Judy* at 64, was supposed to be enjoying her golden years as a grandmother. But due to an unfortunate circumstance, she found herself in an ugly custody battle over her two grandsons, Michael* and Morris*, in which she was eventually successful.
However, the situation proved hard to digest for the young boys: the change in environment and uncertainty, were some of the things that they could not comprehend at such a tender age.
Michael started displaying signs of aggression when he entered Primary School, which were exacerbated by his schoolmates bullying him. Michael began seeing the school counselor, but his violent streaks worsened, and he was eventually referred to the Child Guidance Clinic at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).
Judy started bringing Michael to IMH for regular appointments, and it was not easy for her. Michael would ask why he had to go to the IMH, when he didn’t think he was ‘ill’.
“It is not for mental-related issues, it is for wellness,” explained Judy, whenever the boys or anyone else asked why they visited IMH.
When the Ronald McDonald Family Room at IMH officially started welcoming guests in 2018, a huge weight was lifted off Judy’s shoulders. Not only did the Family Room provide snacks and a space for both Judy and Michael to relax, more importantly, it was a quiet and safe environment for Michael before seeing his doctor.
The Family Room quickly became a happy place for Michael and his brother Morris, who accompanied Michael to IMH on several occasions. Michael now associates positive feelings such as calmness, positivity, and safety with the Family Room. To Judy, the Family Room is a comfortable and safe place where they can be accepted for who they are.
The brothers, who are now in secondary school, love spending time at the Ronald McDonald Family Room at IMH so much that they even wanted Judy to bring them to the Family Room during their school holidays – a testament to how much they had enjoyed the time spent in our Family Room!
*Names and images used have been changed to protect the identity of our beneficiaries.