Happy (Mental Health) Holidays
Managing Mental Health During the Holidays
Ahhh…the holidays. The most wonderful time of the year. Food, friends, family…anxiety. It may come as a surprise, but the holidays can be one of the most stressful times of the year, especially for our children. But don’t worry, here are a few tips to make this holiday season merry and bright.
Changing routines can be stressful, especially when it happens abruptly. While we want to make the most of the season like going shopping or visiting friends and families, keeping a schedule that closely follows what our children experience during school days is important. Sticking close to bed and wake-up times and eating three healthy meals while staying active can be a good mental health boost.
Stress creates stress. One of the best ways to reduce stress in our children is to reduce our own stress (or atleast manage it.) By setting the example that you are stress-free, your children will follow. Take time for yourself and get sleep.
For some, uncertainty is a big stress trigger. Keep your children in the loop and let them know all your plans ahead of time. Include all the activities and expectations. Predictability will make it easier on them.
Holiday gatherings can be joyous and happy for adults. But for children, they can be loud and overwhelming, especially for children who are introverts or become anxious easily. Let children know who will be there and what to expect. Plan to only do one high demand activity a day.
It’s important to remember that for most of us, these gatherings have become traditions. Making sure your child has fun and is relaxed is important, but if these events are too stressful, it’s ok to sit one out.
Getting 8-10 hours of sleep is important every other day of the year, it should be just as important during the holidays. Also, taking time to relax by watching a holiday movie or baking cookies is a perfect way to recharge.
Anxiety Tool Kit
Parents can plan all they want, but occasionally certain situations can still overcome your child. Having an anti-anxiety toolkit at your disposal can help alleviate stress. Learn some activities like these Breathing Exercises.
Can be helpful. Also take time to let them do some journaling or spend time alone. Getting outside for a walk or even a hot shower can do wonders. Make sure you talk to your child about why they are feeling stressed and help them find ways through it together.
Sure the holiday hustle is fun, but it’s also draining. Don’t get too wrapped up in everything that you forget to have fun together. Stay in for a family game night or go do something you haven’t had time for. Being there for your children with the focus on family can be one of the most memorable parts of the holidays.
Hopefully these tips help you and your family during the holidays. Just know that mental health issues are very common. Do your best to take the time during the holidays to be there for your children.
If you are concerned that your child’s mental health issues are more than just holiday stress, Alta is here for you. Please call us at 330793-2487. We’re always available and willing to help. We have locations in Boardman, Youngstown, Austintown, Mineral Ridge and Howland to help you where you need it most.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Alta Care Group.
S.A.F.E.R. Group Opens to Everyone
Without a doubt, we know our community faces trauma from increased violence, especially amongst our youth. For a lot of adolescents and teens in our area, many have seen this violence first-hand or have been affected by violence, either in the loss of a loved one or friend.
Experiencing violence at a young age can change how our youth develops and leave lasting scars. Having someone to talk to, especially peers, can give these young people an outlet and let them rationalize their emotions and possibly lead them on a path of recovery.
It all comes down to building a safer environment for our youth. The Supporting Adolescents Facing Environmental Risks (S.A.F.E.R.) Group from Alta Behavioral Healthcare is designed to support these populations directly, and is free to the public.
Just as a child and adolescent’s life is shaped by family, it’s also shaped by their environments (neighborhood, school.) Stress from concerns about safety in schools and in our communities can be difficult for youth to deal with. This group is open to any youth in our community between the ages of 12 and 15. Youth do not need to be current clients of Alta to attend. Learn coping skills, relaxation techniques and more.
The S.A.F.E.R. Group will take place at Alta’s Belmont location (711 Belmont Ave, Youngstown OH) from 6 – 7 p.m. every Tuesday in October starting October 4th. Registration is required and all it takes is an email. For registration or questions, please contact Frances Clause at firstname.lastname@example.org
Make Your Career a Passion
Why settle for a job, when you can pick your passion?
Join Alta Care Group and get paid to love what you do! We know it’s not about the pay and benefits, but they are worth it.
Alta is here to support and train you, join our team of highly trained, skilled professionals, and let us help you achieve your career goals.
Our Mission to provide Children in our Valley the customized therapy they need makes Alta the leader in Child, Youth and Adolescent Counseling. As a fast growing company, we offer our employees room to grow.
Our Passion Programs:
Early Child Mental Health Therapy Art Therapy
Trauma Recovery Services Garden Group Therapy
Peer Support Services Camp Challenge
School Based Mental Health Mental Health and Wellness Day Treatment
Intensive Home Based Transition to Independence Program (TIP)
Group Counseling Family Counseling
Specialized Treatment Services FIRST Program
Baby Bump LGBTQ+ / DEI
Contact Sue Baughman for more information:
Or Apply Online
When to Seek Help
Mental Health in Childhood
Raising a child can be challenging. Even under the best circumstances, their behaviors and emotions can change frequently and rapidly. All children are sad, anxious, irritable, or aggressive at times, or they occasionally find it challenging to sit still, pay attention, or interact with others. In most cases, these are just typical developmental phases. However, such behaviors may indicate a more serious problem in some children.
Mental disorders can begin in childhood. Examples include anxiety disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder, depression and other mood disorders, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Without treatment, these mental health conditions can prevent children from reaching their full potential. Many adults who seek mental health treatment reflect on the impact of mental disorders on their childhood and wish they had received help sooner.
When to Seek Help
How can you tell the difference between challenging behaviors and emotions that are a normal part of growing up and those that are cause for concern? In general, consider seeking help if your child’s behavior persists for a few weeks or longer; causes distress for your child or your family; or interferes with your child’s functioning at school, at home, or with friends. If your child’s behavior is unsafe, or if your child talks about wanting to hurt themselves or someone else, seek help immediately.
Young children may benefit from an evaluation and treatment if they:
- Have frequent tantrums or are intensely irritable much of the time
- Often talk about fears or worries
- Complain about frequent stomachaches or headaches with no known medical cause
- Are in constant motion and cannot sit quietly (except when they are watching videos or playing video games)
- Sleep too much or too little, have frequent nightmares, or seem sleepy during the day
- Are not interested in playing with other children or have difficulty making friends
- Struggle academically or have experienced a recent decline in grades
- Repeat actions or check things many times out of fear that something bad may happen
Older children and adolescents may benefit from an evaluation and treatment if they:
- Have lost interest in things that they used to enjoy
- Have low energy
- Sleep too much or too little or seem sleepy throughout the day
- Are spending more and more time alone and avoid social activities with friends or family
- Diet or exercise excessively, or fear gaining weight
- Engage in self-harm behaviors (such as cutting or burning their skin)
- Smoke, drink, or use drugs
- Engage in risky or destructive behavior alone or with friends
- Have thoughts of suicide
- Have periods of highly elevated energy and activity and require much less sleep than usual
- Say that they think someone is trying to control their mind or that they hear things that other people cannot hear
Learn more about warning signs on the National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) Child and Adolescent Mental Health webpage.
Get Immediate Help
If you, your child, or someone you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You also can text the Crisis Text Line (HELLO to 741741) or use the Lifeline Chat on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.
First Steps for Parents
If you are concerned about your child’s mental health, you can start by talking with others who frequently interact with your child. For example, ask their teacher about your child’s behavior in school, at daycare, or on the playground.
You can talk with your child’s pediatrician or health care provider and describe the child’s behavior, as well as what you have observed and learned from talking with others. You also can ask the health care provider for a referral to a mental health professional who has experience and expertise in treating children.
Assessing Your Child’s Behavior
An evaluation by a mental health professional can help clarify problems underlying your child’s behavior and provide reassurance or recommendations for the next steps. An evaluation offers an opportunity to learn about your child’s strengths and weaknesses and to determine which interventions might be most helpful.
A comprehensive evaluation of a child’s mental health includes the following:
- An interview with the parents to discuss the child’s developmental history, temperament, relationships with friends and family, medical history, interests, abilities, and any prior treatment. It is important for the mental health professional to get a picture of the child’s current situation—for example, a recent change in schools, an illness in the family, or another change that affects the child’s daily life.
- Information gathering from the child’s school, such as standardized tests and reports on behavior, capabilities, and difficulties.
- If needed, an interview with the child and the mental health professional’s testing and behavioral observations.
Alta Behavioral Healthcare is here to help with your child and family. From Mahoning to Trumbull County, we’re ready to give your loved ones the care they need.
Call today at (330) 793-2487
Understanding Teen Depression
Understanding teen depression
Teenagers already face a tough time. Depression can make these years even harder and it’s more common than you think. One in five adolescents will suffer from depression at some point during their teen years. Luckily it’s very treatable, as long as they receive the help they need.
Depression goes beyond just moodiness. It can severely affect their everyday life. But, with a parent’s love, support and guidance, teens can get their life back.
Is my teen depressed?
Parents of teenagers know occasional bad moods happen. It’s actually expected. However, a teen dealing with depression is quite different. Signs of depression go much further than just an occasional feeling of sadness. Untreated depression can change a teen’s personality, create an overwhelming sense of sadness or even anger. In fact, many behaviors of being rebellious or certain attitudes may be an indication of depression. Here are some indicators your teen or adolescent may be acting to deal with their emotions:
- Problems at school. Depression can cause low energy and concentration difficulties. At school, this may lead to poor attendance, a drop in grades, or frustration with schoolwork in a formerly good student.
- Running away. Many depressed teens run away from home or talk about running away. Such attempts are usually a cry for help.
- Drug and alcohol abuse. Using alcohol or drugs in an attempt to self-medicate. Unfortunately, substance abuse only makes things worse.
- Low self-esteem. Depression can trigger and intensify feelings of ugliness, shame, failure, and unworthiness.
- Smartphone addiction. Teens may go online to escape their problems, but excessive technology use (ex. phones/tablets/videogames) only increases their isolation, making them more depressed.
- Reckless behavior. Depressed teens may engage in dangerous or high-risk behaviors, such as reckless driving, binge drinking, and unsafe sex.
- Violence. Some depressed teens—usually boys who are victims of bullying can become aggressive and violent.
Depression can be associated with other mental or behavioral health issues that include self-inflicted injuries and eating disorders. Depression can also cause pain for your teen and family, but their are ways to help. Understanding what depression might look like is a great start to get the help your family needs.
Signs and symptoms of teen depression:
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Irritability, anger, or hostility
- Tearfulness or frequent crying
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Loss of interest in activities
- Poor school performance
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Restlessness and agitation
- Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
- Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Depression in Teens vs. Adults
Depression in teens can look very different from depression in adults. The following symptoms are more common in teenagers than in their adult counterparts:
Irritable or angry mood. As noted, irritability, rather than sadness, is often the predominant mood in depressed teens. A depressed teenager may be grumpy, hostile, easily frustrated, or prone to angry outbursts.
Unexplained aches and pains. Depressed teens frequently complain about physical ailments such as headaches or stomachaches. If a thorough physical exam does not reveal a medical cause, these aches and pains may indicate depression.
Extreme sensitivity to criticism. Depressed teens are plagued by feelings of worthlessness, making them extremely vulnerable to criticism, rejection, and failure. This is a particular problem for “over-achievers.”
Withdrawing from some, but not all people. While adults tend to isolate themselves when depressed, teenagers usually keep up at least some friendships. However, teens with depression may socialize less than before, pull away from their parents, or start hanging out with a different crowd.
Even though your teenager might show some of these signs at some point, it doesn’t mean they are depressed, they could just be being a teenager. So it’s important that you recognize these signs and see how long the symptoms are present. It’s very easy to confuse hormones and stress for occasional teeange angst, but prolonged and continuous symptoms accompanied by unhappiness, irritability and lethargy may be a bigger issue.
Suicide Warning Signs
Teens with serious untreated depression can often times think, speak or or attempt suicide. It’s vital to take and thoughts or behaviors very serious.
Suicide warning signs to watch for
- Talking or joking about committing suicide
- Saying things like, “I’d be better off dead,” “I wish I could disappear forever,” or “There’s no way out”
- Speaking positively about death or romanticizing dying (“If I died, people might love me more”)
- Writing stories and poems about death, dying, or suicide
- Engaging in reckless behavior or having a lot of accidents resulting in injury
- Giving away prized possessions
- Saying goodbye to friends and family as if for the last time
- Seeking out weapons, pills, or other ways to kill themselves
Get help for a suicidal teen
If you suspect that a teenager is suicidal, take immediate action! For 24-hour suicide prevention and support in the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. To find a suicide helpline outside the U.S., visit IASP or Suicide.org.
How to Help a Depressed Teen
Depression is very damaging when left untreated, so don’t wait and hope that worrisome symptoms will go away. If you suspect that your teen is depressed, bring up your concerns in a loving, non-judgmental way. Even if you’re unsure that depression is the issue, the troublesome behaviors and emotions you’re seeing are signs of a problem that should be addressed.
Open up a dialogue by letting your teen know what specific depression symptoms you’ve noticed and why they worry you. Then ask your child to share what they’re going through—and be ready and willing to truly listen. Hold back from asking a lot of questions (most teenagers don’t like to feel patronized or crowded), but make it clear that you’re ready and willing to provide whatever support they need.
Getting your teen immediate help by talking to professionals is the best step you can take to getting them the help they need to start getting their life back. Visit AltaBehavioralHealthcare.org or call (330) 793-2487
Bedtime Routines **FREE VIRTUAL CLASS**
THIS EVENT IS FREE TO ALL. Register* to receive a $25 Gift Certificate**.
Children need a good night’s sleep so they have enough energy for the next day’s activities. Parents also need adequate sleep and some child-free time to ensure their own needs are being met. As children grow, they can learn to become more independent in their sleep routine. This discussion group gives positive parenting strategies to help you develop a good bedtime routine, teach your children to fall asleep in their own bed, and stay in their bed until morning. You will discuss common bedtime problems and skills that will help children get into a good bedtime routine. You’ll learn how to keep track of sleep patterns to better understand them and strategies for preventing these problems. Finally, you’ll design a personal plan for developing good bedtime routines in your family.
VIRTUAL MEETING ON ZOOM:
Meeting ID: 830 9084 5558
*Registration is NOT REQUIRED, but those who register and complete the class get a $25 Gift Card. To register, email Jamie at JamieB@altacaregorup.org
**Only one Gift Card per family for attending a Triple P Virtual Learning Program. A Gift Card is only given to families who attend and do the survey.
Dealing with Childhood Stress
In a perfect world, we want our children to be happy and carefree. We want them to go about their days without without having to deal with stress. But stress is a function of the demands that are placed on us and our ability to meet them.
Children and adults experience stress differently. It’s important for adults to recognize the signs of childhood stress and possible causes. Adults can help manage stress. Sometimes it may even be an anxiety disorder where children will benefit more from professional help.
The holidays are usually a stressful time for everyone involved. Parents can even project some of their stress to their children. Beyond that there are other things that lead to stress in children.
From school, changes in family or conflicts with their friends, stress can happen at anytime. This stress can lead to anxiety. As a parent you may notice the following happen emotionally and behaviorally:
-Getting into trouble in school
-Refusal to go to school
-Behavioral changes such as moodiness, aggression or neediness
-Withdrawing from family and friends
Sometimes stress can be seen physically. Younger children may pick up new habits like thumb sucking or hair twirling. Here are a few physical symptoms:
-Headaches or stomach aches
Knowing the signs can help you recognize that there may be a problem and help you identify the source of the stress. Feeling overwhelmed with academic pressure, bullying in school or separation from parents can all cause stress in children and adolescents. Even having a full schedule and not enough self-care time can lead to stress. Identifying the sources of stress is another step in helping reduce it.
These are a few ways you can help your child:
-Make your home a calm and safe space. Create their own space.
-Monitor their shows, games, books and multimedia.
-Create routines. Game nights, dinner and even family reading can help reduce stress.
-Give them opportunities to have control of situations.
-Find social and sports activities they can succeed.
-Keep them informed on upcoming changes.
Your own actions can help children deal with stress too. Showing children how you react to situations can teach them how to better deal with stress. Reacting in a calm way to certain situations will set the example of that not all events have to be handled in a way that causes more stress to yourself and those around you.
Physical activities or after school group involvement is another way to ease your child’s stress. Some therapies like Adventure Therapy or Yoga can give your child a sense of accomplishment. Art Therapy is another great way to have your child calmly reflect on what they are experiencing in the moment and use it on other life moments. Giving them natural tools to deal with stress in their own way can be a great asset throughout life. Alta offers these alternative-therapies at Alta’s Center for Mental Health & Wellness at the Campus of Care.
If you think your child is experiencing anxiety too frequently, it may be time to seek the help of a professional. Either talk to your primary care physician or call Alta Behavioral Healthcare at (330) 793-2487. If their anxiety is a danger to themselves or others, please call 911.
New Statistics Show Mental Health Worsening Since Pandemic Began
According to a new survey published this month, nearly 50 percent of parents say their kid’s mental health has worsened since the summer. This finding is part of a survey published by ParentsTogether, a national parent-led non-profit with more than 2 million members, to see how families are coping throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The survey also found that in terms of emotional and mental health, families are continuing to struggle. Here’s some of the survey’s latest findings: `
– 67 percent of respondents said that someone in their house is struggling mentally or emotionally.
– 60 percent of adults said their mental health has gotten worse, or much worse, since the summer.
– 47 percent of parents said their kids mental health has gotten worse, or much worse, since the summer.
– 62 percent of parents are concerned about their families’ ability to make it through the winter, mentally or emotionally.
– 66 percent reported feeling exhausted extremely or very often, 61 percent reported feeling overwhelmed extremely or very often, and 47 percent reported feeling sad/depressed extremely or very often.
The mental health effects on individuals throughout the pandemic is one of many worrying statistics. From the fear and anxiety caused by the pandemic to feelings of loneliness and isolation caused by social distancing and the stress induced by unemployment, there are a number of mental health effects caused by the pandemic.
It’s important, now more than ever, to take care of your mental health and check in with others — and to seek professional mental healthcare when needed.
In addition to seeking professional care, there are several healthy ways recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for you and your family to cope with the stress.
- Know where and how to get treatment and other support services and resources, including counseling or therapy (in person or through telehealth services).
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media.
- Take care of your body.
- Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
- Exercise regularly.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid excessive alcohol and drug use.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
- Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, consider connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.
7 Tips on Dealing with Back-to-School Anxieties During COVID
The start of a new school year always brings about change, and students respond to those changes with a range of feelings. From eager excitement to eagerness to sadness and dread, every child responds differently in times of change. But the start of the 2020 school year in particular will also add a completely new set of changes for both students and parents.
We are here to help. Here are seven tips to help you and your child be prepared to meet these challenges and have a successful school year:
Prepare for the regular school routine.
Getting back in the school routine is always tough after the summer, but this year it’s been almost 6 months since kids were in school! This will make it even harder to get into a new schedule for eating and sleeping, so allow more time for your child to establish a new schedule. Gradually starting to move times for waking up and meals a week before school starts will make the process easier. Skills for sitting still and being quiet and focused may also be out of practice, so spending time reading with your child, or doing some math or writing work will also help the transition.
Prepare for the new school routine.
This year students will have to do things that are not usually a part of school. From wearing masks, to temperature checks, to social distancing, to logging on to zoom calls, children should prepare for the new routine. For younger children, it may be helpful to talk about your school’s new procedures and practice with them at home to make them less intimidated. Doing a temperature check and practicing wearing a mask while reading or playing can help to make this more familiar and comfortable. For older students, talking through what social distancing will look like throughout the school day can help to prepare them for new routines in the hallway and cafeteria.
Prepare for a changing school routine.
Most schools have developed plans that allow them to adapt to changing health concerns. That means that your child’s school routine will likely change at least once during the school year! Prepare your child for learning online, in the classroom, or a blend of both. Remind them that they can learn in all of these options and reassure them that you will be there to help them along the way.
Talk about feelings.
Many children may be nervous about returning to school, and specifically worry about whether it is safe to be there. It is important to reassure your child that part of the reason that school will look different this year is because of all of the changes made to keep them safe. You can also encourage and empower your child be reminding them of the things that they can do to help stay safe, especially social distancing, wearing masks, and hand washing. Children may have other feelings about going back to school, and it’s important to let them share those too! Be sure to talk with your child about what they think school will be like, and help them identify and express the feelings they are having.
Find opportunities to grow.
Going back to school won’t be the last time your child has to deal with uncertainty, so it’s a great opportunity to teach them skills for dealing with difficult situations. Modeling a positive outlook and using coping skills can set a great example for your child to follow. As you talk with your child and they share a problem, don’t jump in too quickly to solve it for them! Instead, help them think through creative solutions and alternatives. You can also teach them to look at things differently, so that they feel better about a situation. For example, your child might say “I’m mad because we have to sit behind shields at lunch, and can’t touch each other.” You can help your child think more positively by acknowledging the feeling, but viewing the situation from a more positive perspective. “I know you’re frustrated by the shields at lunch, but it’s nice that you get to see your friends every day now, and can talk to them at lunch.”
Keep up the conversation.
No matter how your child is feeling about going back to school, their feelings will probably change. After a few weeks, things may not seem so bad—or they may seem a lot worse! Be sure to check in regularly with your child to ask them how things are going, and how they are feeling about it. And look for opportunities to encourage them and affirm the effort they are putting forth to be successful. A positive word as they start the day, or a note to find at lunch, can make a big difference in your child’s outlook!
Get help if you need it.
The additional stress of going back to school this year will be a lot for any child. But if can be harder for students who tend to be worriers, have a history of difficulty at school, have other significant sources of stress, or who have existing mental health challenges. Pay attention to how your child is managing the return to school, and reach out for help if you need it. Alta’s services are still available both in person and through telehealth (including telephone and videoconferencing). If you ever need anything, our staff would love to be there to help you through whatever you are going through. Don’t be afraid to contact us at 330-793-2487.
Racial Microagressions and Why They Are Hurtful
At Alta Care Group, we care about racism and the impact it has on the children of the Valley. We are working to examine systemic racism and racial bias through the lens of those most affected by it so that we can begin to bring about change.
This blog post is meant to highlight some of the racial microaggressions that we have seen affect our community. We hope that while reading this, you will reflect on your own preconceived beliefs, with a goal to better understand people that are different from you.
It is easy to call out obvious racism like race-based slurs or threats. But what is often harder to identify are the more subtle forms of racial stereotyping, like microaggressions.
What exactly are racial microaggressions?
They are brief, everyday exchanges that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial beliefs to a different people group. Microaggressions can be intentional or unintentional. Sometimes they are even well-meaning, but they may communicate harmful racial messages or underlying assumptions of another person.
Microaggression Example #1:
‘You’re so articulate’ or ‘You don’t sound black’
Why this is hurtful:
When a white person says this to a black person, they are implying that they didn’t expect a black person to speak well or with intelligence. The black person did not fit the white person’s stereotype. This assumption is extremely hurtful and untrue.
Microaggression Example #2:
Shifting to the edge of the sidewalk or clutching your purse more tightly when walking by a black person.
Why this is hurtful:
When a white person does this, they are implying that the black person is a threat or a danger to their physical well-being. This implicit bias affects behavior and can be extremely hurtful.
Microaggression Example #3:
Calling a black person ‘sister’ or ‘brother’
Why this is hurtful:
Calling a black person sister or brother most likely stems from an underlying assumption about how black people talk. If a white person has not interacted with that black person before, they may be unconsciously overcompensating when trying to make a connection.
Microaggression Example #4:
‘I am not racist; I have a black friend.’
Why this is hurtful:
Knowing black people does not exclude someone from discriminating towards them. This statement downplays and ignores the larger social context in which black people live.
By providing these examples, we hope that they help you identify microaggressions when they are committed by yourself and your children. The first step to fixing our societal problems is recognizing that there is an issue present.
Keeping It Together During Quarantine
We are certainly living in strange times.
None of this was expected.
In the midst of a crisis such as this, it is easy to forget about your mental health. But in reality, you are probably under more stress than ever before, and actions to promote positive mental health are more important than ever.
In addition, studies show that staying confined in the same place with the same people creates conflict, anger, and stress. However, this has become the new normal, and probably will be for the foreseeable future.
Over time, putting our mental health on the back burner is one of the worst things you can do in a crisis like this. We put together some actions that you can do to promote positive mental health. Here are 7 tips for improving your mental health during this coronavirus quarantine.
1. Reframe the situation with a new perspective.
It is easy to view quarantine with the following thoughts: “I’m locked inside”; “I’m stuck with the same people for weeks”; “Now I can’t do that.” All of these are valid thoughts, but simply changing the way you think about this situation can completely change your outlook on quarantine. Reframe your thoughts to take a more positive outlook: “I now have time to focus on my home and self”; “I now have time to invest in my family”; “I may not be able to do that, but now I can do this.”
2. Take breaks from the news and social media.
It is important to stay updated on the latest facts from health officials on the coronavirus. However, constant exposure to media outlets can be overwhelming, leading to increased anxiety and worry. This is especially true right before bed. Negative emotions at night can significantly reduce sleep quality. Be sure to manage and regulate the amount of time you are spending on Facebook and watching the news each day.
3. Virtually reach out to family and friends.
Now is a perfect opportunity to call your mom or college best friend. Even better, contact that cousin or old friend that you haven’t spoken to in a while. Interactions with someone other than the ones locked in your house with you can be extremely beneficial. Not only is human interaction healthy, but reconnecting with people that matter to you reduces feelings of isolation and loneliness.
4. Set goals for your quarantine.
Many people will look back at this quarantine wishing they would have been more intentional about how they used their time. Setting goals is a great way to ensure you are staying productive. You can start by setting one small goal each day. Ask yourself, “What’s one thing I can do today that I will be glad I did in the future?” Accomplishing a goal, no matter how small, creates serotonin and dopamine in the brain. This will leave you more feeling better and more productive.
5. Do something relaxing.
This looks different for everyone. This could mean taking a bath, going on a run, picking up a good book, making a pie, or listening to a podcast. Doing something you enjoy gives your brain a much-needed break. Try to work in a relaxing activity into your schedule at least once a day.
6. Clean, clean, clean.
A scattered home can lead to a scattered mind. The more organized your living space is, the more organized your life will feel. Cleaning has a positive effect on our mental health by helping us gain a sense of control. In an environment that seems like everything is out of our control, cleaning gives a sense of empowerment and is a great way to calm anxieties and minimize stresses.
7. Utilize Alta’s telehealth services if needed.
All of our services are still available by way of telehealth (including telephone and videoconferencing). If you ever need anything, our staff would love to be there to help you through whatever you are going through. Don’t be afraid to contact us at 330-793-2487.
6 Tips on Talking to Your Kids About the Coronavirus
The coronavirus is all anyone is talking about these days, and with good reason. The sheer amount of closings and cancelations is unprecedented in recent memory. With all that parents are worrying about when it comes to this virus, kids may be left in the dark, hearing only bits and pieces of news from teachers or kids on the playground. Many parents are wondering how to bring up the coronavirus to their kids, what to say, and what not to say.
Here is some advice from us at Alta.
1. Be intentional about having the conversation. It is important to have that conversation with your kids. “Avoiding talking with your kids about the coronavirus can actually cause kids to worry more,” explains Alta CEO Joe Shorokey. This is a great opportunity to present the facts, dismiss any myths that they may have heard, and ultimately calm them of any anxieties they may be feeling.
2. Limit the information. It could be easy to overload and overwhelm your child with information about the virus and its’ effects. Only volunteer the basic facts that you deem appropriate, and try to answer questions honestly and clearly. Before starting the conversation, have a plan on what information you will be sharing. It may be best to write down some brief key facts to help limit the amount of information.
3. Invite them to ask questions. As every parent knows, kids are naturally curious beings. Invite them to talk about what they have heard and ask any questions that they may have. Even if you are unable to answer every question, it is important for your child to be able to talk through what they have been hearing, seeing, thinking, and feeling.
4. Stress hygiene and cleanliness. It is important to remind your children how to stay germ-free. “When kids are told how to keep themselves safe, they feel empowered and motivated to follow through,” says Shorokey. Coronavirus is transmitted by coughing and touching surfaces. Encourage your children to avoid touching their face, to wash their hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds (or the time it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song), and to cough into their arm.
5. Remain calm and reassuring. If you are panicked, your kids will follow suit and panic. It is important to stay calm when talking with your kids. In addition, your child will probably become scared that they will contract the coronavirus. It may be helpful to reassure your child that the coronavirus is still rare and that symptoms for kids are actually milder.
6. Keep the conversation going. Talking about the coronavirus shouldn’t be an every-hour ordeal, but it also shouldn’t be a one-time occurrence. Tell your kids that you will continue to keep them updated with new information. “An open line of communication between a parent and child is extremely important,” says Shorokey. “One conversation will most likely not be enough to calm all of their anxieties.”
Remember, it is important to have this conversation in the first place! Teaching children good hygiene and positive preventive measures are extremely important. Talking them through their fears of the coronavirus, and giving them a sense of control over their risk of infection can help calm their anxieties. We hope these tips have been helpful. Stay safe!
What’s the Big Deal About Trauma-Informed Care?
At Alta Behavioral Healthcare, our entire staff is trained in Trauma-Informed Care (TIC). From our counselors to our maintenance staff, each and every person in our building and on our payroll receives the training necessary to recognize and address the dangers of trauma. But why? Why have we devoted so much time, effort and money into TIC training? Is it really that important?
What is trauma?
Trauma is, quite simply, a pervasive problem. Trauma occurs when someone is exposed to an incident or series of events that lead to emotional disturbance or the threatening of one’s life. This trauma can have a lasting negative effect on an individual’s functioning, as well as mental, emotional, physical, social and spiritual well-being.
Experiences that may be considered traumatic include:
• Physical, sexual and emotional abuse
• Childhood neglect
• Living with a family member with mental health or substance use disorders
• Sudden, unexplained separation from a loved one
• Racism, discrimination and oppression
• Violence in the community, war, or terrorism
• Many other things not mentioned
How prevalent is trauma?
The sobering truth and harsh reality is that trauma is all around us. Over the past decade, an increase in research has drawn national attention to the significance of trauma, and the statistics are quite shocking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in four children experience some sort of maltreatment (physical, sexual or emotional abuse). In addition, one in four women have experienced domestic violence in some form. Further, one in five women and one in 71 men have experienced rape – 12% of these women and 30% of these men were younger than 10 years old when they were raped. The reality is that trauma is affecting more people in the United States than we ever realized. Now that we as a nation have recognized how serious and wide-spread this problem is, it’s time to start doing something about it.
What is Trauma-Informed Care?
Trauma-Informed Care recognizes the impact of trauma and understands that there are different paths to recovery. TIC teaches the signs and symptoms of trauma so that TIC-trained people can recognize trauma in patients, families or children. One can then implement that knowledge of trauma into policies, procedures and best practices to create an environment that promotes healing and acceptance. Lastly, TIC also teaches how to actively avoid re-traumatization. Ultimately, TIC shifts the focus from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?” Understanding that life experiences are often at the root of poor physical or mental health is essential to improving the well-being of patients.
Why is Trauma-Informed Care needed?
TIC is needed because the effects of trauma are real and they are serious. According to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, people who experience trauma are:
• 2 times more likely to smoke
• 2.5 times more likely to have sexually-transmitted infections
• 4 times more likely to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
• 7 times more likely to consider themselves an alcoholic
• 10 times more likely to have injected street drugs
• 12 times more likely to have attempted suicide
Not only that, repeated exposure to trauma can impact the brain development of a child. Trauma at a young age can literally rewire the brain’s response to stress. In turn, when these trauma survivors grow up, many struggle with issues related to emotional regulation.
What is Alta Behavioral Healthcare doing about this?
As the statistics have come pouring in regarding the reality of trauma in the United States, we at Alta refused to sit on our hands and watch this go by. That is why we mandate that our entire staff receive Trauma-Informed Care training. Since then, we have seen great results as our staff works with patients to understand, talk about and start healing from trauma that they have experienced. We know what a pivotal role past experience plays in current health, and the Alta staff is thoroughly equipped to work with and support anyone that comes through our doors.
For questions about Alta’s Trauma-Informed Care, or to speak an Alta representative, call 330-793-2487. You can also visit our website for more information about Alta Behavioral Healthcare: https://altabehavioralhealthcare.org/.
Your Child’s Mental Health: Is This Just a Stage?
It’s inevitable, children go through stages. The ‘eat everything’ stage. The ‘Pokémon’ stage. The ‘Polly Pocket’ stage. The ‘my parents aren’t cool’ stage. The ‘end every sentence with ‘bro’ stage. Any parent is probably familiar with a couple if not all of these stages. When your teenager starts rolling their eyes at you when you try to give them advice, you as a parent shrug it off as just a phase.
But what about when you see your child start to deal with emotional and behavioral issues? How can a parent tell if their child is dealing with mental health issues or just a phase after all?
Even under the best of circumstances, it is often difficult to tell the difference between challenging behaviors and emotions that are consistent with typical child development, and those that are cause for concern. It is important to remember that many disorders, such as anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and depression, do occur during childhood.
In fact, many adults who seek treatment reflect back on how these disorders affected their childhood and wish that they had received help sooner.
The days of turning a blind eye to these real disorders that may be affecting our children are over.
In general, if a child’s behavior persists for a few weeks or longer, causes distress for the child or the child’s family, and interferes with functioning at school, at home, or with friends, then consider seeking help. If a child’s behavior is unsafe, or if a child talks about wanting to hurt him or herself or someone else, then seek help immediately.
Younger children may benefit from a mental health evaluation and treatment if they:
-Have frequent tantrums or are intensely irritable much of the time
-Often talk about fears or worries
-Complain about frequent stomachaches or headaches with no known medical cause
-Are in constant motion and cannot sit quietly (except when they are watching videos or playing videogames)
-Sleep too much or too little, have frequent nightmares or seem sleepy during the day
-Are not interested in playing with other children or have difficulty making friends
-Struggle academically or have experienced a recent decline in grades
Adolescents may benefit from a mental health evaluation and treatment if they:
-Have lost interest in things that they used to enjoy
-Have low energy
-Sleep too much or too little, or seem sleepy throughout the day
-Are spending more and more time alone, and avoid social activities with friends or family
-Fear gaining weight, or diet or exercise excessively
-Engage in self-harm behaviors (e.g., cutting or burning their skin)
-Smoke, drink or use drugs
Spotting the Warning Signs and Risk Factors of Suicide
Suicide has no one, singular cause. The factors that influence suicide are numerous and diverse. Two different cases may have no overlap in their motivation and contributing elements. Remaining vigilant in preventing suicide requires that one be aware of many factors that may overlap, intertwine and hide amongst others. If you should notice any of the following contributing factors or any other risk factors of a suicidal person, seek professional help with the situation and contact suicide prevention resources.
Social and Physical Isolation
- People considering suicide often isolate themselves and withdraw from activities, family and friends. They may feel that their presence is a burden on others, or they might simply lack the energy and motivation to socialize as a result of severe depression, which is often associated with suicide.
Behavior and Communication of Suicidal Feelings
- Pay attention to how the person talks. It may be obvious statements about wanting to kill oneself, but they may also give more subtle indicators. Someone considering suicide is thinking about their own death incessantly. Do their words and actions indicate their anticipation of their own finality? Are they giving away prized possessions? Behaving recklessly or lashing out with mood swings? Or contacting relations to say goodbye?
Accessing Means of Suicide
- Those thinking of suicide are consequently considering a means of ending their life. They may look up methods of suicide on the internet and purchase lethal weapons or potentially lethal drugs.
Emotional Distress and Mood Swings
- One may expect a person in a suicidal state to feel depressed, and it is true that depression commonly accompanies suicide. However, the suicidal state can manifest many different moods and behaviors. Humiliation and shame can be powerful indicators of suicidal thoughts and demonstrate the significant influence of social factors. Anger and agitation may stem from anxiety and deepen the negative mindset of the suicidal individual.
Mental and Physical Health Problems
- A suicidal state may also be brought on by diagnosed medical issues. Serious, chronic pain can severely impact a person’s mental health and place them at risk of suicide. Mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder have been tied to cases of suicide. Like other mental illnesses, a family history of suicide is another significant risk factor. Previous suicide attempts are another strong risk factor. Successfully overcoming a suicidal state does not mean that person will not be at risk again. Serious brain trauma and injury is another element of risk for suicide.
Stress and Crisis in Everyday Life
- Stressful events or prolonged periods of stress can bring about or worsen a suicidal state. Financial problems, long-term unemployment or continued harassment are examples of stress factors that have a gradual negative impact. Significant life transitions, loss, divorce, or even another person’s suicide are more abruptcrises that may severely worsen feelings of hopelessness and despair.
If someone you know is experiencing any of these signs, don’t hesitate to call for help. Here’s where to find help:
- Help Network of Northeast Ohio https://www.helpnetworkneo.org/
- Alta 24/7 at 330.793.2487. Learning the warning signs can save a life.