Tag Archives: mental-health

Self Care for Parents and Caregivers

PCLG is excited to announce our first WRAP for Parents and Caregivers!

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“WRAP has helped me find my own value and peace as a person, not just a parent.” –LV

PCLG will be hosting Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) training for parents and caregivers.  This two-day training includes peer support and a safe environment with the focus on YOU.  We will explore new ways of looking at care-giving and share challenges and coping strategies. Participants will be able to identify helpful resources and return home with a toolkit to guide them through tough moments.

Free for parents & caregivers of children with mental illness in Hennepin County.

  • November 17 and 18th
  • 9am-4pm Saturday and Sunday
  • Lunds & Byerly’s Community Room
  • 3777 Park Center Blvd, St. Louis Park

Limited space available. Course materials and lunch will be provided. 

Register online

Questions? Email hcpclg@yahoo.com

PCLG Coffee & Conversation with CANA

coffee-conversation

  • Saturday, November 11, 2017
  • 10:00am – 12:00pm
  • Creekview Recreation Center, Multipurpose Room
  • 5001 Humboldt Avenue North, Minneapolis

Are you raising a child who faces mental health challenges? We want to hear from you! Join the Center for Africans Now in America (CANA) and Parent Catalyst Leadership Group (PCLG)  for a chance to connect and converse over coffee and refreshments. All are welcome!

We will talk about interacting with your child’s school, working with health providers, and accessing services through the county.  What are the special challenges facing families new to our region?  

  • Free, but we ask you to RSVP.
  • Interpreter will be provided.
  • Children are welcome, but please let us know how many and what ages.

For more information, contact:

 

Coffee and Conversation with PCLG

coffee-conversation

We want to hear from you!  Join PCLG Parents next month for coffee, refreshments, and conversation. Learn about the opportunities for advocacy, connections, and training available to parents who choose to become PCLG catalysts.  Bring your questions about interacting with your child’s school, finding providers, or accessing services through the county. We especially want to hear from parents of preschool and grade school children, but all are welcome!

  • Saturday, August 12, 2017
  • 10 – 11:30 am
  • Augsburg Park Library Meeting Room (NOTE: New location!)
  • 7100 Nicollet Ave, RichfieldFree, but please RSVP.  Children are welcome, but please let us know ages and how many to expect!

Secondary Trauma and Self Care

Raising children is challenging enough when everything is in place, but if a child has emotional, behavioral, or developmental disabilities, our lives can be very complicated.  We love our kids and delight in their strength areas, but outbursts or other difficulties might also frame our lives and those of our other children. Families may struggle from the effects of secondary trauma and stress, and balancing the needs of all of our children while still taking care of ourselves is a challenge.

carol-siegel Dr. Carol Siegel, PhD, LP, is a licensed clinical psychologist who sees both adults and children in her practice.  Her primary clinical focus is parenting. Her diverse experience includes expressive arts, autism, neuropsychological assessment, and child neuropsychology.  She focuses on how parents navigate the developmental challenges of childhood and how parents’ experiences affect the development of their children.

  • April 5, 2017
  • 6:30 -7:45 pm  Workshop & Discussion
  • Hosmer Library, Meeting Room
  • 347 East 36th Street
  • Minneapolis, MN

This event is free, but please register online or email us at hcpclg@yahoo.com.

Parenting Challenges: Taking Care of Yourself

 

Register Today!        November 2, 2016 – 6:30 pm

PCLG is sponsoring a free workshop for parents and caregivers this fall.   Join us for light refreshments and a chance to meet other parents while learning about how to take care of yourself! 

Parenting a child with emotional, behavioral, or developmental disabilities can be challenging.  Parents and caregivers often report exhaustion, financial strain, and feelings of isolation. The perception of stigma can increase the sense of burden and isolation that our families feel as well.

Dr. Elizabeth Reeve will share her unique insight into the effects that stress caElizabeth 2n have on parents and ways that we can learn to reduce its impact on us. Participants will learn:

  • What is stress?
  • The effects of chronic stress
  • Unique stressors for parents
  • Ways to reduce stress

 

  • Woodlake Nature Center
  • 6710 Lake Shore Drive
  • Richfield, MN

This event is FREE, but please register!

It Is Time to Change

A recent tragedy at my son’s school has reminded all of us of the urgency of reaching out to kids and  talking more openly about mental illness.

This short video from Britain is one of many great ways of starting conversations at your student’s high school:  The Squote-on-stigma-health-80-healthyplacetand-Up Kid

Check out other videos and the Time to Change Toolkit at Time to Change.org

A Visit with Generation Next

A recent blogpost at the Generation Next site got my attention.  The group is dedicated to resolving the achievement or opportunity gap between affluentGen Next logo1 and low-income students in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and they were announcing the addition of Social Emotional Learning to their set of initiatives.  Recognizing the difficulties children have with learning when they are anxious or depressed and when they have been exposed to stress and trauma in their lives, Generation Next is now tracking elements of social emotional well-being in metro area schools.  They want to learn more about how students view themselves and whether or not they have the ability to bounce back from making mistakes, like even the everyday mistakes you make when  you are in the process of learning math or any other subject.

As Beth Hawkins puts it in her MinnPost article on the subject:

“Social-emotional learning recently became Generation Next’s sixth identified priority — one that has the potential to influence the other five (which include: kindergarten readiness; 3rd grade reading benchmarks; 8th grade reading benchmarks; high school graduation; and post-secondary credential). Those are are big goals, but the initial work within them is discretely defined.”

“The effort’s data committee — made up of a Who’s Who of local education researchers — concluded that they needed to collect and analyze data on social-emotional learning.

The group partially funded data positions in both the St. Paul and Minneapolis districts to collect the relevant information. From that came some striking information. Predictably, the St. Paul numbers show drop-offs in skills between grades 5 and 8 in students’ commitment to learning and social competence, and especially in positive identity, with scant rebounds as those students move into high school.”

This got me so fired up that I called Generation Next and I suddenly was invited to attend one of their regular open forums. I really didn’t know what to expect.  A nice Step-Up intern named Abdul escorted us invited guests to a room with a very large table at the back of the United Way building.  At my forum, the other guests were from school districts, private companies, social service organizations, and, yes, a children’s mental health collaborative (that was me).   It was inspiring because we all care about the same issue and because the different perspectives and expertise brought to that big, shared table cast new light on the subject.

I shared with the group how my own passion stems from observing how special education students, particularly those with emotional behavioral disorders, often have the poorest outcomes.  Many do not have good access to mainstream teachers who are licensed in their particular subject area, and they can end up in a more secluded setting and not offered appropriately challenging and interesting subject material.   The poor performance and low graduation rates of this set of students is appalling, and getting these students the mental health services they need and a stimulating academic experience are crucial steps toward their being able to be successful. Moreover, these same kids are the ones most likely to be suspended or expelled from school.  They make up the highest proportion of those kids who drop out.

The problem of untreated or undertreated mental illness doesn’t just affect the low-income and minority students.  Even more affluent students don’t always get the help they need because of our lack of awareness, the difficulties families have with navigating the system, and the stigmatizing nature of mental illness.

So, yeah, I walked away from this meeting as a big supporter of Generation Next’s efforts.  And I’d like to see them partner with the Hennepin and Ramsey County Children’s Mental Health Collaboratives, as well as NAMI Minnesota and the Wilder Foundation.  I think we’d find that a big push on community wellness will do far more to fix the “achievement gap” than uniforms, charter schools, discipline, union contract reform, or any of the other “silver bullet” ideas that are so often floated. I also felt fired up to continue PCLG’s work to connect with other parents and disadvantaged communities to make sure more students have the opportunity to thrive.

Normal or Not Normal? Part 3

When should parents of young children seek help?

Red FlagsImage

Early identification of mental health problems in young children is extremely challenging.  There are many resources to help parents learn “red flags” for autism, but other forms of mental disorders are even less clear cut.  Sometimes a parent’s gut instinct is the most powerful “red flag” of all.

When my son with ASD was young, he would throw violent tantrums if his schedule was different, if I took a different route home from his preschool, if he was in too noisy a place, or even if the phone rang or someone flushed the toilet with the lid down.  He would throw the phone across the room, hit his sister or me, and once knocked down rows of boxes in a shoe store.

Given that this happened on a regular basis, I found it really insufferable when other people would say to me, “Oh, every child throws tantrums.” I had an older child and, yes, she had had her moments, but there was absolutely no comparison between the two.

I knew that I was not doing anything to drive the tantrums, like giving in, hitting my child or losing my temper.  Despite my exhaustion and embarrassment, it was EXTREMELY important that I kept my calm.  Otherwise, I just made things worse.  I also used a non-threatening way of restraining him with my arms and legs, so that he was safe and did not hurt himself or others.

If you have provided the right environment and know that your child is getting food, sleep, love, attention, physical activity, and appropriate play experiences, but he or she is still unhappy, disconnected from caregivers, aggressive and/or self-destructive, then you should ask for help.

Talking to Medical Professionals: Describing Behaviors

If you really feel that something is “not right” with your child, please don’t hesitate to talk to your child’s pediatrician or, in Hennepin County, call Help Me Grow at 612-348-TOTS (8687).

When talking to medical professionals, though, it’s best to be as precise as possible.  You could keep a Multiple_Behavior_Chart for one week to show the doctor how often child throws tantrums or hurts himself.  If your infant or toddler cries a lot, time how long the crying lasts.  If you report to the doctor that your one-year-old cries every night for 4 hours, that would have more impact than saying, “My kid is driving me crazy with all his crying.”

NORMAL FOR TODDLERS

NOT NORMAL FOR TODDLERS

Occasional tantrums – Daily tantrums that can last several hours;
– Violent or self-destructive behavior, such as head banging;
– Aggressive behavior toward others
Meeting developmental milestones at slightly different rates – Delays of at least 6 months in walking, talking or social behavior;
– Dramatic loss of skills (speaking, etc.) after a period of  normal development
Meltdowns when tired or hungry – Inability to be soothed or comforted;
– Overreacts to minor changes in routine, noise, light, etc.;

Normal or Not Normal? Part 2

ImageWhen Parents of School-Aged Kids Should Seek Help

Parenting children through their school-aged years can be exciting and fulfilling, but also frustrating.  You may delight as you watch them grow, but you may not always know how to help them through challenges. Remember that childhood is not always rosy, and our kids can be confronting difficult issues like bullying, problems with schoolwork, and peer pressure.

How our kids are responding to the normal stresses of elementary and middle school years is important to know.  The guide below should help parents to consider what types of behavior are considered normal and when behaviors should be of concern.

NORMAL FOR SCHOOL AGED KIDS

NOT NORMAL FOR SCHOOL AGED KIDS

Sometimes not wanting to go to school
  • Actively and continually resisting going to school;
  • Routinely crying about school or having tremendous anxiety about school.
  • Skipping school
Not excited about schoolwork
  • Declining school performance
  •  Getting very behind in schoolwork
  • Easily distracted or unable to pay attention
Growing awareness of and some anxiety about external peer and school pressures, as well as broader issues such as spirituality and world events.
  • Extreme, obsessive or long-term anxiety that interferes with eating, sleeping, or other daily living activities.
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches that don’t seem to have a medical cause.
Body changes and awareness of sexuality
  • Sexual acting out that is inappropriate for a child’s age
Some mood swings
  • Having “up” or “down” moods that last for several weeks at a time;
  • Experiencing a dramatic personality change;
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Talking about death or suicide
Testing out behaviors and taking risks
  • Displaying patterns of lying, cheating and/or stealing
  • Aggressive or hurtful behavior, fighting or bullying
  • Recklessness to the point of endangering self or others
  • Substance abuse

Sources: Minnesota Department of Human Services; University of Maryland Medical Center

Normal or Not Normal? When Parents Should Seek Help

 NEWS FLASH: My teenager is driving me crazy!Image

OK.  I pretty much hear that all the time from my friends. I have two teens right now, and life is often like an exhausting roller coaster ride.  They are “coming in to their own” and asserting their independence, but they also need guidance.  I find myself in a precarious balancing act between letting them learn through experience, but also keeping them safe. And when I see troubling behavior, I often feel at a loss as to what to do.  Do I dismiss it as a normal part of adolescence or is it a warning sign that something is very wrong?

Often, troubling behaviors are a question of degree.  For example, many teenagers experience stress, but then bounce back quickly.  The question you should ask yourself is, “Does the stress interfere with my child’s daily living and functioning?”

As a general guide, I’ve listed below some “normal” and “not normal” behaviors.  I’ve borrowed heavily from the folks at the American Psychological Association to give it more authoritative heft.

But the most important thing of all is that you talk to your child and keep lines of conversation open.  This means you need to do MUCH more listening than talking.  If you have a nagging feeling that something is really not right with your child, please seek out professional help.  You are not alone.

NORMAL FOR TEENS

NOT NORMAL FOR TEENS

Arguing for the sake of arguing Being overly aggressive or violent; Abandoning long-time friendships;
Jumping to conclusions Thinking everyone is judging them negatively; Not trusting anyone
Being  self-centered Becoming isolated; Not wanting to leave one’s room; Having very low self-esteem
Finding faults with adults Being openly hostile to adults on consistent basis; Being unremittingly defiant
Being overly dramatic Displaying overly fearful reactions; Crying excessively; Injuring self;
Having mood swings Having “up” or “down” moods that last for several week; Experiencing a dramatic personality change; Dropping activities that used to be fun; Declining school performance
Experiencing stress Having so much fear or anxiety that it interferes with daily living; Having lots of physical complaints like stomach aches, joint pain, headaches or dizziness, problems with sleeping, and feeling fatigued;
Taking risks Committing crimes; Abusing drugs or alcohol; Endangering self or others; Being promiscuous;