My Turn, Shana N. Cauthen: Story of ‘Rodger’ shows importance of United Way’s help

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 14, 2021

By Shana N. Cauthen

“Rodger” is a 9-year-old boy who is in the third grade.

He is smart, loves basketball, is witty and a very shy young man. He, his mother and siblings just moved to Rowan County from out of state. They had an emergency where they had to drop everything and leave their home due to unsafe living conditions.

The mother’s boyfriend was very aggressive with his mom. He used to see incidents each time they would occur while living in the home with mom and dad. He saw things no child should have to see.

One day, an incident happened at his home that was so catastrophic police were called, and his mom and siblings had to flee their home. He had to leave his school, teachers and friends, and mom had to leave the job she’d only been working only one month to move away to safety from his mom’s boyfriend.

They left on a Monday morning after her boyfriend went to work. They traveled two days to Rowan County — where mom felt safer and had friends and family that could support her if she needed. They would lend a helping hand, which was just want the family needed after this drastic transition.

Fast forward about two weeks since “Rodger” started his new school. His teacher noticed he hasn’t talked to peers, is not making friends and is very distant with everyone. The school counselor reached out to mom, and mom tells her she has noticed a change in “Roger” as well.

He is angry, lashes out around the house and is just not like himself. He also is not doing his schoolwork, and mom is having a hard time getting him to do his work around the home.

During this conversation between mom and the counselor, the counselor asked mom whether she would be open to mental health support services in the school since there is such a drastic change in “Rodger’s” behavior. Mom said, “Yes please,” and proceeded to give the school counselor a little more insight into how they came to Rowan unplanned — they lived two states away, and she had no time to connect the kids and the family to a doctor or update their insurance coverage with such a swift move.

Mom then became frustrated and discouraged that they had no insurance coverage, and they couldn’t even get the mental health support the counselor was speaking of. The school counselor asked mom if she have a few more moments to fill out an application for a scholarship.

This is an example story of how the Rowan United Way Scholarship Program has connected children and families in need to mental health services through community partnerships. Through recognizing and assessing the needs of students using school counselors and social workers, the Rowan United Way is decreasing the stigma, decreasing barriers and increasing the number of people receiving mental health services. The United Way’s mission of creating a “stronger and healthier community” through focusing on the mental health needs of youth allows Rowan County children and families the opportunities they so desperately need and deserve to grow and thrive.

Shana N. Cauthen is a owner and director of clinical services at Cauthen Counseling and Consulting at 118 E Council St. in Salisbury. She works with Rowan-Salisbury Schools to provide counseling services.