Category Children’s Mental Health

Preventing Depression in Vulnerable Youth: To Prevent Suicides, We Need to Do More

In order to reverse the trend in youth and adolescent suicide rates, we need to implement effective interventions to prevent depression. Though that remains a challenge for the population as a whole, there are vulnerable subgroups – including socioeconomically disadvantaged, sexual minority, and racial and ethnic minority youth – for whom it is not clear that common preventive interventions are effective. There is a reason we don’t know this: we’re not doing enough to find out.

Last week, Dr. Donna Holland Barnes discussed the horrific upward trend of suicide rates among very young Black males, ages 5-11. We know that one of the key strategies in preventing youth depression and depression symptoms–often precursors to suicidal ideation–is to use early interventions that help to develop resilience, coping and communication skills, and capacity for emotional expression. Dr. Barnes notes that there are some excellent programs for introducing coping mechanisms but, unfortunately, funding and access limit their implementation in schools.

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Why Are Children Taking Their Own Lives? What Can We Do?

Donna Holland Barnes, PhD

Donna Holland Barnes, PhD
President/Co-Founder, National Organization for People of Color Against Suicide
Howard University, Department of Psychiatry

Suicide is a painful and sensitive topic under any condition, but it becomes exponentially more so when we’re talking about the most vulnerable members of our society: children.

A recent study entitled “Suicide Trends Among Elementary School Aged Children in the United States,” published in JAMA Pediatrics, showed that the suicide rate among Black males between the ages of 5 to 11 has nearly doubled in the last two decades.

This is a shockingly young age bracket. While we know little about why these children are taking their own lives, we can only guess that there is a disconnect somewhere.  So where do we begin to address such a tragic and complicated issue?

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How You Can Educate Local and State Officials to Increase School Mental Health Services

Kelly Vaillancourt, PhD, NCSP
Director of Government Relations, National Association of School Psychologists

Last week, Kelly Vaillancourt provided an easy way for you to advocate to members of Congress about providing mental health services in schools. Now, she offers some ideas about how you can effectively interact with local and state officials in order to make meaningful and substantial progress toward increasing access to comprehensive mental health services. Dr. Vaillancourt is director of government relations at the National Association of School Psychologists, which represents over 25,000 school psychologists. These professionals work with students, educators, administrators, and families to support the academic achievement, positive behavior, and mental health of all students, especially those who struggle with barriers to learning. Your voice is critical in helping ensure that all children, youth, and adults have access to the mental and behavioral health services they need and there are many quick and easy ways that you can be an effective advocate. Here, we focus on the ways you can educate and advocate at the local and state levels.

Educate School Boards about Comprehensive Mental Health Supports

  • Identify your local school board members. Review facts about them including involvement in education and with other community organizations. Furthermore, educate yourself on the jurisdiction the school board has over local policy and budget decisions as this can vary across districts and states.

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National Association of School Psychologists Issues Call to Action

Kelly Vaillancourt, PhD, NCSP
Director of Government Relations, National Association of School Psychologists

Recently on Care for Your Mind, Dr. Anne Marie Albano contended that schools are the right place for kids to get treatment for social anxiety disorder. Today, Kelly Vaillancourt of the National Association of School Psychologists offers an easy way for you to advocate for school-based psychological services.

In order to make meaningful and substantial progress toward increasing access to comprehensive mental health services, we must call upon our local, state, and federal policy makers to act. We need to

  • educate legislators and government officials about evidence-based policies and practices
  • encourage them to allocate the necessary funding to ensure these practices are in places in our schools and communities.

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How Can You Find The Right Provider to Treat Social Anxiety Disorder?

Lori Blumenstein-Bott, MSW, LMSW
Executive Director, The Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety

Finding a provider to treat social anxiety disorder can be a challenge, especially because so many people—mental health professionals included—do not know how to diagnose or treat it. Ms. Blumentstein-Bott shares tips from the Andrew Kukes Foundation to help people living with social anxiety disorder and their families effectively exercise their right to an appropriate provider.

One in eight people lives with social anxiety disorder. As the third most-common mental health condition, it’s everywhere, yet greatly misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and mistreated. But there is help. And with access to the right treatment, individuals can expect to lead quality lives. However, lack of basic awareness and understanding about the disorder presents a major barrier to quality care. Addressing this challenge begins with getting essential information into the hands of the right people:  individuals living with social anxiety disorder, teachers, parents, and health professionals.

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Back to School Anxiety. What is Your School Doing to Help Your Child Succeed?

Anne Marie Albano, PhD
Associate Professor, Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry
Director, Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders, Columbia University Medical Center

Classrooms are ripe for social anxiety triggers
From being called on in class to navigating the hallways, school is rife with social stressors. However, for children and teens with social anxiety disorder, school can be even more stressful, as school presents a full day of social interactions with peers and authority figures. The day can harbor countless opportunities to be embarrassed or say something humiliating. As a result, many young children with social phobia have a hard time transitioning to school and may cling to parents or have long, tearful good-byes. Older children and teens may simply refuse to go to school.

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When Young People Suffer Social Anxiety Disorder: What Parents Can Do

Anne Marie Albano, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry
Director, Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders,
Columbia University Medical Center

Social anxiety disorder (SAD), or social phobia, can have a crippling effect on young people. Children who avoid raising their hand or speaking up in school can become tweens who withdraw from extracurricular activities, and then teens who experience isolation and depression. In fact, children with social anxiety disorder are more likely than their peers without SAD to develop depression by age 15 and substance abuse by age 16 or 17.

As they head toward adulthood, young people with social anxiety disorder tend to choose paths that require less involvement with other people, and so cut short a lot of opportunities. Bright, intelligent young people who have yearnings to be lawyers or doctors, but cannot interact with other people, may choose a profession or work that is very solitary; or they might not enter the work force at all.

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Understanding the Unique Barriers for People with Social Anxiety Disorder

Today we begin a series from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, a national organization of researchers and clinicians focusing on science, treatment, prevention, and cure of these disorders. In the coming weeks we will share posts from members of this organization shedding light on the disorder, by creating awareness about symptoms, treatment and support.

Mark Pollack, M.D.
Grainger Professor and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry,Rush University Medical Center, and President, Anxiety and Depression Association of America

People with social anxiety disorder (SAD) face unique challenges when it comes to accessing mental health care, and many struggle for years before seeking any type of treatment. For family members supporting an individual with SAD, gaining a deeper understanding of the disorder can help you guide your loved one toward appropriate care and an improved quality of life.

About social anxiety disorder
Social anxiety disorder(SAD), also called social phobia, causes extreme self-consciousness in everyday social situations. ( People with SAD have a strong fear of embarrassing themselves or being judged by others. It interferes with an individual’s ability to form relationships, succeed at school or work, and complete everyday tasks that involve interacting with others in person or even on the phone. SAD can have a significant impact on nearly every aspect of a person’s life.

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