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More than a Bad Day- Mental Health in our Kids & Students

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Written by: Julie Folan, Middle School Coordinator and Megan Nelson, High School Coordinator.

This month we have the chance to share relevant information that hits many homes. We hope this information with clear facts helps you or someone you know. Please feel free to share this information.

Myth: Children don't experience mental health problems.
  • Fact: Even very young children may show early warning signs of mental health concerns. These mental health problems are often clinically diagnosable, and can be a product of the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors.
  • Half of all mental health disorders show first signs before a person turns 14 years old, and three quarters of mental health disorders begin before age 24.
  • Unfortunately, less than 20% of children and adolescents with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need. Early mental health support can help a child before problems interfere with other developmental needs.

Found at (http://www.mentalhealth.org/basics/myths-facts)

Mental health is a complex subject. Many people don’t know how to spot someone dealing with depression, suicidal ideation or self-harming actions. Talking about this topic with your kids can be incredibly difficult, but it’s so important to have these conversations! Parents, get to know every detail about your kids battle with this. Have open and honest conversations. Often, kids know that they need help and want help but just don’t know how to get it. We want to give you some resources to help you spot these issues, be able to open up a conversation with your child, and give them the help they need.

This is a real issue! Check out these statistics dealing with depression, suicide, and self-harm:

Depression Statistics
  • Approximately 20 percent of teens will experience depression before they reach adulthood.
  • Between 10 to 15 percent of teenagers have some symptoms of depression at any one time.
  • Depression increases a teen’s risk for attempting suicide by 12 times.

Found at www.ineedalighthouse.org/depression-suicide/teen-depression/

Suicide Statistics
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death of young persons aged 15-24
  • In 2014, 1,668 youth aged 13-18 committed suicide
  • Every day approximately 105 Americans die by suicide
  • Every 12.3 minutes there is a death by suicide in the United States
  • Every 40 seconds there is a death by suicide worldwide

Found at www.teenhelp.com/teen-suicide/teen-suicide-statistics/

Self-Harm Statistics
  • Each year, 1 in 5 females and 1 in 7 males engage in self injury
  • 90 percent of people who engage in self harm begin during their teen or pre-adolescent years
  • Females comprise 60 percent of those who engage in self injurious behavior
  • About 50 percent of those who engage in self mutilation begin around age 14 and carry on into their 20s

Found at www.healthyplace.com/abuse/self-injury/self-injury-self-harm-statistics-and-facts/

We conducted an interview with Counselor, Carrie Finkill MA, LPC, LSC, NCC, asking her some of the big questions surrounding identifying, talking about, and getting help for depression, suicide, and self-harm. Take a look at her experienced and knowledgeable answers surrounding this topic:

What are some common warning signs that parents could be on the lookout for?

  • Big Changes in their Kids Lives; friend changes, music changes, interest changes
  • Sleeping Habits; not sleeping or sleeping all the time
  • Grade Drops
  • Isolation
  • Specifically with Self-Harm: Seasonal-inappropriate clothing (i.e. scarves or pants when everyone else is wearing shorts) or excessive wristwear

What does it look like to talk with your kids about what they’re dealing with?

  • Don’t Go Negative: That reinforces the stigma that there’s something wrong with the child.
  • Stay Positive in Communication
  • Suggested Verbiage: I’m sorry you're hurting so much, I’m sorry you're feeling this way, I’m sorry this is such a difficult time for you
  • Don’t only talk about the mental health problem. If that’s the only thing your conversations consist of your kids will begin to identify that their battle is who they are instead of it being something that they are dealing with.
  • Avoid only asking questions like; Have you self-harmed, do you want to self-harm, are you safe, have you taken your meds.
  • Rather, ask questions regarding current interests, why they find it interesting, etc.

      When should parents get their kids help?

      • As soon as they know notice that there's a problem, as soon as someone tells them something is going on or when they sense something is off. Waiting until there’s an issue that involves law enforcement or the school amplifies everything because then there’s a crisis.

      How can parents get their kids help?

      • Therapist Reference List from the Care Team at Eastern Hills
      • psychologytoday.com (A resource to find a licensed therapist in your area)
      • There is a myth that insurance doesn’t cover Mental Health but that's not true, insurance companies are required to cover it. Contact your insurance company to find out the specific coverage for your plan.
      • Referrals, Ask your friends

      What does good help look like?

      • Collaboration between the therapist, child, and parents
      • Healthy Boundaries: A confidential safe space where the kids can say what they need to say. If the child is worried that everything they share is getting back to their parents they won’t open up. A good therapist will use discretion when sharing with parents. Boundaries should be made clear to all parties from the beginning.
      • An Educated and Certified Licensed Therapist

      Do you suggest only seeing a Christian Counselor?

      • No, a good therapist will respect an individual’s belief system and not push their own agenda’s. They will respect faith as an important part of what your child is dealing with and going through.

      We know that this is a scary experience for you as parents, there are a lot of unknowns and new things to learn. It’s our heart to partner with you, to resource you and your family.  We hope you can find solace in the fact that there are a lot of treatment options out there and you don’t have to walk this alone. It is also our desire to shed a light on mental health and it is our belief that talking about it will help to do that. Feel free to reach out to the staff at Eastern Hills for any further resources, questions or simply someone to talk to!

      in Youth

      Blended Families: Part 2

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      Blending two families has its challenges but the love and opportunities can far outweigh the struggles of adjusting to the blend! Here is Part 2 of our blog on Blended Families. If you missed Part 1, read it here.

      Sonja and Kevin are a part of our church as well and they answered questions to share their wisdom and expertise from their blended family. See Sonja’s amazing words she shared below.

      How did you set up house? Our family is set up where my ex and I don't interfere with how the other runs their home, but we do communicate quite a bit about decisions for my son. For example, day to day activities in my home and rewards and consequences for all our children are between my husband and I including when my son is in my home. If decisions for my son involve school, medical, activities or any long term consequences that need to be carried through at my ex’s home, that's when having an open line of communication and good cooperation is handy. We set ourselves up for success by making sure our son is with each of us for a 50/50 split both financially and time wise. No animosity, and we regularly reinforce the importance of having a good relationship with all of his parents.     

      How did you deal with the ex? For us, having a good relationship with my ex means I can communicate with him on a regular, healthy basis and we can make good decisions together for our son. It also means my ex and I can still parent our son together, not create a combative environment between us that my son can be hurt from or be taken advantage of. We can really let our son grow up without being in the middle of an unhealthy relationship. 

      What steps did you take to blend your divided family? I think the most important step in blending your family is being able to really put the past behind you. No matter what happened in your previous marriage, you have to forgive and open communication back up with your ex. Otherwise you're just dragging the past into your new marriage including old wounds and hurt feelings. That affects not only you and your child(ren), but also your relationship with your new spouse. It also is how I can show respect for my current spouse and our family, and give us the best chance to a happier future. It's so cliché, but you really need to let go and move forward. It's harder to do than it is to say, but it is definitely worth it.     

      What worked? Good communication, a healthy working relationship, and playing off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It's amazing how God brings certain people into your life just when you need them. For example, I've always found it so interesting how much my husband and son have in common. They both really love everything math, science, and abstract to the point that we had to make a rule of no math at the table during dinner. Otherwise, we'd never get done eating. It's something they bond over. Meanwhile, my ex and my son love computer games. That's their thing. The other thing that's worked well for us is really thinking about how everyone feels. While keeping my husband’s and son’s feelings about certain situations for my son comes naturally, I continuously try to remember how my ex would feel and respect that as well. Especially when I'm having conversations with my son. While we have a strong family, I want to make sure he also has a strong relationship with his dad. I try to remember when I'm talking to him that he is part of his dad, and how I would feel if the tables were turned and he were talking about me. Lastly, be flexible. If you have a custody agreement, make sure it's in the best interest for your child(ren) and not because it's what you wanted. Be flexible if a day here and there needs to be swapped to accommodate emergency, vacation, or work schedules. You never know when you are going to need to swap as well. Give and take fairly, and remember to put your child(ren)'s best interest in the middle of you and your ex’s relationship instead of past feelings.    

      We love that we can share our stories to make our life journey together! Please contact Robin Kluever, Family Pastor at for further resources for the Happy Blend!

      Posted by Robin Kluever with

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