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Parent Tips for Managing Effects of 13 Reasons Why

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Parent Tips for Managing Effects of 13 Reasons WhyWith Netflix being one of the most common avenues for entertainment, 13 Reasons Why is quickly becoming a popular show among preteens and teens right now. The series, 13 Reasons Why, is an adaptation of Jay Asher’s popular novel. It depicts a young girl who struggles with bullying and sexual assault and records a series of cassette tapes for the people “involved” to explain her struggle before dying by suicide at the end of the series. While the show aims to promote suicide awareness and prevention, it leaves a confusing mess for viewers. The series may confuse teens on how to best handle difficult emotions and situations such as sexual assault, bullying, and suicide. Research suggests that suicide awareness is best created through discussion of suicide followed by resources, ways to help someone, and ways to get help for yourself. 13 Reason’s Why is causing concern in the mental health field because instead of raising suicide awareness, it may be adding to the issue.

The series does bring up the topic of suicide and possible factors that can increase a person’s risk of suicide, such as bullying or sexual assault, but it fails to display proper prevention skills. Instead, the series is centered on tapes which are sent to all the people Hannah believed contributed to her choice for suicide. The tapes and the idea that others are responsible for someone else’s choice to kill themselves is false. Survivors of suicide (those left behind after a suicide) are never responsible for a person’s decision to kill themselves. The series also depicts each person reliving Hannah’s tragedy through the tapes she left behind which appears to be a form of revenge from Hannah. It is important to be clear that suicide is not a way to seek revenge, you cannot watch people suffer because of your death after you die. Suicide is very final and you will never know how someone reacts to your death– often children and teens do not realize this nor do they think about how final death really is.

In addition to displaying suicide as a form of revenge, the series also dangerously memorializes and glamorizes Hannah’s suicide in a way that many prevention programs suggest against. Rather than displaying ways to seek support, the series encourages the notion that the only way to really feel cared for by others, when you’re being bullied or dealing with difficult emotions, is to kill yourself. From multiple scenes of Hannah’s empty desk, her flower and note covered locker, to flashbacks of Hannah while each person listens to the tapes; the series shows a student who is missed and memorialized. It sends the message that people really do care, but only once she is dead. In addition, the series falsely portrays what happens in schools after a suicide. Schools are encouraged and taught through suicide prevention and postvention programs, such as Screening for Mental Health’s Signs of Suicide (SOS) program, to not leave empty desks, not allow decorated lockers, and not hold memorials at the school as to not memorialize or glamorize the student’s death in any way. The idea is to make it clear that suicide is not a solution to any problem.

The only scene that encourages the idea of seeking help for thoughts of suicide or reporting sexual assault is when Hannah meets with her school counselor. This is quickly followed by the portrayal of victim blaming and lack of empathy which sends the message that even counselors cannot and will not help; which is untrue. This message does not encourage teens to seek help, despite the fact that school counselors and mental health therapists are trained to respond to suicide, bullying, and sexual assault and that research suggests encouraging this type of relationship and communication can help save a life. School counselors and mental health therapists want to help support teens experiencing thoughts of suicide and other mental health issues.

Lastly, the series’ final episode graphically depicts Hannah’s suicide and method. Research through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention supports that graphic displays of suicide are dangerous, triggering, and increase the rates of suicide by that method. Rather than showing that help is possible and encouraging the idea that things can get better, the series sends the message that suicide is the only option.

If your teen has already watched 13 Reasons Why, it’s important to sit down and discuss some of the concepts and themes that take place in the show. Remember, talking about suicide in safe and effective ways does not cause or increase thoughts of suicide. In fact, effective discussion of suicide can increase awareness, reduce shame about thoughts of suicide, and make it more likely for your teen to seek support. In addition to the above information, here are some important talking tips and information to help:

  • Discuss Hannah’s life and the things she experienced such as bullying, sexual assault, and thoughts of suicide. Bullying and sexual assault are serious factors that can lead to depression, thoughts of suicide, or death by suicide. Open up a dialogue about these topics and what emotions they bring up for your teen.
  • Check in with your teen about whether they feel triggered by the series. Ask them what they’re feeling, how they’re managing it, and offer to be supportive for them. Talk with them about seeking additional support through a licensed therapist if they need or want someone to talk to.
  • Talk about the scene that depicts Hannah’s sexual assault and identify why consent is so important. Help your teen identify all the ways Hannah was NOT consenting to sex. It’s important to relay the message that sexual behavior is only okay when both parties are consenting.
  • The series shows a lot of risky behavior, including drugs and alcohol. Have a discussion with your teen about substance abuse and its effect on mental health. Substance abuse is a main contributor to depression and anxiety and is often used as coping skills. Talk to your teen about how to seek support for themselves or a friend; come up with a plan for how they can stay safe in situations when drugs and alcohol are present.
  • Openly talk about bullying and identify what constitutes as bullying. Discuss ways to help people who are being bullied such as going to a school counselor or administrator, talking to parents, and offering support to the bullied individual.
  • Talk about feelings that may occur as a result of bullying and ways to manage the feelings. Discuss seeking support from family and school officials, healthy coping skills, and other possible options the teen can come up with. Use this opportunity to ask your teen if he or she has ever been a bully or been bullied by anyone else.
  • Talk about suicide. Ask your teen about the message he or she got from the series about suicide based on Hannah’s behavior and decision. Listen to their perspective and then offer insight when necessary. Be clear that suicide is not the best option and that death is final.
  • Talk to your teen about his or her own experiences with suicide. Create an environment where your teen can openly talk about his or her own thoughts associated with suicide. If your teen reports thoughts of suicide, consider seeking treatment with a licensed therapist.
  • Discuss warning signs of suicide including but not limited to feelings of overwhelming sadness or anxiety, changes in behavior, withdrawal from any type of social group (friends, peers, and family), increased isolation, reduced interest in previously enjoyed activities, fatigue or difficulty sleeping, making arrangements for death, talking/writing about suicide, using statements such as I just can’t do this anymore, I don’t want to exist anymore, everyone would be better off without me, etc.
  • Openly discuss depression and help your teen identify the warning signs that Hannah displayed throughout the series.
  • Set up a plan with your teen on what to do if he/she or a friend experiences thoughts of suicide. Talk about Screening for Mental Health’s ACT model: Acknowledge, Care, and Tell for how to manage and prevent suicide
    • Acknowledge the situation – acknowledge that you are seeing warning signs of suicide and that it needs to be taken seriously.
    • Care for the person – Let the person know you care and want to support them.
    • Tell an adult – Tell a trusted adult that you or a friend are thinking of suicide. Some examples of trusted adults include but are not limited to: school counselors, teachers, school administrators, and parents. *let your child or teen know they can come to you with these feelings and thoughts if they are experiencing thoughts of suicide
  • Communicate all the ways your teen or others can an reach out for help:
    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255)
    • Text “START” to the Crisis Text Line (741741)
    • Talk to an adult (parent, teacher, school counselor, school administrator)
  • If you are concerned that your teen may be at risk, consider using the following link for a Brief Screen for Adolescent Depression: http://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/SUMMIT
  • Discuss with your teen how to contact the Safe Schools Hotline (Anonymous/Confidential)
    • Report drugs, weapons, bullying, threats, or other safety issues.
    • Toll-Free 1-877-SAY-STOP 24 hours a day/7 days a week
    • Co-Sponsored by the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Reports can also be made by email to safety@fultonschools.org
  • Fulton County Schools has an App where students can report anonymously if they are concerned about someone or themselves
    • Individuals can quickly and anonymously report situations and issues (pictures can be included) that may have occurred within schools using Quick Tip –a function available through the District’s Mobile App.
      • First, install the district’s app on your mobile device by visiting your app store and entering “Fulton County Schools” in the search window.
      • Select the “Quick Tip” icon on the app. You will see a form to choose your school and enter your message or “tip.” Click “submit.”
      • Safety and Security will receive the message immediately and begin working with schools and departments to verify and resolve reported issues.
      • Contact information is optional.
      • Reports can also be made by email to safety@fultonschools.org
    • Most importantly, use this as an opportunity to instill hope in your teen. Be sure to communicate that all emotions are fleeting and things can and will get better, even when it doesn’t seem possible. Remind them that emotions change but suicide is permanent.

If you are concerned about your student or believe your student needs immediate help, please reach out to 1-800-715-4225, Georgia Crisis & Access Line, and/or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number: 1-800-273-8255.

Additional Resources:

https://www.jedfoundation.org/mental-health-resource-center/

www.afsp.org

www.mentalhealthscreening.org

The Power of Therapy

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the power of therapyThere are a lot of reasons that people choose to seek counseling. The benefits of counseling can be unending, but sometimes making the first appointment can be hard. Maybe you’re thinking about whether it would be helpful, but are not sure if it’s for you. Let’s talk about some of the reasons counseling can help and why it can be for you.

  • Saying it Out Loud Helps

Saying a problem or concern out loud feels relieving. Having the opportunity to process through why something is troubling or hurtful can really take the pressure off yourself and prevent you from carrying the worries around with you. Talking out our thoughts and emotions helps us make sense of them and naturally reduces the amount of stress they cause.

  • No Judgment, Safe Zone

The therapy office is a judgment-free, safe zone. Rather than placing judgment on you, your therapist will be working to understand your experience and empathizing with you. Therapist understand that all people think and react differently to all kinds of situations in life; judgments are unhelpful because they stop the ability to fully understand.

  • Private and Confidential

Unless the therapist believes you are a danger to yourself or someone else, everything you say in the therapy office is confidential and private. Wait – the therapy office is judgment-free and confidential? Yep! That means you can talk openly and share feelings, thoughts, and experiences that you’ve felt shameful or scared to talk about in the past. You don’t have to worry about whether your secret will travel through the grape vine – it will not. What you say in there, stays in there.

  • Acceptance and Validation

Feeling accepted and understood is crucial to well-being. We all seek genuine acceptance and acknowledgment of our emotions. In therapy, your therapist will want to help you feel accepted and understood in the counseling office and in your life. We don’t have control of other people and their behaviors, but the therapist can help you accept yourself and build self-confidence. Your therapist will want to help empower you to advocate for yourself, love yourself, and learn how to trust your emotions.

  • Importance of the Therapy Relationship

It’s important to pick a therapist who you can align with best. Often you can choose gender, age range, and specialty focus. Once you start therapy, you will begin to build a relationship with your therapist. Over time you will see that your therapist is a human, just like you. Your therapist is not your friend, but they do serve an important role in your life to help you uncover and change unhelpful patterns you may experience. Your therapist may play a part in helping you be more direct and advocate for yourself, or the relationship can sometimes be helpful in changing the way you view other relationships. For example, you may realize that not every person will judge you or invalidate your emotions. Overall, therapy can help you realize there is someone out there who understands you. Maybe you’ve tried therapy and didn’t like your therapist; that does happen. Try again! There is a therapist out there for everyone.

At the end of the day, the choice to seek counseling is your own. Rather than feeling like you “should” seek counseling, tell yourself you CAN seek counseling. Empower yourself that the road to feeling better is in your hands. Counseling is not a “one size fits all.” Instead, it is an experience that is tailored to suit you and your needs. Making the first appointment can be challenging, but once you show up, your therapist will do his or her best to understand and help.

4 Ways to Weather the Waves of Transition/ Loss

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Man comforting his sad mourning friendEven for those of us who crave adventure, change can be terrifying. Whether it is expected change, like our students who are going from one school to the next, or unexpected change, like a lost job or loved one, all change is difficult and comes with a wide mix of emotions. If you are finding yourself in the midst of one of these storms, here are a few ways to weather through it:

  1. Acknowledge that it is difficult (and that is ok!). In our culture we often pride ourselves on being independent and strong. When change occurs we often say “I’m fine” to others and tell ourselves “I shouldn’t be upset about this”. Transitions whether good or bad come with a loss attached. Losing parts of our lives is painful regardless of the situation and has grief attached.
  2. Share your story. As humans we need to connect with others. We need to be seen and heard. After a loss you need to tell others your story. Tell someone you trust about the changes you are going through. Tell them a story about your lost loved one. Share what you miss or are anticipating missing. You might realize that you aren’t alone in your struggle.
  3. Find a solid ground. In the midst of change it can feel like you are trying to stand on top of a trampoline. The ground is shaky and you forget what can hold you up. Take time to find places that are solid in your life. Acknowledge the things that have not and will not change in your world and celebrate the good in those people/ things.
  4. Take gentle, prepared steps. Once you’ve found some places that are solid, prepare yourself for the road ahead. Push back the part of you that wants to run ahead and give yourself time to think about where you want to step next. It will take time to shift gears slowly but taking that time is vital to accepting the changes in your life so that you can go forward without regrets.

Coping with the Big Bad Wolf: Test Anxiety

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Test AnxietySpring break is quickly approaching. While that brings shouts of joy for most children, it is also a reminder that the Georgia Milestone is right around the corner. Since the beginning of March, I have been bombarded with more and more children sharing their fears about the test that is coming up. They are worrying about how hard it will be, whether they will do a good job or not, and some are scared that they won’t pass. Reassurance from parents and teachers can go a very long way but there are some additional steps that parents can take at home to instill confidence and peace of mind.

  • Encourage their efforts. Rather than just saying “good job” or “well done” when your child comes home with a good grade, focus on the process instead. Notice the effort they make when doing their homework or studying for a test. Try saying “You’re working really hard right now” when they are doing their homework or “you know a lot about this topic” when you are helping them study. Focusing on the process and the details of the work they are doing will really boost their confidence.
  • Make time for play breaks. Play is such a natural state for kids to be in. It’s engaging, rejuvenating, and comforting for them. Children need this time worked into their day so that they have the energy and fortitude to handle the stress that inevitably comes from school (especially around times of testing). We need to nurture this play time as well as intelligence. Play gives children the chance to practice what they are learning.
  • Rest and a good diet are paramount for a child’s success. In the weeks leading up to the Georgia Milestone tests, make sure your children are routinely getting a good night’s sleep and eating healthy. Make it a habit now so that it’s effective later.
  • Be patient and mindful of what stress looks like in children. Increased moodiness, defiance, and difficulty sleeping can all be signs of heightened stress in children. Children are often unable to tell us what’s bothering them but they can always show us. Behaviors are the symptom not the problem. Therefore, when your child is acting up more than usual, ask yourself “what is my child trying to tell me?” before jumping to discipline.
  • Remind your child that a little anxiety is normal. Everybody worries sometimes. Worry can even be beneficial in the right amounts. A healthy amount of worry motivates us to prepare, helps us focus on doing our best, and even makes us more alert during stressful situations.

In the end, all kids survive the testing process. However, while we as adults know this, a child often sees testing as a big bad wolf out to get them. Validate their fears and encourage the efforts they’ve been making all year long. Hear them, validate them, love them, and just be there for them. Each time your child conquers the stress they are under, they set themselves up to conquer the next one. Good luck to all!!! Below are a few more resources to help you and your child conquer the big bad wolf.

Resources:
“Sitting Still Like a Frog” by Eline Snel
“What to do when you Worry too much” by Dawn Huebner
“Freeing your child from Anxiety” by Tamar Chansky

6 Ways to Increase Confidence in Adolescents

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6 Ways to Increase Confidence in AdolescentsHaving confidence is a key factor in success. Confidence determines how a teen feels about themselves and how they interact with other people. Confidence “sets the stage” for how a teen will view the world and experience life.  Parenting can be stressful and nobody is perfect. If you want to encourage healthy confidence in your teen, read and follow these 6 helpful tips:

1. Create rules, but don’t be a dictator

It’s important that teens have structure in their life. This encourages them to keep schedules and learn boundaries. But – don’t dictate their every move. Teens need to learn to make their own decisions and set their own boundaries as well. Being overly authoritative shuts down independence and confidence!

2. Celebrate them when they try something new

Rewarding your teen with praise for trying something new is the best way to encourage the behavior in the future.  He or she will feel acknowledged and proud for stepping outside of their comfort zone – this is where success happens!

3. Express confidence instead of worry

Telling your teen that you’re worried about them gives him or her more reason to doubt them self. Express confidence and use encouragement instead.

4. Turn mistakes into “teaching” moments

Rather than criticizing or scolding your teen for a mistake, sit down with him or her and discuss what happened. Help them talk through the mistakes and problem-solve for the future.

5. Encourage effort, do not criticize attempts

If your teen is trying a new task or practicing skills, it is more helpful to encourage him or her and point out the good in what they are doing rather than pointing out mistakes. This teaches him or her to focus on positive things or negative things and increases confidence.

6. Do not create exceptions for your child

Create rules, boundaries, and guidelines for your teen. Then, enforce consequences when rules are broken and only reward behavior when necessary. Consequences teach your teen that they are not above established rules and boundaries. Making exceptions for him or her teaches feelings of entitlement and encourages the idea that they don’t have to work hard for what they want and/or that rules don’t apply to them.

onsite_school_based_counselingIf your teenager needs someone to talk to please call the Summit Counseling Center to make an appointment with one of the licensed School-based Therapists located in Alpharetta, Centennial, Chattahoochee, Johns Creek, Milton, and Northview high school at 678-893-5300!

Navigating Blended Families Road Bumps During the Holidays

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Extended Family Group Preparing Christmas Meal In KitchenHolidays can be stressful.  Who do we need to buy presents for?  What should we get everyone?  Which family member are we celebrating with this weekend?  When are we going to decorate the tree?  What on earth are we going to do with that darn Elf this year??  The to-do lists, questions and Christmas party invites are endless.  Now imagine adding a blended family to that mix.  The stress only gets more complex and more intense as you try to balance old and new traditions, visitation schedules and heightened emotions.  Whether this is your first year as a blended family or you’re a seasoned veteran, the following tips will hopefully help you skate through the holiday season with a bit more ease.

  • Plan ahead! As challenging as this may be, the earlier you start, the easier it will be.  And yes, I realize that plans change, everyone has an opinion or a conflict, and some things are just out of your control.  However, some things are in your control.  Start there and focus on what you know you can set in stone.  Some is better than none.
  • Be Flexible. This may seem contradictory to the first point but it’s all about finding that balance.
  • Honor old and new traditions. If this is your first year as a blended family, come up with some new family traditions to celebrate your new family.  However, don’t completely disregard the old ones either.  You’re step-children may be really attached to having that specific french toast recipe every Christmas morning.  Make it!  But throw in your traditional breakfast casserole as well.  Your blended family  may be new but the old family ties still exist.
  • Allow your children to enjoy both of their homes and families during the holidays. Being apart from your kids at Christmas can be heartbreaking.  You miss seeing their faces light up on Christmas morning and you wonder what they are up to.  However, you still need to be excited for them to be with their other parent.  Focus on making your time with them as special as possible and allow your ex-spouse to do the same.
  • Be sensitive to a child’s sadness and sense of lose. No matter how long it’s been, children may still struggle with being separated from parents during the holidays.  It’s a yearly reminder that mom and dad aren’t married anymore.  Acknowledge and validate those feelings when they arise.  If you are the step-parent in this situation, be sensitive to increased emotionality or behavior problems.  Recognize that it’s not about you.  Kiddo is just sad right now.
  • Don’t make gift giving/getting a competition. Treat biological children and step children equally (this includes you grandparents!)  Work together with your ex-spouse to avoid duplicating gifts and remember to focus on what makes your children happy and not what makes your ex angry.
  • Keep some routines in place even amongst the chaos. Children thrive with consistency.  However, the holiday season is full of so many extra commitments that staying consistent feels impossible.  So do what you can.  Commit to at least one family dinner per week.  If school is still in session, stick to the bedtime ritual as closely as possible.  Even if school is out, try to have some kind of a bedtime routine that starts around the same time.

Change is never easy.  While some of us cope with it better than others, being a part of a blended family means making sacrifices and compromises.  The first year is always the most challenging but it’s also incredibly special and exciting.  In the end, it’s totally worth it.  So, take that extra dose of patience when you wake up in the morning and make a lot of wonderful memories this year.  Merry Christmas!

DBT – How it Helps Students

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Teenage Girl Visits Doctor's Office Suffering With DepressionDialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is designed for individuals who need assistance with managing their emotions, increasing their tolerance for distress, and developing relationships with others.  DBT is a research supported, effective form of treatment for individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, OCD, Bipolar disorder, PTSD, and Eating Disorders. While DBT works well with these issues, it is also effective for anyone who needs help with emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal relationships.

DBT involves 3 modules which continuously run throughout the year and are led by an intensively trained DBT Therapist. The modules are: Emotion Regulation, Distress Tolerance, and Interpersonal Effectiveness. So what will you learn and how do the modules help?

  • In Emotion Regulation, individuals learn how to manage the intensity of their emotions and decide whether reactions, feelings, and behaviors are effective in their life. For example, a student might become overwhelmed and stressed at school and decide to skip class. DBT can help that student learn to manage their feelings and react to their stress in a way that does not negatively impact their life.
  • In the Distress Tolerance module, individuals learn to increase their tolerance for negative emotions. For example, if a student has a panic attack before tests or before presentations, DBT would be helpful in teaching the student to soothe themselves and tolerate the anxiety without having a panic attack.
  • Lastly, the Interpersonal Effectiveness module teaches skills to help individuals get along better with other people. Sometimes individuals need assistance learning to connect with other people, how to compromise, how to be interested in others, how to have effective conflict that doesn’t end relationships, how to end unhealthy relationships, and how to tell the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship. For example, there might be a student who struggles making friends or maintaining friendships. DBT can help that student learn skills to connect with people and create genuine, lasting relationships.

While individual counseling with an intensively trained DBT therapist in combination with the DBT skills modules is strongly encouraged, it is not required. The Summit DBT therapists also enjoy collaborating with outside therapist to help provide the best treatment possible for all clients. If you’d like to make an appointment with one of the intensively trained DBT therapists or register for classes starting in January, please call the Summit at 678-893-5300 or visit our website at www.summitcounseling.org!

4 Parent Tools for Teenage Depression

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Nurse Treating Teenage Girl Suffering With Depression

Finding out that your teenager is struggling with depression can feel like you were hit over the head by a ton a bricks. You feel confused, sad, and scared. A lot of parents feel unsure of what to do next or how to be supportive. Though this can feel like an overwhelming obstacle, there are things you can do to help.

1. Listen. Be open to hearing what your teen has to share with you. Validate their feelings. At times depression can make us feel or think in ways that appear irrational. Trying to tell your teen that things will be fine or they need to get over it can actually make them feel ignored and misunderstood instead of comforted. A lot of times our need to try to fix things as quickly as possible is actually based in our own anxiety. Take a deep breathe and try to be patient with your teen (and yourself).

2. Encourage your teen to engage with others. Depression can make teens feel isolated and disconnected. You might notice them withdrawing from friends or other activities they use to enjoy. If you see that happening, suggest other activities they can get involved in.

3. Prioritize health. Depression can cause people to either get too much or not enough sleep. Try to gently encourage regular sleep. In addition, physical activity is a great way to combat depression. Taking teens away from the screens and going outside for a walk can be really impactful. Yoga has been shown to be especially effective for helping teens who are struggling with depression as a way of being more mindful and integrated with their bodies.

4. Find professional help. You don’t have to do this alone! Therapists are licensed to treat depression and research has shown that depression is very treatable with the right treatment. We are all here to help and are passionate about providing support for teens who are struggling.

For more information or to make an appointment with one of our therapists visit our website at summitcounseling.org

Summit Counseling Center Debuts Mental Health Kiosk at the North Fulton County Mental Health Collaborative

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Categories: News

New initiative to reduce stigma and increase help-seeking in the community

dsc_9120_team_smallJohns Creek, GA. – October 27, 2016Summit Counseling Center in partnership with the Will To Live Foundation, today announced that it unveiled a mental health kiosk in North Fulton county. The kiosk is part of the Summit’s Check-Up from the Neck Up campaign to raise awareness for mood disorders, such as depression and allows individuals to connect with appropriate treatment resources. Individuals are encouraged to take an anonymous online screening at Screening.MentalHealthScreening.org/Summit to check in on their mental health.

Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness in a given year.  One of the leading deterrents for seeking treatment is stigma. MindKare® Mental Health Kiosks are designed for use in public spaces and aim to reduce stigma by making screening for treatable conditions like depression or anxiety as commonplace as blood pressure screening.

dsc_9106_presentation_small“This initiative aligns with the county’s vision of improving the health and well-being of all residents”, said County Commissioner, Bob Ellis. “The kiosk will help reach people who may not have traditionally sought help for mental health or substance abuse.”

The kiosks are freestanding stations that offer a quick, anonymous way for individuals to check in on their behavioral health by providing users with:

  • Online self-assessments for common mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and substance use
  • Information on whether their assessment is consistent with a common mental or behavioral health disorder
  • An overview of the signs and symptoms of treatable behavioral health disorders
  • Educational information and resources for quality, local treatment options

“We have embraced the concept of anonymous online screenings as a solid behavioral health intervention.  The MindKare® program will help us expand our reach in the community”, said David Smith, Executive Director at the Summit Counseling Center. “Taking a public health approach to behavioral health can help prevent the onset of common mental health disorders, as well as lead people to treatment and community resources earlier on.”

dsc_9123_conversation_smallNot only will the kiosk be available at events sponsored by the Summit Counseling Center, it is also available to be used by other organizations within the community to help raise awareness and remove the stigma surrounding mental health.

Over the past two years, Summit Counseling Center and the Will To Live Foundation have partnered with Fulton County Schools to provide therapists on site at six of the North Fulton County high schools.  This partnership helps remove barriers (stigma, cost and transportation) that would otherwise prevent students from receiving the help they need.  “We are seeing great outcomes from this partnership”, said John Trautwein, Co-founder of the Will To Live Foundation, “and are excited to expand our partnership in the community with this important new initiative.”  Last year, while speaking at Screening for Mental Health’s 25th National Screening Day gala in Boston, Mr. Trautwein met Doug Chamberlain, CEO of Appleton Partners, who was in attendance and was inspired to fund the new MindKare® program in North Fulton county.  “We are grateful to Mr. Chamberlain for this generous donation and the impact that it will have on our community,” said Mr. Trautwein.

MindKare® kiosks utilize an innovative online screening platform developed by Screening for Mental Health, the pioneer in large-scale mental health screenings for the public. The online screenings are not diagnostic but educational in nature. The screenings consist of a series of questions designed to indicate whether symptoms of a mental health disorder are present. After completing the screening, participants receive immediate confidential feedback and referral information to local resources for further information or treatment.  These screenings can be accessed through the kiosk or directly online at Screening.MentalHealthScreening.org/Summit.

About Summit Counseling Center

Summit Counseling Center is a non-profit counseling center located in North Fulton county.  Through partnerships with local schools, churches, civic organizations, and other non-profit organizations, the Summit provides awareness, education, and counseling services…with the vision of “A community that is mentally well and stigma free.” Visit our website at SummitCounseling.org to learn more about the Summit and the services that we provide.

About Will To Live Foundation

Will To Live Foundation is dedicated to preventing teen suicide by improving the lives and the “Will To Live” of teenagers everywhere through education about mental health and encouraging them to recognize the love and hope that exists in each other.  Visit Will-To-Live.org to learn more about the foundation.

About MindKare®

Screening for Mental Health, Inc.

Guaranteed Way to Reduce Stress

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reduce stressBelieve it or not, stress isn’t caused by a situation itself, but instead it comes from how we think about the situation. For some parents, their child is about to start applying to colleges for the first time. This is an exciting, but also stressful time for most students. The student’s worrisome thoughts include “what if I don’t get into my dream school?”, “what if my resume isn’t good enough” or “should I have taken that extra AP class last semester?” Their minds can be consumed by the “what ifs” instead of dealing with “what is.” One way parents can help their child reduce stress is to model a skill called mindfulness.

In a nut shell, mindfulness is being consciously present in what you’re doing, while you’re doing it, without analyzing it or judging.  In order to manage your mental and emotional state, you simply recognize and acknowledge your emotions and thoughts in each moment-to-moment experience, without judgement. Mindfulness is the opposite of multi-tasking. As life continues to get busier and technology tries to keep you more connected, it may feel counterproductive to slow down and only focus on one thing at a time. However, research shows that practicing mindfulness regularly can actually improve concentration and increase productivity, reduce the symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression, reduce impulsivity, and increase overall happiness. One study even found that students who engaged in a mindfulness meditation before taking an exam actually performed better than students who did not.

Parents: When you notice your child starting to worry about the “what ifs” of getting into college, acknowledge and validate their feelings of worry and doubt. They’ve spent the last 4 years of high school preparing for this, so of course they’re worried about this next step! Then, in a supportive and loving way try to redirect their attention to the “what is” of the situation, meaning what do I actually know for a fact in this very moment? For example, this is a new experience and they don’t know what to expect. What they do know is their GPA and the admission requirements of the school they are applying to. They’re freaking out, and you probably are too! Helping bring their attention back to the present moment will keep their brains from going down the rabbit hole of worry.

The Summit Counseling Center
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