Today, Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH) announced the reintroduction of the Homeless Children and Youth Act at the Huckleberry House. This legislation, which is cosponsored by Representative Dave Loebsack (D-IA), provides a more accurate system for the federal government to understand the problem of youth homelessness and help better serve this population. Representative Joyce Beatty (D-OH) […]
Learn more about the issues facing the young people we serve.
Adolescence is a difficult and exciting time of life. Teenagers go through physical, social, and emotional changes during adolescence. The major focus on this stage in life is teenagers’ desire to gain more independence from their family and to form their own unique identity. However, teenagers still need structure, security and support. It is often times families who give teenagers this sense of structure, support and security.
A list of helpful information about adolescent development:
- Your teenager’s brain continues to develop until age 25.
- Teenage decisions can be influenced by a strong emotional response because of the influence of the limbic system (which controls emotions) in an adolescent brain. Eventually, the limbic system in your teen’s brain will be under greater control of the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for planning, controlling impulses, moral reasoning and high order thinking. This is the last part of the brain to develop.
- As previously mentioned, the last part of the brain to develop is the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is in charge of understanding cause and effect. Sometimes teenagers may engage in negative behavior and not know why, and not truly understand the potential consequences of the behavior.
- Hormonal changes in the brain make teenagers more aware that they are not alone in this world. This results in a teenager feeling more self-conscious than ever before. They may think everyone is thinking about them, judging them, or watching them.
- Social media CAN influence the brain. Studies have shown that when teenagers look at pictures on social media that display risky behaviors, it decreases activity in the part of the brain that is responsible for controlling impulses.
Teen brains are wired to seek out rewards and seek instant gratification. This means that teenagers are likely to engage in risky behaviors (drug use, sex, unsafe driving, etc.) because they have challenges delaying gratification.
A list of what guardians and parents can do to support their teenager through adolescence:
- Spend quality time with your teenager, even if they resist.
- Show them unconditional love.
- Set boundaries and follow through with consequences.
- Give them opportunities in SAFE spaces to practice skills such as delaying gratification, controlling impulses, and making decisions. The more they practice in safe places, the better they can use these skills out in the ‘real world’.
- Give them structure and predictability. Teach them how to be organized.
- Do not give long lectures. The average teen will stop listening after 4-8 minutes. Make it short, sweet and to the point.
- Limit the amount of time your teenager spends on social media. It is important for your teenager to have time away from social media and cell phones so they can learn to regulate their emotions and develop appropriate social skills.
Crisis Program Supervisor
This October, our focus at the Huckleberry House is Adolescent Development. To start the month, we hear from some youth in our shelter about what it’s like to be their age.
Mental health used to be “the hidden disease,” something to be ashamed of and not talked about. Persons were locked away in “insane asylums” and hospitals.
In the 1950’s, a well-meaning movement to take people out of sometimes horrible conditions and put them back in the community took root. Alas, the program was a failure because we never invested in the resources to take care of them in the community. As a result, many ended up homeless or in jails and prisons. Because they had little voice, budgets that supported their care were cut.
Today, there is hope on the horizon. We now understand that mental illness is a disease like any other. We understand that diagnosis and treatment can help many recover or manage their illness and lead to meaningful lives.
There are many reasons. Several advocacy groups, like National Alliance on Mental Illness, are speaking up and advocating. Ohio has one of the strongest NAMI chapters and have partnered with many groups. Many famous people, like actors, actresses, and elected officials, are now sharing their personal stories. The Governor of Ohio has been a strong advocate and leader.
In Ohio, I have worked for over 15 years on this issue and have seen great changes. When I started, there were 6 mental health courts, 2 in Ohio, where the court tries to deal with the issues that landed someone in court, and break the cycle of recidivism and homelessness. Now there are 38 in Ohio, hundreds nationally. Each one involves the community in treatment.
A program called Crisis Intervention Teams trains police on how to respond appropriately to calls for persons with suspected mental illness. When I started working on this, there were 100 Ohio officers trained. We just passed 9000 trained officers. I am now Project Director of Ohio’s chapter of a national program called Stepping Up that works with jails in identifying and treating persons with mental illness. These are but a few of the many programs in Ohio on this issue.
We now recognize that people with mental illness need support, care and treatment, not jail or prison. We need to provide resources for families and children so that they can keep their loved ones safe, and we must all openly talk about it as a disease that deserves treatment like any other, and advocate for funding and programs to do so. If you have an illness or a family member with one, speak up and share your story so others can understand. Only then can we remove the stigma.
Evelyn Lundberg Stratton
Project Director, Stepping Up
Retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio
Fresh A.I.R. Gallery presents
The Many Parts of One
by Toni Jo Coppa
August 17 – September 23, 2016
Coppa explains that her work is both cathartic and socially motivated. “The disgraceful stigma of mental illness labels a person and puts them in a stereotyped group. I’m hoping to break the negative attitudes towards common mental conditions like depression, anxiety and/or addictive behaviors,” she says. “These disorders have affected my mood, thinking, behavior, and most obviously my art. Conjuring my feelings into a tangible form helps me to identify and manage them more clearly.”
Toni Jo writes in her artist’s statement: “I have come to know the many distinct parts of me that make up the ‘Self.’ I chose the work in this exhibition to illustrate what these diverse parts (feelings and emotions) look like for me. When I express mental issues this way, I am able to objectify them (and even subjugate them, if necessary) for a new perspective. I am not an art therapist, but my work is indeed cathartic. Like Louise Bourgeois, I am inspired by a conflicted family life, the human condition, and psychoanalysis. I use materials and styles to best capture the part I am addressing.”
Toni Jo Coppa received her BFA degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, an MFA degree from the Maine College of Art, and was honored with a full scholarship to attend the prestigious Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.
View more of Toni Jo’s work on her website: http://www.tonijocoppa.com/
About Fresh A.I.R. Gallery
Fresh A.I.R. (Artists In Recovery) Gallery exhibits the works of individuals affected by mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders. Through art, we educate the community and work to break down stigma of mental illness and substance abuse disorders by bringing focus to the artistic vision. Fresh A.I.R. Gallery opened its doors in September of 2004 to celebrate Southeast’s 25 year anniversary and typically sponsors between five and eight exhibits a year. Fresh A.I.R. Gallery is a project of Southeast Healthcare.
131 N. High Street Columbus,
Gallery hours – Monday through Friday 8:00 am – 5:30 pm
Gallery Manager – Lauren Pond, (614) 225-0980
PR Contact – Myken Pullins, (614) 225-0980
As a licensed therapist, parents and guardians frequently ask me why mental health is important. Life can be tough and with the rise of social media our kids are faced with more challenges than ever before.
Today’s teens face many pressures such as school performance, family problems, peer expectations, bullying, and just dealing with what life throws at them.
All of these stressors can have a serious impact on your teen and teens aren’t always the best at articulating when they are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed. It is up to us as parents and caring adults to look for the signs and symptoms that a young person is struggling.
Some Signs and Symptoms:
- Changes in behavior – i.e. showing up late, clumsiness, forgetfulness
- Irritability, anger, or hostility
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Tearfulness or frequent crying
- Sudden loss of interest, enthusiasm, and motivation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Frequent illness – i.e. headaches or stomach aches
It can sometimes be hard to tell whether your teen is “just being a teenager” or if there is a more serious problem. You know your child best. Pay attention to how long the symptoms have been present, how severe they are, and how differently your teen is acting from his or her usual self. And when in doubt, ask for help! My job as a therapist is to help you sort out whether or not there is a more serious issue and work with you to come up with solutions to help your child deal with life stressors and symptoms.
Not waiting to address mental health symptoms and concerns will help your teens ability to:
- Make good decisions
- Develop and maintain healthy relationships
- Better handle daily stressors and the ups and down of life
- Discover who he or she is and reach his or her goals and full potential.
Addressing symptoms can also prevent your teen from developing a more serious mental health problem. If you believe your child might be struggling, Huckleberry House is here to help. Please contact 614-294-8097 and ask to speak to someone in our Family Support Program.
About the Author:
Abbey Wollschleger, LISW-S graduated with her Master’s Degree from The Ohio State University. She is currently the clinical supervisor of the Family Support Program and has over 8 years of experience providing therapy to underserved teens and families at Huckleberry House in Columbus, OH. Through active listening and education, she empowers clients to be more effective in their approaches to relationships, communication, life stressors, and problem-solving.