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Mental Health

iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 25, 2019  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Featured Book, Internet Addiction, Internet Safety, Mental Health, Sexting, Teen Depression, Teen Help

Cell phone are here to stay. The smartphone generation.

By Cathie Ericson of Your Teen Magazine

Many of us parents, given the option, would snap our fingers and make smartphones—and all their complications—go away forever. But smartphones are here to stay, and your teen is now part of the smartphone generation. As you may already be discovering, there’s an inevitability about teens and phones, so we might as well face that reality head-on.

What do we worry about? Too much screen time, too little face-to-face socializing, and the potential pitfalls of social media. As smartphones become ubiquitous, teens have all the pressure associated with always being “on”—but potentially without the maturity to handle it. And that’s troubling.

Smartphone Generation

As reported in Jean Twenge’s new book iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood, rates of teen depression have skyrocketed—a phenomenon the author links to smartphones. Boys’ depressive symptoms increased by 21 percent from 2012 to 2015, while girls’ increased by 50 percent. Research supports a connection between this shift and smartphone usage, finding that teens who report more screen time are more likely to be unhappy, compared to teens who spend less time than average with their screen.

Given these findings, why do we even allow our teens to have phones? In many cases, it’s almost as though we have no choice. Pew Research reports that three-quarters of teens have a smartphone, and a whopping 92 percent of them say they go online every day.

Your teens are likely to be among these connected teens—so, rather than “just say no,” how can parents set wise limits?

Easy to Love, Hard to Put Down: Setting Limits on Phone Use

Does it seem like your teen is constantly clicking and scrolling? To be fair, we might be, too. A survey from Common Sense Media found that 78 percent of teens reported checking their phone at least hourly, but 69 percent of parents said the same.

“I like to remind parents that they are the models,” says Dodgen-Magee. “If you don’t think they should use their device at night, then you shouldn’t bring yours to bed either.”

Which brings up one of the most important limits that should be set: Encourage good evening habits so the phone doesn’t interrupt their sleep. “If you only do one thing, keep the phone out of their room at night,” says one expert.

Of course, you know they are going to say it’s their alarm clock. Remind them of this novel invention—an actual clock, which you can find for about $10, says Twenge. “Even if the phone is off, it’s still too tempting to have it at the ready while they’re trying to wind down, or if they wake up in the middle of the night.”

Beyond that, the key is to make sure they are balancing their screen time with other activities. Twenge has found a direct correlation between negative teen mental health and the number of hours they spend on their devices, particularly on social media. While more research needs to be done on phones and mental health to determine exactly why these things are correlated, Twenge recommends parents err on the side of caution and look into one of the numerous apps like Freedom or Kidslox that allow you to set daily limits.

However, you probably shouldn’t outright take the phone as a punishment, as they often need it for homework or updates (like when the next soccer practice is). “It’s more productive to have a conversation about when they should unplug and help them develop a healthy balance.”

Order iGen by Jean Twenge today on Amazon.

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Teens and Marijuana: Communicating the Risks

Posted by Sue Scheff on April 09, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Article, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

The legalization of marijuana has made parenting teens more challenging.

On a weekly basis, parents contact our office concerned about their teenager that is now smoking marijuana (some regularly) with no intention of giving it up. They fail to see the risks or dangers of it — especially since it’s considered legal in many states.

This is causing stress and frustration among parents across the country. As an adult, we know that there is a difference between medical marijuana and how it can impact a young person’s brain.

How can we start talking to them about this?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a vast amount of information for parents.

Why do young people use marijuana?

Young people start using marijuana for many reasons. Curiosity, peer pressure, and the desire to fit in with friends are common ones. Those who have already begun to smoke cigarettes or use alcohol, or who have untreated mental health conditions (such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD), or who have experienced trauma are at increased risk for marijuana use.

For some, drug use begins as a means of coping with anxiety, anger, depression, or boredom. But, in fact, being high can be a way of simply avoiding the problems and challenges of growing up. Parents, grandparents, and older siblings are models that children follow, and research suggests that family members’ use of alcohol and drugs plays a strong role in whether a young person starts using drugs. Indeed, all aspects of a teen’s environment—home, school, and community—can influence if he or she will try drugs.

How can I prevent my child from using marijuana?

There is no quick or simple solution for preventing teen drug use. But research shows parents have a big influence on their teens, even when it doesn’t seem that way. Talk openly with your children and stay actively engaged in their lives.

To help you get started, the next section provides some key points about marijuana research findings that you can share with your kids to help them sort out fact from myth and help them make the best decisions they can. These key points address the types of questions and comments that we receive from teens every day on our NIDA for Teens website and Drugs and Health blog. Following that brief section, the FAQs and additional resources will equip you with even more information.

Did you know?

Marijuana can be addictive.Despite common belief, repeated marijuana use can lead to addiction, which means that people can have trouble quitting, even if it is having a negative impact on their lives. Research suggests that about 30 percent of people who use marijuana have some level of marijuana use disorder even if they are not yet addicted.1People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults.2 Among youth receiving substance use disorder treatment, marijuana accounts for the largest percentage of admissions—almost 50 percent among those 12 to 17 years old.3

Marijuana is unsafe if you’re behind the wheel. Marijuana impairs judgment and many other skills needed for safe driving: alertness, concentration, coordination, and reaction time. Marijuana use makes it difficult to judge distances and react to signals and sounds on the road. Marijuana is the most commonly identified illegal drug in deadly crashes, sometimes in combination with alcohol or other drugs. By itself, marijuana is thought to roughly double a driver’s chances of being in a crash, and the combination of marijuana and even small amounts of alcohol is even more dangerous4,5—more so than either substance alone.6

Marijuana is linked to school failure, lower income, and poorer quality of life. Marijuana has negative effects on attention, motivation, memory, and learning that can persist after the drug’s immediate effects wear off—especially in people who use regularly. Someone who uses marijuana daily may be functioning at a reduced intellectual level most or all of the time. Compared with their nonsmoking peers, students who use marijuana are more likely to drop out of high school.7 People who use marijuana regularly for a long time report decreased overall life satisfaction, including poorer mental and physical health, memory and relationship problems, lower salaries, and less career success.8

Marijuana is linked to some mental illnesses. Although scientists don’t yet fully understand how the use of marijuana might impact the development of mental illness, high doses can bring on a panic attack or even acute psychosis—thinking that is detached from reality, sometimes including hallucinations. In people who already have the severe mental illness schizophrenia (involving symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia, and disorganized thinking), marijuana use can worsen its symptoms. Also, evidence suggests that early marijuana use may increase the risk of psychotic disorders among those at higher genetic risk for these disorders.

Want to know more? Visit NIDA.

Source: NIDA

Have you exhausted your local resources with your teenager? Is local therapy not working?

Have they changed friends, are their grades slipping, maybe they are dropping out of their favorite activities?

Contact us if you are at your wit’s end and considering residential therapy. This is a great opportunity to give your child a second chance at a bright future.

 

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Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety

Posted by Sue Scheff on February 20, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Book, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Books, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls

By Lisa Damour

Though anxiety has risen among young people overall, studies confirm that it has skyrocketed in girls. Research finds that the number of girls who said that they often felt nervous, worried, or fearful jumped 55 percent from 2009 to 2014, while the comparable number for adolescent boys has remained unchanged. As a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with girls, Lisa Damour, Ph.D., has witnessed this rising tide of stress and anxiety in her own research, in private practice, and in the all-girls’ school where she consults. She knew this had to be the topic of her new book.

In the engaging, anecdotal style and reassuring tone that won over thousands of readers of her first book, Untangled, Damour starts by addressing the facts about psychological pressure. She explains the surprising and underappreciated value of stress and anxiety: that stress can helpfully stretch us beyond our comfort zones, and anxiety can play a key role in keeping girls safe. When we emphasize the benefits of stress and anxiety, we can help our daughters take them in stride.

But no parents want their daughter to suffer from emotional overload, so Damour then turns to the many facets of girls’ lives where tension takes hold: their interactions at home, pressures at school, social anxiety among other girls and among boys, and their lives online. As readers move through the layers of girls’ lives, they’ll learn about the critical steps that adults can take to shield their daughters from the toxic pressures to which our culture—including we, as parents—subjects girls.

Readers who know Damour from Untangled or the New York Times, or from her regular appearances on CBS News, will be drawn to this important new contribution to understanding and supporting today’s girls.

Order this bestselling book, Under Pressure on Amazon today.

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Are You Considering Residential Therapy?

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 27, 2018  /   Posted in Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens, Uncategorized

What is the best program for teen?

Are you at your wit’s end? Do you have a good teen making bad choice? Is it time for residential therapy?

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Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood

Posted by Sue Scheff on November 19, 2018  /   Posted in Featured Book, Mental Health, Parenting Books, Parenting Teens

Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood

Untangled, by Lisa Damour PhD., is a must read by both parents of teen girls and boys. She covers the struggles that parents face in the world of raising teens in today’s generation of tech, peer pressure (online and off) and much more.

In her New York Times best seller, Dr. Damour draws on decades of experience and the latest research to reveal the seven distinct—and absolutely normal—developmental transitions that turn girls into grown-ups, including Parting with Childhood, Contending with Adult Authority, Entering the Romantic World, and Caring for Herself. Providing realistic scenarios and welcome advice on how to engage daughters in smart, constructive ways, Untangled gives parents a broad framework for understanding their daughters while addressing their most common questions, including 

  • My thirteen-year-old rolls her eyes when I try to talk to her, and only does it more when I get angry with her about it. How should I respond?
  • Do I tell my teen daughter that I’m checking her phone?
  • Where’s the line between healthy eating and having an eating disorder?
  • My daughter’s friend is cutting herself. Do I call the girl’s mother to let her know?

Perhaps most important, Untangled helps mothers and fathers understand, connect, and grow with their daughters. When parents know what makes their daughter tick, they can embrace and enjoy the challenge of raising a healthy, happy young woman.

Order on Amazon today.

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Is Your Teen Using Drugs?

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 27, 2018  /   Posted in Featured Article, Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Warning Signs Your Teen May Be Using Drugs

This is a difficult question that many parents have to face on a daily basis. Parents who spend a great deal of time with their teenagers are often tuned into what is normal behavior and what is not.

However, even parents who are actively involved in the daily activities of their teenagers may overlook – or subconsciously deny – the earliest signs of a substance abuse problem.

Some of the clues that your teenager may exhibit when using drugs or alcohol are fairly subtle, but others are rather obvious:

• Many hours spent alone, especially in their room; persistent isolation from the rest of the family. This is particular suspicious in a youngster who had not been a loner until now.

• Resistance to taking with or confiding in parents, secretiveness, especially in a teenager who had previously been open. Be sure that your teenager is not being secretive because every time he tries to confide in you, you jump on him or break his confidence.

• There is marked change for the worse in performance and attendance at school and/or job or other responsibilities as well as in dress, hygiene, grooming, frequent memory lapses, lack of concentration, and unusual sleepiness.

• A change of friends; from acceptable to unacceptable.

• Pronounced mood swings with irritability, hostile outbursts, and rebelliousness. Your teenager may seem untrustworthy, insincere or even paranoid.

• Lying , usually in order to cover up drinking or drug using behavior as well as sources of money and possessions; stealing, shoplifting, or encounters with the police.

• Abandonment of wholesome activities such as sports, social service and other groups, religious services, teen programs, hobbies, and even involvement in family life.

• Unusual physical symptoms such as dilated or pinpoint pupils, bloodshot eyes, frequent nosebleeds, changes in appetite, digestive problems, excessive yawning, and the shakes.

Parent_Teen_TroublesThese are just a few of the warning signs that can be recognized.

• Be careful not to jump to the conclusion that your teenager may be using when you see such behavior.

• Evaluate the situation.

• Talk to your teenager.

• Try to spend time with her so that she feels that she can trust you.

• By creating a home that is nurturing, she will understand that despite of unhealthy choices that she will always get the love and moral support that she deserves.

• Building a strong relationship with your teenager now will mean that in time of crises your love, support, wisdom, and experience won’t be shut out of your teenager’s decision making.

• If you have a suspicion that your teenager is involved in the use of drugs or alcohol, don’t hesitate to bring the subject up.

The sooner the problem is identified and treated, the better the chances that your teenager’s future will be safeguarded. Raising the subject will be easier if you already have good communication in the family. Discuss the ways in which you can seek help together. An evaluation by a substance abuse professional may be the key to understanding what is really going on with your teenager.

Contributor: Shawnda Burns, LCSW

Especially around the holiday season, keep your parent radar on high alert. Monitor your monitor medicine cabinets.

If your teen has been struggling with substance abuse, be sure to seek help. If they refuse to get help, it may be time to consider residential therapy. Contact us for more information on this step.

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Teen Stress: Ways to Promote Healthy Mindset

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 25, 2018  /   Posted in Cyberbullying, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Teen Depression, Teen Help

Reduce Stress and Promote Healthy Mindsets: 3 Self-Care Tips for Your Teen

Stress does not discriminate, and it certainly knows no age limits. In fact, data collected by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that stress is significantly common among teenagers and actually “rivals that of adults.”

Teenagers are confronted with demands or expectations to perform well in school and make important decisions about their future, all while combating peer pressure and even cyberbullying, which is a frequent occurrence in the age of social media in which they grew up.

To have some degree of stress in life is normal, but if stress intensifies for extended periods of time, it can cause both emotional and physical ramifications that can affect teenagers’ mental health. The APA also reported that many teens (30%) who suffer from stress reported feeling depressed. Among other things, chronic stress can also cause anxiety and other negative thoughts and behaviors.

“To break this cycle of stress and unhealthy behaviors we need to provide teens with better support and health education at school and home, at the community level and in their interactions with health-care professionals,” says APA CEO Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D.

Parents can play a significant role as support systems by acquainting their teenagers with self-care strategies that will help them manage stress and address possible mental health conditions. These three self-care ideas can help teenagers deal with life’s everyday demands in a more enlightening and  productive way:

  1. Start the conversation. Begin showing your teen support by addressing one of the most concerning aspects of stress: the development of a possible mental health disorder. Mental illness is so often poorly understood, which can add to the challenge of living with such a condition and actually affects how one handles stress. It can be difficult for many teenagers to talk to their parents, let alone about mental health. But the reality is that there are variations of mental health resources like podcasts, comics, blog posts and discussion guides that provide a great understanding of conditions in a relatable and intriguing manner, making the subject of mental health much more comfortable.
  1. Be prepared with “on-the-go” techniques. During high-stress situations, the body may respond physically through increased heart rate, quickened breathing, muscle tightening, and elevated blood pressure. To regulate the nervous system and bring calmness to the forefront of focus, it can be particularly helpful to know a few calming or grounding techniques. Be that as it may, it might not always be possible to remove oneself from an environment when physical symptoms arise, especially teenagers who may be in in the middle of a class, for instance. Thus, it’s even more important to find exercises for your teen that can be done anywhere. Breathing exercises are beneficial for achieving quick and discrete relaxation from stress and anxiety.
  1. Hobbies can be an overlooked tool. It’s no shocking revelation that teenagers are busy, but it seems as though any and all of their free time is placed in front of a screen these days. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Netflix, or texting, so much of their extra time to unwind is occupied by mindlessly looking at a screen. Instead, introduce your teen to a new hobby or even engage in one together. Hobbies can still be relaxing and are great for the body’s overall well-being, particularly in developing teenagers. Regularly participating in a hobby can provide structure that in turn can translate into good time management skills, ultimately decreasing stress. Personal connections and improved social skills can also be an added bonus of taking up a hobby because you never know who your teenager might have something in common with. Whether it’s a sports league, book club, rock band, or an art club, your teenager will be actively engaged in a mindful activity (and off their phones) which is important for both their physical and mental well-being.

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Struggling Teens: Are you at your wit’s end?

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 04, 2018  /   Posted in Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Are you struggling with your teen?

Defiance, underachieving, disrespectful, entitlement issues, internet addiction, changing peer groups….

Or difficulties with:

Reactive attachment disorder (RAD), ADD-ADHD, depression – are they a good teen making bad choices?

Have you exhausted all your local resources, therapy not working?

Are you considering residential treatment but confused by all the choices?

-Is my teen a candidate?

-What’s the best for my family?

-Will my insurance pay?

-Will my teen hate me?

-Will short term programs work?

-What are transport services?

-Are there financial options?

-How do we know if a program is successful?

-And more.

Let Parents Universal Resource Experts answer your questions.

We educate families as they are faced with the challenges of choosing residential therapy.

Contact us today.

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Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 30, 2018  /   Posted in Featured Book, Mental Health, Parenting Books, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction

By David Sheff

For every parent out there that believes, not my child, this is a must read.

Beautiful Boy is an eye-opener for parents that continues to hope, pray and believe that it will get better. It’s a phase. It’s their friends. It’s this or that — without realizing maybe there really is an issue and you need to confront it – NOW – before it escalates when they turn 18 and go off to college and things quickly fall apart.

Bad things can happen to good people

Don’t be fooled that just because you live in a good area, offer your teen the best of schools (yet they are underachieving academically), they may even be a top athlete (before they lost interest) — or they have all the luxuries a teen could want (smartphone, trendy clothes, maybe a car and more) — that they aren’t silently suffering emotionally.

Be an educated parent. Learn from those before you.

Inside Beautiful Boy

What had happened to my beautiful boy? To our family? What did I do wrong? Those are the wrenching questions that haunted David Sheff’s journey through his son Nic’s addiction to drugs and tentative steps toward recovery. Before Nic became addicted to crystal meth, he was a charming boy, joyous and funny, a varsity athlete and honor student adored by his two younger siblings. After meth, he was a trembling wraith who lied, stole, and lived on the streets. David Sheff traces the first warning signs: the denial, the three a.m. phone calls—is it Nic? the police? the hospital? His preoccupation with Nic became an addiction in itself. But as a journalist, he instinctively researched every treatment that might save his son. And he refused to give up on Nic.

Order today! 

 

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Teen Suicide and Bullying

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 06, 2018  /   Posted in Bullying, Cyberbullying, Featured Article, Mental Health, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

The Link Between Teen Suicide and Bullying

TeenBullyingSuicideExamining the Link Between Bullying and Suicide (and What to Do if Someone You Know is in Danger)

Bullying is a significant and complex problem in our society. We used to worry about in-person bullying — physical injuries, theft, and even vandalism. Today, in addition to bullying we also must be concerned about cyberbullying, which can be just as harmful. In 2013 the Urban Institute’s study on bullying revealed that “17% [of] students reported being victims of cyberbullying, 41% reported being victims of physical bullying, and 45% reported being victims of psychological bullying.”

In 2014 JAMA Pediatrics reported that “cyberbullying was strongly related [to] suicidal ideation in comparison with traditional bullying.” Most kids spend a lot of time online, talking to friends, but also gossiping at times. Because they see the Internet as anonymous, kids feel as though they can pretend to be someone else online (known as catfishing), and bully people in this way. This can be immensely harmful to others, as well as themselves, and can have devastating consequences.

Who, Where, Why?

Like other forms of bullying, cyberbullying can occur anywhere, by anyone. All that’s required is a device with Internet access, which is incredibly common anymore.

People from all different backgrounds are bullied. Some groups are unfortunately more likely to be bullied, such as LGBTQ youth, young people with disabilities, and individuals who tend to isolate themselves from others. Basically anyone who is different from the accepted norm in their respective community or peer group is at a higher risk of being bullied.

A bully can pick on anyone about anything. They can target those they deem to be too “weird” or different from themselves, or even someone they’re secretly jealous of. Children and young adults have been bullied for myriad reasons, from weight, to wearing the “wrong” clothing, to merely being outside a clique. Some of the warning signs that may indicate that someone is being bullied include:

  • Unexplained physical injuries
  • Items missing that the victim states are “lost”
  • Feeling or faking illnesses, often headaches or stomach problems
  • Different eating habits, whether overeating or undereating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of interest in school and having trouble with schoolwork
  • Not wanting to be in social situations or a loss of friends
  • Low self-esteem and hopelessness
  • Hurting themselves, speaking of suicide, and leaving home without notice

The Link Between Bullying and Suicide

Children who are bullied may be at an increased risk of suicide. However, most bullying victims do not think about suicide. Bullying itself is seldom the single cause of suicide; it’s typically a combination of issues, illnesses, or situations in the individual’s history combined with bullying that leads to suicidal thoughts. Some issues of concern include mental illness, traumas, and bad home situations. In addition, there are different groups who may have an increased risk of suicide including:

  • American Indian and Alaskan Native
  • Asian American
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth
  • Kids [who] are not supported by parents, peers, and schools

How to Help With Bullying

There are many ways to help someone you know if they’re being bullied, including:

  • Really listen to the individual, show that you care by paying attention.
  • Let the child know that being targeted by bullies is not their fault.
  • Realize that bullied children might have trouble talking about it with you. You may want to have them talk with a psychologist, psychiatrist or even a counselor at their school.
  • Give them some good advice as to what to do. You may want to partake in role-playing in this situation.
  • Work together with the victim, the victim’s parent(s), school, or an organization to come up with a fair solution. The child being bullied should not have to have their schedules or routines changed; they are not at fault.

How to Help With Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is new to our society and is becoming more and more common. Some children have taken their lives as a result. There are some ways you can help your child or friend prevent cyberbullying, such as cutting off communication with the bully, blocking the bully on social media sites (so they do not have any access to your postings or phone number), or complaining anonymously to the social media sites where cyberbullying is taking place — they have strict rules and will keep evidence of bullying interactions.

If you’re a parent, ways to help your child include supporting them mentally and emotionally and not forcing them to end online communications with others. When a child is the victim, being banned from participating on social media may be perceived as punishment. It’s not their fault, though, that they are being victimized. Consider speaking with the other child’s parent(s) or even the police (if the situation is serious enough). Bullying is a serious problem and can lead to many terrible events, including violence and suicide. Remember that there is always someone out there to listen and support you.

*****

Contributor: Steve Johnson co-created PublicHealthLibrary.org with a fellow pre-med student.The availability of accurate health facts, advice, and general answers is something Steve wants for all people, not just those in the health and medical field. He continues to spread trustworthy information and resources through the website, but also enjoys tennis and adding to his record collection in his spare time.

(Image via Pixabay by Jedidja)

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