After years of ‘GGZ mill’ for depression and eating disorder, they want a service dog

Recently, the institutions within youth care and mental health care have not actually been seen very well. On the contrary: the system may have to be radically turned upside down. Mitzi Langenberg, 23, and Effie Key, 21, both teenagers, met at the Alkmaar clinic for their eating disorder. For years they underwent all kinds of youth psychiatric treatment. They leave those treatments for what they are, and choose a different path. The assistance dog must provide guidance.

service dog? Yes, a psychosocial service dog may be a solution at a time when social services and all sorts of systems are whistling and cracking. Jojanneke van den Berge card in Jojanneke and youth care tapes The dire situation in youth care. Charlotte Bowman camped two years ago with a service dog in the ministry building. her mission? Better youth care and mental health care.

Evi and Mitzi underwent years of treatment in mental health care

But if you don’t want to be in that system anymore, there are alternatives. Both Evi and Mitzi suffer from mental problems and an eating disorder. Their lives are characterized by ups and downs. Sometimes it goes well, other days not so much. They got to know each other in such a valley, in other words the clinic they stayed in due to their eating disorders at the age of sixteen and fourteen. Now they are going the same way again. “We had the same kind of problem,” Mitzi says. “We found support in each other,” Effie adds.

Both do not want to return to treatment and care programs. “I’ve had years of recordings, and as a little girl I haven’t experienced it as fun,” Mitzi explains. “A few things had to be done, but it left scars too. I still have this and had a relapse 2 years ago. Partly due to untreated trauma from those periods. I understand it’s necessary in some cases, but I wonder to what extent. I think it’s There should be more dialogue with the children.”

help system

Evie shares that thought. Not so long ago she was accepted for eating disorders and depression. She is tired of all the treatments she has undergone for years and wants a turning point in her life. “It doesn’t always work that way, I find it intimidating and frustrating as well.” According to Effie, psychological assistance is systematically organized. “You go through a plan and you can’t get out of it. While everyone is different and so is the approach.”

If Evie was allowed to speak to the health secretary, she would recommend training for caregivers more broadly. It is calling for more empirical experts in mental health care. According to her, good and bad things happen. According to Mitzi, there are still profits to be made within the system. “I think when a child gets into the youth care or psychiatry or help mill, there really has to be help and treatment. Instead of being placed outside the home without treatment. And then the kids are taken away, just when they need help the most.”

Service dog for mental health problems and eating disorder

Mitzi also decided at the end of last year, voluntarily, to opt for admission to a clinic. This is after I tried several other treatments. “But I also got stuck there. Talks never started.” She learned through social media, and her patient following, that a help dog offers a solution to psychological problems. “I decided to embark on this journey with my father. It takes time to make such a decision. But my decision is made now.”

So much so that Mitzi met a pack of puppies last Saturday. One of them will be her help dog, which she will train under supervision. “In eight weeks you have a puppy that you train with a trainer according to your needs.” Then the puppy becomes a psychosocial service dog. “You can’t get it ready,” she laughs. “Evi, for example, has different needs than me.” For Mitzi, it’s all about structure and rhythm. “This is important for my mental health. Then I have something to take care of. Plus a dog is a mirror of my behaviour. I can easily avoid things myself, but that is not possible with a dog, he feels things.” Furthermore, a service dog Mitzi can get nervous early on. “The dog can signal that these tensions are not overflowing. So that I do not need an eating disorder to deal with thoughts and feelings.”

puppy training

Mitzi’s dog is coming in in a couple of weeks, and Evie now has a pep puppy in her house. She and her parents also decided it was time for a service dog. According to her, this takes some getting used to, but it’s also special. Because it stirs up all kinds of feelings and thoughts inside me. It will show the things you are struggling with. like my perfection. But, because I spend so much time with Pip, I don’t think much about my own eating behavior. It gives my life a different focus.”

Pip is trained to guide Evi in ​​social situations. “So that I can set my limits better.” But he also has to learn to recognize physical cues. “Like referring to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or recognizing nightmares or stress at night.” Evi wants to change things in her life and this is a big step for her. “I wanted to do it before, but I didn’t dare. I’m driven by Pip. For example, I have to keep eating to take care of him.”

‘Service dogs don’t rule’

The two girls describe their current mental state as ‘good’ and ‘difficult’. But most of all they look forward to this period with their dog. They both do not know what they want in terms of work or education. But the idea that a service dog will go anywhere with you for the foreseeable future is comforting. Why does the dog calm the “pain”? “It’s a dog, not a human. I can talk very well with people and I understand and know a lot, but I find it hard to establish and allow connection. It hasn’t worked so far. I hope this works with a dog.” Evi and Mitzi agree that the dog helps without judgment. †Whether you’re having a bad day or a good day,” Mitzi explains. “There’s always a dog,” Evie adds.

Whatever path these two take, Evi’s future dog Pip and Mitzi will go with them.

Training assistance dogs takes 2.5 years and costs more than 21,000 euros. Evi explains that it is “impossible” to pay for it yourself. Both women raised funds for the project through crowdfunding. You can still donate to educate puppies. Mitzi’s page can be found here and Effie’s page can be found here.

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Mitzi and Evie struggle with eating disorder, service dog helps: ‘The dog is always there for you’

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