The Impact of Homelessness on Achieving a High School Diploma

One of the greatest barriers to achieving a high school degree can be unstable housing and homelessness. According to the 2019 Building a Grad Nation Report, the national high school graduation rate for all students has increased from 71% in 2001 to nearly 85% in 2017. In comparison, only 78% of low-income students and 64% of homeless students graduated in 2017. This data highlights the impact homelessness has on obtaining high school and higher education, particularly the potential barriers that exceed those of poverty alone. Housing instability and homelessness increase the risk of exposure to violence, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and other traumatic experiences. Additionally, youth have reduced access to healthcare for physical health, mental health, and substance misuse treatments.

In order to empower homeless students to achieve their high school degree and seek higher education, the School House Connection suggests that we must prioritize identifying youth experiencing homelessness and provide support through increasing access to resources. By doing so, youth will have a greater chance to graduate, which will in turn prevent future homelessness, as having a high school degree or GED can reduce the risk of housing instability by 4.5 times. By supporting youth in continuing their education even through poverty and homelessness, we can strive to break the cycle.

10 Steps to Support Mental Health

By Leslie Scott, MSSA LSW CTP-C

My name is Leslie and I am the new Professional Development Coordinator at Huck House. I have been with Huck House since 2016, as a crisis counselor and an intern. I have been a licensed social worker in Ohio since 2015 but have over six years’ experience working in non-profits. The last four years, I have worked as a crisis counselor, therapist, and clinical assessor.

My experience in the field has taught me the value of having professionals in the community I could lean on. Whether that was for support or to find the answers I needed. I also learned that “trial by fire” was the common method of training for many social workers, until I came to Huck House. At Huck House, I found a place where my professional goals and beliefs were echoed in my supervisors and colleagues. This is why I worked hard to create a training program for the community to provide other professionals the opportunity to seek support in their professional growth. That is why the motto of the program is “our promise to you is simple, we only teach what we know works”.

The program hopes to begin scheduling community trainings this summer. If you are interested in Huck House coming to your agency, please don’t hesitate to reach out. My contact information is at the end of this blog.

 

10 Steps to Support Mental Health

 

1 Wear your beautiful, messy green ribbon

Did you know when someone wears a green ribbon, they are raising awareness for mental health? Personally, I think we should all wear a tangled mess of ribbon or string, like the picture above. The tangled mess represents a truer version of mental health. Mental health is complicated, messy, hard to untangle, yet doesn’t take away from the beauty of the person. This is important to remember when talking about or addressing mental health. It can be hard to see through the messiness or be overwhelmed with the idea of untangling it, but remembering the beauty helps to give us strength. The last week of May, challenge yourself to wear a tangled (but beautiful) green ribbon.

 

2 Listening is a superpower

To support someone with mental health, you don’t need to have all the answers or know what to say. Listening is often the most helpful thing we can do. As a therapist when I ask my clients “what was most helpful,” I often hear “having someone to listen.” Especially with adolescents and young adults, who feel misunderstood, listening is an easy way to show them you care and value their thoughts. Listening is being able to repeat back what someone just said to you, focusing on their words instead of your response, and putting value in someone else’s thoughts.

 

3 Language can Destigmatize

Let’s start talking about mental health the same way we do about diabetes or any other physical health problem. This helps to destigmatize and undo any shame associated with mental health disorders. Mental health, like any other physical health condition, is treated through medication and meeting with your health professional regularly.

 

4 Know How to Talk About Mental Health

Be able to talk about mental health in a supportive way. I explain it using the image of an old-fashioned train line. The mental health train line is like any other, it has with multiple stops, each one different from the last, each one a different place. Some passengers may get off on the first stop, while adjusting to a new school, losing a parent, or are struggling with sadness. These passengers may be new to mental health or are struggling with their mental health for a short time. While others may ride the train to the middle, get off on a stop where they can get help for nightmares of witnessing violence, seeing things others can’t, or feeling like a yo-yo between sad and happy. The rest of the passengers will ride to the last stop, which is the most severe and most isolating disorders. Like trains, passengers may get on and off throughout their lives. Some passengers may be lucky enough to find a treatment that works and rides the train home, only returning for prescription or check ins with their healthcare providers. Some passengers are only there to hold someone else’s hand. Either way, they are all on the train together, choosing which stop to get off and what to do once their stop has arrived. Anyone can be on the train and at every stop there is help, no one is alone.

 

5 Boundaries

You can’t work harder than someone else. This is a principle taught to me in undergraduate studies, that I didn’t fully understand until I had been a therapist for a couple years. No matter how much we care about someone, they are in charge of themselves. When we work harder than someone else or find ourselves getting frustrated with their “progress”, we are actively trying to force someone into a decision or action. This doesn’t teach them how to help themselves, but rather how to please us. And it hurts everyone. By allowing others to make their own choices, you can help them learn to care for themselves in a healthy way, maintain your own health, and be able to keep a relationship with that person.

 

6 Self-care

Take care of yourself. Self-care is important for physical and mental health. Whether you want to maintain your good health or become healthier, self-care is key to these goals. Self-care is ensuring you are healthy, having time for things you enjoy, and balancing your commitments (such as work vs personal life). When I asked my co-workers about their self-care, one co-worker mentioned having a form of spiritual practice as their most helpful activity. Others mentioned mindfulness, sports, time with their children, and focusing on positive stresses as most helpful.

 

7 Mental Health is Normal

Mental health is normal. If you think about it… anxiety today is a result of humans trying to survive against all kinds of odds. When we were first a species, anxiety, fear, and pain were keys to keeping us alive. Even though we don’t need those same functions to survive today, our brains are still wired to produce them. Some brains produce more anxiety than others. Our bodies also wear out, change, and need a lot of TLC. As we get older or witness more negative life events, it is our mental and physical health that suffer. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please know it’s normal, it’s not your fault, and it is treatable.

 

8 Empathy for yourself and others

Empathy is the act of recognizing someone else’s pain and feeling or thinking of something similar. Such as yawning, smiling, or maybe feeling pain when you see someone stub their toe. It doesn’t require that you feel it or fix, but rather recognize it in the other person and yourself. When I talk with clients about their mental health, many share stories of judgment, shame, and misunderstanding. Showing empathy not only is the opposite of these but can help a person heal from previous hurts.

 

9 We all need Unconditional Support

Whether someone is recovering from trauma, depression, or has a lifelong disorder, they will need love and support. Studies continually show having unconditional support from an adult in their life builds resiliency and can help someone make positive, healthy steps in their life. While those without positive support, struggle in every aspect of development. For parents, this includes ensuring showing your children positive attention and support, choosing to focus on strengths rather than mistakes.

 

10 Educate yourself to help others

Educating yourself and others is a big start to supporting mental health awareness. There are many ways to do this: (1) attend a training or event at Huck House, (2) take a mental health first aid course online, (3) research online (experts to check out: NAMI, ADAMH, Mental Health America, womenshealth.gov, and National Institute of Mental Health), (4) check out if mental health services are right for you.

 

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, thoughts about hurting themselves or others, here are some helpful resources.

Emergency Services 911

Runaway Help Hotline (800) 786-2929

Rape Help Hotline (614) 267-7020

Suicide Help Hotline (614) 221-5445

National Suicide Hotline (Client & Parent Support) 1-800-273-8255

Franklin County Children’s Services (FCCS) (614) 229-7000

Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH): (614) 722 -2000

Netcare Hotline (614) 276-2273

Safe Place Locations: Krogers, Columbus Metropolitan Libraries, White Castle, Fire Stations

 

If you are interested in finding out more about our professional development program, please contact me at…

Leslie Scott, MSSA LSW CTP-C
Professional Development Coordinator
1421 Hamlet Street, Columbus, OH 43201
614.927.1463 (direct)
lscott@huck-house.org

Nationwide Children’s Hospital – On Our Sleeves

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

One in five children in the United States has a mental health condition. That’s one in five children in a homeroom class, on a baseball team or on the street where you live. That child, in fact, may be your own.

But there’s HOPE.

Helping our children’s mental health is something EVERYONE can do — not just parents and caregivers.

It’s time to have a national conversation about children’s mental health. It’s time to raise our voices for this important cause.

On Our Sleeves is proud to join the mental health community for Mental Health Month this May.

Children’s Mental Health Week

Mental health issues start younger, and their impact is broader, than most people realize. And because kids don’t wear their thoughts on their sleeves, we don’t know what they might be going through.

More than 10 percent of children 8 to 11 years old have experienced a mental illness. The percentage doubles for teenagers. Half of all lifetime mental illness, starts by age 14. That number increases to 75% by age 24.

From May 5 to May 10, the mental health community shines the light on children’s mental health. Join Nationwide Children’s Hospital in raising your voice for kids everywhere.

May 9: National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

 

May 9 is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. This day highlights the importance of caring for a child’s mental health and its importance in a child’s development.

Mental wellness and coping skills learned during childhood establish the foundation for future social, emotional and academic success. That’s why it’s important to recognize when a child is struggling and get them help as early as possible. All of us can help in improving mental health for children.

Tune in on May 9 for an incredible success and advocacy story.

 

This blog article is from Nationwide Children’s and their #OnOurSleeves Campaign.

Understanding the Scope of Youth Homelessness in America – National Network for Youth

Scope of Youth Homelessness in America

Written by |March 11, 2019

Recent Poll Reveals Disparity Between Wanting to Help Homeless Youths and Understanding the Scope of Youth Homelessness in America

The National Network for Youth believes in the importance of tapping into key data that will help drive the mission to end youth homelessness forward. This past February, we partnered with Ipsos, a global market research and consulting firm, to poll 1,005 adults above the age of 18 on youth homelessness issues.

Ninety-one percent of polled Americans believe dealing with the problem of youth homeless is important. Eighty-eight percent agreed the success of young Americans has a direct impact on the success of their communities. While most participants agreed youth homelessness should be addressed, many did not understand the full size and scope of the issue.

The poll asked Americans how many of the 35 million young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 in the United States they believe experience homelessness in a given year. Twenty-six percent responded “Don’t Know” and 23 percent believed that less than 2 million young adults experience homelessness. However, of the 35 million young adults in the United States, around 3.5 million young adults (or 10%) experience some form of homelessness in a given year.

Twenty-six percent of participants also answered “Don’t Know” to how many of the 21 million Americans youths between the ages 13 and 17 experience homelessness in a year. Twenty-four percent responded correctly that between 500,000 and 1 million youths experience homelessness.

Ipsos Support Government FundingFurther questions overwhelmingly revealed that approximately 80 percent of those polled believe the federal and state governments should prioritize reducing youth homelessness. About 80 percent also agreed that federal and state governments should prioritizing the funding for programs that help young homeless people finish high school and find a job.

Over three quarters (79 percent) of polled Americans agreed that young people who can find food and shelter by couch surfing should still be allowed to use public services providing food and shelter.

Though Americans have expressed concern and the desire for the government to address youth who experience homelessness, current federal definitions of youth homelessness are limited.

Of the eight definitions of homelessness used by federal agencies and programs, all but one use criteria that are appropriate for and reflective of the experiences of young people experiencing homeless. Those programs are ones administered by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Justice and Agriculture. These definitions focus on the safety of the youth’s living situation, rather than its location or duration.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) uses a more narrow definition that focuses on the way single adults, not youth or families, experience homelessness. This definition is also used by the federal government to inform the total number of young people considered to be homeless. Many youth stay temporarily with others or in motels rather than sleeping on the street. HUD’s current definition of homelessness deems these youth to be “at lower risk” and therefore not considered to be a priority.

Ipsos 91% ImportantThis restrictive definition of homelessness and youth homelessness results in undercounting the number of youths who are homeless, and influences the perceived prevalence of homelessness. When definitions and prioritizations based on definitions are limited, we lose the opportunity to prevent youth who may be facing homelessness for the first time from becoming the next generation of chronically homeless adults.

Last year Congress considered, and advanced out of committee, the Homeless Children and Youth Act, which would ensure that anyone considered homeless by any federal program is eligible to be assessed for HUD services, and ensures that HUD’s assessment of the number of homeless individuals reflect all forms of homelessness. Congress has continued to support funding for a wide range of programs to prevent and respond to young and young adult homelessness, but more resources are needed to address the scope of the challenge.

 

The National Network for Youth has been a public education and policy advocacy organization dedicated to the prevention and eradication of youth homelessness in America. NN4Y mobilizes over 300 members and affiliates –organizations that work on the front lines every day to provide prevention services and respond to runaways and youth experiencing homelessness and human trafficking.

The Graham School and Huckleberry House Partnership

The Graham School (TGS) is a public high school with a charter granted by the State of Ohio. Located in Northern Columbus but open to all students in Ohio, the school’s focus is experiential education in a small-school setting where all students are known by all staff. TGS serves approximately 250 students annually.  The school has a mission to urban students in Central Ohio preparing them for lifelong learning and informed citizenship through real-world experiences and rigorous academics.

Rachel Widmer has been a school counselor at TGS for three years. Rachel’s role covers social, emotional, academic and college preparatory topics. Knowing there is a greater need for counseling, TGS partnered with Huckleberry House. The partnership includes sending  licensed therapists from the Huckleberry House Family Support Program to work with students weekly. The collaboration has allowed for more trained hands on deck to run group sessions, work with parents and guardians to get involved, and to ensure staff are equipped with resources in and out of the classroom.

Students at the Graham School who work with the therapists from Huckleberry House are learning how to advocate for themselves. TGS staff have heard more students ask for counseling and approach the sessions with positivity. These students are gaining access to services in the community such as COTA bus passes. Additional benefits for students have been programs like the 24-hour crisis shelter and transitional living program at Huckleberry House.

In an interview with Rachel she shared that she would love to see the partnership between The Graham School and Huckleberry House grow. Rachel is the only counselor at TGS and both she and the school benefit from the partnership with Huckleberry House. Rachel also remarked on how she would love to see more after school programs for mental health and support, as well as resources for parents.

 

The Graham School also partners with the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Signs of Suicide Prevention Program. The program’s goal is to reduce youth suicides by teaching students and staff to recognize the signs and symptoms of suicide and depression in themselves and others and to follow the ACT message:

  • Acknowledge there is a serious concern
  • Care: Show the person you care
  • Tell a trusted adult

 

The Graham School benefits significantly from its community partners and is very thankful for the support and assistance they receive. Learn more about the SOS Prevention Program and Huckleberry House Family Support services below.

Huckleberry House Family Support Program – http://huckhouse.org/programs/family-support-program

Nationwide Children’s Hospital SOS Prevention Program – SOS Prevention Program

 

Online Learning Resources for Bad-Weather Days

Picture of hand

Image by Pixabay

By Jenny Wise

Do you ever wonder how to keep your kids occupied on rainy days when outdoor activities are impossible? If so, then this post is for you. We’re going to show how the Internet, used wisely, can turn shut-in days into wide-open opportunities for education and enrichment.

Have a Science Quest

Hands-on learning is a great way to help students master new concepts. For example, let’s imagine that your kids are interested in knowing more about volcanoes. You might start out by having them watch a video about volcanoes, follow it up with a quick question-and-answer session, then top the activity off with an experiment in which they make their own lava. In addition to being really cool, this activity engages the student on visual, auditory, and tactile levels, helping them to not only remember but to comprehend the facts they’ve learned. You can continue your hands-on learning with some of these real-world math activities from HomeAdvisor.

Have a “Go” at Learning a New Game

Games that teach strategic thinking are ideal for spurring mental development. In Western societies, the classic example is chess; and for many good reasons. But did you know that the East has a pastime that develops many of the same skills? It’s simply called “Go” and has existed for at least 2500 years, according to The Economist. You’ll find plenty of information online, from basic tutorials to tournaments. This is a fun and innovative way for your kids to build critical-thinking skills while learning more about our multicultural world.

Sample the Riches of Music

Listening to your favorite tunes is one thing. Playing them yourself is quite another. Learning an instrument offers a world of intellectual and social benefits, according to Inc. Here are some tips for making the experience both enjoyable and educational:

  • Music teachers advise parents to consider their child’s personality and physical traits when picking an instrument. For example, kids who love being the center of attention may prefer the flute, since the flutist usually stands in front of the band. On the other hand, large hands are helpful when learning the piano.
  • When choosing an instrument, quality is extremely important. If you buy an instrument, you’ll have to decide whether or not to go new or used. Either way, the instrument needs to be easy to play, durable, repairable, and have a warranty. Consult an instructor in your area or just ask a seasoned musician to recommend a trustworthy vendor.

Get Up and Get Moving

Not all online-based activities are sedentary; go on YouTube and see for yourself the many exercise videos available. Joining in on the workout yourself is a great way to not only get fit but to model healthy behaviors for your kids.

Explore the World of Art

The Internet offers a wealth of drawing, painting, and even sculpting lessons for learners of all ages. Many are free, though some are fee-based. Art materials are available at very reasonable costs online or at brick-and-mortar retailers. Some online options even provide instructor feedback and certificates of completion.

The Opportunities Are Endless

In this post, we’ve only scratched the surface of our topic. The Web offers limitless learning resources for both your kids and yourself. Here are some examples of the topics you can explore:

  • Mathematics
  • History
  • Literature
  • Social sciences
  • Philosophy
  • Spirituality studies

And the list goes on and on.

You might want to plan activities ahead of time and download the materials, just in case the weather makes your online connection finicky.

The next time the elements keeps your kids inside, use the Internet to open up a whole new world of learning and discovery. The opportunities are right there at your fingertips. You may actually find yourself wishing that foul-weather days came more often.

 

 

How to Build a Positive Body Image for Your Teen

 

 

fashion-person-hands-woman

Photo via Pexels

By Daniel Sherwin

 

Through a combination of TV, films, advertising, and the internet, teenagers these days are exposed to even more images of what a perfect body looks like than past generations. Social media, in particular, has been extremely damaging, providing a constant feed of “aspirational” images that can give teens a skewed view of their own bodies. As a parent, what can you do to help your teenager navigate this world and develop a healthy body image?

 

Focus on Health, Not Weight

In an age where 17.4 percent of American children are obese and 2.4 percent are morbidly obese, many parents are naturally worried about their kids gaining weight. Obesity comes with a variety of health issues, and it is normal for parents to want their children to grow up healthy.

However, there are a few factors to consider. To begin with, the measure which is most commonly used to measure obesity, the BMI, can be unreliable, particularly in children. Make sure you get the opinion of a medical professional before making any drastic changes in their diet. Secondly, being too strict with their diet now could lead to backlash later as your teen starts getting access to junk foods.

Teach them about health from a young age, and avoid words like “fat” and “skinny.” Encourage exercise as a family and promote a balanced diet — which includes the occasional treat — within your household. Place the emphasis on how food and exercise can make them feel, not how it can make them look.

 

Value Their Other Qualities

You think your child is beautiful, and you tell them every day. There is, of course, nothing wrong with this, and your kid will probably understand that their parents don’t have a very objective opinion. However, as your kids grow older, make sure you are praising their skills, interests, and personality.

According to the Guardian, this is particularly important for girls. It turns out that repeatedly telling young girls that they are pretty is a very easy way to teach them that the most important thing about them is their appearance.

 

Be a Good Example

Your children will tend to emulate the behaviors they see in their parents. This means that if they see you talking negatively about your own or other people’s bodies, they are more likely to grow up being critical of their appearance.

It’s not just about body talk. You should set a good example by eating how you wish your child was eating, as kids pick up the food habits they see at home. This also goes for the ways in which you try to lose weight. According to the New York Times, children can develop unhealthy ideas about dieting by seeing their parents follow strict or fad diets. With over half of teenage girls and one-third of boys engaging in unhealthy weight control behaviors, it is definitely worth watching whether you are setting a bad example by looking for shortcuts.

 

Learn To Spot An Eating Disorder

Even if you do everything right, your teenager can still develop an unhealthy body image due to factors out of your control, such as bullying at school. Make sure you know the signs to watch out for so you can get them the help they need. These include obvious things like skipping meals, controlling portions, and obsessing over calories, but there are other more subtle cues. Watch out for them leaving the table early, as this could be a sign of purging, and avoiding social situations that involve food.

Being a teenager is hard for most people. You grow increasingly self-conscious, and the pressure to fit in with your peers is overwhelming. The best thing you can do is teach them to value things about themselves other than their appearance and combine this with a good education about healthy lifestyles. The rest may be out of your hands, but you can keep a close eye on their relationship to food and exercise so you can address any unhealthy behaviors.

 

Author

I am a single dad raising two children. At DadSolo.com, my goal is to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.