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Teen Depression

Is Your Struggling With Depression, Anxiety or Sadness?

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 31, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Article

Teen Depression, Anxiety and Sadness

It’s been a challenging time since the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve seen a rise in teen depression, anxiety, stress and worse — self-harm and suicide ideation.

Parents are dealing with teen defiance that is amplified more than ever. Remote learning has been anything but easy for most teenagers.

Today teenager’s not only have the stress of schoolwork and peer pressure, they are concerned about their social media presence. If you doubt this is an issue, you are fooling yourself. Statistics have proven that teens rely on their virtual reality for many feelings of acceptance. This is why it is critical for parents to continue to have offline discussions about online reality.

FOMO (fear of missing out) is very real for these kids today. Even some adults have this fear. You have to look far and wide to walk down the street to find someone without their cell phone in their hand.

What are some of the warnings signs that your teen could be struggling with depression or anxiety?

  • Apathy
  • Complaints of pains, including headaches, stomachaches, low back pain, or fatigue
  • Sleeping a lot
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Irresponsible behavior — for example, forgetting obligations, being late for classes, skipping school
  • Loss of interest in food or compulsive overeating that results in rapid weight loss or gain
  • Memory loss
  • Preoccupation with death and dying
  • Rebellious behavior, defiance (more than normal)
  • Sadness, anxiety, or a feeling of hopelessness
  • Staying awake at night and sleeping during the day
  • Sudden drop in grades (underachieving)
  • Use of alcohol or drugs and promiscuous sexual activity
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Withdrawal from activities they  used to love

canstockphoto19322711Teen Anxiety

The lesser known relative of depression, anxiety, afflicts people of all ages and can be especially detrimental for teenagers. It is completely normal and even common for individuals to experience anxiety, particularly during stressful periods, such as before a test or important date (think Prom). For many, this is beneficial, serving as motivation to study hard and perform well; however, for many, anxiety goes beyond standard high-stress periods. While occasional stress is nothing to worry about and can even be healthy, many people experience anxiety on an ongoing basis. People, especially teenagers, who suffer from anxiety disorders, find that their daily life can be interrupted by the intense, often long-lasting fear or worry.

Anxiety disorders are not fatal; however, they can severely interfere with an individual’s ability to function normally on a daily basis. The intense feelings of fear and worry often lead to a lack of sleep as it makes it very difficult for people to fall asleep. Those with anxiety disorders also commonly suffer from physical manifestations of the anxiety.

The anxiety can cause headaches, stomach aches, and even vomiting. In addition stress can cause individuals to lose their appetite or have trouble eating. One of the more difficult aspects for students to deal with is difficulty concentrating.

When one is consumed with worry, his or her mind continuously considers the worrisome thoughts, making it considerably harder for teenagers to concentrate on school work and other mentally intensive tasks. These affects of anxiety can make it difficult for teenagers to simply get through the day, let alone enjoy life and relax.

While there seems to be no single cause of anxiety disorders, it is clear that they can run in a family. The fact that anxiety disorders can run in families indicates that there may be a genetic or hereditary connection. Because a family member may suffer from an anxiety disorder does not necessarily mean that you will. However, individuals who have family members with this disorder are far more likely to develop it.

Within the brain, neurotransmitters help to regulate mood, so an imbalance in the level of specific neurotransmitters can cause a change in mood. It is this imbalance in a neurotransmitter called serotonin that leads to anxiety. Interestingly, an imbalance of serotonin in the brain is directly related to depression.

For this reason, SSRI medications, more commonly referred to as anti-depressants, are often used to help treat an anxiety disorder. Medication can provide significant relief for those suffering from anxiety disorders; however, it is often not the most efficient form of treatment.

In addition to medication, treatments for anxiety disorders include cognitive-behavioral therapy, other types of talk therapy, and relaxation and biofeedback to control muscle tension. Talk therapy can be the most effective treatment for teenagers, as they discuss their feelings and issues with a mental health professional.

Many teens find it incredibly helpful to simply talk about the stress and anxiety that they feel. Additionally, in a specific kind of talk therapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy teens actively “unlearn” some of their fear. This treatment teaches individuals a new way to approach fear and anxiety and how to deal with the feelings that they experience.

Many people attempt to medicate themselves when they suffer from stress or anxiety. While individuals find different ways to deal with the intense worry that they may experience, self medication can be very detrimental to their body.

It is not uncommon for people who suffer from anxiety disorders to turn to alcohol or drugs to relieve the anxiety. While this may provide a temporary fix for the afflicted, in the long run it is harmful. By relying on these methods, individuals do not learn how to deal with the anxiety naturally. Reliance on other substances can also lead to alcohol or drug abuse, which can be an especially significant problem if it is developed during the teen years.

Statistics on teen anxiety show that anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental disorders among adolescents:

  • 8-10 percent of adolescents suffer from an anxiety disorder
  • Symptoms of an anxiety disorder include: anger, depression, fatigue, extreme mood swings, substance abuse, secretive behavior, changes in sleeping and eating habits, bad hygiene or meticulous attention to, compulsive or obsessive behavior
  • One in eight adult Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder totaling 19 million people
  • Research conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health has shown that anxiety disorders are the number one mental health problem among American women and are second only to alcohol and drug abuse among men
  • Anxiety sufferers see an average of five doctors before being successfully diagnosed

Source: WedMD.com

Teen depression and anxiety is treatable. It’s imperative you seek help for your child. As many parents know, sometimes your teenager can be stubborn and refuse to get help. It’s a parent’s responsibility to do what is best for them.

Finding the best therapist that specialize with adolescent’s and connects with your son or daughter may take a few tries. Sometimes outpatient therapy works and typically finding a good peer support group is always beneficial.

If you come to a point where you have exhausted all of your local resources and you find your teen is still hitting rock bottom in darkness, you may want to consider residential therapy. This gives them a second opportunity at a bright future. It doesn’t say you or they are failures – opens up many doors for them.

They will be with others that feel the same feelings they do – they are not alone. It’s not any different when adults have feelings of sadness and want to talk to people that feel the same way – they can bring each other through their difficult times. Contact us for more information.

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The Depression Workbook for Teens: Tools to Improve Your Mood, Build Self-Esteem, and Stay Motivated

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 06, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Book, Teen Depression, Troubled Teens

Teen Depression During COVID: Getting Help

The Depression Workbook for Teens: Tools to Improve Your Mood, Build Self-Esteem, and Stay Motivated

By Katie Hurley, LCSW

Don’t face depression alone―advanced tools for teens.

You can feel better and The Depression Workbook for Teens is going to help you do it. Drawing on the most effective and up-to-date techniques―including cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness―this depression workbook is filled with helpful exercises designed specifically for teens that will help you conquer depression. Develop the skills you need to manage your emotional well-being and bring happiness back into your life.

Get information all about depression―its symptoms, causes, and risk factors―so you can identify the differences between normal stress and depression. There is a light at the end of the tunnel―The Depression Workbook for Teens will show you the way.

The Depression Workbook for Teens includes:

  • Just for teens―Tackle your depression head-on using a depression workbook filled with strategies written with your unique needs (and time constraints) in mind.
  • Useful tools―With quizzes, journaling prompts, conversation starters, and more, you’ll discover simple skill-building exercises to improve your mood and build your self-esteem.
  • Practical problem solving―Find ways to work through the challenges you’re facing―including fighting with your parents, getting up in the morning, struggling with homework, and more.

The Depression Workbook for Teens gives you the helping hand you need to get through this difficult time.

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About Katie Hurley: Katie is a child and adolescent psychotherapist, parenting expert, and writer. Hurley is the author of No More Mean Girls and The Happy Kid Handbook. Her work can be found in The Washington Post, PBS Parents, US News and World Report, and Psychology Today.

During this time of uncertainty, The Depression Workbook has been a tremendous asset to many young people. Sadly, we are now witnessing a rise in teen stress, anxiety, depression and even suicide ideation. Studies are revealing the impact COVID is having on mental health with our young people.

Have you exhausted your local resources? Therapy isn’t working? Contact us to learn more about residential therapy for your teenager.

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Coping Skills for Teens Workbook: 60 Helpful Ways to Deal with Stress, Anxiety and Anger

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 13, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Book

Coping Skills for Teens Workbook: 60 Helpful Ways to Deal with Stress, Anxiety and Anger

We are now living in a time of uncertainty.

Aside from peer pressure, family drama and normal life concerns — our children are now living through a pandemic.

How is your teen dealing with it – emotionally?

A teen version of the #1 Bestselling Coping Skills for Kids Workbook, this version is written specifically with a tween/teen audience in mind.

There are 60 coping strategies included in the book, and it’s divided into Coping Styles to make searching for a coping skill easier.

This book also includes several pages to support teens as they work on their coping skills, including:

  • Feelings Tracker Worksheet
  • Identifying Triggers and Making a Plan
  • Positive to Negative Thoughts Worksheet
  • Journal Pages
  • Wellness Worksheets, including a Self-Care Plan

Order on Amazon

There’s also a rich resource section full of apps, books, card decks, and other resources to help teens deal with stress, anxiety and anger.

Author: Janine Halloran is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who has been working with children, adolescents and their families for over 15 years. She is the Founder of Encourage Play, Coping Skills for Kids, and the host of the Calm & Connected Podcast.

Order your copy on Amazon.

Is your teen struggling with depression? You may be interested in the new Depression Workbook for teens.

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The Self-Love Workbook for Teens

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 15, 2020  /   Posted in Featured Book, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Books, Parenting Teens, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

The Self-Love Workbook for Teens: A Transformative Guide to Boost Self-Esteem, Build a Healthy Mindset, and Embrace Your True Self

By Shainna Ali PhD.

Order on Amazon

Discover how to change your attitude, build confidence in who you are, and genuinely love yourself through the guided activities and real-world advice in this easy-to-use, friendly workbook for teens and young adults.

As a teen, life can be stressful, whether from worrying about looks, performance in school, relationships with friends and family, or societal pressures. It is easy for you to lose focus and feel like you’re not good enough.

The Self-Love Workbook for Teens gives you the tools to conquer self-doubt and develop a healthy mindset. It includes fun, creative, and research-backed exercises, lessons, and tips, including:

  • Interactive activities
  • Reflective exercises
  • Journaling prompts
  • Actionable advice

Self-love is a journey, but it is the first step on the path to a happier, more fulfilling life.

About the author:

Shainna Ali is a mental health counselor, educator, and advocate. Dr. Ali is passionate about destigmatizing mental health counseling and helping individuals worldwide recognize the importance of fostering mental wellness. She is the author of The Self-Love Workbook: A Life-Changing Guide to Boost Self-Esteem, Recognize Your Worth, and Find Genuine Happiness.

In her Psychology Today-hosted blog, A Modern Mentality, she promotes mental health awareness in an effort to improve mental wellness across the globe. Dr. Ali is also an active blog contributor for the American Counseling Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. As a mental health advocate Dr. Ali has been featured in outlets such as ABC, NBC, Yahoo, Bustle, NPR, The Washington Post, and The Insider.

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Teen Depression and Sadness: What Parents Need to Know

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 01, 2019  /   Posted in Teen Depression, Teen Drug Use, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

10 Common Causes of Teen Depression

We are living in a time where teen depression is on the rise. Sadly, we are seeing suicide as the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24.

With today’s digital lives there could be so many reasons.  Are they missing the routine of a real-life social life?  Are they being harassed online?  Or are they watching their friends on social media have a blast while they believe their life is boring or they are simply missing out?

What was true a generation ago is still true today, teens are unpredictable and still difficult to figure out. However depression is a very real emotion.

Adolescence can be a very turbulent and difficult time, even for the most well-adjusted child. Depression strikes teenagers and adults alike, and can have far-reaching implications when kids suffer from emotional difficulties that they aren’t sure how to manage.

After noticing the signs of depression in your teen and helping him to get the treatment he needs, understanding the root of his depression can help to make the situation more manageable for everyone involved.

TeenStress55While this is by no means a comprehensive list of all causes of teen depression, these ten situations can be very common contributing factors to depression.

  1. Academic Stress –(Especially if your teen is applying to colleges). Kids are under an enormous amount of pressure to succeed academically, especially as the costs of higher education rise and more families are reliant upon scholarships to help offset the expense. Stressing over classes, grades and tests can cause kids to become depressed, especially if they’re expected to excel at all costs or are beginning to struggle with their course load.
  2. Social Anxiety or Peer Pressure – During adolescence, teenagers are learning how to navigate the complex and unsettling world of social interaction in new and complicated ways. Popularity is important to most teens, and a lack of it can be very upsetting. The appearance of peer pressure to try illicit drugs, drinking or other experimental behavior can also be traumatic for kids that aren’t eager to give in, but are afraid of damaging their reputation through refusal.
  3. Romantic Problems – When kids become teenagers and enter adolescence, romantic entanglements become a much more prominent and influential part of their lives. From breakups to unrequited affection, there are a plethora of ways in which their budding love lives can cause teens to become depressed.
  4. Traumatic Events – The death of a loved one, instances of abuse or other traumatic events can have a very real impact on kids, causing them to become depressed or overly anxious. In the aftermath of a trauma, it’s wise to keep an eye out for any changes in behavior or signs of depression in your teen.
  5. Separating or Divorcing Parents – Divorced or separated parents might be more common for today’s teens than it was in generations past, but that doesn’t mean that the situation has no effect on their emotional well-being. The dissolution of the family unit or even the divorce of a parent and step-parent can be very upsetting for teens, often leading to depression.
  6. Heredity – Some kids are genetically predisposed to suffer from depression. If a parent or close relative has issues with depression, your child may simply be suffering from a cruel trick of heredity that makes him more susceptible.
  7. FamilyDiscussionFamily Financial Struggles – Your teenager may not be a breadwinner in your household or responsible for balancing the budget, but that doesn’t mean that she’s unaffected by a precarious financial situation within the family. Knowing that money is tight can be a very upsetting situation for teens, especially if they’re worried about the possibility of losing their home or the standard of living they’re accustomed to.
  8. Physical or Emotional Neglect – Though they may seem like fiercely independent beings that want or need nothing from their parents, teenagers still have emotional and physical needs for attention. The lack of parental attention on either level can lead to feelings of depression.
  9. Low Self-Esteem – Being a teenager isn’t easy on the self-esteem. From a changing body to the appearance of pimples, it can seem as if Mother Nature herself is conspiring against an adolescent to negatively affect her level of self-confidence. When the self-esteem level drops below a certain point, it’s not uncommon for teens to become depressed.
  10. Feelings of Helplessness – Knowing that he’s going to be affected on a personal level by things he has no control over can easily throw your teen into the downward spiral of depression. Feelings of helplessness and powerlessness often go hand in hand with the struggle with depression, and can make the existing condition even more severe.

It’s important that you speak to a medical professional or your teen’s doctor about any concerns you have regarding his emotional well-being, especially if you suspect that he’s suffering from depression.

Depression is a very real affliction that requires treatment, and is not something that should be addressed without the assistance of a doctor. You can also try the The Depression Workbook for Teens for insights and more information on mental wellness.

If your teen continues to struggle with depression, don’t hesitate to reach out to local help such as a counselor (therapist). If they refuse to get help or you find it isn’t benefiting them (your teen refuses to engage in the session), contact us to determine if residential therapy would be an option. Exhausting your local resources is always your first path.

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Dead Serious: Breaking The Cycle of Teen Suicide

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 24, 2019  /   Posted in Bullying, Cyberbullying, Featured Book, Mental Health, Residential Therapy, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Teen Suicide Prevention, Troubled Teens

Teen Suicide Rates Are Rising

A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics shows over the last 20 years, 1.6 million kids ages 10 to 24 called poison control centers after attempting suicide; using prescription pills, street drugs and other household poisons.

By Jane Mersky Leder

My brother took his own life on his thirtieth birthday. My life has never been the same.

Thirty plus years after publishing the first edition of Dead Serious, this second completely revised and updated edition covers new ground: bullying, social media, LGBTQ teens, suicide prevention programs, and more.

Scores of teens share their stories that are often filled with hurt, disappointment, shame–yet often hope. Written for teens, adults and educators, Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide explores the current cultural and social landscape and how the pressure-filled lives of teens today can lead to anxiety, depression–suicide.

Leder’s own journey of discovery after her brother’s suicide informs her goal of helping to prevent teen suicide by empowering teens who are suffering and teens who can serve as peer leaders and connectors to trusted adults.

The skyrocketing number of teens who take their own lives makes Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide more relevant and important than ever. “Talking about suicide does not make matters worse. What makes matters worse is not talking.”

Order Dead Serious on Amazon today.

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Are you concerned about your teen? Have they been struggling with depression? Becoming withdrawn? Have you exhausted your local resources — local therapy isn’t working? Contact us if you want to learn more about residential therapy.

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Mental Health Awareness Month: Teen Suicide Prevention, What Parents Need to Know

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 01, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Article, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Depression, Teen Help, Teen Suicide Prevention, Troubled Teens

Teen Suicide: Know the Warning Signs

By Mary Helen Berg, Your Teen Magazine

When Clark Flatt’s 16-year-old son killed himself with a .38 caliber pistol nearly two decades ago, no one in his community, school, or church was talking about suicide.

“We talked about drugs; we talked about bullying. No one ever mentioned teen suicide as a threat to my son,“ recalls Flatt, who today is president of the non-profit Jason Foundation, a suicide education and prevention organization. “If I had gone through and learned about the warning signs, I might not have thought ‘suicide,’ but I would have said, ‘I need to get some professional help for him.’”

Parents often think suicide can’t happen in their family and avoid talking about it. But teen suicide is now the second leading cause of death for adolescents, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Only accidents, including car crashes and overdoses, kill more people ages 10 to 24.

“Suicide doesn’t just happen to other people,” Flatt says. “It happens to the football captain, the head of the chess team, and the student body government leader.”

Preventing Teen Suicide

Talk about Suicide

It’s important to be direct when talking about teen suicide. If you have concerns, ask your teen outright if she ever thinks about hurting herself. Don’t worry that you’re “putting ideas in their heads,” advises Dr. David Miller, president of the Association of American Suicidology.

“If an adolescent is already suicidal, talking about it, your words, are not going to make them more suicidal than they already are,” Miller says. “If they are not currently suicidal, then talking about it won’t magically make them so.”

Risk Factors for Suicide

Although we sometimes think of teens as impulsive risk-takers, this trait doesn’t necessarily contribute to more teen suicide attempts, according to Miller.

“In the research I’ve seen, people who are suicidal have often thought about this a great deal,” he notes.

Risk factors for suicide include a family history of suicide and mental health disorders, substance abuse, illness, feelings of isolation, and easy access to guns, medications, or other lethal means, according to the CDC.

A “trigger event” such as bullying, a bad grade, or a breakup can also prompt a vulnerable teen to attempt suicide, explains Flatt, who formed the Jason Foundation in his son’s memory. The Tennessee-based organization now has 92 affiliates across the country, serving an estimated four million people.

Know the Teen Suicide Warning Signs

Most adolescents who attempt suicide—four out of five, according to the Jason Foundation—give some type of warning, including:

  • Suicidal ideation or preoccupation with suicide, ranging from fleeting thoughts to detailed plans
  • Statements such as, “I wish I were dead,” or, “No one would miss me if I were gone”
  • Persistent feelings of depression or hopelessness
  • Behavior that is out of character, such as dramatic changes in grades, hygiene, or mood
  • Giving away prized possessions

Have a Plan to Prevent Teen Suicide

Parents know they should take their kids to the emergency room if they have appendicitis, but they often don’t know what to do if their child is depressed. Here’s what experts recommend:

1. Research mental health resources. “Don’t wait until the critical point,” Flatt warns. “If you wait until there’s actually suicidal ideation, you’ve really reached a very dangerous edge.”

2. Maintain an open dialogue with your teen.

3. If your teen seems depressed, don’t ignore it or assume it’s typical teen moodiness.

4. Store guns, prescription medications, and alcohol in safe locations.

5. Encourage your teen to seek adult help if they notice a friend exhibiting suicidal behaviors. “This is not about being a snitch. This is about helping someone and potentially saving someone’s life,” stresses Miller.

Mary Helen Berg is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, Scary Mommy, and many other publications.

Reprinted with permission by Your Teen Magazine.

Are you struggling with a teen and have exhausted your local resources? Are you concerned that they may be at-risk and considering residential therapy? Contact us today. Since 2001 we’ve been educating parents on the teen help industry and visiting many schools and programs throughout our country.

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Does Your Teen Have the Tools to Handle Cyberbullying?

Posted by Sue Scheff on November 19, 2018  /   Posted in Bullying, Cyberbullying, Digital Parenting, Featured Article, Parenting Teens, Sexting, Teen Help

Does Your Teen Have the Tools to Handle Cyberbullying?

We’re living in an age where incivility and trolling is not only common, it’s become the new normal.

PEW Research Center recent survey found that 63 percent of teens said that online harassment and bullying was a major problem, while 59 percent reported experiencing being bullied or harassed online.

It’s a sea of sadness when we read headlines of peer cruelty and youth dying as the word bullycide has now entered our vocabulary.

Digital discourse

Generations earlier, before technology and social playgrounds such as Instagram and Snapchat, kids were teasing and mocking each other in schools, neighborhoods or on their traditional playground with monkey bars and swings.

What hasn’t changed is name-calling.

Being called offensive names is the most offensive form of cyberbullying according to teens in this survey at 42 percent, followed by someone spreading false rumors about them on the internet at 32 percent.

The difference between twenty years ago and today is that with technology, your insults are magnified by a million.

Resilience can be learned

Resilience is a word we’re all familiar with; however, with the rise of online hate and harassment, it’s imperative to discuss how to build digital resilience with our teens.

In the PEW Research survey, teens share that parents are, overall, doing a good job in helping them handle cyberbullying—however, they felt that teachers, social media platforms and others could be more involved.

Digital resilience is a tool that helps people of all ages move through the difficulties of trolling and cyber-combat.

1. Prepare them (and yourself) for the ugly side of the Internet or possibly being upset by what people say. Remind them there could be inappropriate content that slips through filters. Being forewarned is being forearmed.

2. Show them how to block individuals, flag and report abusive content, and when to report incidents. Emphasize the importance of telling someone “in real life.”

3. Show your teen how easily digital pictures can be manipulated. The realization that not everything is what it seems is a useful first step—understanding that life is not as perfect as it may seem virtually. Teens may be familiar with the digital world but less familiar with the motivations for creating ‘fake’ images.

4. Critical thinking. Help them to think through the possible consequences of what they post online. Remind them that there is no rewind: once it’s posted, it’s nearly impossible to take back. Fifteen minutes of humor is not worth a lifetime of humiliation.

5. Encourage your teen to socialize in person with their friends. Communicating solely behind a screen can be isolating. Socializing in person builds more face-to-face contact in helping your child have empathy and compassion towards people.

Getting schools involved

After a cyberbullying episode hit her daughter’s public charter school, parent and video producer Diana Graber developed this program based on the master’s degree she had just received in media psychology and social change. Graber still teaches the course herself, but also trains teachers to run the program at their own schools, providing video and written materials for a fee.

Since its inception, the program has grown to be offered in more than one hundred schools in 47 states and overseas, ranging from Waldorf to public schools.

Sixth graders begin with the basic concepts of digital citizenship, covering digital footprints, what should never be shared online, and antibullying behavior, such as the difference between being an upstander and a bystander. Seventh graders focus on research skills, covering concepts such as keywords, Wikipedia, fair use, browsers, search engines, and privacy protection.

By eighth grade, the students shift focus again to consuming versus producing online content, covering media literacy issues from sexting to Photoshopping to copyright protection. The final exam is a series of questions we adults would likely fail: What are cookies and how do they work? What does URL stand for? What is a spider? What are the eight tips for a secure password?

While much of the same information is on her complementary website, CyberWise.org, Graber ultimately found that approaching the students directly, instead of using their parents as mediators, works best. “Kids don’t want to talk to their parents in middle school,” she says. “The talking is with each other. If we can make safe spaces in the classroom, that is way more powerful.”

Graber knew her message was received when a new girl posted a photo of herself in a bikini, and an eighth-grade boy who’d taken the course scolded her. “You need to take that off your  Instagram,” he told her bluntly. “That was stupid.” Harsh, Graber concedes—but effective. “In a crude way, he was looking out for her. The kids start being each other’s mentors.”

This teacher seems to be making a difference with her curriculum, CyberCivics, that is now spreading throughout the country.

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Is your teen a victim or target of cyberbullying? Have you noticed them becoming withdrawn, nervous when they receive notifications on their phone, loss of appetite, drop in grades? Words can hurt and leave our young people with emotional baggage.

If you have exhausted your local resources, therapy isn’t working, maybe you tried out patient and even a hospital stay — contact us for information on how residential therapy might be able to help.

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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

Teen Stress

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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