Mental Health Resources

We are delighted to announce that our school will be participating in the School Mental Health Consulting Program this year. This innovative new program will provide our school with additional resources to support the mental health and wellbeing of all students. Please be on the lookout for helpful information about a featured mental health and well-being topic in each month’s parent newsletter and on this page. All information will be prepared by our school’s mental health consultant.





June 2017 
Substance Abuse
Parents you Matter! With the summer vacation only a few weeks away we want to remind parents that what you say and what you do has a profound impact on your child’s development and overall wellbeing. Adult alcohol use is one area where this fact could not be more important. For this reason we are informing parents that when children observe their parents consuming alcohol they are become more likely to consume alcohol themselves. More importantly when children consume alcohol at a young age they are more likely to develop substance abuse disorders later in life. The dangers of alcohol and substance use are extremely important to everyone at the school and for that reason we devoted an entire Professional Development session to educating our staff about youth substance use earlier this year. Please take a moment to visit the mental health corner on the school website to find additional information including signs your child may be using, tips to help communicate and links to local resources where you can learn more and get help.

Signs your child may be using: 

Declining school work and grades
Abrupt changes in friends, groups or behavior
Sleeping habits/abnormal health issues
Deteriorating relationships with family
Less openness and honesty

Tips to help Communicate:

Clearly communicate the risks 
Express your disapproval
Use “teachable moments”
Frequently talk AND LISTEN to your kids about how things are going in their lives
Even if you used drugs or alcohol in the past, don’t be afraid to talk


Helpful Community Resources:

Tackling Youth Substance Abuse (TYSA): Tackling Youth Substance Abuse (TYSA) is a coalition of STATEN ISLAND people and organizations who have come together with a mission to decrease youth substance misuse on Staten Island. It is a dynamic partnership of both private and non-profit organizations; city and state government agencies; philanthropists; parents, teachers and teens, many of who have been working to combat alcohol and drug misuse for years. Visit their website for more information and to get involved.
Staten Island Drug Prevention: The comprehensive substance use prevention dashboard for STATEN ISLAND. Includes current data about the opioid crisis in Staten Island, provider directories, information about current initiatives on the island and additional resources.




May 2017 
Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month! Since 1949 Mental Health America has led the country’s observance of Mental Health Month in May, this year’s theme is Risky Business. Parents are encouraged to pause for a few minutes this month to think about their own habits and behaviors that might increase their risk of developing a mental health condition. Some things to consider include alcohol and substance use, internet and TV time, financial concerns, levels of physical activity, and sleep patterns.  Parents may also take time to observe for signs that their child may be at risk for developing a mental health issue. Please visit the school website for 7 signs to look for, helpful community resources and additional information about mental health. As always, parents are welcome to reach out to a trusted adult at the school with any concerns about their child’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. 

Mental Health by the Numbers:

·       Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life.

·       Approximately 13% of children aged 8–15 experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life.

·       Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14.

·       Mood disorders, including major depression, and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of youth hospitalization in the U.S.

·       Just over half (50.6%) of children aged 8-15 received mental health services in the previous year.

·       Children who receive treatment for mental health issues are much more likely to succeed in school and beyond

Seven Child Mental Health Warning Signs:

·       Feeling sad or withdrawn for 2 weeks or more

·       Out-of-control risk taking behaviors that can cause harm to self or others

·       Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason, sometimes with a racing heart or fast breathing

·       Severe mood swings that cause problems with relationships

·       Drastic changes in behavior, personality or sleeping habits

·       Extreme difficulty concentrating or staying still

·       Intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities

 

Helpful Community Resources:

·       NYC Well: This is a free resource available 24 hours a day 7 days a week provided by the New York City  Department of Health to support the mental health of all New Yorkers. Parents or teens can chat with a professional to get recommendations for “self-help” techniques and referrals for mental health services. Call 1-888-NYCWELL, Text “well” to 65173 or visit the NYC Well website at nyc.gov/nycwell to chat with a live representative .

 

·       Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services:  Offers a range of mental health programs including individual and group counseling services for children as young as 5 years old. Services are designed to empower parents and children to live happier and healthier lives. Several programs are available to address a variety of mental health issues including anxiety, sensory processing, communication, anger, poor relationships, oppositional defiance and attention issues. Clinic locations throughout the city, including Staten Island, but parents have to call 1-844-ONE-CALL (844-663-2255) to get started.

 

·       Pediatrician: Your child’s pediatrician knows your child medical history and can direct you to a trusted mental health practitioner who is appropriate for your specific situation. Pediatricians receive new information about how to identify and treat mental health issues all the time, so do not hesitate to ask for assistance this month even if your child’s pediatrician has not been able to help in the past.



April 2017
Autism Awareness Month

What is autism? Technically speaking, autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across a variety of settings. Children must also display some kind of restricted or repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities. Autism is a spectrum disorder which means that no two children with autism have the same symptoms. Some children with autism have strong language skills and struggle with the nuances of communication like jokes and idioms, whereas other children with autism are completely non-verbal. In the area of behavior, some children with autism have extreme sensitivity to sensory stimulation like loud noises or bright lights whereas other children with autism do not react at all to sensory stimulation. The important thing to keep in mind is that no two children with autism are alike and an approach that works great with one individual is not guaranteed to work with another individual.

More information:

About 1 in 68 children in the United States has been identified with autism according to estimates from Center for Disease Control (CDC).

The CDC estimate of the number of children with autism in the United States was 1:150 as recently as 2006 making autism one of the fastest growing childhood mental health conditions.

The number of children identified with autism varies from region to region, with the estimated prevalence in the Northeast being greater than the nationwide estimate.

ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups and in all countries throughout the world. 

ASD is about 4.5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189).

Early identification and early treatment is important for treatment to be effective, however all individuals with autism make improvements in functioning and behaviors regardless of age.

Autism awareness events (Click through for more information):

Dine Out for Autism: Special menu items and other promotions at local restaurants with proceeds going to local non-profits that support children and families with autism. 

Chuck E. Cheese Sensory Sensitive Sundays: Chuck E. Cheese offers a sensory friendly experience on the first Sunday of every month. Special features include less crowding, reduced noise, and specially trained and caring staff. 

Annual Spring Egg-Stravaganza: Easter bunny, egg patch, dancing and more, for children with autism and their families. Saturday, April 8 12:00pm-2:00pm. Hosted by Autism Warriors.

Helpful parent resources (click through for more information):

Autism Speaks: Nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of people currently living with autism and their families while supporting the development of permanent, long-term solutions for the condition. Website includes searchable parent resource guide with listings for diagnosis, health services, behavioral therapy etc.

Five Tips that Helped Improve my Child’s Behavior: Simple and easy-to-follow recommendations written by a parent of two children with autism. Topics include focusing on time and using timers, how to use first/then statements, rewarding positive behavior, focusing on what you want your child to do, and how to remain calm during meltdowns.

Behavioral Health Treatment: Did you know that New York State passed a law in 2011 that requires health insurance companies to pay for autism diagnosis and treatment? This means that families can access behavioral health treatment including up to 680 hours per year of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) through their health insurance. Call your insurance company to find out about your plan’s in-network providers or reach out to the school for information about Staten Island behavioral health organizations that provide treatment for autism.



March 2017
Helping your children understand and deal with stress

What is stress? When people talk about stress they are usually referring to the unpleasant feeling that comes along when the body responds to demands. When that feeling is too strong, or when the demands are too large we start to feel stressed. Scientists have identified at least 3 different types of stress:

“Routine stress” which relates to the pressure of school work, classes, relationships, and daily responsibilities

“Change stress” is stress that is brought on by a sudden or unexpected negative change like losing a job or breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend.

“Traumatic stress” is experienced in an event like a major accident, assault or natural disaster where people are in danger of being seriously hurt. 

Is stress harmful? Not all stress is bad. In fact, stress can motivate children to prepare for an exam or perform well in a challenging situation. The physiological changes associated with stress (increased blood flow, faster breathing etc) can even be life-saving in some situations. However, health problems can occur if stress goes on for too long or becomes chronic. While everyone experiences stress differently, some examples of physical symptoms associated with prolonged or chronic stress include headaches, sleeplessness, reduced energy, changes in appetite, gastrointestinal issues, irritability and emotional changes. Overtime these symptoms can lead to serious health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes and mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

How can children deal with stress? The good news is that scientists and mental health professionals have been studying stress for decades and several “self-help” techniques have been developed and proven over time. Here are five techniques you can try with your children:

1. Recognize the signs: The first step to deal with stress is understanding what causes stress and how stress effects the body. Just sharing the above information with your child can help.

2. Get regular exercise: Just 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity, even walking, can reduce stress and increase energy levels.

3. Try a relaxing activity:  Mind-body activities like mindfulness, meditation, yoga and tai chi can help children learn to focus their attention on pleasant thoughts and reduce stressful feelings. Research has even shown that these activities when practiced properly and regularly result in changes to how the brain responds to stress.

4. Set achievable goals: With this technique, sometimes called “chunking”, children to break down large tasks into smaller units helping to relive overwhelming feelings.

5. Listen to you children: Parents should always encourage their children to talk to them when they feel stressed. Just talking about stress can improve feelings and this technique also allows parents to monitor for more severe issues.

Should I seek professional help? Parents should always call emergency services right away if children express thoughts of suicide. Other signs that it is time to seek professional support include: a constant overwhelming feeling, children using drugs or alcohol to escape from stress, or when stress interferes with daily activities like attending school, maintaining friendships or completing assignments. See below for professional resources to help children manage and deal with stress

Professional Resources:

Talk to your child’s pediatrician: In many cases a little practical advice from a trusted professional can make a big difference. Most pediatricians can refer your child to a mental health professional for additional support if needed.

NYC Well: This is a free resource provided by New York City to support the mental health of all New Yorkers. Parents or children can chat with a professional to get recommendations for additional “self-help” techniques and referrals for mental health services. Call 1-888-NYCWELL, Text “well” to 65173 or visit the NYC Well website at nyc.gov/nycwell.

Open Access Mental Health: Two agencies in Staten Island offer programs where children can walk in and see a mental health clinician after completing a simple pre-registration process. Speak to your child’s guidance counselor or any trusted adult in the school for more information.




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