most memorable moment in the career of Registered Nurse Patricia Merka was when
she received a letter from the mother of a former patient. The mother wrote to
let her know that her daughter, who as a young girl had struggled with social
anxiety, had just completed her final year and was travelling abroad with
friends. Prior to graduation, she had written an essay for her class about the
woman who had helped her to change her life.
woman turned out to be Patricia, who has seen many clients grow confident and
independent over the past 15 years she has worked with CAMH's Child, Youth and
Family program. But as nurses, she says, they don't always know whose lives
they may have touched or had an impact on. "Often clients leave us and we
don’t always know what has happened with them. We only have to believe that
being with them on their journey through their struggles, listening to them and
helping them find ways to navigate this period in their lives and find better
ways to cope, all make a difference in some way."
works with four clinics at CAMH that serve a range of conditions young people
experience: psychotic disorders; mood and anxiety; a consultation clinic for
children with a range of illnesses and those with co-occurring disorders, such
as Autism and ADHD; and the Better Behaviour Service, where she and her team
members care for eight children with emotional and behavioral concerns in an
on-site classroom setting known as CATCH (Community Assessment and Treatment
for Children’s Health).
says, "I have embraced the challenge of having my time divided among
several amazing teams. I have learned over the years something from each and
every discipline, whether it be psychiatry, child/youth work, social work or
psychology, and how they understand, assess and treat clients and families with
mental health/addictions concerns."
is involved in providing individual assessments and a range of treatments,
including Cognitive Behavioural, Dialectical Behaviour, Mindfulness Based and
psychodynamic therapies. She facilitates a cognitive behavioral therapy group
for teenagers who have experienced mood and/or anxiety concerns. She has also
been involved in unique programs for teenagers in partnership with community
agencies, such as the Burton
Chill Foundation Snowboard Program and the Broad Reach Foundation
for Youth Leaders learn-to-sail program.
challenging part of her job, she says, is being the only nurse in the
outpatient stream of the Child, Youth and Family service as she can be pulled
in many directions. "However, I wouldn’t change a thing. I have never been
bored!" To get collegial support, she reaches out to her nursing
colleagues in other programs, and regularly attends CAMH's Nursing
starting to work with children and youth, Patricia worked on an adult inpatient
unit for 10 years. She had just completed psychotherapy training, working with
the child and adolescent population, when the position became available. She
was excited at the change as she had always believed in the importance of
these years later, she still finds it rewarding when youth want to come back
and are feeling helped. "It is a privilege when they are able to let you
into their lives, their struggles and their accomplishments."