Eliminating the Mental Health Stigma

Eliminating the Mental Health Stigma

For many years many people have avoided seeking mental health care due to the negative stigma associated with it. However, this stigma has cost many teenage lives and the lives of veterans. Suicide for teens has recently moved from the third leading cause of death for children 10 to 18 years old to the second leading cause of death (CDC). Veterans from Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan to name a few of our recent wars, are more likely to develop PTSD and have significantly higher rates of suicide compared to the general population.

Now for many years many of us have accepted that there is no way to remove the stigma associated with mental health. However the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex started the non-profit HeadsTogether. One of their many goals is removing the negative stigma associated with mental health. Their efforts are paying off and they are changing how people view mental health in England.

Now Seth Moulton, a democratic candidate for President, has proposed a plan to expand mental health care for military and vets. His plan also includes providing mental health checkups for all teenagers and establishing a mental health emergency number similar to the 911 emergency system. You may not like what he stands for but take the time to read the mental health plan he proposed. It could save many teenagers from committing suicide. It could also identify possible teenagers who may be the perpetrators of a mass school shooting before it happens. It also would provide active military and veterans with the mental health support they need https://politi.co/2Kb3Chr via @politico.

It has the possibility of doing all of this and removing the stigma associated with mental health. This plan makes physical health and mental health equal. Research shows they are equal. Physical and mental health issues are tied together so why shouldn’t we treat them the same?

Dr. Michael Rubino is an adolescent psychotherapist with over 20 years experience working with teens and children. For more information about his work visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com.

Memorial Day A Day We Need to Look at Our Actions

Memorial Day A Day We Need to Look at Our Actions

It’s Memorial Day weekend and it’s also the beginning of graduations too. For many teenagers this means parties, hanging out with friends and staying out late. It’s a popular weekend to celebrate by drinking and some head for the beaches or swimming pools depending on the area you live in. Most people assume these are every day activities and everyone will have a good time.

However, this is not reality. Every year 5,000 teenagers are killed in motor vehicle accidents and 400,000 are injured (CDC statistics). These injures may range from cuts and bruises to someone being paralyzed by breaking their back. Concussions are very common and can have life long effects on someone.

Also regarding swimming, there are 3,500 accidental drowning every year. And out of these drownings 1 out of 5 are teenagers (CDC statistics). This is the number who die. It doesn’t include brain injuries due to lack of oxygen to the brain or breaking a neck by diving. A broken neck can result in death, paralysis or being in a Halo Brace for 6 months. Again this is an activity we assume is safe and nothing would happen swimming in a friend’s pool. These injuries can occur in car accidents too.

With it being the Memorial Day weekend and the beginning of graduations and graduation parties, there are going to be a lot of parties and drinking. There are also going to be a lot of drunk driving accidents, drownings and accidental overdosing. You have no way to know if your teenager or your family might be one of the unlucky families this weekend. It could be your teen who is killed or it could be you.

You never know what is going to happen in life. Especially given everything that is happening all over the world. And if you look at the above statistics, you never know when or if something is going to happen.

A mother experienced this fact when her son committed suicide. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for teenagers (CDC). After that she wrote the following poem to her son. She also encouraged all parents of teenagers to remember to say “I love you,” to your teenager. You may not get another chance.

I Love You

How could you?

They asked you,

How could you?

But you could not answer

As you were not here.

Why would you?

They asked you,

Why would you?

But their questions fell onto

The world’s deafest ears.

I loved you!

They told you,

I loved you.

But they told you too late,

Through their tears.

I’ll miss you,

They told you,

I’ll miss you.

And in death now

They hold you more dear.

The point is don’t take the risk. Since you never know what may happen and many teens feel that their parents don’t care, take the opportunity while you have it to express your feelings. Don’t spend the rest of your life regretting I never told him I loved him or wondering if that would have made the difference.

Also the ironic part to this weekend is it really a time to honor the men and women who have served in the military. To remember all those soldiers who have been killed, injured for life or coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or a Traumatic Brain Injury, so we can benefit from a democracy that allows us the freedom to live our lives how we want to live life. So we can go to church if we want and express our opinions without having to fear for our lives.

However, over time we have forgotten the meaning of today. Therefore, we do not value what we have and take chances with our lives we do not need to take. We also forget the veterans who are paralyzed or trying to cope with PTSD and reliving the war they were in daily. This also has a major impact on veteran’s families too. Another fact we forget.

May be if we take a few minutes to remember the true meaning of this weekend, we will value life more and be less likely to take senseless chances such as driving drunk. We may also remember the veterans who are still struggling with their injuries today and ensure they get the help they need and deserve. Many do not and as a result the suicide rate for veterans is very high compared to the general population. There are few treatment option for them too. A very sad fact when they provided us with the freedom we enjoy daily.

Dr. Rubino is a psychotherapist is Pleasant Hill who specializes in treating children and teenagers. He has over 20 years of working with teens. To find out more about his work, his private practice or to contact him visit his website at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.

IEP Categories Parents May not know

IEP Categories Parents May not know

Many parents are mislead and believe their child must be 2 grade levels behind before they qualify for an IEP. Here are the 14 ways a child qualifies for an IEP. The 2 grade level behind is not the only way., Therefore watch this video and learn about all 14 categories. This will help you when the school tries to not provide an IEP or remove one because your child is not 2 grade levels below in a subject. You will know all the categories that apply to your child and entitles your child to an IEP. Special Education Categories https://youtu.be/cFtg2xub10E via @YouTube

Respect is A Two Way Street

Respect is A Two Way Street

As an adolescent psychotherapist one of the major issues I deal with is respect. Teenagers feel disrespected by their parents and parents feel dissected by their teenagers. At this time of year with high school graduations and teenagers graduating from middle school, this issue becomes more intense especially regarding boundaries and plans for summer activities since there is no school.

Yes it is true that as teenagers you are becoming young adults and that you should be able to handle more responsibility. The big word in that last sentence is SHOULD. Just because you have graduated from middle school or high school doesn’t mean you are in charge of or that you are ready to handle all aspects of your life. You are a YOUNG adult. Noticed I capitalized the word young. There are still a number of life experiences for you to learn from and until you do, your parents are responsible for and probably need to help you.

A number of you have heard your parents say when you are 18 years old you can do as you like. This is the case if you are in a situation where you can financially support yourself and provide for all your needs. If you are still financially dependent on your parents, even though you are 18, your parents do have a right to set certain rules that you need to follow.

Prior to you turning 18, any trouble you get into, your parents are legally responsible for the damage. If you damage property, your parents are legally responsible. If you get arrested and put in Juvenile Hall, your parents receive a bill from County for the length a time you were in Juvenile Hall. These are just a few examples that your parents have being your parent.

You may think that you do not need your parents, but you need their permission to drive and basically for anything you want to do in life. Even if they give you permission to drive and you get your license, they have the ability to have your driver’s license suspended at any time they want while you are under the age of 18.

As I started off as a teenager you SHOULD be able to handle more responsibility. This responsibility is not an automatic gift you receive when you turn 13. This respect you so desperately want is something you have to earn. How do you earn it? You earn it by respecting the rules that your parents have set and by taking care of your responsibilities – for a teen, your primary responsibility is school. This means going to school on a regular basis, doing your homework, earning decent grades and not making poor choices such as drinking alcohol or drugs. For teenagers who have graduated high school you may feel the above guidelines do not apply to you. However, if you parents are assisting to pay for college, your living expenses and such things as your health insurance, the guidelines apply to you too. You may say this is unfair, well welcome to the adult world.

Ask your parents how many times they have to do something at work they feel is unfair, but if they want their job they have to do it. Ask your parents how many days they get up tired or not feeling well and they would prefer to stay home from work, but they still go to work. They go to work because the have a family to support and bills to pay. Your parents want you to succeed in life. If you feel they really are not giving you enough freedom, then ask your parents if you can discuss this issue with them. However, ask in a mature, respectful manner do not demand a conversation. When you discuss the issue with your parents have some things you have been doing, e.g., your homework, respecting curfew, that demonstrate you can handle more responsibility. Do not just demand it because your friends have it.

Remember the respect and maturity that you want, you must earn. You earn it by respecting your parents, other adults and recognizing that you have responsibilities. You do not get it because you turned 13 or because you graduated high school. This can be a difficult time of life, but it can be a time when you learn a lot about the world and yourself. If you remember you need to earn your parents trust and you actively try to do so, your parents will work with you and start to trust you. The choice is yours, you can make your teen years difficult or make them easier by working with your parents – you decide.

Parents while your teenagers have a lot to learn and do need to demonstrate they can handle responsibility, you need to give them opportunities to earn your respect. You have to have faith in your teenager and say yes sometimes even when you have doubts. Obviously you start by saying yes to the little request and allow them to earn your respect. Also if you have doubts or concerns talk to your teenager about high school or college. If you have open minded conversations with your teenager, they will respect and trust you. This provides a situation where you and your teen can have open, honest conversations in the good and bad times. It can help you develop a closer relationship with your teen and you can assist your teenager in becoming a responsible young adult you can be proud of.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating adolescents and children. To learn more about his work or private practice visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or http://www.rcs-ca.com or his Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.

Taking Control of Your Child’s IEP

Taking Control of Your Child’s IEP

Many parents do not know what to expect at an IEP meeting. In fact many parents don’t know the difference between a 504 plan and an IEP. As a result many parents settle for a 504 when they need an IEP.

I have included a link to an article that will help you take control of your child’s IEP. If you take the lead your child will get what they need to achieve at school. If your child is having difficulties at school and may need an IEP not a 504 schools push. Read this article so you are the leader of your child’s IEP meeting & you get your child what they need to make the most of their education https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/coach-your-iep-team-valerie-aprahamian/

Save Our Children’s Lives

Save Our Children’s Lives

This week we have experienced two more school shootings. The students who attend these schools lives have been changed for ever so have their parents. However, these shootings have resulted in an increase in teenagers who are complaining of anxiety and depression. Many of these teenagers are also afraid to go to school too. I have also been seeing more teenagers being placed on home/hospital for school. This means a teacher comes to the house once a week instead of the teenager going to school. This is an alarming trend.

I have also been hearing more teenagers talking about needing to carry a knife with them for their own safety. They tell me you never know when someone might try to attack you. These are not juvenile delinquents or gang members, these are average teenagers. They come from healthy families and are doing well in school and not involved in drugs. This need they feel to protect themselves is an alarming trend.

However, if you take a step back and look at what these children have seen over their lives it makes sense. Most of these teenagers were very young on 9/11 when the United States was attacked. Since 9/11 they have also seen two wars and heard on the nightly news about terrorist alerts or attacks around the world.

In addition to terrorism, this is the first generation growing up with mass shootings. According to ABC News from 2000 to 2015 there have been 140 mass shootings and since January 1, 2016, there have been more mass shootings than the previous 15 years. According to the CDC statistics on mass shootings every day 36 people are killed in the United States by a gun. This does not include suicides. For teenagers, suicide has risen to the second from the third leading cause of death for children between 10 and 18 years old and using a gun is one of the most popular methods of suicide.

Going back to the mass school shootings, ABC News statistics reported there were more school shootings in 2016 than all the school shootings combined from 2000 to 2015. This is a terrifying fact. CNN News has estimated that since the Parkland shooting in 2018, there has been a school shooting every 11.8 days. Also since January 1, 2019 there have been over 28 school shootings (CDC, NBC News, CNN).

In addition to these facts, children now have to undergo shooter drills at school. When we grew up we had fire drills to practice what to do if there was a fire at school. Now elementary children have active shooter drills. A code is sent to the teachers and students are told to shelter in place and be very quiet. They do not know if it is real or a drill. During one shooter drill a second grader was so afraid she wrote on her arms “I love you mommy and daddy,” in case it was real and she was killed.

No wonder we are seeing a significant increase in anxiety and depression in elementary school students. Imagine the stress kids live with going to school not knowing if they might be killed that day. How is a child supposed to learn under those conditions?

After the Parkland shootings, students and parents were saying never again. These very brave, mature high school students have been speaking out regarding the need for safe and sane gun laws. They were able to get laws changed in Florida, but they have not been able to get the United States Congress to act. I think these brave students may need some help. Parents you are in a position to help. You can also help save future lives maybe even the life of your own child.

Many school districts are provided State and Federal funds based on how many students attend school on a daily basis. This may sound extreme, but look at the statistics. Every year more children are dying due to school shootings and guns. Our government has done nothing to protect our children. Therefore, we may need to use extreme means to get the President’s attention.

I suggest on the Tuesday after Memorial Day that every parent keep their child and Teenager home in memory of all the students and school staff members that have been killed. Also call the office of your US Senator and demand they enact safe and sane gun reform. Also leave a message at the office of the Governor for your state. If they fail to pay attention over the summer, on the first day of school again keep your children home and make the same calls. If the school districts start to show a reduction in attendance they will be in danger of losing State and Federal funding. Therefore, they will place pressure on the U.S Congress too. Unfortunately, it seems like the U.S. Government only acts when money is involved. Therefore, if we want to protect our children we need to play by their rules.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience treating children and teenagers and dealing with victims of trauma. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com, Facebook http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3 or on Twitter @RubinoTherapy

Tobacco Companies Target Teens by Advertising to Parents

Tobacco Companies Target Teens by Advertising to Parents

Cigarette Companies have been banned from advertising cigarettes on television for a while. However, cigarette companies have found a way around the law and are targeting teens again.

Instead of advertising cigarettes they are advertising juuls for adults. Since more places are banning smoking, cigarette companies are advertising the juul as a way adults can use nicotine. However, the nicotine for juuls comes in a variety of flavors such as bubble gum and cotton candy. These ads on television may appear to be targeted at adults but the real targets are teenagers because teens use juuls on a regular basis. Therefore, I have also included part of an article I wrote about juuls so parents are aware what is happening when the television ads run for the juul.

Vaporizing and E cigarettes have been popular with teenagers for a while. Teenagers have used them as a way to use nicotine and marijuana. Parents and schools have started to become aware of vaporizing Pens. However, teenagers have found away to vaporize without it being obvious. Teenagers are now using an object called “Jewel.” This is a very slim, sleek object which looks more like an object for a computer. In fact, it resembles a flash drive which teenagers use on a regular basis.

The reason this is important for parents to be aware of is because vaporizing is very common with a majority of teenagers. They do not feel that it imposes any health risks and many teens say it helps them relax. Many teenagers have been using vaporizing pens since they were 13 years old. Many people assume only teenagers who typically use drugs are vaporizing. However, this assumption is wrong. Students who are considered very good students are vaporizing. According to teenagers, they feel it is healthier than cigarettes and it helps them deal with the pressure of everyday life. Teenagers today do face a great deal of pressure to do it all. To play a sport, be involved with after school activities, take AP classes and maintain at least a 4.0 grade average so they can be accepted to the best colleges. Many teenagers are trying to maintain a 4.5 grade point average. So teenagers today in high school are under a great deal of pressure.

Again many parents may feel this trend doesn’t apply to their teenager. In order to get the point across that this applies to a majority of teenagers, even those with a 4.5 grade point average, I have included a link to a video https://youtu.be/gjYT4YG7jOk. This video contains all types of teenagers who explain how common vaporizing is for teenagers these days. Many say they started vaporizing as young as 13 years old. I know it is very common because as a psychotherapist who treats teenagers, I have had many teens bring their vaporizing pens into their psychotherapy sessions and try to use them.

However, the juul which looks like a flash drive is an easier way for teens to vaporize. While legally you need to be 18 to purchase one, teenagers are able to buy these on line with no problem. Also the juul provides 4 to 5 times the amount of nicotine or marijuana that a vaporizing pen provides. Therefore, the juul puts the teenager’s health at a greater risk and they are more addictive. These devices have been out for about two years. In that time, some schools have become aware of the trend that teenagers are using juuls instead of vaporizing. Because of this fact, another device referred to as a phix is now becoming popular. It also looks like something a teenager needs for a computer. The point is that parents have to be aware all the time regarding issues related to drugs. The illegal drugs and tobacco companies are always developing new ways for teenagers to use. Also age requirements are not a problem since teens can purchase items on line.

So parents are more aware about the juul situation and what they look like, I have included a link to a news report regarding juul use from a schools point of view and a seller of the devices who has concerns about teenagers. Parents please watch this video https://youtu.be/W73NFZy_38o.

Parents may be wondering what do I do? What you need to do is talk to your teenager about these devices explain the risks and ask if they are using them. Also listen to what your teenagers are talking about with their friends and if you hear a term you are not familiar with then research it. Also continue to talk with your teenager about things going on in their lives and decisions they are facing. Many teens are using these devices to decrease the stress the feel to be perfect. Let your teenager know you don’t want them to be perfect. Let them know you are more concerned about them being happy. So if they can’t keep at 4.5 grade point, just do their best. This can help teens a great deal. Many of the teens I work with put the pressure to be perfect on themselves. They assume their parents expect them to be super teenagers. They are shocked and relieved to find out their parents don’t have these expectations. The key is communication. Talk to your teen let them know your expectations and that you will except them no matter what.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with 20 years experience treating teenagers and children. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.

A Common Horror Story Families Endure for An IEP

A Common Horror Story Families Endure for An IEP

This is one family’s experience trying to get their child an IEP and how the school district abused the family. The names have been changed for the family’s privacy. However, this same story happens daily to many families and children.

The story of Tara and her daughter Payton is a common story I have heard many times from families who have children who need an IEP. Prior to the age of 4 years old Payton was diagnosed with a speech and auditory processing difficulties. Payton was behind in her speech developmental milestones and attending preschool to address these issues. However, no one explained to Tara, Payton’s mother, what this diagnosis meant or the prognosis. Neither did anyone explain to Tara about the special education services she was entitled to.

Payton started kindergarten and do to her difficulties she needed to repeat kindergarten. Again, no one explained to Tara, Payton’s mother, how this may impact Payton and they also did not explain any other options, Tara agreed. She was not alarmed because Tara had to repeat kindergarten herself.

However, this started a never ending cycle, where Payton was not meeting the standards for her grade level even when she was receiving Resource Assistance. Tara stated some Resource Teachers were great and others knew very little about auditory processing issues so her daughter received no help.

Tara, watching her daughter struggle, decided to do her own research. She found out more about her daughter’s learning disability and that there was a private school which specialized in this learning disability. Mount Diablo School District continued to lie to Tara as she asked more questions. Also the District went to Payton’s father and lied to him. They told him if Payton’s mother was successfully in getting Payton into the private school, he would have to pay upfront. The District said they would reimburse him later. This is a lie. Also it is not uncommon for the school district to take advantage of a divorce situation and play the parents against each other.

This resulted in a long fight with the school district and in the family court. Payton is in 6th grade and after many years and a great deal of time and money, the fight continues. Mount Diablo School District never looked at the price Payton was paying not receiving the education she is entitled to and having to endure her parents fighting each other in the courts.

This could have been handled very easily if someone was honest with Tara and told her what her daughter was entitled to and if the District followed the legal guidelines. However, they lie to parents all the time hoping parents will give up. If they do, then the District doesn’t need to pay anything and can use the money how they want. Tara was a prime target. A single parent who does not have a lot of time or money. Mount Diablo misjudged Tara, she would not give up on her daughter.

Tara also found out something else parents need to be aware of when dealing with the IEP process. The parent liaisons provided by the district are not there to help the parent or the student. They serve as another way to confuse parents by providing incorrect information to parents. Most parents trust these people believing they are on the student’s side, but they really are there to support the District.

As I said, Tara and Payton’s story is not uncommon. I have worked with many other families who have very similar stories. Parents believe school districts have the students best interest at heart. However, I have worked with families across the United States and what I have seen is that school districts have their best interest at heart not the students. Tara had a very good way of stating the problem, “the child is the one who struggles for not having their needs met academically.  How many more parents are out there with struggling students who have been given the same bad information?  I don’t know.  But we need to help them help their child, or these children will be at risk of drop out and struggling the rest of their life.  The school district is actually helping create children who are unable to get jobs and will be homelessness in our youth, when they become adults.  And that is a very very scary reality, no one wants to talk about because it’s not their child who is at risk, it’s ours!”

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating teenagers and children. In addition he has over 20 years experience serving as an IEP advocate for families. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his websites http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or http://www.LucasCenter.org.

Teens Becoming Dependent on Screens

Teens Becoming Dependent on Screens

Most middle school and high school students have grown up with smart phones and computers for gaming and texting their friends. This brings up the common argument about how much time teens are spending on line. Many parents have concerns that their teenager is addicted to their smart phones and gaming. Teenagers feel that their parents are over reacting and they can’t become addicted to their devices.

However, the truth is teenagers can become addicted to their computer devices. The World Health Organization (WHO) took a step this year and classified “Gaming Disorder” as a formal diagnosis. As I stated, many parents have been concerned about this for years. Also it does not just impact teenagers, as many may think. I have had couples come in for marriage counseling because Gaming was destroying a marriage. For several years the American Psychological Association has said it would be adding Gaming addiction as a formal diagnosis to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, however, so far the APA has not been able to decide on the specific criteria for this diagnosis. What the WHO has done is they have acknowledged what many parents have been reporting for years and helping us to take a step so it is acknowledged as a diagnosis.

The United States appears to be behind other countries in identifying that video game addiction does exist and does create problems for individuals and families. During the Winter Olympics this year, NBC showed centers in Tokyo, Japan and Seoul, South Korea, where people were going for gaming addiction. These rehabilitation centers have been open for years and have treated thousands of people over the years. Therefore, other countries have acknowledged Gaming addiction that United States parents have been reporting for years.

As a psychotherapist who treats teenagers, I would have to agree with the parents and I say Gaming addiction is real. I have seen teenagers become violent, punching holes in walls or physically threatening their parents, if there video games or cellphones are taken away as a punishment. Teenagers I told me they cannot function without their video games or cellphones and will do anything to get them back. This sounds like and look like a problem to me. A cellphone or PlayStation should not be a teenager’s life line.

The statement from the WHO states that the Gaming must be interfering with activities of daily life, such as homework, and be present for at least a year. These guidelines seem sensible to me. Also the WHO cautions that issues such as depression and anxiety need to be ruled out before assigning the diagnosis of Gaming Addiction. Many teenagers who are depressed or dealing with severe anxiety do self-medicate with video games. Finally, the WHO states your child needs to be evaluated by a mental health clinician who specializes in treating and assessing children and teenagers. This is very important because typically children and teenagers do not always have the typical symptoms we associate with depression or anxiety. A clinician experienced in assessing children and teenagers can make the appropriate diagnosis.

I have included a link to a segment on Good Morning America which discusses the diagnosis and other issues I have discussed to assist you in understanding what the WHO is referring to with Gaming Addiction, https://youtu.be/axG1tLdutmY.

The World Health Organization has taken an important step in helping us understand and define a problem many parents have been reporting for years. This is not a bad thing. I view it as a positive step. Technology is moving very fast. In fact, it is moving so fast we cannot keep up with all the new issues we need to deal with as a result of new technology. The more we understand this technology the more we all can benefit and avoid potential serious problems.

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