Tag Archives: support

mental health awareness

May – Mental Health Awareness Month

May is mental health awareness month in America. It was designated as such in 1949, by the Mental Health America organization. Here are some examples of how different areas in the US are making an impact.



When we talk about health, we can’t just focus on heart health, or liver health, or brain health, and not whole health. You have to see the whole person, and make use of the tools and resources that benefit minds and bodies together. That’s why this year, our May is Mental Health Month theme is Fitness #4Mind4Body


Each year in mid-March Mental Health America releases a toolkit of materials to guide preparation for outreach activities during Mental Health Awareness Month. During the month of May, Mental Health America, its affiliates, and other organizations interested in mental health conduct a number of activities which are based on a different theme each year.”  View past themes here. 




Take a look at Arlington, Virgina, for an inspiring glimpse into a community that’s doing it right.

The Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families Foundation is an outgrowth of the Partnership. A number of present and former APCYF board members determined that a nonprofit, charitable corporation is needed to raise and expend funds for Partnership projects that the county and school budgets cannot accommodate.

Our Vision

Arlington, a community where all young people and families are valued, supported and empowered.

Care for a change – also in Arlington.

Care for a Change, or CFAC, is a community-led initiative to increase and encourage empathy among Arlington youth.




From the National Institute of Mental Health…

Any Mental Illness

  • Any mental illness (AMI) is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder. AMI can vary in impact, ranging from no impairment to mild, moderate, and even severe impairment (e.g., individuals with serious mental illness as defined below).

mental health awareness


Serious Mental Illness

  • Serious mental illness (SMI) is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder resulting in serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. The burden of mental illnesses is particularly concentrated among those who experience disability due to SMI.


The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), defines a serious mental illness as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder that limits one or more major life activities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just over 20-percent or about 1 in 5 children, have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder.




See a list of national events at  the American Psychological Association’s website.

APA Commemorates Mental Health Awareness Month With Series of Special Activities

Events will focus on children, older Americans, women of color, the LGBTQ community and people with chronic illnesses

WASHINGTON — The American Psychological Association is honoring Mental Health Awareness Month in May with a range of activities aimed at providing important insights into the status of mental health for minority and vulnerable communities and finding solutions and sharing resources to address critical gaps in comprehensive care and policy.




Clinical Trials

Find a study near you.





Mindfulness for Schools

According to UrbanDictionary.com, the term “urban youth” refers to young black people living in the city. I don’t know if that’s correct or not, but it does have relevance to what I am about to talk about.

Earlier today, I saw an article on FaceBook, posted by the American Psychological Association (APA) regarding urban youth and the problems they face. What disturbed me was the comment by an obviously disengaged viewer. I have included a snapshot of the comment below.

The post stated:

Many urban ‪#‎youth‬ are repeatedly exposed to significant negative stressors including violence, poverty, and substance use. A new study suggests that a ‪#‎school‬-based ‪#‎mindfulness‬ program may lessen effects of these stressors. apapsy.ch/school-mindful‪#‎mentalhealth‬

The post linked to this article:

School-Based Mindfulness Program May Help Urban Children Deal With Negative Stress, which is linked to PsychNews.org.

Ignorant comment

As you can see, I did not black out my name with my response to this person. I am still shocked by such disregard for the problems that face people today. Those with no problems seem to have no heart or mind for hearing about the unpleasantness of growing up without money and resources.

What this male does not understand is the definition of pathetic. What is pathetic is the attitude of people sharing his belief that education should not include teaching people how to cope with desperate situations, how to have hope in the midst of trouble, and how to remain focused on preparing a better future for yourself.

There are many mindfulness curriculums already in effect in many inner city schools.

Goldie Hawn has had success with her curriculum on mindfulness, which is sold through Scholastic. You can read more about her program, MindUp, and the many great reviews at the Hawn Foundation.

You can also follow their progress on their FaceBook Page.

Mind Up provides this extremely affordable curriculum in three age groups, covering ages 3 to 14. You can find them at http://store.scholastic.com.

It is never too late to learn to be mindful, to learn to still the mind and focus on this moment, which is all we truly have for certain.

Become mindful of your power to create a better future.

Become mindful of your power to create a better future.

You can also purchase tools for using at home. If you know a student who would benefit from the art of mindfulness, perhaps consider becoming a mentor and teaching this unique yet simple approach to a small group.

Meanwhile, let us continue to expand the awareness of those people who are out of touch with the realities and suffering of young people all over the world.




Shelter for Students – Joe’s Place

My last post was about a shelter for students in a school district in Missouri. Today I discovered another one in Missouri, Joe’s Place. In fact, this was the inspiration for the Hope House.

These students are improving their grades, improving their attendance rates and some of them are going on to college after high school graduation.

This is a program that should be implemented all over this country.

If we truly care about our children, especially those that are living in poverty and unstable environments, and those that have been living in foster care, then we need to show them that we care by providing these shelter homes where they are able to thrive.

When family structures fail, we should be willing to come in and save the day.

That’s the America I want the world to see.

That’s the America I want children to experience.

That’s the community of America I want to see among people across this nation.

Let’s give everyone an equal opportunity regardless of how they ended up in their current situation. Poverty is not a choice. Poverty takes years to overcome and it can rarely be overcome without the help of our citizens that are able and willing to help. It costs so little to make this happen.


Joe’s Place is one of the only public school district programs in the country to provide a home for students who are either homeless or struggling in their current living situation. This year, a school district less than 20 miles away in Jennings, Missouri, started a similar version of Joe’s Place — but for girls. The Jennings School District Hope House opened around Thanksgiving.


The homes provide house parents who oversee everything and provide a disciplined schedule and stable routine. Many of these teens have not experienced this before.

One of them, who is now in college, returns to visit.

“I wouldn’t say it was a culture shock, but it was something in that area. There was dinner every night, there was a disciplined schedule — which was something I never had,” said Pinnell. “Eventually, I got really comfortable there and started calling it home not too far into the semester. It doesn’t take too long for someone to fall in love with Joe’s.”

Let’s spread the word and make a real difference in the lives of our young people!


Read the full article at HuffPost Politics.


PEASE Academy Recovery High School

A news story was reported in Minnesota last October (2015), that covered the success of the P.E.A.S.E. (Peers Enjoying A Sober Education) Academy for the last twenty-five years as a recovery high school. This successful school exemplifies specific design worthy of repeating.

Recovery High School

  • Recovery – All of the students enter the school after signing an agreement to be clean and sober, as do their parents. If they ever test positive, then they and their parents agree that they will have to leave the school. If that occurs, they try alternate methods to help with recovery.
  • Addiction – Often, the students come after the beginning of the school year. Many parents have tried alternative methods and believe that once school starts, their kids will be motivated and stay clean. Unfortunately, the peer pressure is too great for many of them. Removing them from their school, neighborhoods and other places where they had access to their drug of choice, will help them conquer their addiction.
  • Support – The recovery school provides group meetings, small classrooms, a personal CD (chemical counselor) and other methods of support that facilitate their recovery.

PEASE Academy Recovery High School also helps students gain entrance into a local college that provides mentors for them when they graduate high school.

This article also covers other recovery high schools. Recovery High Schools address the various and complex needs of all their students. The larger schools may be able to provide newer technology and more opportunities such as sports and arts, but they do not give the majority of students what they need most which, in my opinion, is the deep seeded need to be seen, heard and cared for.

We need to find a way to spread the good news of these recovery schools so that every student in jeopardy during recovery can have the same change to a new and better life.

Steiner, A. (2014, October 22). P.E.A.S.E. Academy: 25 years of keeping adolescents in school and off drugs. Retrieved from http://www.minnpost.com/mental-health-addiction/2014/10/pease-academy-25-years-keeping-adolescents-school-and-drugs


College Recovery Communities

A Comparison of Rutgers University & Texas Tech’s
College Recovery Communities

Texas Tech University (TTU) is unique in that they provide at least one of the many types of recovery support group meetings now available, seven days a week.

Texas Tech Tulips

Texas Tech Tulips

Having access to support group meetings daily, gives college students in recovery from substance abuse, addiction or alcoholism, a sense of security by providing a safety net available whenever they need it.  An evidence of the success of this support is the fact that students in the College Recovery Community (CRC) have a graduation rate of 70% and a small relapse rate of only 8%. Their CRC has been successful at providing the proper environment that leads to success for most of their recovery students.

Academic Success for Recovery Students

Both TTU and Rutgers proudly boast that their recovery students have above a 3.0 GPA on average.


How it works

TTU’s CRC requires six months of sobriety for most recovery students. However, they do make exceptions depending on the circumstances. This practice may be contributing to the success rate as well as the higher GPAs, which are above the average GPAs for non-recovery students. The six-month sobriety requirement has proved to be a valuable deterrent to college dropouts, collegiate apathy, and continuing sobriety. A similar requirement should be implemented in all college recovery communities to help facilitate the success of these programs.

The rules are necessary in most cases, but having the flexibility to make exceptions for a few students shows their commitment to doing what is necessary for each individual. Even though they are in recovery, they each have different issues that need to be addressed.

There are no absolute truths or rules that can be applied to every college student in recovery. Acknowledging this truth, while seeking ways to accommodate these differences, is an impressive feature of TTU’s college recovery community.

Providing an altruistic project for recovering students is an excellent method of pulling them out of their formerly egoistic behavior, where their main focus was to satisfy their own wants and needs. Working with their fellow recovering peers can build important bonds and allow them to think of the needs of others in the midst of dealing with their own issues.


Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” (Borchard, 2011).

According to Borchard (2011), not only should people be involved in volunteering, but afterwards they should also participate in a follow-up survey asking questions about how the recovery student felt as a volunteer. This would help assess which students would benefit from further volunteer projects as part of their treatment and as a requirement of their time in the CRC.


Support for Counselors at College Recovery Communities

Rutgers noted in his textbook, “Alcohol and drug counselors also need adequate supervision and administrative support” (Roth & Finch, 2010. p. 247).

Rutgers Scarlet Knight

Rutgers Scarlet Knight

This acknowledgement, again, shows the commitment and dedication of those affiliated with Rutgers’ CRC. Counselors need to be aware of their own potential stressors while dealing with college students in recovery. Having the option to take concerns to a director or the administrative board relieves the counselors of undue responsibilities in the face of new and unique problems they may encounter.

Proper administrative support can pave the way for a healthier program for counselors, students, and faculty. Supervision is important in any profession, as everyone performs better when held accountable for their actions.

Counselors also need ongoing education as new techniques are still in development for college recovery communities.


Obstacles for students in recovery

Another impediment facing recovery students, acknowledged by Rutgers, is that our culture, generally speaking, expects everyone to be able to handle having one or two drinks and nothing more. This is simply not possible for an addictive personality that has experienced addiction.

Most people who have no experience with addictions tend to be inconvenienced by the prospect of having a person in recovery attempting to enter their social network. This reaction can cause the person in recovery to feel even more self-conscious and burdensome than they already do.

Some of these students have been abandoned by, or have experienced constant criticism from their families. Empathetic counselors can help the students learn to deal with this type of humiliation by understanding that the people who feel this way are probably dealing with their own issues and feel they do not have time for someone else’s problems.


Borchard, T. (2011). Helping Others Is Good For Your Health: An Interview with Stephen G. Post, PhD. Psych Central. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/05/28/helping-others-is-good-for-your-health-an-interview-with-stephen-g-post-phd/

Roth, J., & Finch, A. (2010). Approaches to substance abuse and addiction in education communities: A guide to practices that support recovery in adolescents and young adults. New York: Routledge.