Calgary teen shares story of mental health challenges to raise money, help others

WATCH: Hudson Brock was admitted to the mental health unit at the Alberta Children’s Hospital when he was just seven years old. Now 14, Brock is hoping to help others and raise money for a new child and adolescent mental health centre in Calgary by sharing his story. Deb Matejicka reports.

Hudson Brock was just seven years old when he was admitted to the mental health unit at the Alberta Children’s Hospital (ACH).

“I worried about every tiny thing. My brain found something to worry about and I worried about it for such a long time,” the now-14-year-old said.

For Naomi Brock, Hudson’s mother, talking about the day she had to leave her son in the care of others is still difficult.

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“That was one of the hardest days in my life, as you can tell,” Brock said, her voice starting to tremble. “That was a long time ago and I still can’t talk about it without tearing up.”

Hudson had already been diagnosed with absence epilepsy, Tourette Syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder when Naomi said other issues started to emerge.

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“Hudson’s dreams and fears that he was developing were outside of the norm,” Brock said. “He would sometimes sleep for maybe 3 hours a night total because he was waking up terrified.”

Brock said Hudson’s fear was so intense that he wouldn’t leave her or her husband’s side.

On top of everything, doctors discovered Hudson had developed severe anxiety.

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“It was like I was carrying two heavy suitcases that I couldn’t put down and I was always exhausted and stressed out…but when I went to the hospital they allowed me to put those suitcases down,” Hudson said.

Though Naomi says leaving her son at the hospital was the most difficult decision she’s ever made, she also knows it was the best decision she’s ever made for him. She said his stay at the ACH “opened a world of difference” for Hudson.

“He can be a kid. He can be who he was meant to be before the illnesses took over,” she said.

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Hudson’s anxiety is still very much present but he now has the skills to deal with it.

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He’s an actor and he’s also become the face of the #buildthemup campaign — an Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation (ACHF) initiative to raise money for the construction of a new child and adolescent mental health centre in Calgary.

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“He is helping us tell the story of how important it is that families and kids have access immediately to these services, have much more availability of all kinds of services and how important it is that research is embedded into all of those practices,” Catherine Feenstra, ACHF manager of community initiatives and events, said.

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“The goal is a total of $50 million in order to accommodate the build and some of the programs and research that will happen within the centre,” added Feenstra.

“I just want to help as many kids as possible and change their lives, because I know when I was younger I was struggling a lot,” Hudson said, adding, “I want to be that guy that’s out there helping kids be kids.”

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Hudson will next lend his support to the RBC Race for the Kids this weekend.

All registration fees and funds raised from the event will be funneled towards the new centre.