World Suicide Prevention Day

Suicide is never an easy topic to discuss, whether with clients, friends, or yourself. But that conversation can also be the reason someone doesn’t follow through with a plan or learns about suicide, so they can spread information to other youth. Here are some much needed tips for successful conversations with youth about suicide.

Starting the Conversation 

  • I’ve noticed you’ve been down lately, are you doing alright?
  • For some people when they feel down, they also think about death. Are you having thoughts about wanting to die?
  • Do you have thoughts about death?
  • You’ve mentioned previous suicide attempts, everything you have going on can be really stressful, are you having thoughts about wanting to die or hurt yourself?  (OR use a specific example instead of “everything you have going on”– starting counseling, being in the crisis shelter, staying at TLP, living on the streets)

Follow Up Questions if they say ‘yes’

  • Do you want to die? Or do you want to take action to end your life? OR Have you ever thought about how you would die?
  • Is this something you think about often?
  • Does anything you do make these thoughts go away?
  • Have you thought about how you might harm yourself?
  • Can you get access to pills, guns, knifes, or other weapons easily?
  • Do you know anyone who has died by suicide?

Having the Conversation 

  • Avoid using the word “committed” suicide, instead say “died by suicide”, as this decreases the negative stigma and recognizes when someone is suffering from significant mental health — suicide is a consequence & symptom of their disease.
  • Tell them lots of people who suffer from mental illness, like depression, struggle with thoughts of death or wanting to harm themselves. These thoughts can be hard to turn off or ignore.
  • Encourage them to find positive supports and treatment.
  • Ask them how people have responded to previous suicide attempts.
  • Help them identify what they wish could be different and what they can do about it.
  • Be careful not to judgment them or make assumptions.
  • Be realistic about what you can do — do not make promises.
  • Use the word suicide and make sure they understand what it means.
  • Be their ally. Share some strengths they have. Give them resources.
  • For resources, keep reading!!!

After the conversation 

  • Make sure the client stays in sight and is away from weapons & other things that can be turned into a weapon (such as a sharpened pencil or scissors)
  • Contact on-call or (in emergencies) the police
  • If possible, ask another staff person to dial, while you stay with the client (or vise versa)
  • Use the client’s words to tell on-call or the police what risk (how likely) a client is to hurt themselves, if they have weapons or a plan
  • Safety plan with the client — this includes finding helpful activities, warning signs, and helpful adults they can call for help
  • DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT!!!!!

Warning Signs 

  • Change in behavior
  • Not wanting to be around others
  • Giving away possessions or saying goodbye
  • Feeling sad, down, blue, or depressed & it doesn’t get better
  • Talking about loneliness or feeling alone
  • Not thinking about their future positively or saying things like “I don’t have a future” or “what future”
  • Talk negatively about themselves — low self-esteem
  • Refuses to participate in coping skills
  • History of mental health or trauma (like abuse) – LGBTQ+ & Children who were adopted are at an increased risk for dying from suicide
  • Feeling rejected
  • Feeling hopeless , helpless, or trapped
  • Mood swings
  • Not having anywhere to go or having any supports
  • Being in an abusive relationship
  • Risky behaviors, such as drinking or doing drugs for the first time when sad
  • Goes from sad to energizer bunny happy or from happy to sad (this will appear as a cycle and often with out cause or trigger, sudden changes in mood can be signs of a more serious condition, which can increase the risk of suicide)

Remember, part of what makes suicide really hard is that most often it’s based on impulse.

 

Resources for Clients 

Lifeline # 1-800-273-8255 24/7/365

Lifeline Chat Online 24/7/365

Huck House Crisis Line 614-294-5553

OSU Students can call 614-292-5766

Call or Text for Help 614-221-5445

Teen Suicide Hotline 614-294-3300

LGBTQ+ Youth Suicide Hotline @ The Trevor Project 1-866-488-7386

The Franklin County Suicide Prevention Coalition 614-299-6600 ext. 2073

Go immediately to any emergency room or police station

For adults, they can call or walk into Netcare Access for help

Building a Happy Classroom: For You and Your Students

By Leslie Scott, MSSA, LSW, CTP-C, Professional Development Coordinator

With the start of a new school year, comes new school supplies, new students, new teachers, and lots of new emotions. Emotions that often express themselves in the classroom. Sometimes this is excitement, joy, and relief. Sometimes this is anger, worry, or loneliness. As a teacher, this alone is a lot to handle, not to mention the lesson plans, paperwork, and other commitments.

By making the classroom a better place for students and teachers, we build positive role models and the foundation of success for every child. So, as you start this school year, here are a couple tips to help your classroom start off right.

KNOW YOUR VALUES

Why did you become a teacher? Was it because of a teacher who impacted your life? Were your parents’ teachers? Did you want to change people’s lives? It’s easy to forget that when someone makes an impact in our lives, they are really teaching us their most important values. Their values then become powerful memories for us. What are your most important values?

If you had to pick one of those values to apply to every activity, lecture, or interaction with students, which value would it be? Take time to focus on active steps you can make this year to instill that value.

KEEP THEM IN THE CLASSROOM

Studies show that when students are out of the classroom for behavioral concerns, they are more likely to become involved in the criminal justice system. Resulting in the “School to Prison Pipeline”.

7 million students were suspended or expelled in the 2011-2012 school year. At highest risk are non-white and disabled students. (US Department of Education, 2016).

Being in the classroom teaches valuable life skills, how to manage emotions, reinforces positive behaviors, and tips for focusing. This helps students stay engaged in learning and builds a healthy relationship between you and the student. You may be the only healthy influence in their life or the only who notices they are struggling. That is a chance for them to get help and start building the coping skills they need for a healthy adulthood.

Having these items available to students can keep homeless or neglect students attending:
  • Non-perishable snacks and bottles of water
  • Deodorant or Shower Wipes (that don’t use water)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste kits
  • Comfy socks
  • Plain t-shirts (so they can wear them multiple times without people noticing or bullying them)
  • Underwear

INCREASE AWARENESS OF SELF

Small moments of mindfulness can also help keep students engaged. Mindfulness doesn’t have to be quiet, zen-full, or yoga. Mindfulness is about being in the present. Starting your class off, ending your class, or taking a short break to connect with the present, can help students remain in the classroom, but also learn to connect with their body, their needs, and their emotions.

Short mindful moments to try:
  • Deep breathing
  • Ring a bell – have everyone freeze, focus on their body – do they feel tense? Restless? Stressed? Take some deep breaths, relaxing their body from their feet to their head
  • Before the end of class bell rings, think of 1 thing you need to be successful in your next class
  • Stretching, standing up, move seats mid-class (if you’re willing to risk it… last person who sits down must clean the classroom)
  • Write or say something nice to themselves or someone else
  • Snack break – maybe a mint or small piece of chocolate
  • Popcorn “get to know you” or “ice breaker” questions
  • Play soft music or meditations in the background
  • For students with ADD/ADHD or just struggle to remain seated, give them small tasks to complete throughout the class. Physical tasks (even if unnecessary) can be the physical release of energy they need to focus.
Other Coping Skills for the Classroom:
  • Rainbow: Find each color of the rainbow, while deep breathing, focus back in on your work or the teacher talking
  • Remind yourself where you are and that you are safe
  • Take a short bathroom break
  • Doodling or note taking
  • Talk about alternative choices non judgmentally
  • Give yourself a hug while deep breathing (great for trauma)
  • Calming jar
  • Feelings cube
  • Quiet corner with bean bag chairs
  • Alternative to lectures – provide books for students to read on the topic
  • Write a list of 5 positive things about yourself or your life
  • Write a letter to your teacher sharing your worries, concerns, or other feelings
  • Schedule a meeting with your school counselor during your lunch time
  • Have a jar or place for students to pick a classroom coping skill

Whichever of these coping skills you choose to incorporate in the classroom, it’s important to discuss them in a positive way throughout the year. Students may live in environments where mental health is viewed negatively, or seeking treatment is frowned upon. Talking about coping skills as a positive prevention step, allows students to explore for themselves their beliefs and learn healthy coping.

One of the most effective skills I’ve seen in classrooms, is allowing students open access to a mental health safe space. At any age, when students are given the opportunity to correct their behavior or respond to a need, we are building their self-esteem, awareness, and positive coping. Choose a place in your classroom, maybe close to the door or in the back of the classroom. Keep books, appropriate fidget items, and written ideas for coping skills. Some teachers use mailboxes or a feelings container, where students can write anonymously or to the teacher what they are feeling. Teachers tell me they’ve gotten letters disclosing that students were being bullied, didn’t have enough to eat, or were afraid to raise their hand in class. Students tell me they like being able to write down their negativity, put it in a box, and leave it there. Rather than carrying it with them, thinking about it throughout their day.

If you do not remain the same room all day, carrying or having a feelings box for each room helps you connect to each of your students. The easiest way to create this box, is to buy a small tubberware or storage bin. Put stickers and other creative charms on the outside. Introduce the box to the students. If the box is anonymous, encourage students to rip up their letters before placing them in the box, as a way of taking charge of their emotions.

If you are worried about students reading other’s letters, there are boxes you can purchase with locks. It’s important to talk about what it means for the classroom to be a safe space with students. This helps them take ownership and pride in creating a safe space, rather than being a guest in it.

FIDGET TOYS

Fidget toys are not needed for everyone, but many students find them useful. Students who have traumatic events at home, such as abuse, fighting, or drug use, can use fidget toys to keep them focused on their schoolwork and in the classroom.

Alternatives to typical fidget toys:

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

You’ve probably heard the analogy; you can’t help someone put their oxygen mask on if you don’t put yours on first. Don’t wait until you are already burned out. Take moments throughout the day to put yourself first.

Write yourself a self-care plan. Fill it with easy items that you can do throughout your day, such as taking a deep breathing break before entering the classroom or read a book before bed. Remember, for you to show empathy towards others, you must first show empathy to yourself. This includes recognizing and respecting your own emotions, needs, and wants.

BUILD STUDENT SAFETY NETS

Before issues arise in your classroom, ask your school counselor to come introduce themselves, do empathy building activities, or take 5 minutes to tell each student about Huckleberry House and other counseling resources available to them. Try keeping a clipboard with student’s names in your room, where they can write down if they need help or let you know if they had a bad night. Have coping skills and fidget toys ready for students to grab, as they need, rather than asking for them or depending on them to bring them into the classroom.

Did you know that Huckleberry House will come to classrooms to talk about our crisis shelter, counseling, and housing programs? We also offer lots of professional development trainings and can come to your school for PD days.

Have resources ready for them – have a place in your classroom or let your students know that their counselor has resources outside their office for counseling and other needs. Normalize that counseling and mental health disorders are a common struggle for many people. It doesn’t make them crazy or mean something is wrong with them – it’s also not something they have to struggle with for their entire lives, should they choose to get help.

Show patience to students and their parents. Just as with students, parents with disruptive, rude, or disengaged behaviors may also be struggling with getting their basic needs met, struggling with a mental health disorder, or have grown up in a traumatic environment. All these factors have been shown in research to not only impact brain development, but also our behavior, perception of other’s actions, our physical and mental health.

“The parents who require the most patience, are often the children we missed”

– Jaida Green, a Therapist at the Counseling Center

If you’d like Huckleberry House to come speak to your students, please contact our Youth Outreach Specialist, Jasmine Ayres, at (614) 826-3630.

If you’re interested in a training by Huckleberry House, please contact us at profdev@huck-house.org or by phone (614) 294-8097.

24/7/365 Huckleberry House Crisis Line @ (614) 294-5553

Resources

US Department of Education. (2016, July 18). School Climate and Discipline: Know the Data. Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/school-discipline/data.html

Back-to-School Mental Health Checklist

 

This is a blog post from Nationwide Children’s On Our Sleeves the movement to transform children’s mental health.

Changing schedules. Supply lists. Forms to fill out. New teachers to meet. Heading back to school can be exciting, yet stressful.

We’re here to help you get organized and reduce your feelings of anxiety and stress. Our On Our Sleeves back-to-school checklist to make sure you and your child start the year off right.

  1. Get back into a routine. About 1-2 weeks before school starts, gradually (15 minutes each day) move your child’s bedtime and wake up time back to what they will be during the school year.
  2. Visit your doctor. Make sure your vaccine records and sports physicals are up to date!
  3. Review any changes from last year. Does your child have a new bus stop? Are they going to a new school? Walk to the new bus stop and attend an open house so they are ready.
  4. Get organized. Print and post school and extracurricular activity calendars so you don’t miss any important dates.
  5. Talk about expectations – yours and your child’s. Ask your child what their goals are for the school year. Is your rule that homework be done before screen time? Remind them.
  6. Plan for healthy meals and snacks. Involve your child in the process so they learn how to make healthy food choices.
  7. Schedule child care. Are you a working parent and need before and/or after school care? Make arrangements now.
  8. Sign up for fall sports and other after school activities. Research shows that getting kids involved in activities after school creates a sense of belonging and self-worth. Remember to maintain balance between family time, school and other activities.
  9. Meet teachers, coaches and program leaders. Introduce yourself to teachers, coaches and anyone else who will spend time with your child this year. Let them know the best way to reach you and share any important details about your child.
  10. Have a last hurrah. Go see that movie you didn’t have time to see this summer, take a family bike ride or visit a local attraction like a park, museum or zoo.

To view more back to school resources or to learn more about On Our Sleeves visit HERE.

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