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.

The Difference between an IEP and 504 Plan

The Difference between an IEP and 504 Plan

WHAT EVERY PARENT NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT AN IEP and A 504 PLAN

By

Dr Michael Rubino

School will be starting soon and many parents will need to decide if their child needs an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) or a 504 plan. Many parents do not know what an IEP is or what a 504 Plan is in regards to a child’s education. Also many parents are not aware of their rights or their child’s educational rights. I receive numerous emails from parents anytime I write about IEPs. Therefore, here is an article describing IEPs and 504 plans for parents.

Parents here is important information about Individualized Education Plans (IEP) and 504 agreements. Besides ensuring that your child receives a good education, you do not need to pay for items such as special computer programs that the school district should be paying for not you. If your child has an IEP the school district is responsible for most educational expenses even a private school if necessary. Please read this article so you understand your rights and your child’s rights.

The beginning of the school year is fast approaching. Besides the mad dash to get ready for school and schools are going to start assessing students to determine if they qualify for an Individualized Educational Program (IEP). I am already hearing from parents how school districts are misleading them and pressuring them to sign an agreement for a 504 before the parents clearly understand the difference between an IEP and 504 plan. The definition for both is further down in this article. An IEP and 504 are not the same. An IEP is legally enforceable and has legal guidelines and time frames. An IEP follows a student from school to school or state to state. A 504 is not legally enforceable and doesn’t follow a child nor are there legal guidelines.

An IEP will not stop your child from getting a job or from getting into college. In fact and college because they still would be entitled to assistance and the State of California may pay for their books. Also educational records are confidential therefore, no one would know your child had an IEP in school.

Many schools say your child must be two grades below in order to qualify for an IEP. If you said your child had a math or reading disability this is true. However, if they have ADHD, Bipolar, school anxiety etc. they can qualify under OTHER HEALTH IMPAIRMENTS. All your child needs is a diagnosis such as ADHD which would interfere with their ability to fully benefit from their learning experience in the classroom. The 2 grade below level qualification doesn’t apply to this category.

Also if you have a child in private school and they would benefit from additional assistance, contact your child’s public school district. Even though they attend private school the public school district is legally obligated to provide your child with services.

One more issue, never pay for outside testing before the school district tests your child. They have the right not to accept any outside testing until they test the child. If you disagree with the district’s testing then you can request an objective testing from an outside professional and you can request that the school district pays for the testing and you can select the evaluator.

An IEP or an Individualized Education Plan is a document that outlines the specialized education services that a student will receive due to their disability. It ensures the student will receive the assistance necessary so they will receive an education.

When most parents hear disability, they usually think of a person in a wheelchair or a student wIth a learning disability. There are various condItions that can qualify as a disability. Depression, Bipolar Disorder or even diabetes. The disability is any condition that will interfere in the student receiving the same education as other students. The students who qualify for an IEP need accommodations which meet the criteria of needing specialized education. As I stated above their are numerous conditions which may qualify a student for an IEP.

if a student does qualify for an IEP, they also qualify for Special Education. Many parents hear this and are afraid or embassies. There is nothing to be afraid of or embossed about. If a student qualifies for Special Education, if the student needs speech therapy or special computer programs, the school district is obligated to provide the services to the student at no expense to the student’s family.

There is also an option called a 504 Plan. This was established in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The 504 plan ensures that a student with a disability will receive accommodations so they will receive the same education as other students. However, the 504 plan does not qualify a student for Special Education services and It is not overseen as closely as an IEP plan.

Currently, many districts are telling parents that their child does not need or qualify for an IEP and a 504 plan is just a good. This is not true. Many school districts are telling parents that their child does not qualify for an IEP because the IEP is more expensive for the district and most districts are trying to save money.The districts take advantage of the fact that as parents, you do not know all the differences between an IEP and a 504 so they can talk a family into a 504 plan easily.

If you find that your child is having difficulties at school due to a learning disability, health issue or emotional issue, consult an outside professional before you automatically assume that the school is giving you the appropriate recommendation.

I see many parents who have been told that their child is better with a 504 plan and that is not the truth. You can consult an educational consultant or a therapist who works with children. You can contact me at via my website http://www.rcs-ca.com. I help many families at their child’s IEP meeting. The main thing is, do not be afraid to ask if your child should have a 504 or an IEP. Also don’t let the district make you feel guilty because you want time to think and investigate the options. This is your child and you should never sign anything until you are sure it is in your child’s best interest.

I have added a link to a chart that will help you compare the two and understand the differences.

504 Plan vs. IEP – Education Centerwww.ed-center.com/504This pages lists the differences between an IEP and a 504 plan.

I have also added a link to a video which helps to explain the differences between an IEP and 504 plan.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience working with children and teens. He also has over 19 years experience working with children in Special Education and was an Intern for the AB3632 program which works with children in Special Ed and IEPs. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com or his new website that deals specifically with IEPs, lucascenter.org.

Children Are Being Traumatized by Mass Shootings

Children Are Being Traumatized by Mass Shootings

Many people tend to assume only people who were directly exposed to a trauma will experience issues related to the trauma. However, this is not the truth. Many people may not have lived through the trauma, but they know someone who did or they were exposed to very explicit images of the trauma or have been hearing about the trauma a lot. This can cause vicarious trauma. Vicarious trauma is when someone is traumatized by an event but they did not experience the event themselves. The knowledge of the event is traumatizing to them. This is happening to many children and families.

Today in most United States schools, the classroom doors are kept lock while class is in session and no one can enter a school campus without checking in with the main office and they must wear an identification badge while on campus. In fact, all school employees must wear official school identification badges while at work. Many elementary students have noticed these changes and have asked why the door must be locked? Students are told it is for their safety. The school is preventing any people who do not belong at the school from getting near the students. No one mentions someone with a gun, but children hear about all the mass shootings and they know why the door needs to be locked. I have many elementary students mention this to me during their therapy sessions.

Now when we were in school we had fire alarm drills in case there ever was a fire in the school. No one thought much about them. Some students felt the fire alarm was too loud but no one really worried about a fire happening at school. We never worried about it because we never heard about any school fires and people dying.

Today students face more than fire alarm drills. Schools routinely have active shooter drills. During these drills students are taught to shelter in place and to remain very quiet so the shooter will not enter their room. Therefore, besides hearing about mass school shootings, school students are practicing what to do in case there is a shooter at their school. Therefore, they hear about the shootings on the news, they are practicing what to do at school in case of a shooter, so they worry about could a shooting happen at their school and could they die. As a result of this fear, I am seeing anxiety disorders increase in children significantly and some even have trauma reactions such as nightmares. The CDC has documented that anxiety disorders have been significantly increasing in children since school shooting have been increasing.

In addition to these drills, if there is an incident, such as a bank robbery, involving someone with a gun near a school, the police put the school on lock down. The students must shelter in place and they don’t know if the person with the gun will come to their school or not. This creates a significant amount of anxiety for children and many are traumatized by the incident.

Another issue which adds to this trauma is gun control. Since the shooting last year in Florida many students have been actively campaigning for sane gun control. However, nothing has been done to enact sane gun control laws. High school students know nothing is being done and elementary children are hearing nothing is being done about guns. This makes them worry because they know guns are still out there that can be used to kill them. The recent shooting in New Zealand is very confusing to high school and elementary students. Our government has done nothing even though students and parents are demanding safe gun laws. While our government debates the issue, more students have been killed. However, New Zealand in a matter of 3 weeks after the shooting banned all assault weapons. This makes students wonder why we have not done anything when we have a bigger problem with mass shootings. Also it doesn’t make them feel safe at school because they do not feel like a priority.

Working with teenagers and children I have seen that anxiety and trauma reactions have

increased significantly for children. Also children are afraid to go to school because they might be killed. These are responses to the mass shootings. Every time there is a mass shooting children become more anxious and afraid. This week we have had 3 mass shootings in a week. Two of these shootings occurred less than 24 hours apart. Parents worry about how this will impact children. One child I work with did not want to leave the house due to the Gilory shooting. Many parents worry about what signs they need to be looking for in their children and what to do if they notice symptoms they are concerned about. The American Association of Children and Adolescent Psychiatry has put out the following guidelines. If you notice any of these signs or symptoms in your child it explains how to start to talk to your child and how to find the appropriate psychotherapist for your child. It is important to get a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders and trauma issues http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Talking-To-Children-About-Terrorism-And-War-087.aspx.

One final aspect about vicarious trauma that has emerged regarding mass shootings is suicide. this week. Family members and survivors of mass shootings are feeling survivors guilt and as a result committing suicide. There was a report of 3 people who have committed suicide who either survived a mass shooting or their child died in one. This has been occurring for a long time. It has been occurring since Columbine. Family members feel they can no longer cope with the pain. Survivors can’t cope with the guilt of surviving. Family and friends of some one who was killed or injured in a mass school shooting have had their lives changed forever! They are dealing with depression, anxiety and trauma reactions on a daily basis. However, we do not have adequate mental health resources to help these people. Also people assume after a few months, most people may be grieving but can handle their situation. This is not true. They are experience anxiety and trauma that for many of them is very confusing. This only increases the anxiety and trauma. The children experiencing the shooter drills are also confused by their anxiety and traumatic reactions. They do not know what to do and this causes isolation and the feelings increase.

We must eliminate the stigma associated with mental health issues. We also need to make sure that anyone who is even remotely exposed to a mass shooting (including first responders and emergency room physicians) have access to mental health care. Not just for a month or two but for as long as they need psychotherapy and they should be able to receive the therapy without worrying about the cost.

We have a generation of children growing up with anxiety and traumatic reactions. If we don’t help them now, they will only get worse as time goes on. May be we need to take a lesson from New Zealand and how they responded to a mass shooting. They banned assault weapons after one shooting. We have been having shootings for 20 years and have done nothing, why?

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating children and teenagers and specializes in treating trauma. 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.

How to Avoid Arguments with Your Teenager

How to Avoid Arguments with Your Teenager

Teenagers at times like to get into power struggles. In addition to power struggles, teens tend to like to argue with their parents. If they get their parents into an argument most parents forget the main point of the discussion and the teenager wins. Since school will be starting soon and parents need to re-establish rules for school or establish new rules because their child is starting high school, there are likely to be a number of intense discussions between parents and teens.

It is important to remember that a teenager’s brain is not fully developed. The prefrontal cortex is still developing in teenagers. This part of the brain is responsible for reasoning and other executive functions such as making decisions. Therefore, while teenagers look mature enough to have a reasonable conversation, their brains may not be mature enough. Therefore, they are more likely to argue or be disrespectful. However, an argument is not always bad. There are ways to have a healthy argument and ways to have destructive, hurtful arguments. Most of us never learned how the have a healthy, reasonable disagreement.

Many people feel that a disagreement or fight is always a bad thing for a relationship. However, this is not true. If you handle a disagreement or argument fairly, it can be a very healthy thing for a relationship. It can help you overcome past miscommunications or help you to resolve a problem.

As I stated above, parents who are dealing with teenagers need to remember that for teenagers their Frontal Lobes in their brains are still developing. Therefore, they cannot always reason like adults and often have difficulties having fair disagreements. I have included a list by TherapyAid.com which explains fair fighting rules.

Yes this might sound odd, but you can have a disagreement that is fair. You do not always need to use insults or not listen to each other. By using these rules, you and your teenager may be able to resolve an issue or at least come to an understanding without saying things that will hurt one another.

Parents what I suggest is that you sit down with these rules with your teenager and discuss that you would like to start to using these rules in your family. Take the time and go over each rule so you both understand the rules. Also make a copy for yourself to keep, your teen to keep and a copy to put on the refrigerator to remind everyone. Remember, these rules will be a change for both of you so don’t be surprised if it takes you some time to get use to these rules and use them on a regular basis. Change usually never occurs over night.

While these rules are beneficial for parents and teenagers, these rules are also useful for couples too. Very few people in our society were brought up learning how to clearly communicate. Just look at how many arguments occur due to miscommunication if you need proof. For couples I would recommend the same steps as parents and teens. First sit down and go over the rules so you both have the same understanding of the rules and keep a copy for yourselves. The next time you have a disagreement practice using these rules. Keep practicing until you become comfortable using these rules. This way the entire family can start using these rules and hopefully improve communication within the family.

Fair Fighting Rules

1. Before you begin, ask yourself why you feel upset.

Are you truly angry because your partner left the mustard on the counter? Or are you upset because you feel like you’re doing an uneven share of the housework, and this is just one more piece of evidence? Take time to think about your own feelings before starting an argument.

2. Discuss one issue at a time.

“You shouldn’t be spending so much money without talking to me” can quickly turn into “You don’t care about our family”. Now you need to resolve two problems instead of one. Plus, when an argument starts to get off topic, it can easily become about everything a person has ever done wrong. We’ve all done a lot wrong, so this can be especially cumbersome.

3. No degrading language.

Discuss the issue, not the person. No put-downs, swearing, or name-calling. Degrading language is an attempt to express negative feelings while making sure your partner feels just as bad. This will just lead to more character attacks while the original issue is forgotten.

4. Express your feelings with words and take responsibility for them.

“I feel angry.” “I feel hurt when you ignore my phone calls.” “I feel scared when you yell.” These are good ways to express how you feel. Starting with “I” is a good technique to help you take responsibility for your feelings (no, you can’t say whatever you want as long as it starts with “I”).

5. Take turns talking.

This can be tough, but be careful not to interrupt. If this rule is difficult to follow, try setting a timer allowing 1 minute for each person to speak without interruption. Don’t spend your partner’s minute thinking about what you want to say. Listen!

6. No stonewalling.

Sometimes, the easiest way to respond to an argument is to retreat into your shell and refuse to speak. This refusal to communicate is called stonewalling. You might feel better temporarily, but the original issue will remain unresolved and your partner will feel more upset. If you absolutely cannot go on, tell your partner you need to take a time-out. Agree to resume the discussion later.

7. No yelling.

Sometimes arguments are “won” by being the loudest, but the problem only gets worse.

8. Take a time-out if things get too heated.

In a perfect world we would all follow these rules 100% of the time, but it just doesn’t work like that. If an argument starts to become personal or heated, take a time-out. Agree on a time to come back and discuss the problem after everyone has cooled down.

9. Attempt to come to a compromise or an understanding.

There isn’t always a perfect answer to an argument. Life is just too messy for that. Do your best to come to a compromise (this will mean some give and take from both sides). If you can’t come to a compromise, merely understanding can help soothe negative feelings.

Again, this might seem simple to some people, but communication problems are one of the biggest problems I encounter as a psychotherapist. We simply don’t educate children about clear communication, which creates problems when these children become adults and try to talk with each other. So don’t be embarrassed or assume you do not need help in this area. Simply read the rules and try them in your life and see what happens.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience and he specializes in treating teenagers, children and families. For more information regarding his work or private practice visit his website at http://www.rubinocounseling.com or his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/Drrubino3 or follow him on Twitter @RubinoFamily.