Are We Ever Going to Protect the Children?

Are We Ever Going to Protect the Children?

Schools all across the country are starting a new year and students are wanting to know if it is safe for them to go to school. Why would a child worry about their safety at school? Because of all the mass shootings in the United States and our government has failed to pass any sane gun laws protecting children. As of July 31, 2019, there had been 248 mass shootings, 246 people killed and 979 injured. Given the number of shootings this year, it averages out to a mass shooting every 1.2. days. These statistics were valid as of July 31st. Since then there have been the shootings in Texas and Ohio. Therefore, there have been 250 mass shootings this year (it’s only August) and we are still waiting on the total number of people who have been killed or injured.

Initially after the recent shootings, the President said we would definitely be taking action and there would be universal background checks. Today he made a public statement from the Oval Office that there would be no universal background checks. He stated that the people who helped him win the election would not be happy with universal background checks. He had been speaking to the chairman of the NRA today. Therefore it appears, the money the NRA donates to his campaign is more important than the children of the United States.

Last week the President tried to say it was a mental health issue and he said that again today. He also reinforces the negative stigma about mental health in our country. When he refers to a mental health issue, he also calls the people “sick” and states they need to be looked up. The research clears shows that people with mental health issues pose a danger to themselves by cutting or committing suicide. The research clearly shows that people with mental health issues are rarely dangerous to society. The Director of the American Psychiatric Association issued a statement last week stating the same information.

Mental health is not an issue with mass shootings, hate is the issue. In fact this week, three men planing mass shootings were arrested. One of the men arrested issued a statement that he was planing the shooting because he hated anyone who was not white. He was also at the Charlottesville protest and stated to a reported he believed in only a nation for white people and was advocating killing anyone who was Jewish. This man is not being labeled as mental ill. He is being charged with charges related to a Hate crime. Again in order to be charged with a Hate crime you must be attacking someone because you hate them due to their ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation etc. The Klu Klux Klan has held rallies and have been accused of killing people for years, but no one in the group is labeled mentally ill. The KKK is labeled as a hate group.

So when I have children coming into my office saying they are afraid of being killed and the mass shooter drills scare them, what do I say to them? How can I say we are doing everything we can to protect them, when our government is not doing anything. Children hear things and they will know that I am lying. Most would have heard some where that the President refused universal background checks. For therapy to work, the children need to trust me. If I lie, they will not trust me. Also with the statistics I cited for this year alone, how can I tell a child there is nothing to worry about.

The other issue is how do parents get children and teenagers to come to a psychotherapist’s office. The President has been on national television stating all mass shooting is due to mental illness. He refers to the people as “sick puppies” and that they need to be “locked up in asylums.” Teenagers and children will be worried that their parents are taking them to my office to be locked up. Many teenagers need psychotherapy. According to the CDC, one out of five children need psychotherapy. Anxiety disorders and depression have increased significantly. Cutting is an epidemic in teenagers and children. I have children as young as 10 who self- mutilate. Also suicide was the third leading cause of death for kids 10 to 18 years old. In the last few months, the CDC changed suicide from the third leading cause of death to the second leading cause of death. There are many children who need psychotherapy, but will be afraid of being locked up and will fight their parents about going to therapy.

Also what about the people who experienced a mass shooting, their family and friends and the first responders, their lives have been changed for ever. They are going to need years of psychotherapy to cope with their PTSD. However, besides be labeled as a victim, they are not going to want to be looked at as a “sick puppy” because they need therapy. This is what they will think and feel because of how the President and Senate have responded to mass shootings. We already have survivors of mass shootings and family members committing suicide because they cannot stand the pain. We have seen the same thing from veterans committing suicide because they did not have access or were embarrassed to seek psychotherapy. When will we learn? When will we stop demonizing mental health?

Since it appears the President will not act, we need to learn from the high school students from the Parkland, Florida shooting and take action ourselves. Remember by acting you may be saving the life of your child or a loved one. Call the Senators for your state and demand sane gun laws and if they are too afraid of the NRA, you will vote against them in the next election. Next, contact Mitch McConnell and demand that he bring the sane gun laws to the Senate floor for a vote. If he received numerous phone calls demanding action or people with be supporting who ever runs against him, he will bring the bills to a vote. He only cares about keeping his senate seat. If he cared about the families devastated by these shootings, he would have been there trying to help instead of staying on vacation. His contact information is below:

Senator Mitch McConnell : U.S. Senate, 317 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 205100001

ph: (202) 224-2541

fax: (202) 224-2499

Some people will say I have no right to be writing this article. However, I see and hear the kids crying daily because they are afraid of being killed or their parents being killed. I also am trained in Critical Indent Debriefing and trauma therapy. I am tired of hearing how the first responders lives are being changed and the night terrors they experience. I am not afraid of the NRA. We have a huge problem with hate and race in our Nation that must be addressed. Also we also do not have adequate mental health services in our Nation. This is why the suicide rate went from the 3rd leading cause of death to the second leading cause of death for kids. Mental health issues is not causing the mass shootings! If it was we would have had the problem in the 1970s and 1980s, but we didn’t.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over twenty years experience treating children and teenagers. He is also trained to treat victims of trauma and to do Critical Incident Debriefing. For more information regarding Dr. Rubino visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3

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Hate is The Problem Not Mental Health

Hate is The Problem Not Mental Health

The United States has an epidemic of mass shootings. According to the CDC, there is a mass shooting every eight days. Furthermore, since Columbine 214,000 students have experienced a school shooting with over 141 students killed. With the shooting at the Gilory Garlic Festival, in El Paso, Texas, Daytona, Ohio and last night Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the statistics from the CDC seem to be right. Since the shooting in Parkland, Florida, teenagers have been marching and contacting Congress to pass sane gun laws. Unfortunately, their requests have been ignored. Instead, the President has decided to blame people who have mental health issues.

Today he again blamed people with mental health issues and said the answer is we need to build more mental health asylums. According to him, these people all need to be locked up. His idea and approach to these mass shootings has only served to increase the negative stigma about mental health issues and those people who are dealing with mental health issues. Besides the solution he proposed, the language he uses reinforces the negative stigma. He has referred to some of the shooters as “sick puppies.” These shooters who have committed these terrible crimes have done horrific things to families and communities, but they are still human beings.

His idea that all mass shooters have a mental illness is ignorant and wrong. Most mass shooters have been single, white males. Additionally, the Chairman of the American Psychiatric Association issued a statement last week documenting that most people with mental illness are dangers to themselves more than others. I have been treating people for various mental health issues for over 20 years. During that time I have dealt with many patients who were suicidal, cutting or burning themselves and trying to starve themselves. They were all hurting themselves and did not want anyone else to get hurt. I have never had a patient threaten to hurt others physically. Therefore, my work and the work of my other colleagues support the statement by the American Psychiatric Association. Patients with mental illnesses are rarely violent to others they tend to be dangerous to themselves.

Many people are afraid to seek help for themselves or their teenagers for fear of what will happen if they are diagnosed with a mental health issue such as depression. They are afraid of losing health insurance, not being able to get a job or their teen may not be able to get into a college. Overall they are afraid of becoming society outcasts and losing their rights. The way the President has referred to shooters as “sick puppies” has only served to reinforce the negative stigma about mental health issues. If he is saying people with mental health issues need to be locked up in asylums, people are going to be less likely to seek help. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for teenagers. If we take the President’s approach, it will become the number one cause of teenage deaths.

The President did get one aspect of the shootings right. He stated hate is involved. When these shooters are investigated they all have hate towards certain groups. These mass shootings are hate crimes. Hate crimes were created for people who are victims of a crime due to their ethnic background, religion or sexuality. To be charged with a hate crime you need to hate someone not be mentally ill. The Klu Klux Klan has been terrorizing and killing people for years due to someone’s ethnicity or religion. No one has ever called a member of the KKK mentally ill. People refer to the KKK and other groups like them as hate groups not mentally ill groups. So instead of blaming mass shootings on people who have mental illnesses, why don’t we address the source of the problem? Everyone of these shooters have left writings and social media posts showing their hate for a particular group and their plans to kill as many people as they can that belong to this group. Hate is the problem.

We do not need asylums to help people with mental health issues. We need more community based programs and we need insurance companies to cover the necessary treatment a person needs if they have a mental health issues. Most people are born with mental health issues such as depression or develop an issue such as PTSD or traumatic brain injury from a car accident or being exposed to a traumatic event. Therefore, mental health issues are really not that different than physical health issues except there is funding to treat physical health issues and not enough to treat mental health issues.

If you are dealing with a mental health issue, please ignore the President and seek treatment. You will not be put into an asylum. If you are having issues, the sooner you seek treatment the better. The only time a person is hospitalized is if you are actively suicidal. This means you have decided to kill yourself and have everything ready to do it. Otherwise, you do not need to worry about being hospitalized.

Please write your Senator and demand that they pass sane gun laws so children are safe to go to school. Also ask for stricter laws for perpetuators of hate crimes. Finally ask for funds for community mental health centers and mental health education. We need to educate the public about mental health issues so we can remove the stigma the President is promoting.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating teenagers and children. He is also a founding member of the National Street Soldier Advisory Board, a community based program for teenagers. For more information about his work visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3

The Truth is Teenagers Do Need Sleep

The Truth is Teenagers Do Need Sleep

Summer is coming to an end and school is beginning. This means kids and teenagers will not be able to stay up late and sleep in. Many kids feel they did fine over the summer, so sleep in not really as important as adults say. However, a new study was published again showing how important sleep is for children and teenagers. Here is the link to the study ChildrensMentalHealthWeek.org.uk/Research. Sleep is very important for children and teenagers. In fact, as you see research shows that sleep has a big impact on our mental health and physical health. Research continues to show that sleep deprivation can cause a person to suffer a psychotic break or if the depreciation is really severe it can even result in a person’s death. I received some very good information regarding sleep and mental health. It was provided by Jenny Thompson who is associated with http://www.bettermattressreviews.com. Given it is children’s mental health week, I think it is valuable information for everyone so I have provided it below.

Mental health and sleep are closely related. Sleep problems frequently accompany mental illness, and can even be the first warning sign of a disorder. In turn, lack of sleep worsens mental health symptoms, creating a vicious cycle.

Mental illness is common, with almost 20 percent of Americans suffering from at least one mental health disorder. While only 10 to 18 percent of the general population experience sleep issues, as many as 50 to 80 percent of people with mental illness have trouble sleeping.

Mental health disorders are the largest cause of insomnia. 40 percent of insomniacs and over 46.5 percent of hypersomnias have a comorbid mental health disorder. On the other hand, only 16.4 percent of people have a mental health disorder without any kind of sleep issues.

Sleep problems are closely correlated with ADHD, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia. Below we’ll review how sleep affects several mental health disorders, and provide tips for getting better sleep.

Schizophrenia and sleep

Schizophrenia affects 1 percent of people, or 3 million Americans. Onset often occurs in late adolescence or the early 20s. Individuals with schizophrenia suffer from psychoses such as delusions and hallucinations, and experience difficulty focusing their thoughts and expressing themselves.

Up to 80 percent of people with schizophrenia have sleep problems, including:

Irregular sleeping hours. They may fall asleep anytime during the day or night rather than during the typical overnight sleep period of most people. They may have consistently delayed melatonin release that shifts their sleep pattern later than normal, slowly shift their circadian rhythm later and later each day, or follow no consistent sleep-wake patterns at all.

Irregular sleep quantity. They may get too much (hypersomnia) or too little (insomnia) sleep, as a result of medication side effects, fear or anxiety due to hallucinations (which may cause them to sleep more to escape, or conversely to be afraid of nightmares), or the irregular sleep hours cited above.

Sleep apnea. Individuals with sleep apnea literally stop breathing during the night, due to blocked airways or a miscommunication between the brain and the breathing muscles.

Less refreshing sleep overall. Due to the issues described above, people with schizophrenia experience less refreshing sleep overall because they have trouble getting sufficient amounts of REM sleep.

For many people with schizophrenia, an onset of sleep problems can be a warning sign that psychosis is starting or returning.

A 2012 study of mice found that abnormalities in the SNAP-25 gene are linked to schizophrenia as well as disrupted sleep-wake cycle, suggesting that resolving sleep issues may less or resolve schizophrenia symptoms.

Anxiety disorders and sleep

Generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social phobias, and PTSD are all associated with having anxious thoughts while trying to fall asleep at night and related insomnia.

Source: The National Academies Press

Panic episodes may waken an individual with panic disorder from sleep, thus disrupting their overall sleep quality. Likewise, individuals with PTSD are prone to vivid re-experiencing traumatic nightmares which heighten their bedtime anxiety and also cause interrupted sleep.

Individuals with mood and anxiety disorders may be prescribed various medications such as antidepressants and mood stabilizers which can further interfere with sleep.

Insomnia not only accompanies anxiety; it can cause it. When individuals experience chronic sleep deprivation, it disrupts their serotonin and gamma-Aminobutyric acid neurotransmitter levels, which can result in anxiety. One study found that having insomnia increased one’s risk to have yet another mood or anxiety disorder one year later.

Depression and sleep

Insomnia is one of the biggest risk factors for depression. Lack of sleep worsens mood, and the effect is even worse for individuals with a mood disorder. Depressed people with sleep issues have a higher risk of suicide than depressed individuals without sleep problems.

Treatment is also complicated. While antidepressants boost mood and alertness to help treat depression, that same alertness makes the insomnia persist – and not addressing the insomnia can make individuals less responsive to treatment. But certain prescription drugs for insomnia, like Rozerem, may worsen depression. The key is to find a treatment plan that helps both issues, but not at the expense of either.

Depression and sleep issues are bidirectional. That means the problems of one can worsen the other. The good news is, that also means the improvement of one often fixes the other. For example, 35 million Americans suffer from mild depression (dysthymia). For many, their comorbid insomnia goes away once they begin taking antidepressants.

Bipolar disorder and sleep

Bipolar disorder affects 3 percent of Americans, or 6 million adults. In addition to severe changes in mood, behavior, and energy levels, individuals with bipolar disorder may also experience the following sleep problems:

Insomnia, or difficulty falling or staying asleep

Hypersomnia, or oversleeping, especially during depressive episodes

General sleeplessness, where individuals feel fine even when they’ve had significantly less sleep, although this abnormal sleeping pattern eventually catches up with them

Delayed sleep phase syndrome, where the individual has a delayed circadian rhythm, causing them to naturally start to fall asleep or wake up later than others and experience excessive daytime sleepiness as a result

Irregular sleep-wake patterns from manic episodes and related hyperactivity at night

REM sleep issues like vivid nightmares

Sleep apnea affects one-third of individuals with bipolar disorder, resulting in less restful sleep overall and excessive daytime sleepiness

For individuals with bipolar disorders, different sleep issues may arise depending on when they are in a manic or depressive state.

In fact, for 75 percent of individuals with bipolar disorder, sleep problems are one of the biggest warning signs that they are about to experience a manic episode. For example, sleep loss from chronic sleep deprivation or even a night of jet lag can induce a manic episode. Manic periods are so arousing that individuals can go for days without sleep, or sleep drastically less amounts than usual and not feel tired. However, that lack of sleep makes its mark in other ways, as they’ll still experience the other symptoms of sleep deprivation felt by everyone, including increased irritability, trouble focusing, reduce judgment, depressed mood.

As they enter depressive episodes, bipolar people may experience insomnia or hypersomnia, both extremes which cause further imbalances in mood and increased anxiety.

In between manic and depressive episodes, individuals with bipolar disorder experience poorer quality sleep, occasional insomnia, and interrupted sleep.

Sleep tips for individuals with mental health disorders

There are various psychotherapies that treat mental illness, sleep therapies for sleep problems, and other behavioral changes that can help individuals with mental health disorders sleep better at night.

1. Practice good sleep hygiene.

It all starts with good sleep habits. Good sleep hygiene includes keeping the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, and limiting stimulating activity before bed, such as watching television, using the computer, or engaging in heavy exercise. Heavy meals, as well as alcohol, drugs, and caffeine, should be avoided in the early evening and late night hours.

2. Be careful with napping.

For individuals with excessive daytime sleepiness, power naps of 20 minutes can help give a sense of refreshment. However, naps longer than 20 minutes should be avoided as they can contribute to insomnia later that night.

3. Try sleep therapy.

There are various psychotherapy options that assist individuals with mental health disorders. There are also many specific therapies designed to treat comorbid sleep problems.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has proven very effective for treating insomnia. CBT first helps the patient recognize their harmful or disruptive thought patterns and habits. Then, they learn to replace them with positive thoughts and better ways to cope so they can calm anxieties surrounding sleep as well as the rest of their lives. One study in particular found that six 20-minute sessions of CBT resulted in a nearly 50 percent decrease in insomnia, 20 percent decrease in depression and anxiety, and 25 percent decrease in paranoid thoughts, and 30 percent decrease in hallucinations.

Sometimes taught as part of CBT, meditation and deep breathing exercises can soothe anxious thoughts and help relax the body for sleep. You can find audio files of guided meditation and relaxation exercises on the MIT Medical website.

Sleep restriction therapy involves setting a strict bedtime and waketime, and only staying in bed for that allotted amount of time, regardless of how much sleep the individual actually enjoys. Eventually the body gets used to the new sleep-wake cycle and begins to sleep and wake at the proposed appropriate time. A small 2013 study found that sleep restriction therapy improved sleep and reduced symptoms of insomnia for patients with bipolar disorder.

Chronotherapy works similarly by gradually adjusting the bedtime and waketime. It’s a newer therapy and the research is still bearing out.

Bright light therapy helps reset a person’s circadian cycle and make them feel more awake in the morning. Exercising outside in the morning in areas of bright sunlight can provide a similar effect.

4. Explore natural remedies.

Melatonin supplements help kickstart melatonin production in the brain. These can be helpful for insomnia or anyone who has difficulty falling asleep due to a period of mania or delayed sleep-phase syndrome. Valerian root can also help induce sleep. Both melatonin supplements and valerian root are widely available at pharmacies.

5. Keep a sleep diary.

If you’re concerned you may have a comorbid sleep disorder, a sleep diary can help you track your sleep habits. Note when you fell asleep and when you woke up, the total amount of time you were asleep, and anything abnormal that happened during your sleep, such as nightmares or snoring. If you find you’re not getting enough sleep, you can meet with a sleep specialist for a diagnosis and share your diary with them.

You may also want to consult a mental health professional for an evaluation and/or your primary care physician.

Dr. Rubino has over 20 years experience as a psychotherapist treating children and teenagers. Many children and teenagers have undiagnosed sleep problems. For more information regarding Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his websites http://www.rcs-ca.com or http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or visit his Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.

We Need to Stop Placing a Negative Stigma on Mental Health

We Need to Stop Placing a Negative Stigma on Mental Health

Mental health is a topic we tend to avoid in our society. We avoid it so much that the month of May is dedicated to Mental Health Awareness. Many people are afraid that if other people know they are feeling down or anxious that people will think they are crazy. Many people think of someone living in the streets when you mention mental health. This is not reality. This negative stigma makes it difficult for adults to seek help for mental health issues. This negative stigma also makes it very difficult for children to ask for help when they feel depressed or anxious. They are afraid their friends won’t understand and won’t want to be friends with them. They are also afraid their parents will think they are crazy and be disappointed with them. These ideas are incorrect, but if mental health is overwhelming for an adult, imagine how it can be for a child.

It is very important that children and teenagers do ask for help when they are experiencing mental health issues. The CDC estimates 1in 5 children need psychotherapy for a mental health issue. Furthermore, the CDC has stated that Suicide is an epidemic for children between the ages of 10 and 18 years old. Cutting, self-harming behaviors, are also now at an epidemic rate in children. Most teenagers I work with, as a psychotherapist, have had suicidal thoughts and have cut before starting therapy with me. They also tell me about many of their friends who are feeling suicidal and cutting. According to the CDC, the Suicide rate and the number of teenagers engaging in self-harming behaviors has been increasing every year for the past decade.

While the need for teenagers needing psychotherapy is increasing, the reluctance to attend psychotherapy is increasing. Most teenagers I see for psychotherapy are afraid that their friends would stop being their friends if they knew they were going to therapy. They are afraid it makes them crazy and nothing will help because they are weak. They blame themselves for the feelings they are having. They are shocked when I explain that they are not weak and it is not their fault.

We need to change this stigma associated with mental health. Mental health should be treated the same way a physical health because they are the same. Clinical depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. If some one is diabetic, do we call them crazy or weak because their pancreas is not producing the correct level of insulin? No we do not. Therefore, when we have numerous research studies which show a link between physical health and mental health, why do we continue to view mental health so negatively? By doing so we are causing a number of teenage deaths. Suicide use to be the third leading cause of death for teenagers, however now according to the CDC it is the second most common cause. Many teens also die every year from eating disorders. Eating disorders occur in both girls and boys despite the belief girls only have eating disorders. Bullying is a severe problem and many teenagers are opting to commit suicide rather than discuss the pain and torture they are experiencing due to being bullied. This does not make sense that teenagers should be dying because the teen or their family are embarrassed to seek treatment.

I was researching this subject and found a video by the Anna Freud Institute. It is called, “We all have mental health.” It is a short video directed at teenagers and middle school students. It discusses the issue in a very relaxed manner and provides teenagers with options for how they can talk about their own feelings. I encourage parents, teachers and anyone who deals with children to watch this video. You may want to watch it with your teen and begin a discussion about feelings. The link to the video is https://youtu.be/DxIDKZHW3-E.

We need to start to change the negative stigma associated with mental health. Besides causing the deaths of teenagers, this stigma effects an entire family. A death impacts everyone in a family. Not being able to talk openly about a death because it was related to a mental health issue, creates more problems for the survivors. Nothing will change until we start to approach mental health differently. I also encourage you to look at the foundation started by Prince William and Henry, Heads Together. It provides a number of ways we can start to change the negative stigma associated with mental health and save lives.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience working with teenagers and children. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.

Mental Health Care is Needed, But People Need Access to Adequate Care

Mental Health Care is Needed, But People Need Access to Adequate Care

Suicide is at an epidemic rate in the United States. According to the CDC it is now the second leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10 to 18 years old. Using a gun in the third most common method of suicide in the United States. For boys it is the most common way to attempt suicide (CDC). For many people this may not be surprising. However, it is time that we seriously try to prevent children from attempting suicide and eliminate this epidemic.

Also since guns are the most common method for boys, the gun issue needs to be addressed too. Especially in light of the mass shooting that have been occurring in the United States. We have had three in the past week and the CDC estimates there is a shooting every 12 days. The President is saying mental health is the major issue involved with mass shootings. He also states we need mental health care, however mental health care is being cut by the government on a regular basis.

Eliminating funding for community mental health care and allowing insurance companies to limit mental health benefits has created major issues for people with mental health issues. As a psychotherapist who treats suicidal teenagers, I have run into numerous difficulties with insurance companies. When I have a suicidal teenager or child, many insurance companies will only allow the child to be seen once a week. If the child is acutely suicidal, often they need to be seen twice a week. Many parents can barely afford their copayments and cannot pay for an additional session on their own. This places a great deal of stress on the parents and places the child in danger.

At times a teenager may need to be hospitalized. This is not an easy answer either. There are not many pediatric or adolescent inpatient psychiatric units in our area. I have had numerous situations where a child or teen may spend over 48 hours in an emergency room because there are no inpatient beds at any of the psychiatric units. In fact, one Thanksgiving I had a mother page me and I had never seen her son before. He was suicidal, but the County hospital said they had no beds and the County hospital gave her my number to call and told her she had to leave the hospital.

If a teenager is hospitalized, often they are only allowed to stay 72 hours and then discharged home. They have to be discharged because the insurance will not authorize more time. It doesn’t matter what the psychiatrist on the inpatient unit recommends. The insurance makes their own decision based on the treatment guidelines. Again this places the child in danger and creates a great deal of stress on the family. Often parents give up and accept the insurance companies decisions. It is too much dealing with a child who wants to die and getting the run around by your health insurance that you have been paying high premiums to for years. Additionally, many times the child or teen is discharged back into my care but I am never notified by the insurance company or hospital and the insurance company does not want my opinion, but they discharge the teen to me for psychotherapy treatment and to monitor.

In addition to the access to mental health care there is the negative stigma associated with it. Many parents wait a few weeks before bringing their teenager to be assessed for suicidal thoughts. They do not wait because they are bad parents, they wait due to the shame. If there child is diagnosed as depressed they are afraid about how people will react to their child and them. In fact, if a child is out of school due to being hospitalized for being suicidal, we instruct the school administrators to tell the staff the teen was out due to appendicitis or a death in the family. They are afraid if teachers or students find out the teen was suicidal that people will think the teen is crazy and not want to associate with the teenager. This may sound bizarre, but it’s true. Most patients schedule their psychotherapy appointments at times when no one will notice they are gone and try to come into the office without anyone seeing them. Our society has a very strong negative stigma about mental health. Many people with mental health issues have difficulty making friends, finding jobs or just being treated as a normal person, if others know they have mental health issues. This stigma is causing many people not to seek help. As a result, many teens due commit suicide because they kept their feelings a secret. They did not want to be labeled a “freak.” However, this stigma is ruining the lives of many children and teenagers and destroying numerous families.

Mental health care is no different from physical health care. No one is ashamed of being diabetic so why should a teen have to be ashamed of having depression? We must demand that insurance companies treat physical and mental health care the same. Additionally, our society needs to treat them the same and not be afraid of someone who is depressed or embarrassed if you are diagnosed with depression.

Finally, the last issue I want to address is the method many teenagers use. Many teenage boys use guns because they believe no one can stop them and it is guaranteed to work. However, this is a myth. Guns have a strong kick to them when fired and often move slightly. Many teenage boys try to commit suicide with a gun and instead of committing suicide, they shot their face off. Instead of dying they end up in ICU in worse condition having to undergo numerous surgeries and being scared for life. This is one reason why we need sane gun laws. We have laws about how old you have to be to drive or smoke. We also have laws mandating that we must where seat belts. We have these laws because research has shown they make us safer. These laws have not restricted our freedom so sane gun laws will not restrain our freedom.

The ABC News show 20/20 did a story about a young man who was depressed and finally attempted suicide with a gun. It goes into all the difficulties he faced when the gun moved. He was fortunate because he was eligible for one of the first face transplants. However, this story shows the destruction that occurs when they use a gun as their method of suicide and it fails. Please watch and see what this young man and his family must undergo. While watching the after effects of this failed suicide attempt, think about how senseless it is the millions of teens and families undergo this situation when it could have been prevented if they were not ashamed and had easy access to mental health care. Please watch this show, 26-year-old’s incredible face transplant journey: ‘I see me’ – ABC News – https://abcn.ws/2OLXuL5 via @ABC.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating teenagers and children. He is an expert at treating suicidal children and teenagers. For more information about his work or private practice or if there is an issue you would like him to address visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.

The Lies Schools Tell Parents about IEPs

The Lies Schools Tell Parents about IEPs

The school year is starting soon and students with IEPs or 504 plans will be having their yearly review deciding if a child still qualifies for an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) or a 504 plan. Also for parents who requested their child be evaluated for an IEP, they will soon be having their initial IEP meeting to determine if the child qualifies for an IEP. I have posted this article before, but it appears I need to post it again. Once again, I have been hearing from parents all over the country who are afraid about lies they are hearing from their child’s school. Many of these parents are panicked and overwhelmed. They know their child needs help at school, but they do not want to ruin their child’s future. Additionally, many parents do not know what their child is legally entitled to and the school districts take advantage of this fact.

The issue that parents are feeling confused about is should their child have an IEP or a 504 plan. An IEP is for children who are having difficulty learning subjects in the classroom. They do not have an IEP because they are not intelligent. They have an IEP because they have a different learning style. I have seen numerous parents and received numerous emails from parents stating their child’s school has told them an IEP would mark their child for life as unintelligent and possibly bankrupt the school district. None of these remarks are true.

An IEP will not stop your child from getting into a college or getting a job as an adult either. Not having a decent education can stop your child from getting into college or getting a job. Therefore, if your child needs an IEP and not a 504 Plan in order to benefit from their education, not having an IEP could stop your child from getting into college or a job because they failed to receive a proper education.

Also think about when you applied for college or a job, did they ever ask for your middle school or elementary school records? The answer is no. Therefore, there is no way for a college or job to know if your child ever had an IEP unless your child volunteers the information when they apply for college or a job. Once again, colleges and jobs never ask an applicant if they ever had an IEP. Actually, an IEP can help students receive additional time taking the SAT and ACT and assist them in college if they need it. So actually, it can help a child applying to college.

As for the idea that an IEP will bankrupt the school district, this is absurd. The school districts have plenty of money to provide children who need an IEP with an IEP. A 504 plan costs the district nothing and if the district fails to comply with the 504 plan, you really have no legal recourse. However, an IEP is a legal agreement and the laws governing IEPs are the same in every state in the United States. Also if a school doesn’t comply with an IEP, you have a number of options including legal options.

Also parents please do not pay to have your child psychologically tested or undergo any educational testing by a private mental health clinician. Legally, the school district does not have to accept these tests results. The school has the right to do all testing first. If you disagree with the school’s tests results, you can contest the results and request that your child be re-evaluated by an independent clinician. If you request an independent evaluation, you can select who does the testing and the school district must pay for the independent evaluation not you.

The only testing schools currently are not doing are assessments for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Too many children were being diagnosed with ADHD and now these assessments need to be done by a mental health clinician in private practice. These evaluations you do have to pay for.

Another issue I am receiving a large number of emails about is that the school is not doing anything. Parents are saying they are hearing from the school that their child is distracted in the classroom and not doing well on tests or homework. However, the school is not doing anything. If you feel your child needs to be assessed, you need to submit a written letter requesting the evaluations to the principal. Requesting it verbally does nothing. Legally you must submit a written letter to the school principal in order to start the IEP process.

Another suggestion, parents before you panic or feel guilty about not signing that you agree with the assessments by the school because the school is pressuring you to accept their recommendations, stop and think. Look at the proposed plan and decide do you think this is really what your child needs or is the school bullying you into signing their proposed plan. If you have doubts, don’t sign the agreement and seek a second opinion. You are the one in charge not the school. The school district cannot do anything until you sign the agreement. I have seen many parents made to feel guilty if they do not sign the school’s plan. You are not a bad parent if you do not sign right away, you are a cautious parent. If you do not agree with the proposed IEP plan, you can sign that you disagree and do not accept the proposed plan. There is a space on the form for you to do so. If you reject the plan, you will not ruin your child’s education. If you reject the plan, it simply means the school district needs to do more work to develop an acceptable plan. However, I have seen many school districts doing what is best for them financially not what is best for your child and making parents feel guilty. There is no need to feel guilty if you do not accept, the first option presented. Think about it when you are selling or buying a house, you do not automatically accept the first offer and you do not feel guilty.

If parents are divorced, you face some additional challenges especially if you are having difficulties co-parenting with your ex-spouse. Some districts have called the parent who is more willing to sign and gets them to agree to sign and close out the IEP. I have also heard stories where the district encourages the arguing between the parents to get the parents to drop the process or for one to become so angry the parent signs the IEP to irritate the other parents. Yes it sounds unbelievable, but I have seen it happen many times.

I encourage any parent dealing with the IEP process or a 504 plan to take things slow. Ask all the questions you need and seek a second opinion if you feel you need one. You do not have to sign any documentation right away. Remember, you can sign that you do not agree and need more time. School districts are going to push you to sign right away, but legally you have every right to take some time and consider their proposal. Please do not be afraid to assert your rights. You are doing what best for your child’s education and future by taking time to review everything.

For more information about IEPs and 504 plans visit the website http://www.lucascenter.org.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist and has worked with children and families for over 20 years. He also worked as an Intern at AB3632 for 2 years. AB3632 is a California program that provides counseling services for children in Special Education. They also participate in IEPs on a regular basis. Dr. Rubino has been an IEP Advocate for over 20 years. For more information about Dr. Michael Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website http://www.rcs-ca.com or http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or http://www.Lucascenter.org.

A Generation of Children have Grown UP Afraid

A Generation of Children have Grown UP Afraid

Almost 18 years ago the 9/11 terrorist attack occurred changing our lives forever. This attack changed our Country and the world our children grow up in. Anyone who is over 30 years old grew up in a world where there were good times and then there were bad times. So people over 30 years old learned that life has ups and downs. However, for anyone born in the year 2000 or later, never had this experience of the world. They grew up with warnings about potential terrorist attacks and 20 years of mass shootings mainly at schools. They have lived in a world of chaos.

The majority of people who are under 30 years old have grown up in a world where there has been one tragedy after another. People in this generation have experienced the tragedy of 9/11 attacks, the wars in Iran and Afghanistan, and hearing nightly on the news about terrorist attacks and terrorist threats.

In addition to hearing about terrorist attacks around the world children growing up in the current generation have also had to deal with mass shootings at schools, and shopping centers over the past twenty years. No one who is over 30 years old had to deal with mass school shootings throughout the country, while they were growing up. Furthermore in addition to the violence that the current generation has had to endure they have also had to deal with the uncertain financial situation of our country. Children in this generation have heard about the possibility of the economy collapsing and in addition many children in this generation have experienced their parents losing their jobs and as a result also losing their homes. As a result, children growing up today are facing the facts they may never own a home and financially they may not do as well as their parents.

What has this done to our children? From my experience as a psychotherapist who works with children and teens, I have seen a devastating impact on children growing up today. Many of the children I work with carry knives with them. They tell me they need the knives for protection. Many of the kids I treat have told me, they don’t know if they will live to be 30 because of today’s violence. When they are faced with 3 mass shootings in less than one week and one of those shootings occurred at the Gilory Garlic Festival, you can start to understand why they may be thinking this way.

I have also seen an increase in depression and anxiety. With the violence children experience at school and when their family cannot afford housing or food, they see no hope for a future. Yes in the United States, there are many children who are homeless and hungry. In fact, the rate of homelessness and hunger for children is higher in the United States than some third world countries.

As a result, many children and teenagers are looking for an escape and they are finding unhealthy ways to escape. The suicide rate in our country has increased every year. It is now the second leading cause of death for children in the United States. Children as young as 8 years old are committing suicide. In addition to suicide, children and teenagers are turning to drugs. We are not talking about marijuana, we are talking about meth, crack and heroin and new drugs such as Pink and Coco. If you go on to any middle school campus in the United States today, you can find whatever drug you want. As drug use has increased so have the number of children overdosing on drugs. In the United States, approximately 125 kids overdose on drugs every day and the number is climbing.

In addition to these factors, gangs and crime among teenagers are on the rise. Why are they on the rise? The teens believe their fellow gang members will help protect them if someone tries to jump them. Since they have no faith in the government or the economy, the only way to get what you need is to steal it. According to the way many teens are starting to think. They see no problem in what they are doing because they feel they are just living by the rules that the adults have established.

This is no way for a child to grow up. They should not have to be afraid of being killed because of their religion, race or sexual orientation. The feelings that I have described above cross all lines in our society. I have heard these feelings from white teens, African-American teens, Hispanic teens etc. I have also heard these feelings from teenagers whose families are very well to do and those that are homeless.

I am not only hear teenagers expressing their concerns in my office, we are now seeing teenagers expressing their concerns publicly. Since the shooting in Parkland, Florida, teenagers have been appearing on television news shows and holding rallies demanding that our Government change gun laws so they may feel safer going to school. With the 3 mass shootings in less than a week, teenagers are asking again for sane gun laws, so they can go to school and not be afraid of being killed. However, teenagers are seeing the Government doing nothing and playing politics. When teenagers in our country are banning together to tell us how afraid they are about today’s world, we need to listen.

Dr. Michael Rubino is an expert at treating teenagers and children. He has been treating teens and children for over 20 years for more information about his work or private practice visit his website at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or follow him on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.