The following websites have valuable information on grief and loss:
The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children has many parent
resources-these are just a few
Mental Health Stigma
Wednesday, January 13th, 2010 | CWK Producer
“The child is labeled bad. The child is labeled slow. The child is labeled
outside the circle.”
– Cynthia Wainscott, National Mental Health Association
According to a new survey from the National Institute on Mental Health, only
about half of kids who suffer from mental health disorders are receiving
treatment. One reason, experts say, is that too many of those kids and their
families are embarrassed or ashamed.
When 12-year-old Nicholas was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
Disorder, his mother Martha was upset, and his father, Nick, resisted the
"I was kind of against that and felt like my son had a weakness," Nick says.
Martha remembers Nick's reaction when she told him of her son's
illness. "'There is nothing wrong with my boy—perfect boy.'"
At first, Nick Senior didn't want his son on medication for a mental illness.
But with the help of his wife and other family members, Nick learned about
and accepted his son's condition. Unfortunately, many parents aren't so
easily convinced. They are caught up in what is known as the 'mental health
"I call it prejudice," says Cynthia Wainscott of the National Mental Health
Association. "And it leads to discrimination."
Experts say that discrimination, or the fear of it, is one of the leading
reasons many illnesses go untreated. The problem is, if you don't call a
child's problem by its right name other labels will be used.
"The child is labeled 'bad.' The child is labeled 'slow.' The child is
labeled 'outside the circle,'" Wainscott says.
An untreated illness can lead a child to more serious problems, like severe
depression or even suicide. Experts say that parents should learn about
mental illness in children and accept that it is an illness, not a personal
or parental shortcoming. Also, parents need to understand that it is a common
illness—an estimated one in five children has a mental disorder.
Nicholas is comfortable with his diagnosis, "You don't need to go up to
everybody hey 'my child has ADHD,' but you just let them find out," he says.
Although Marsha and Nick Rosner were shaken by Nicholas' diagnosis, they are
glad that they found out and are confident that now, Nicholas is much better
"He's doing well in school and he's like the other kids," says Rosner.
All teens experience ups and downs. Every day poses a new test of their
emotional stability – fighting with a friend, feeling peer pressure to "fit
in" with a particular crowd or experiencing anxiety over a failed quiz – all
of which can lead to normal feelings of sadness or grief. These feelings are
usually brief and subside with time, unlike depression, which is more than
feeling blue, sad or down in the dumps once in a while.
According to the Nemours Foundation, depression is a strong mood involving
sadness, discouragement, despair or hopelessness that lasts for weeks, months
or even longer. It also interferes with a person's ability to participate in
normal activities. Often, depression in teens is overlooked because parents
and teachers feel that unhappiness or "moodiness" is typical in young people.
They blame hormones or other factors for teens' feelings of sadness or grief,
which leaves many teens undiagnosed and untreated for their illness.
The Mayo Clinic reports that sometimes a stressful life event triggers
depression. Other times, it seems to occur spontaneously, with no
identifiable specific cause. However, certain risk factors may be associated
with developing the disorder. Johns Hopkins University cites the following
risk factors for becoming depressed:
Children under stress who have experienced loss or who suffer attention,
learning or conduct disorders are more susceptible to depression.
Girls are more likely than boys to develop depression.
Youth, particularly younger children, who develop depression are likely to
have a family history of the disorder.
Tips for Parents
Signs of depression include:
Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns
Irritability, anger, worry, agitation or anxiety
Pessimism or indifference
Loss of energy or persistent lethargy
Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
Inability to concentrate and indecisiveness
Inability to take pleasure in former interests or social withdrawal
Unexplained aches and pains
Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
It is important to acknowledge that teens may experiment with drugs or
alcohol or become sexually promiscuous to avoid feelings of depression.
According to the National Mental Health Association, teens may also express
their depression through other hostile, aggressive, risk-taking behaviors.
These behaviors will only lead to new problems, deeper levels of depression
and destroyed relationships with friends and family, as well as difficulties
with law enforcement or school officials.
The development of newer antidepressant medications and mood-stabilizing
drugs in the last 20 years has revolutionized the treatment of depression.
According to the Mayo Clinic, medication can relieve the symptoms of
depression, and it has become the first line of treatment for most types of
the disorder. Psychotherapy may also help teens cope with ongoing problems
that trigger or contribute to their depression. A combination of medications
and a brief course of psychotherapy are usually effective if a teen suffers
from mild to moderate depression. For severely depressed teens, initial
treatment usually includes medications. Once they improve, psychotherapy can
be more effective.
Immediate treatment of your teen's depression is crucial. Adolescents and
children suffering from depression may turn to suicide if they do not receive
proper treatment. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for Americans
aged 10-24. The National Association of School Psychologists suggests looking
for the following warning signs that may indicate your depressed teen if
Suicide notes: Notes or journal entries are a very real sign of danger and
should be taken seriously.
Threats: Threats may be direct statements ("I want to die." "I am going to
kill myself") or, unfortunately, indirect comments ("The world would be
better without me." "Nobody will miss me anyway"). Among teens, indirect
clues could be offered through joking or through comments in school
assignments, particularly creative writing or artwork.
Previous attempts: If your child or teen has attempted suicide in the past, a
greater likelihood that he or she will try again exists. Be very observant of
any friends who have tried suicide before.
Depression (helplessness/hopelessness): When symptoms of depression include
strong thoughts of helplessness and hopelessness, your teen is possibly at
greater risk for suicide. Watch out for behaviors or comments that indicate
your teen is feeling overwhelmed by sadness or pessimistic views of his or
"Masked" depression: Sometimes risk-taking behaviors can include acts of
aggression, gunplay and alcohol or substance abuse. While your teen does not
act "depressed," his or her behavior suggests that he or she is not concerned
about his or her own safety.
Final arrangements: This behavior may take many forms. In adolescents, it
might be giving away prized possessions, such as jewelry, clothing, journals
Efforts to hurt himself or herself: Self-injury behaviors are warning signs
for young children as well as teens. Common self-destructive behaviors
include running into traffic, jumping from heights and scratching, cutting or
marking his or her body.
Changes in physical habits and appearance: Changes include inability to sleep
or sleeping all the time, sudden weight gain or loss and disinterest in
appearance or hygiene.
Sudden changes in personality, friends or behaviors: Changes can include
withdrawing from friends and family, skipping school or classes, loss of
involvement in activities that were once important and avoiding friends.
Plan/method/access: A suicidal child or adolescent may show an increased
interest in guns and other weapons, may seem to have increased access to
guns, pills, etc., and/or may talk about or hint at a suicide plan. The
greater the planning, the greater the potential for suicide.
Death and suicidal themes: These themes might appear in classroom drawings,
work samples, journals or homework.
If you suspect suicide, it is important to contact a medical professional
immediately. A counselor or psychologist can also help offer additional
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
American Foundation for Suicidal Prevention
Johns Hopkins University
National Association of School Psychologists
National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association
National Institute of Mental Health
National Mental Health Association
Having difficulty Studying?
Take this quiz to see what areas need boosting.
As our economy changes there may be some resources that our community can
utilize. For more information please visit the following link:
Reducing Test Taking Anxiety
It is normal for many people to feel nervous about an exam. In fact, it can
be beneficial to be moderately stressed right before the exam. A little
tension can give you just the right amount of adrenaline you need to do your
best by heightening your awareness and sharpening your reflexes.
However, if your stress level is too high, this can negatively affect your
performance on the exam. Test anxiety is when someone excessively worries
about doing well on a test. This can become a major hindrance on test
performance and cause extreme nervousness and memory lapses, among other
symptoms. The following are tips on reducing test taking anxiety:
*Being well-prepared for the test is the best way to reduce test anxiety.
*Donï¿½t take those last few moments before the test for last minute
cramming. Try to relax and spend that time reading the newspaper or some
*Maintain a positive attitude about yourself and the test.
*Exercising for a few days before a test will help reduce stress.
*Get a good nightï¿½s sleep before the test. You need the sleep. Begin
studying a week in advance if possible.
*Stay relaxed. If you begin to get nervous, take a few deep breaths slowly
to relax yourself and then get back to work.
*Read the directions slowly and carefully.
*If you donï¿½t understand the directions on the test, ask the teacher to
explain it to you.
*Skim through the test so that you have a good idea of how to pace yourself.
*Write down important formulas, facts, definitions in the margin first so
you wonï¿½t worry about forgetting them.
*Do the simple questions first to help build up your confidence for the
*Donï¿½t worry about how fast other people finish their tests; just
concentrate on your own test.
*If you donï¿½t know a question, skip it for the time-being and come back to
it later. Remember that you donï¿½t have to always get every question
in order to do well on the test.
*Focus on the question at hand; donï¿½t let your mind wander on other things.
*Remind yourself that the test is only a test.
*If youï¿½re still experiencing extreme test anxiety after following these
tips, ask your school counselor for other help and ideas.
Study Skills Tips
Students with better study skills habits and methods generally score higher
on tests and make better grades. To do their best in school, students
should study every day, on average from 1-2 hours per day. Here are some
tips for improving your current studying techniques.
*Use your time wisely. Don't procrastinate!
*Make a study schedule and stick to it.
*Study difficult and/or complex material first.
*Prioritize-What has to be done first? When is it due?
*Make sure you understand the task. Ask questions if you are not sure.
*Break down big projects /tasks into ï¿½chunksï¿½.
*Take short, regular breaks. This helps most people think better.
*Well lit area-it can be near a window, under a bright light, or a
*Comfortable-at a table, on the sofa, on the floorï¿½whatever is most
comfortable, but not too comfortable
*Neat area-It's hard to study in the middle of a mess.
*Have plenty of supplies-pencils, paper, etc
*Some students need total silence to best study. If listening to
music, consider something quiet and soothing, such as classical.
Watching television is usually too distracting for most people.
*Perhaps study with a group of friends. Compare notes and ask each