Updated: Nov 3
You must know that the kind of person you will grow into as an adult depends on the health of
your brain. If you are like most kids who end up in foster or residential care, you’re an angry and mixed-up prickly porcupine just trying to get through one more day. You wish you were lucky like other kids, who live with moms and dads that love them. You curse your fate and put
yourself down because you know you’re not lucky like those other kids and, even worse, you
never will be. That’s just one example of the many psychological problems that can mess up
There are many, many more painful situations that threaten the mental health of foster kids just
like you. You must learn to protect your mind from anything that can hurt it, like bad feelings
about your real parents or foster parents or house parents or feeling unwanted or unloved or
scared or depressed or wishing you were dead. You know when your brain is on tilt. What you probably don’t know is what to do about it and why it is so important that you get help.
You also probably don’t know that more than 60% of alumni leave foster and residential care
with at least one mental health problem and that over 25% suffer Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
(PTSD), the same mental disorder suffered by military combat veterans. PTSD is a mental
condition that can affect anybody who has experienced severe emotional trauma. Trauma can
actually change the chemistry of your brain and cause anxiety, depression, moodiness, sleep
disorders and other psychological issues. That’s what can happen to your mind after years of
abuse or neglect or suffering from other problems and then suddenly being snatched away from your family and put in the care of adults you do not know and may not like or trust.
Thinking about your mental health at this critical time in your life may be the most important
thing you will ever do to make the rest of your life better.
You have to get your mind right to get your life right!
Your brain is the computer program that controls what you think, say and do. A computer
program can be infected by a malicious virus that changes how the computer works, until it
finally crashes. Your brain works in much the same way, except that the malicious virus is a
painful experience you can’t get out of your brain that changes your good thoughts and feelings into bad ones. The more you think about the painful experience, the more it takes over your mind and the more confused you become, until you finally crash.
That’s why one of every four foster and residential care graduates suffers the same mental
disorder as military combat veterans. Both groups need help defeating the intense, disturbing
thoughts and feelings related to their painful experiences.
Foster kids who get help with their painful experiences learn how to conquer their mental health problems and grow into emotionally healthy adults.*
*Adapted from our book, Beating the Odds In and After Foster and Residential Care