Mental Health

Binge Drinking Among Teens

Binge drinking has been a problem among adolescents and college students for many years.  The problem only seems to be getting worse.  Youth are drinking at younger ages, more frequently, and at higher volumes.  Binge drinking is considered as having 5 drinks within a short period of time for young men and 4 drinks within a short period of time for young women.  Binge drinking has many risks and can cause significant damage to many people's lives.  Some of those dangers includee:  an increased likelihood of assaults or date rape, physical injuries, death, poor academics, and drinking and driving.  Many parents do not understand the consequences of their teens drinking, espeically as it was something they once did as a teenager.  What all parents need to understand is that drinking, especially binge drinking is much more of a problem now than it was when they were growing up. The School-Based Health Center staff is here to help and offers a variety of services. To find out more about the SBHC, please go to About Us. To find out more information about the risks and implications of binge drinking for women in particluar, please click on the following link:

Helpful Phone Numbers

If you aren't currently in school or don't want to visit the health center just yet, these phone numbers may be helpful for you:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • National Runnaway Switchboard:  800-621-4000
  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children:  800-843-5678
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline:  800-656-HOPE
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline:  866-331-9474
  • SAFE (Self-Abuse Finally Ends):  800-DONT-CUT 800-366-8288
  • National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information: 1-800-729-6686
  • National Sexually Transmitted Disease Hotline: 1-800-227-8922
  • National Life Center/Pregnancy Hotline: 1-800-848-5683
  • Planned Parenthood - Chicago, Illinois 312-592-6700; National: 1-800-230-PLAN
  • Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Helpline:  1-888-340-4528

Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention

posted Oct 19, 2016, 8:02 AM by H. Connor

Suicide is a serious public health problem that causes immeasurable pain, suffering, and loss to individuals, families, and communities nationwide. The causes of suicide are complex and determined by multiple combinations of factors, such as mental illness, substance abuse, painful losses, exposure to violence, and social isolation. Suicide prevention efforts seek to:

  • Reduce factors that increase the risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors
  • Increase the factors that help strengthen, support, and protect individuals from suicide

SAMHSA:  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities. SAMHSA provides suicide prevention information and other helpful resources to behavioral health professionals, the general public, and people at risk.

Mindfulness training helps teens cope with stress and anxiety

posted Feb 3, 2015, 1:19 PM by H. Connor

By Gosia Wozniacka, AP, December 15, 2014
As the morning school bell rings and students rush through crowded corridors, teenagers in a classroom settle onto mats and meditation pillows. They fall silent after the teacher taps a Tibetan “singing bowl.”

“Allow yourself to settle into the experience of being here, in this moment,” teacher Caverly Morgan tells two dozen students at Wilson High School in Portland, Ore.

The students are enrolled in a for-credit, year-long mindfulness class meant to ease youth anxiety and depression and to prevent violence. For 90 minutes three days a week, they practice a mix of yoga, sitting and walking meditation, visualization techniques, deep breathing, journaling and nonjudgmental listening.

The idea behind mindfulness is that focusing on the present moment helps a person deal better with stress, difficult emotions and negative thoughts.

Mindfulness, yoga and meditation have gained popularity among Americans in recent decades, buoyed by studies showing their benefits to emotional, mental and physical health. The centuries-old practices have roots in Buddhism and Hinduism, but Western culture has secularized them to focus on physical postures, breathing and relaxation techniques.

Such practices are now offered to employees by corporations such as Google, Target and General Mills. Prison inmates, hospital patients and the U.S. Marines are using them to combat stress and illness, and to increase focus and well-being. And now schools all over the country are introducing the practices to help stressed kids.

“High school is the hardest period of time for kids,” Bruce Chatard, Wilson’s principal, said. “You’ve got emotional changes, hormonal changes, all the social pressures. It’s also the onset of mental illness for some kids, depression hits, and there’s the pressure of college and sports. All these things kids do is overwhelming without having a strategy to deal with it.”

Some people have greeted the move with less than enthusiasm.

Last year, an elementary school in Ohio ended its mindfulness program after parents complained it was too closely linked to Eastern religion, and a conservative Christian law firm sued on behalf of a couple in Encinitas, Calif., arguing — unsuccessfully — that their school district’s yoga classes indoctrinate children.

But many school districts are reporting success.

In Richmond, Calif., where a teacher started a program called the Mindful Life Project, schools have reported drops in detentions and disciplinary referrals among low-income, at-risk youth.

The school district in South Burlington, Vt., implemented a mindfulness course as part of a health and wellness program, and now administrators there have written a manual on incorporating mindfulness into K-12 curriculums.

Portland is known for its progressivism, so it should be no surprise that the idea of teaching mindfulness is being embraced there. Students at Wilson say the class has been a boon for them.

“Sometimes I have trouble breathing; I have panic attacks. This class helps me bring more attention to my breath and overcome that,” junior Cassia McIntyre said. “I’m less stressed-out and able to better cope with stress.”

The class is the brainchild of Morgan, who trained at a Zen Buddhist monastery for eight years and opened a meditation center in Sacramento. After moving to Portland two years ago, Morgan teamed up with Allyson Copacino, who teaches yoga to children. The two started an after-school program at Wilson. After hundreds of students signed up, principal Chatard took note. The school was dealing with a student’s suicide, and few resources were available to address students’ emotional and mental health.

Pediatric psychologists at Oregon Health & Science University are partnering with the mindfulness program to study its impact on students. A similar year-long program is offered at nearby Rosemary Anderson High School, which serves students who were expelled or dropped out, are homeless or who are single parents.

Unlike at Wilson, mindfulness at Rosemary is mandatory for about 70 students. Some were initially skeptical and complained about the course, principal Erica Stavis said.

But on midterm reviews, students reported that the class had helped them better recognize their feelings, deal with anger and distance themselves from destructive thoughts during difficult family situations.

“This program filled a gap,” Stavis said. “It helps students build capacity to problem-solve.”

— Associated Press

New Partnership Between Facebook, SAMHSA and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

posted Dec 20, 2011, 7:53 AM by H. Connor

In partnership with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, Facebook is announcing a new service that harnesses the power of social networking and crisis support to help prevent suicides across the Nation and Canada. The new service enables Facebook users to report a suicidal comment they see posted by a friend to Facebook using either the Report Suicidal Content link or the report links found throughout the site. The person who posted the suicidal comment will then immediately receive an email from Facebook encouraging them to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or to click on a link to begin a confidential chat session with a crisis worker.

Read the SAMHSA Blog.

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