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Camp Therapyology -- Social distanced camp in Birmingham helps children, teens with mental health

Camp features activities, crafts, stress management, and more

BIRMINGHAM, Mich. – Throughout this pandemic, experts have said repeatedly that a mental health crisis would be left in its wake -- stress and anxiety certainly run high and that goes for children too.

Lots of children dream of spending their summer away at camp, having fun with their friends, but with all the restrictions this year -- many children feel isolated.

Read more: Kids at Home

Brooke Bendix is a child and teen psychotherapist based in Farmington Hills. She saw a need for teens to get a mental health check-up and created “Therapyology,” -- it contains all the usual things one expects with a summer camp and more.

“We brought in a personal trainer to talk about his own anxiety and why he got into the, the field of physical fitness, and we paired that with talking about stressors and anxiety and slowing down in mindfulness,” Bendix said.

With schools and activities abruptly canceled, she saw many youths struggling and feeling isolated.

“It’s heartbreaking to see,” Bendix said. “I’ve seen over the past couple of months so many kids and teens just really go from this, the light that they have inside of them to, you know, what the face of depression really looks like.”

For younger children, being stuck inside has taken a toll on their mental and emotional health. She said it has caused an increase of depression and anxiety.

“I’ve had kids say to me how lonely they are,” Bendix said. “The younger kids especially ask their parents ‘Why can I see my friends?‘”

“Therapyology” was developed to bring a camp-like experience for teenagers to have a safe space in nature where they can express themselves and connect with other teenagers.

“I had somebody come in who’s a professional choreographer and she taught them some dances and we talked about body image and self esteem,” Bendix said. “And we made a TicToc -- which they all love course.”

The group of campers is made up of a total of eight children and teens ages 12-14. Camp is two mornings a week at Barnum Park in Birmingham.

All the campers wear masks and make sure to follow social distancing rules.

“Kids are anxious. We’re talking about friendships, and a lot of kids have talked about how they feel they don’t have any friends, or they get bullied sometimes at school,” Bendix said. “You know what is that going to look like in the fall when they don’t physically go back into the building, and they’re going into high school for the first time and they’re meeting their teachers and other kids, for the first time, over the screen.”

It’s an opportunity for therapy while having a good time.

“Sometimes, you know, it’s scary to go to therapy,” Bendix said. “We’re really trying to break down that stigma because this really isn’t therapy. It’s a small groups for kids and adolescents and teens to really get together and talk about all these things that they don’t get to talk about in school.”

The camp is building a support system for teenagers struggling with anxiety, depression and all the uncertainty we’re facing as we head into the fall.

More information on Camp Therapyology can be found on the official website here.


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