone calls over the next 2.5 months, before I was finally able to speak with a therapist in late September. On the call, the doctor exclusively wanted to talk about my diagnosed ADHD, and would not give me room to discuss my emotional trauma. At one point in the conversation the doctor said, “I used to be a teacher, so I understand what you’re going through…” and closed the conversation with “well, it sounds like the difficult times are behind you now, so let’s schedule our next appointment for the holiday season when you might be triggered again…”. I was left dejected and hopeless. I am still struggling with my mental health.