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Stories from the Field: Mental Health and the Outdoors


May 4, 2021

Carolyn Lambert is the founder of Nathans WayPoint a parent coaching service. Carolyn shares her challenging journey of helping both of her teenagers get help for crippling anxiety and depression. Carolyn helped her son enroll in a residential treatment program and two years later her daughter asked for help and was enrolled in a wilderness therapy program. Carolyn shares the challenges she faced in getting help for her teenager and how it changed the course of her own life to help parents through coaching.

Bio from Nathan's WayPoint:

My outgoing teenage son had just begun his freshman year in high school.  I expected some adjustments, of course. But just a few weeks into the new school year, he began to change. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my sweet, social, high-achieving child… was disappearing.

He stopped participating in activities outside of school and spending time with his friends. He stayed mostly in his bedroom, playing video games. He withdrew more and more—until he barely spoke to anyone.

When your child isn’t well, you bring him to doctors and specialists, and you hope they have answers. But doctor after doctor and we had no answers. A psychiatrist prescribed antidepressants and told him to “man up.” I was frustrated, angry and afraid.  I knew something was terribly wrong and none of the experts I trusted was able to help.

I learned there is an assumption that teens who have these behaviors are being lazy or combative. And somehow our parenting skills are part of the problem.

The truth is, my son was suffering from overwhelming anxiety and depression. No amount of discipline was going to change that. What I would come to learn is that he couldn’t act any differently—not without the right help and the right support at home.

Feeling like I was out of options, and desperate to get my son back, I made the excruciating decision to send him to a  treatment program that specializes in helping kids with debilitating anxiety and depression.

Two years later, when anxiety and depression stopped my younger daughter in her tracks, I thought I knew exactly how to help her. Believing I was an expert in this world, I decided to send her to a short-term program because I now had the tools to help her when she returned home. I was wrong.

My pull to help my children and to help other parents was so strong that I left my career of 20 years as the director of conflict management for the University System of Georgia to become a parenting coach.