Tag Archives: “I Worry About the Kids”

Trauma Informed Schools… “It’s Okay to not be Okay…” Newport High School Cubs Lead…

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Trauma Informed Oregon  click here for more… Quoting…

“Trauma Informed Oregon is a statewide collaborative aimed at preventing and ameliorating the impact of adverse experiences on children, adults and families. We work in partnership to promote and sustain trauma informed policies and practices across physical, mental, and behavioral health systems and to disseminate promising strategies to support wellness and resilience.”

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While attending the Lincoln County Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC) meeting last week, I could not have been more pleased to receive a copy of the Newport HS Harbor Light Newsletter this last week, entitled “Depression, Anxiety and Mental Illness!” It was equally gratifying and encouraging to see Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) model on the agenda.

Following are quotes from Harbor Light by teachers and students…  The newsletter is not yet accessible on a website,  so it is my goal to provide a summary, including relevant reference links mentioned in the newsletter.  This is an outstanding read and highly recommended!

Samantha Murphy, Advisor Intro…

“The elusive nature of anxiety and depression makes them easy conditions to question and difficult conditions to understand unless you’ve experienced them.  They do exist, however. They are real and they are often debilitating.”

Ruby Quintero, Editor Intro…

“All levels of anxiety and depression are very real emotions that all people should be aware of as well as inherit a particular level of sensitivity to.”

Brooke Foiles,”The Weight of Depression.”

“I knew if I went to the doctor I would have to step on the one thing that had been drowning me in depression for so many months…a scale.”

Ruby Quintero, “Less than Good Enough.”

“That extra skin on your stomach, your neck, your legs, your arms, it’s perfect.  You are the best you can be and that’s all that matters.  Someone is going to come along and appreciate you for who you are and give you the world.”

Hallie Ezzell, “Statistics.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health Illness (NAMI): click here for more…

  • “One in five children ages 13-18 have or will have a serious mental illness.”
  • “50 percent of all lifetime cases of mental illnesses begin by the young age of 14.”
  • “About 50 percent of students age 14 and older who struggle with a mental illness drop out of high school.”
  • “70 percent of youth that are in state and local juvenile justice systems struggle with a mental illness.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): click here for more…

Between 2005 and 2011, children ages 3-17 were diagnosed with:

  • “6.8 percent diagnosed with ADHD.”
  • “3.5 percent with behaviorial or conduct issue.”
  • “3 percent with anxiety.”
  • “2.1 percent with depression.”

According to a 2010 report from Youth.gov,  (click here for more)

  • “49.5 percent of US adolescents met the criteria for a mental health condition.”
  • “22.2 percent classified as as exhibiting severe impairment and/or distress.”

Ruben Krueger, “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: A Problem for All.”

“Yet, because depression is not as visible as a bone fracture or heart attack, diagnosis and treatment often remain neglected like a bridge rusting until collapse.”

Anonymous, “Undiagnosed.”

“I guess the message I want to send to parents (teachers, mentors): if your child comes to you for help, please don’t write it off.  Try your best so that they can try theirs.”

Sophie Goodwin-Rice, “Freezing Water.”

Above everything else, though, I know that anxiety is real.  It isn’t a cry for attention, or just a few choppy waves as you’re sailing through life. It is unexplainable, unpredicatable and undeniable.  It’s struggling to keep your head above the freezing water, and always waiting for the wind to calm down again.”

Anonymous, “I Can’t Breath.”

“When I was eight years old, I was raped by my 13-year old brother.  Ever since, I haven’t been able to be in the same room alone with a guy.  Let alone a guy I didn’t know.”

River Rundell, “Codependency: When You’re Not Helping.”

“One sign you may have a codependent relationship in the works is if your parents or other guardians were in a dysfunctional relationship.”

Luke McCarthy, “Coexisting Conditions:  Juggling Burdens.”

“Depression and anxiety, for example, coexist very often.  About 85% of people with major depression also have significant anxiety.”

Macy Dexter, “A Look At Teen Suicide.”

“Depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, as well as other mental illnesses (such as anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders) are all found to correlate with suicide across the globe.”

Darius Seah, “Selective Mutism: Living Without a Voice.”

“Selective Mutism, a complex anxiety disorder, typically begins in early childhood.  Symptoms include a consistent failure to speaking in a specific social situations, such as presenting in class or at a family gathering.”

Levi Kay, “Adversity Defines You.”

“In total, I spent twelve months on crutches, during the course of my junior year.  I had two more surgeries and faced constant serious complications in recovery.  As a result of all of this, I became increasingly discouraged and depressed.”

Courtney Saccomano, “When Depression Becomes a Crisis.”

“With depression it can feel like you’re all alone in your head, even though you are surrounded by so many people.”

“People will believe physical pain more than mental.  In sharing their story, the Harbor Light hopes to enlighten those who also struggle with these issues and let them know that getting help is nothing to be ashamed of.”

-Ruby Quintero

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For those who suffer from mental health challenges, especially kids, it is not easy to be comfortable with the idea, “It’s okay to not be okay.”  As a survivor of childhood and young adult traumatic and toxic home circumstances, it took me six decades as an adult to find a path of healing.  What is clear from my own experience and research in these later years is that awareness is the first step in finding a path to recovery and peace of mind. The very best news is to see the policy of “Trauma Informed Schools” become a reality.  It is the conversation that starts with children, parents, teachers, and mentors that will end the stigma and break the cycle of never ending pain caused by the silence and silencing of those who suffer from mental illness.

I strongly recommend that parents, teachers, and mentors everywhere take notice of what Oregon State’s and Lincoln County’s Newport High School is doing with mental health outreach by getting a copy of the April 2016, Harbor Light News Magazine, “It’s Okay to not be Okay…” Awareness and education of mental health circumstances and treatment must start early in the life of a child, at home and in school.  Don’t let your child take the emotional pain and baggage of depression, anxiety, and mental illness into adulthood.

I extend my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the teachers and students of Newport High School and the Harbor Light News Magazine for stepping up! You are all heroes for the cause to end mental health illness stigma!

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma Part 1&2… click the highlighted text for my author page to order books and other stuff…

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Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate, and member, Lincoln County Oregon, Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC)

 

 

 

 

 

Hiding our feelings from children have consequences…

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Child Observing Military Memorial Service of a Parent…

Hiding our feelings…from children… Encountering America by Jessica Grogan, Ph.D., is the author of Encountering America: Humanistic Psychology, Sixties Culture, and the Shaping of the Modern Self (January 2013, Harper Perennial). She’s also a Licenced Marriage and Family Therapist Associate in private practice in Austin, TX.

Jessica-Grogan

Grogan’s research covers a range of topics related to psychology, psychotherapy, and American culture. She has presented papers on humanistic psychology, American psychotherapy, psychedelics, Alcoholics Anonymous, the philosophy of psychological science, and the relationship of psychology to women’s liberation and civil rights for the American Studies Association, the American Historical Association, Cheiron International Association for the History of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the American Psychology Association.

Quote from Dr. Grogan’s bio…

“I work individually with adults and kids, particularly those dealing with relationship problems, anxiety, and periods of high stress. My specialization is in couple’s and family therapy, and I’m welcoming of high-conflict couples and families. As a therapist, I’m committed to developing a close, working relationship with clients, and I believe humor, openness, and directiveness,all serve this goal. My strength is in balancing assertiveness and directness with empathy and support.

I tend to view problems as occurring when we get stuck in some way, using ineffective solutions to problems, relying on outdated coping styles, and repeating patterns that make problems worse rather than better. Change is possible when we learn to disrupt these patterns, creating the possibility for more satisfying interactions and deeper connection.”

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As a trauma survivor and lay researcher, author, blogger, and child advocate; my work is very much on the discovery and needs assessment side of innovation, problem solving, and creative solutions.  I relate to Dr. Grogan’s research and work as a therapist very much, and appreciate the focus on humanistic or the “whole person” as a foundation for treatment of post-traumatic stress symptoms.

In the context of “hiding our feelings,” it was a huge relief to find out from my research and therapy that it is okay to be vulnerable and honest with family members, especially kids.  If there is a consistent family conversation and culture of openness at home, the risk of sudden outbursts of angry and potentially harmful escalations can be minimized or negated.  When an entire family suffers from post-traumatic stress, saying nothing about stressful feelings and anxiety was a demonstration of strength.  If you are a military child it is pure hell having a father or mother who suffers from PTSD.  Those who serve America in the armed forces are trained to be emotionally numb as a mandate for survival.  America is learning now that we have to start early with trauma informed coaching for military families and 1st responders.  This is very much an example of a humanistic approach or continuum of therapy designed to help trauma affected families achieve normalcy as smoothly and as quickly as possible.

My research and discovery as a lay person has enlightened me to the extent that healing is now possible in my later years.  I have to work each day to be mindful of triggers and therapy practices to keep a good balance.  Life is not without challenges at any age, but I feel a peace of mind at age 70.  There is joy and happiness each day.  I do much better with down time, living in the moment is so much healthier.  Living with mental health challenges is a work in progress for most.  With a high level of awareness and the access to humanistic therapy alternatives, life is as good as it gets these days.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page and to order books, etc.

 

 

 

Anger in American Politics! Is generational post-trauma carry-over at the roots?

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Decades of War, Hardship, and Trauma in America…

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Why are so many Americans angry in this political season?

Why are Americans so angry?

A CNN/ORC poll carried out in December 2015 suggests 69% of Americans are either “very angry” or “somewhat angry” about “the way things are going” in the US.

And the same proportion – 69% – are angry because the political system “seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power, like those on Wall Street or in Washington,” according to a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll from November.

Many people are not only angry, they are angrier than they were a year ago, according to an NBC/Esquire survey last month – particularly Republicans (61%) and white people (54%) but also 42% ofWhy are Americans so angry?Democrats, 43% of Latinos and 33% of African Americans.

 

Trauma Carried Across Generations of People…  Click on the highlighted text to read more…

Molly S. Castelloe Ph.D.

Molly Castelloe Fong, Ph.D.Molly S. Castelloe, Ph.D., holds a doctorate from New York University in theater and psychoanalysis. She has presented on the subjects of performance and applied psychoanalysis at national symposia including the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University. Her scholarly articles have appeared in international publications and refereed journals including the Journal for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society and Clio’s Psyche: Understanding the “Why” of Culture, Current Events, History, and Society.  She has taught at New York University and is a Professor at Metropolitan College of New York.

As an actress, Molly appeared in the critically acclaimed film “Clean, Shaven,” a story about schizophrenia. She is proud to have been among the ensemble that made the first bilingual film in Sri Lanka.  Inspirations include performer Anna Deavere Smith, political psychologist Vamik Volkan, and pioneering pediatrician D. W. Winnicott.

About The Me in We

Current research looks at history through a psychological lens. This is the field of “Psychohistory.” Of special interest: group identity, the transmission of trauma across generations, processes of collective mourning and creativity.

 

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My research and writing the last six years on the topic of post-traumatic stress in America has revealed an epidemic of post-trauma symptoms that have built up over many decades in America.  Stopping the cycle of pain and emotional baggage must start with new families by increasing trauma awareness and sensitivity.  We must create a trauma informed society to stop the carry-forward baggage of trauma at the roots of the problem, the family at home.  I reference two article above to help my readers become better informed on the scope of the problem and implications.  Also included is a link to my Kickstarter project, “I Worry About the Kids,” a workbook for parents, teachers, and mentors to help build awareness and to serve as a guide for trauma affected families and for those who are trusted with the care of children at school and at play.

Please click this website right now…

 

 

 

“I Worry About the Kids” A new post-trauma growth project! by Steve Sparks

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Dear Family, Friends, and Colleagues,

“I Worry About the Kids!”  is my new creative non-fiction publishing project!  Please click on the highlighted text to review my project proposal, and the personal video clip of a previous talk on behalf of the Chinook WindsCelebration of Honor at the Lincoln City Cultural Center.  Please support this important work and project on behalf of Children and Families in Life After Trauma.  A big shout out and thank you to all my family members, friends, and colleagues who have supported my work over the years.  I’m very grateful for your compassion, sensitivity, and support!

Following is an excerpt from, I Worry About the Kids, Chapter 1, Introduction… 

“Although children are resilient and adapt to their immediate surroundings and their broader environment—good, bad, indifferent, and ugly as it might be—kids inhale the pain of loved ones, especially parents they look to for love, support, and security. Parents don’t always see or even think that toxic behaviors in the home, school, and neighborhood will have long-term implications on the healthy growth of their children. Parents who suffer from severe post trauma stress are fully engaged in their own world of emotional pain, a private agony that can strike at any moment by haunting triggers from the past. Outbursts of anger, panic attacks, and irrational behaviors represent a trauma-affected adult who is expressing grieving emotions from past traumatic events. When these scary events occur in the home, kids become frightened for their safety. Children are often silent and try to stay clear of threatening violent behaviors, but they never forget. They live and cope with whatever happens around them just like adults. I’m often asked why I worry so much about babies and young children when thinking and writing about post-traumatic stress and the toxic circumstances that surround a family when a parent suffers from it. I worry because even unborn babies can be damaged from post-trauma family dynamics. And I worry about the kids because the longer the delay in paying attention to them, the more permanent the damage. Where do I find these children? The terrible answer is I find them in every social strata, every economic level, in every neighborhood, everywhere. Children exhibiting the signs of post-traumatic stress often live in military families that include a parent who served in hard combat but came home fueled by anxiety, depression, and anger. They are children of 1st responders whose work places them in the midst of terrible violence and chaos, and they can’t help but bring some of their despair back home. They are homeless kids sleeping wherever they can lay their head for the night. Sometimes their parents are with them, sometimes not. They are the children of alcoholics and drug users. They are kids living among convicted criminals who need supervision of their own. They are the children of chronically depressed parents. They are undernourished kids living in poverty. They are kids with limited access to education—for whatever reason. They are children who have witnessed a murder, or a gun accident, or pulled the trigger themselves—you read about these stories in the newspapers way too often. They are children who found a parent dead of suicide. Or who was in the room when their mother was raped. They are foster children taken from parents who abused or neglected them, only to end up in another abusive situation. They are kids whose father or mother skipped out one day, never to return. They are children living with their grandparents because their own parents are dysfunctional or violent. They are children at the mercy of adults—stepfathers, pastors, relatives, neighbors—with sexually deviant personalities. Our society is experiencing an epidemic of children suffering from post-traumatic stress right this minute.” 

Can’t we do more?  We must do better!

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

SteveSunriver

“Higher risk PTSD gay, lesbian, bisexual, ‘mostly heterosexual’ youth” HARVARDgazette

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Dream, Hope, Love…

Higher Risk of PTSD for LGBT Community, especially younger kids and adults…  News from Harvard schools, offices, and affiliates

“We looked at a group of people who are at the cusp of adulthood and found much higher levels of PTSD in sexual orientation minorities compared with heterosexuals. We found that differences in PTSD by sexual orientation already exist by age 22. This is a critical point at which young adults are trying to finish college, establish careers, get jobs, maintain relationships, and establish a family,” said lead author Andrea Roberts, research associate in HSPH’sDepartment of Society, Human Development, and Health. Previous studies by Roberts and her colleagues identified more PTSD symptoms in a group of sexual minorities aged 40-60. Gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, “mostly heterosexuals,” and heterosexuals who have ever had a same-sex sex partner were found to be one-and-a-half to two times as likely to experience violent events, especially in childhood, than the general population and have double the risk of experiencing PTSD as a consequence. (See 2010 HSPH press release.)

The research appears online and in an upcoming print issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

“Traumatic events like active combat, child maltreatment, interpersonal violence, or unexpected death of a loved one can lead to PTSD, a mental illness which is characterized by distressing memories of the traumatic event, avoidance of objects, places, or people associated with the event, emotional numbing and an increased sense of vigilance. PTSD in turn can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and difficulties with relationships and employment if it goes untreated. The lifetime risk of PTSD in the general population is about 4% for men and 10% for women. Among sexual minority adults, the risk of PTSD is doubled – over 9% for men and 20% for women.”

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I have great empathy and compassion for the often emotional challenges connected with the gay community.  One of my closest life-long dear friends is a gay man, who survived the tragic early circumstances of HIV in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  My friend, Jon, has lived through more painful and tragic trauma for decades than most.  The worst part of his traumatic experience is to watch the slow and painful death of so many loved ones in his life.  I have been through most of this with him as a loving and devoted battle buddy at work and as close friends.  When there are tough times, I listen mostly with a loving and caring heart.  In good times there is so much joy and fun times with Jon, who also worked with me as an outstanding colleague during my career.  He has a heart as large as the moon, a work ethic that sets an example for the best of us,  Jon models the best in all of us along with unmatched resilience to overcome the worst of emotional challenges.  I love Jon as my brother, best friend, and colleague who has always been there for me and my family as we journey through life together.

I will address the LGBT community post-trauma stress topic in a most healing and loving way in my new workbook project, “I Worry About the Kids” to be published during the summer of 2016.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1&2… Click on the highlighted text for my author page and to order books, etc.

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

Post-Trauma Stress Comes to Families in More Ways Than One…

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Carlos Gutierrez says the Holy Spirit didn’t take hold of him until five years ago…

Man who lost legs to Mexico’s cartel violence…receives Pope blessings… Click and listen to highly informative and heart wrenching video clip…

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It is often the case and misperception, when speaking to families about post-traumatic stress, that it is only combat veterans who experience the horrors of war that suffer from PTSD.  Not so!  My latest book project, “I Worry About the Kids,” is structured as a workbook for parents, teachers, and mentors to engage in identifying their own needs for PTSD awareness and how to help children, especially early childhood.  So many families reach out and find it difficult to understand this topic, especially how it relates to their own family circumstances.  My new book project provides a lay person or trauma survivor’s view and research that connects to families in a real way.  Click on my website and author page to learn more…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2… Click on the highlighted text for my author page to order books, etc…

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

Positive Thinking? – Try This to Curb Teen Anxiety

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Forget Positive Thinking – Try This to Curb Teen Anxiety  Psych Center with Renee Jain MAPP

Going from Distorted Thinking to Accurate Thinking

Once teens understand why they fall into thought holes and that several common ones exist, they are ready to start filling them in by trying a method we developed in the GoZen! anxiety relief program called the 3Cs:

  • Check for common thought holes
  • Collect evidence to paint an accurate picture
  • Challenge the original thoughts

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The research underway for my new workbook project for parents, teachers, and mentors, requires activities and exercises at the end of each chapter. “I Worry About the Kids” will offer the reader and workshop attendees to think about their own circumstances and needs at home or school, and develop a plan of action.  I like this idea of looking at “distorted thinking” and actively translating to “accurate thinking.”  My goal is to find examples of actions and exercises that will help parents and teachers help kids deal with anxiety and depression in constructive and well received ways that make sense to children.  Lecturing platitudes and making judgements that create negative energy and knock kids down, never worked from my experience as a child and as a parent.  Take a look at this “accurate thinking” idea and tell me what you think.  Other ideas are most welcome as we build the workbook product.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1&2…  Click the highlighted text for my author page and order books…

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate