The Full Story of Marco’s Journey

If you participated in our Pass The Hat campaign this year—thank you!



We hope the campaign laid the groundwork for some heart-to-heart conversations between you and your colleagues, friends, and loved ones!



You may have read some of our emails or social posts throughout Mental Health Week, and if you did, you’ll recognize the name Marco! We told his story in small snippets throughout the campaign, but we want to give you the opportunity to read it as a whole. It’s one of those stories that bears repeating… and remembering.


By the time Marco was 13 years old, he’d already accessed professional care for multiple mental health challenges, including a learning disability, ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

He’d struggled. He’d been resilient. He’d fought through to a place where he had friends and was doing well at school.



But one morning when he sat down to breakfast, his mom noticed that he hardly ate more than a single bite of food. Then for the rest of that week, it was the same thing. He was refusing to eat. At the same time, he became irritable and withdrawn, and insisted on sleeping in his parents’ bed. 



Marco was clearly feeling sick but couldn’t find the words to explain it to his parents. He couldn’t really understand what was going on, himself. 



As Marco rapidly began losing weight, his parents became very concerned. They were ready to continue advocating for him tirelessly, but it was not a straightforward journey to get the care that he needed. 



Marco quickly lost so much weight that he was admitted to a hospital and spent 11 days in their Eating Disorders Clinic. But his parents believed in their hearts that anxiety was at the root of this alarming new behaviour.



Sure enough, the treatment at the Eating Disorders Clinic didn’t help. Marco’s parents took him back to the Emergency Department and asked for mental health care.



That’s when he was referred to Humber River Health’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Urgent Care Clinic (CAUCC).  The CAUCC is one of the essential frontline resources that you support when you give to Hats On… and it’s where Marco finally received a comprehensive assessment that began to get at the root of his issue. 



Marco Finally Received The Care He Needed


They identified that Marco had a deep-seated fear of choking… This was why he couldn’t eat.


Can you imagine learning about this discovery, as Marco’s parents? 


After this diagnosis, it was time to get to work on the real issue. Marco’s treatment at the CAUCC focused on him as an individual and his family as a system. Marco and his parents learned anxiety management techniques that helped reduce his fear of choking, through cognitive behavioural therapy. He and his parents were both coached on how to address significant bullying he was experiencing at school. And through the treatment, Marco’s family bond was strengthened as well. 


Thanks to support like yours, Marco has gained back his weight and is once again the happy child his parents remember. He attends a social skills group and is excited about school.



Too Many Youth Are Struggling Without the Care They Need


Did you know? Anxiety can show itself in so many ways – but sometimes it’s invisible too. Of all your loved ones, 1 in 5 are struggling with anxiety. 

(Source: Anxiety Canada)



Experiencing a mental health crisis can be terrifying… Especially when you can’t find the words to express yourself. Especially when you don’t have the professional care that you need.



Our youth in the Greater Toronto Area are facing a mental health emergency. For too many youth, the journey to accessing care is longer than what Marco experienced. Or worse, they don’t find the care they need, at all. 



Kids like Marco need more mental health services or they will be left behind. 



That’s why it’s critical to continue supporting frontline resources like Humber River Health’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Urgent Care Clinic (CAUCC).


Your Support Could Be The Turning Point

Receiving holistic treatment at Humber River Health provided a crucial turning point in Marco’s story. His anxiety had taken on an insidious form that quickly became life-threatening.



Things could have turned out much worse were it not for the comprehensive assessment and individualized treatment he received. And that’s exactly why Hats On For Awareness fundraises for frontline resources like the CAUCC.



You can play a role in stories like Marco’s by following us on social media, signing up for our newsletters, and sharing whatever you find impactful to help spread awareness. We also welcome you to give to support more people in crisis!

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