Mental Health Issues Are Not A Punishment

Mental Health Issues Are Not A Punishment

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.

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How The Stigma Associated with Mental Health is Preventing People from Receiving Mental Health Care

How The Stigma Associated with Mental Health is Preventing People from Receiving Mental Health Care

A great article showing how the stigma regarding mental health can isolate people. We must realize mental health is normal and we must stop shaming people who need help. How Stigma Can Lead to Isolation | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/February-2019/How-Stigma-Can-Lead-to-Isolation

Understanding Teenage Grief

Understanding Teenage Grief

In our society we have difficulties dealing with emotions, especially grief. This can be very difficult for teenagers and families. We continue to have school shootings, where students and teachers are killed, and the suicide rate for children between 10 years old and 18 years old is at an epidemic rate. In addition, teenagers are dying at epidemic rates for overdosing on drugs. Therefore, many teens and families are dealing with grief on a fairly regular basis, but have little support or education about grief to help them. I see this quite often in my psychotherapy practice.

It’s important to remember that grief is a very unique and individual process. There is not a right way or wrong way to grieve. When someone is grieving it is very important to allow them to grieve how they need to and provide support to them as needed. It is appropriate to offer support, but do not expect someone to grieve the way you would. It may not help them and may create additional problems.

Lauren Hershel posted on Twitter an analogy to help explain grieving. I think it is a good analog so I am repeating it in this article.

Lauren stated, after what has been a surprisingly okayish Christmas, I had a moment today in SuperStore. I saw a lady who reminded me of my 92 year old grandma, who even in the early stages of dementia, completely understood that my mom died.

I thought I’d share the Ball in the Box analogy my Doctor told me

So grief is like this:

There is a box with a ball in it and a pain button. In the beginning, the ball is huge. You can’t move the box without the ball hitting the pain button. It rattles around on its own in there and hits the button over and over. You can’t control it – it just keeps hurting.

Sometimes it seems unrelenting in the beginning because the ball is huge. You can’t move the box without the ball hitting the pain button. It rattles around on its own in there and hits the button over and over. You can’t control it – it just keeps hurting.

Over time, the ball gets smaller. It hits the button less and less but when it does, it hurts just as much. It’s better because you can function day to day easier. But, the downside is that the ball randomly hits that button when you least expect it.

For most people, the ball never really goes away. It might hit less and less and you have more time to recover between hits, unlike when the ball was giant. I thought this was the best description of grief I’ve heard in a long time.

I agree I think this is a good description. Often I have teens that I am working with in therapy who worry or are afraid because they think they are grieving wrong. I explain there is no right or wrong way to grieve. It is important that they grieve how they need and ask for help when they need to.

When I was an intern, a supervisor described grief to me as an ocean wave. You know a wave will come in but you never know when, how big or for how long. She said all you can do is your best to roll a long with it and not fight the emotion. You cannot control the wave, but you do know as sure as it came in, it will go out too. Initially the waves will be frequent and then they start to subside and you learn to cope with the grief. Just like with the ball analogy, the waves usually do not disappear. However, it is alright that they do not. It is natural when you think of the loved one you lost that you will feel some sadness. It is a normal reaction.

Given the amount of grief teenagers are having to cope with due to what is happening in our world, it is very important that we provide better access to mental health care. Also at home and at school we need to be teaching children about emotions too. They are a very important part of life and if they are going to succeed in life, they need to learn how to express emotions in a healthy manner. We need to focus especially on boys. I would estimate that 98% of the boys I treat think that emotions are weak. They go to desperate means not to cry or look sad. This is why many boys and men have problems with anger. Socially we accept boys getting mad, but not crying.

Please think about these issues and remember there is no right or wrong way to grieve.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years of experience. He specializes in treating children and teenagers. For more information about his work visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com, his Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3 or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy

The Teenage Vaping Epidemic

The Teenage Vaping Epidemic

Many people thought that teenage tobacco use was decreasing. In fact, over the past few years teenage tobacco use had been decreasing. However, a recent report by the CDC indicates that teenage tobacco use has increased. Between 2017 and 2018, 1.3 million teenagers starting using tobacco. In high school students the increase is 77% and for middle school students the increase is 48.5% (CDC). This increase eliminates any decrease that in the use of tobacco since 1999.

The report contributes the increase in smoking to e-cigarettes, vaporizing and the use of JUUL. These products especially juul uses flavored tobacco such as bubblegum. Teenagers start using the flavored tobacco thinking it is safe and become hooked on nicotine. It is then an easy jump from juul or vaporizing to smoking cigarettes. In the period between 2017-2018 the use of Juul went up 600%. Tobacco companies are targeting teenagers with the flavored tobacco products. As a result, teenagers are trying it because they think it is safe. However, they are smoking more when using a juul, vaporizing or using an e-cigarette. Since they are using flavored tobacco products they think they are safe. However, they are gradually becoming addicted to nicotine and addicted to cigarettes.

The Juul is so addictive that many retailers who sell tobacco products are refusing to sell juul products anymore. One store owner said he would not continue to carry juuls because it was an easy way for tobacco companies to get teenagers addicted to nicotine.

If you are a parent, you need to discuss this situation with your teenagers and children in middle school. I hear many teenagers and middle school students tell me that vaporizing and juuls are safe to use. They tell me how different they are from cigarettes. However, when I challenge them to stop vaporizing or using a juul, they find out that it is very difficult. They then admit that maybe vaporizing or a juul is not as safe as they thought. However, they are now addicted to nicotine.

Therefore, if you have a calm conversation with your teenager and if you go to CNN on line, you can find the report. If you discuss it with them calmly maybe you can prevent your teenager from becoming addicted to nicotine. Also vaporizing and juuls create a significant number of problems at school too.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist who specializes in treating adolescents and children. He has over 20 years experience working with teenagers and children. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice please visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.

What to Do if You Think Your Teen is Cutting?

What to Do if You Think Your Teen is Cutting?

Self-harming or Cutting is at an epidemic rate in the teenage population. Teens who engage is this behavior feel a great deal a shame about the behavior and themselves. Therefore, if you think your teenager is cutting it is very important how you talk to them about it.

If you increase their feeling of shame, it is very likely they will close down emotionally and refuse to discuss it. I work with many teenagers who cut and feel people have judged them negatively for cutting. In therapy, I have a very difficult time working with them. It is difficult because they assume I am judging them negatively too. It takes a lot of work to gain their trust.

This is a very scary topic for parents and our society does not handle mental health issues in a positive way. Therefore, talking about this issue without shaming the teenager can be very difficult.

Dr. Pooky Knightsnan has developed a video regarding how to approach this issue and addresses what not to say. If you believe your teen is cutting, please watch this video, What not to do if a child is self harming https://youtu.be/gfRwez8ergg via @YouTube

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating children and teenagers. Cutting is an area he specializes in treating. For more information about his work or practice visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.