Destigmatizing Mental Health

When a person is identified with mental health issues, they are often described as: “Oh, she’s crazy”, “Yeah, that guy is a maniac”, “That person is nuts.” All of these phrases, which are super negative, are creating the wrong perception of mental health. Why? Because these phrases have developed a major stigma around mental health and mental illness within our society. By destigmatizing mental health and improving our mental health care system overall, everyone can be happier and healthier.

Why destigmatizing mental health is important

According to a recent report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicines (NAS), destigmatizing mental health and mental illness can only happen in our culture, if we implement a serious national effort involving health agencies, the criminal justice system, employers, schools, and the media.

Destigmatizing mental health is important, because many people go years without being treated due to the negative connotation linked to mental health. According to a report by the Child Mind Institute, only 35 percent of children get the help they need for psychiatric illnesses.

That same report showed that: 80 percent of children with anxiety disorders are not getting treatment; 40 percent of children with ADHD aren’t getting treatment; 60 percent of children with depression aren’t getting treatment; and 70.4 percent of youth in juvenile justice systems meet the criteria for psychiatric disorders.

By destigmatizing mental health, people will be more willing to seek treatment. People are scared to be perceived as “crazy” or “unstable,” because society looks at mental illness as a negative thing. Gradually, we are getting more and more educated about mental illness and the importance of getting treatment, but we still have a long way to go before the stigma will disappear completely.

How you can help

Everyone can play a part in helping to destigmatize mental health. Here are some of the things you can do on a daily basis:

  • Educate yourself and others about symptoms of different mental illnesses: The more we know about mental illness, the less scary it seems.
  • Encourage friends and family to seek treatment: No one should feel like they need to hide their mental illness or substance use issue from people. Seeking treatment and having support is important for anyone struggling with a mental health issue, because it will improve their chances of living happy, healthy lives.
  • Don’t shame those with mental health issues: Using words like “crazy”, “nuts”, and “freak” only further the stigma of mental health. Avoid using words that will make others feel isolated and encourage the negative feelings associated with mental illness.

For more information about destigmatizing mental health, check out ViewPoint Center.

Game Theory Suggestions to Avoid Family Conflict

Throughout parenting, every parent hears the exclamation, “But that’s not fair!”, every once and awhile. It’s human nature to want everything to be fair. This desire for fairness, may be rooted back to our hunter-gatherer days. Back then, those who had more during times of scarcity would share food and supplies with individuals who had less–in the hopes that they would do the same if the tables were turned.

A recent New York Times article delves into the idea of utilizing game theory as a way to avoid family conflict and make things more fair overall, in the home. Using the ideas of Paul Raeburn, a co-author of “The Game Theorist’s Guide To Parenting”, the article describes different ways parents can use game theory to avoid family conflicts stemming from feelings of unfairness.

Game Theory Suggestions to Avoid Family Conflict

In order to stop your kids from complaining about things being “unfair,” the New York Times suggest these forms of game theory in parenting:

  1. Auction: Is family conflict sometimes based around who gets to use an electronic device or another desired object? Using an auction to settle who gets to use what at what time is a good way to settle this sort of family conflict. The desired reward (whether it be an iPad or a favorite toy) can be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Kids can pay in Halloween candy or chores.
  2. Tit for Tat: If siblings are on chore duty together, turn it into a game. One child can pick something up, and then the other, and so on. This will stop your child from saying, “I did all the work, it wasn’t fair!”
  3. I Cut, You Pick: This is a strategy that divides up simple things. For example, if you’re cutting up a pizza one of your children gets to cut a slice and the other gets to choose which slice is theirs.
  4. Random Dictator: If no one in the family can decide what to watch on TV or where to go out to dinner, choosing from a hat is a good option to avoid conflict. This avoids any further family confrontation because it is totally random and fair.

Sometimes things can never be fair

Unfortunately, in life, not everything is going to be fair. Even these tricks to try and make things more fair in the home won’t always be received easily by children. It’s important for parents to not get defensive when this happens. Meeting individual needs is more important than making everyone happy, because it’s basically impossible for kids to be happy all the time.
For more information about avoiding family conflict, check out Asheville Academy for Girls.

Community-Based Care In Residential Treatment Facilities Can Be Effective

As a teenager, it’s not uncommon to feel alone. During this time, teens are attempting to find themselves and discover their interests. No one wants to feel alone, especially if you’re struggling with a mental health issues as a teen. Finding a group of people who accept you and have your best interests at heart, is one of the best things a teen struggling with mental health issues can do. Community-based care at residential treatment facilities offers a sense of community which teens often struggle to find throughout adolescence. Community-based care at residential treatment facilities can promote healing and self-confidence in teens dealing with mental health issues.

Why Community-Based Care in Residential Treatment Facilities is Effective

Community-based care, similar to what you find in residential treatment facilities, is effective because it offers a level of support that is difficult to find in normal high school settings. Teens who attend residential treatment facilities find themselves in a structured community environment where each and every one of their needs are met. 

In such a milieu, teens are supported every step of the way by their peers, mentors, and therapists. Community-based care in residential treatment facilities can improve a teen’s overall social skills and boost their self-esteem and self-confidence.

At residential treatment facilities with structured communities, teens feel they have a place in the community, where they are accepted and appreciated for who they are. Before entering into treatment, they may not have felt ashamed or angry about themselves. Structured community environments prepare teens to transition back home into their community by teaching a variety of life skills that can be used throughout a resident’s life.

Eliminating Stigma in Residential Treatment Facilities

Our society has continued to enforce a stigma around mental health and those who struggle with mental health issues. Community-based residential treatment facilities encourage community involvement through community service and other activities.  This involvement is beginning to help eliminate the stigma within the community that residential treatment facilities are located in.

When teens go out and participate in community service activities, they interact with people from multiple cultures and backgrounds in their community. Through these interactions, members of the community can connect with those struggling with mental health issues, and identify that they are normal people just like themselves. Through these connects, we begin to eliminate the stigma of mental health and residential treatment centers. Of course, we still have a long way to go before the stigma is eliminated altogether, but every step forward is a step towards permanent change.
For more information about residential treatment facilities and how they can help your child, Solstice East can help.

Squeezing a Ball: A New Tool for a Struggling Student

Is your struggling student having issues focusing or solving problems? Are they having issues thinking outside of the box creatively or being flexible? According to a recent article by PsychCentral, the answer may be between squeezing a hard ball versus a soft ball with your left hand. Researchers were astounded by the results of the simple task of squeezing a ball with your left hand as hard as you can for around a minute. Researchers believe this may have something to do with the difference between divergent thinking and convergent thinking.

Findings from the Study

Convergent thinking is useful for processing information, connecting information, gaining knowledge, and solving problems. Convergent thinking is primarily used in regards to solving problems in the real world. It has to do with focus. Divergent thinking is more about “brainstorming” and thinking outside the box. For a struggling student, they can have issues with divergent and/or convergent thinking, but this study may make things a little easier on these kids.

Participants in the study that squeezed a ball with their left hand solved around 50 percent more problems than those who used their right hand. The right hand group even solved less than the control group which did no squeezing at all. Clearly squeezing a ball with the left hand is doing something that’s improving cognitive functioning, but why?

How Does It Work?

There are many ideas of why this technique works. Many have to do with the activation or deactivation of certain parts and areas of the brain. One of the most interesting ideas, is that our bodily actions influence our thinking. This is called embodied cognition and it would explain why there’s a difference between the hardness of the balls.

PsychCentral provided examples from some studies showing this theory. For example, we tend to perceive someone as being more rigid and uptight if we’re touching a dense, inflexible, wooden block. Yet if we’re touching something softer–like a blanket–we perceive them as being warm and more relaxed. According to this theory, squeezing a hard ball produces more focused, structured thinking; while squeezing a soft ball produces more flexible, malleable thinking.

This information could be extremely helpful to a struggling student. A ball is portable and easy to take around, if your struggling student is having issues in these areas, maybe it’s time to give this a shot.

Have a struggling student? ViewPoint Center might be able to help.

Cinema Being Used to Study ADHD in Children

Yale University has conducted new research on ADHD in children. PsychCentral recently wrote an article covering the study. The researchers in this study decided to use movies as a way of understanding ADHD in children more deeply. The associate research scientist at the Yale Child Study Center, Tamara Vanderwal, M.D., says that movies allow children with ADHD to stay still while getting a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) test.  

Studying ADHD in children

Most children with ADHD have an inability to stay still. Due to this, researchers have only been able to conduct a few fMRI studies including kids with ADHD, ages 4 to 6 years old, that are awake. During an fMRI, an individual has to stay still and many loud banging noises happen throughout it–one can imagine this would make it difficult for a child to stay still.

So, researchers at Yale decided in order to have more in-depth studies of ADHD in children, they would have to come up with a different method to do it. To create an outlet for kids with ADHD to sit still during fMRIs, researchers attempted to create specially designed cinema. Vanderwal got together with a group of professional artists and created many movies designed specifically to study ADHD in children. This included very simple shapes telling a highly social story.

They found that with the movies, they had an 80 percent compliance in testing compared to 50 percent that was being achieved the old way. To confirm its use, she’s doing more research on the brain differences between kids with ADHD and those without it.

This way of studying ADHD in children is already being used in around 12 other research projects because of its massive success with keeping children still during an fMRI. The movies make it easier for researchers to understand what’s going on in a child with ADHD’s brain and how to help them cope with it in a more effective way.

Getting treatment  

If your daughter is struggling with ADHD or other issues, it’s important to reach out to a professional for guidance on what steps to take next in order to insure a healthy, successful future for her.
For more information about helping ADHD in children, check out Asheville Academy for Girls.

ADHD and Autism: Influenced by Ingredient in Common Pain Medicine?

According to a new study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, Acetaminophen–used in Tylenol, Panadol, Anacin–could be linked to a higher chance of ADHD and autism in children when used during pregnancy. The researchers found a significant increase in the chances that a child would show ADHD and autism symptoms when the mother had used a drug with acetaminophen in it. ScienceDaily recently covered the details of the study and its implications.

Increased Risk of ADHD and Autism Symptoms

This study is concerning because acetaminophen is used in drugs that are frequently used during pregnancy. Researchers found acetaminophen use had a strong correlation with ADHD symptoms in boys and girls, while the correlation with autism symptoms was just in boys. This is the first type of study to look into acetaminophen and autism symptoms in youth. It’s also the first to discern the effects on girls and boys.

“Although we measured symptoms and not diagnoses, an increase in the number of symptoms that a child has, can affect him or her, even if they are not severe enough to warrant a clinical diagnosis of a neurodevelopmental disorder.” –Claudia Avella-Garcia, Lead author and researcher at CREAL

Overall, the researchers found a 30 percent increase in the chance of developing ADHD and autism symptoms. They also found that children exposed to acetaminophen did significantly worse on computer exams meant to measure visual speed processing, impulsivity, and issues with attention.

Providing More Insight on ADHD and autism

This study doesn’t mean you should throw out all of your stuff containing acetaminophen. The researchers believe more research needs to be conducted to warrant actual caution when using these products. This study provides insight on the possible reasons why there is a correlation and how it relates to ADHD and autism symptoms in children.

One of the reasons autism symptoms may only increase in boys could be due to the male brain being naturally “more vulnerable to harmful influences during early life.” Overall, professionals agree this is something important to pay attention to and continue to study.

For more information about ADHD and autism, check out Discover Seven Stars today.

Thread’s Message: Struggling Teens Aren’t Hopeless

Struggling teens are often looked at as lost causes in school. In a recent NPR article, four men are trying to change how struggling teens are looked at in school. The four men–Chris Regan, Jordan Wagner, Eric Schiffhauer, and Jebree Christian–all live in Baltimore and derive from various backgrounds. Some are getting their Ph.D., one sells golf equipment online, and one recently graduated high school. All of them gather in a local diner every Sunday to discuss how they’re going to change the lives of struggling teens.

What are they trying to do for struggling teens?

These four men strive to help mentor struggling teens. Why? They used to all be struggling teens themselves. For example, Chris grew up in a dangerous neighborhood, lost his sister, and had to become an adult quickly. He described the experience, “At 13, I mean I knew how to do everything there is possible to do. I had a perfect attendance rate through middle school.”

When he reached high school, things took a turn for the worse and his GPA dropped to 1.6. Instead of this ruining his life, it actually qualified him for a nonprofit called Thread. Thread is a program which focuses on helping struggling teens in their freshmen year of high school become more successful.

How Thread works

When a struggling teen is chosen, they’re assigned 5 volunteers from the community that do tasks any parent would perform: giving them a ride to school, helping them with homework, finding a summer job, and packing their lunch. The volunteers help keep the struggling teens accountable.

Thread started in 2004 and has helped hundreds of struggling teens so far. About 92 percent have graduated and 80 percent have continued on to higher educated. Sarah Hemminger explained that education isn’t the only goal, though. A huge goal she has is for these struggling teens to find something they love, that they’re good at, that they can find purpose in. Thread is showing the world that struggling teens just need a little boost to get them to reach their full potential.

Finding help

If your son or daughter is truly struggling in school, it’s important to seek out a professional to help you decide what steps your family needs to take in order to help your child succeed.

For more information about getting help for your struggling teens, check out Elevations RTC today.

Pokémon Go: Helping Teen Social Anxiety & Depression

The new app, Pokémon Go has spread across the world through young people’s phones in a matter of days. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably seen something about this new augmented reality app. Unlike other games, Pokémon Go is inspiring those with teen social anxiety and depression to get out and face their fears with the mission of catching as many Pokémon as they can.

What is Pokemon Go?

Pokémon Go uses your GPS signal and smartphone camera to put Pokémon characters in the real world surrounding whoever is playing it. The goal is to “catch” these Pokémon in the real world–but you have to actually walk around in the real world to do it. You can earn points, prizes, etc. and even battle other people’s Pokémon.

Pokemon Go’s popularity  

The Pokémon TV show–started in the 90s and became quickly popular with young children and teens. Now those young children are teenagers and those teens are adults. This is why Pokémon Go is popular across a broad range of ages.

How Does This Help Social Anxiety & Depression?

Pokémon Go could become a radical new way to get those struggling with teen social anxiety and depression out of the house and interacting with the world. When someone thinks of a gamer, they usually picture a kid in their dark room staring at a screen–but this game is not only interactive with the player’s outside environment, it encourages the player to interact with people around them if they want to excel in the game.

Exercising, even just a 30 minute walk a day, has been shown to greatly improve mental health issues like depression in all ages. For many of those struggling with teen social anxiety or depression, it’s difficult to think about going out into the world and getting social. When you attach socializing and exercising to something positive that gets you motivated, suddenly it seems a little easier for these people. You cannot move forward in the game without getting at least some walking in and interacting with a few people–so Pokémon Go’s developers have created a happy accident that can improve mental health.

The game was only recently released, so more observations and studies need to be conducted to catalog the true benefits; but by the vas popularity and multitude of Facebook posts and tweets, it’s clear Pokémon Go is having a positive effect on some of those battling teen social anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. So, my advice to young people is to let this be an opportunity to get out, meet new people, and catch ‘em all.
For more information about social anxiety and depression, please check out BlueFire Wilderness

BlueFire Wilderness Therapy is a wilderness therapy program for teens ages 11-17. For more information, please call 1 (844) 413-1999 today!

New Perspective on Social Development in Adolescence

In a recent article by Psychology Today, new research concerning how much we know about ourselves compared to how much our friends know about us was discussed. Social development in adolescence can be tough–particularly for teens with low self esteems or a weak sense of self.

Teens often strive for independence, which usually means hanging out with friends instead of family. The friends a teen picks during social development in adolescence can greatly impact how they continue to move forward and develop. Positive friendships can result in a teen strengthening their sense of self because of the way friends know us compared to how we know ourselves.

A different perspective

Friends have a unique, outside view of us that we never get. They can recognize your tics, patterns, facial expressions, likes, dislikes, and more. Having a positive, supportive friendship to fall back on when times get tough can be extremely beneficial during social development in adolescence. New research suggests friends know us better–or at least differently–than we know ourselves. The reasons given are:


  • They know our behavior. If you have a best friend, you’ve probably had a moment where it seemed like they knew exactly what you were thinking. This is because when you spend a large amount of time around someone–especially someone you care about–you start to see and predict their actions and behaviors. For example, your friend may know that you start to play with your hair when you get really nervous. Knowing this can help them help you avoid situations that make you uncomfortable.
  • The can break through the self-image barrier. We all put up a protective barrier of who we are and how we present ourselves. The great thing about a positive, supportive friend is that you can rely on them to not care nearly as much about how we present ourselves and love you for who you are. Especially during social development in adolescence, teens often put up fronts or follow trends because they’re deemed “cool,” but a friend can help strengthen the real parts of you that you should care about.
  • They help us stay accountable. When something goes wrong, it’s easy to blame the situation or look for someone else to blame. Friends, as outside observers, can often see how we messed up and help us understand how we did and how we can avoid it in the future.

Being more aware during social development in adolescence

Social development in adolescence is about understanding responsibility and shaping ourselves. Friends help us see when a sticky situation is of our own doing and they also act as a support system in those hard times. They encourage us to be honest with ourselves, which increases our chances of success in the future.

For more information about social development in adolescence, check out Elevations RTC. 

Animals Helping Ease Teen Trauma

Animals Are Being Used to Ease Teen Trauma After Orlando Shooting

The New York Times recently wrote an article reporting on the surprising helpers brought in to comfort those experiencing trauma or stress after the Orlando Shooting: therapy dogs. The K-9 Comfort Dogs team brought 12 golden retrievers to Orlando.

This is just one example of how therapy animals have helped relieve stress and deal with traumatic events. Recently, therapy animals have become a popular treatment option for teen trauma; now, comfort dogs are regularly brought onto college campuses–even some high schools–during exams in order to help students de-stress.

An Unconditional Bond

“Dogs show unconditional love.” –Tim Hetzner, President of Charity which runs K-9 Comfort Dog unit

Dogs–and therapy animals in general–offer a unique relationship that is hard to find in peers and adults. The relationship provides a strong bond which is judgement-free and uncomplicated. Animals also have a way of offering up unconditional love with no questions asked, something many teen trauma victims desperately need. Studies have shown that animal therapy has the ability to improve teen trauma symptoms, especially in those who experienced childhood abuse. It’s easy to see the effects of one’s actions when dealing with a therapy animal, which helps teens develop a better understanding natural consequences and boundaries. The use of therapy animals is a great way for a teen trauma victim to learn to build a positive relationship in a safe, healthy, and simple way.

Other Animals Used in Therapy

Animal therapy isn’t isolated to just comfort dogs, it can be with cats, horses, rabbits, and more. Though therapy animals aren’t necessarily considered “service animals,” they can be extremely effective in a teen trauma victim’s progress and success. Therapy dogs and horses are some of the most common animals used for animal therapy. The act of caring for these animals develops responsibility, relationship-building skills, respect, boundaries, and more.
For more information about helping your child struggling with teen trauma, check out Solstice East.