Too often, we wish we would have done something but didn’t make the time. Now is your chance to truly have a rewarding summer, full of purpose and accomplishment.
It’s that time of year again! The weather is warming up, school is winding down, and teens are excitedly awaiting their summer. For many teens, summer plans include sleeping in, going to the pool with friends, less responsibilities, and less stress. Although this can be a great time to relax and recuperate from an overwhelming school year, the decreased structure and social connection can bring a variety of unwanted feelings. Many teens face a real challenge in the summer, especially for those experiencing depression.
Too much free time: When a teen doesn’t have the external expectations and structure that school provides, they have all that time to THINK. For those with depressive symptoms, their negative thoughts lead to distorted beliefs that they “don’t have a purpose”. These thoughts can lead to feelings of guilt, frustration, shame, and anger. School provides teens a sense of purpose and opportunity to feel accomplished on a daily basis.
Isolation: With all this free time, teens are more likely to isolate from family and friends. They get in a habit of watching tv, being alone, and closing themselves off from social activities. It’s often easier, and safer, in their minds to be alone. Although the school setting can create conflict and stress with peers, it also provides them the opportunity to check their negative thoughts with reality and make healthy comparisons with their peers.
Lack of stimulation: We all know that the school year can be overstimulating for many teens, especially those with anxiety and depression. The benefit to these social engagements is that it allows their attention and focus to be distracted from their negative thoughts and feelings. They may not always enjoy being stimulated in a classroom but can create healthy stimulation for themselves in the summer.
Structure and social connection are extremely important to continue throughout the summer to combat this. There are many ways that teens can continue to implement what school provides in a healthy and desirable way.
If you need help creating structure or want to focus on combating those negative thoughts during your downtime, I encourage you to reach out. Summer is a great time to work through your anxiety or depression and learn new skills to support you now and in the next school year.
Allison Kidd, LSCSW, LMAC
We all know the feeling that our furry friends bring us when we come home to them: they rush to the door, smother us in kisses, and suddenly any bad thing that happened in our day is gone simply by their incomparable presence. What you may not know is that your companion may qualify to be registered as an Emotional Support Animal for you! Let me give you the quick 411 on having an “ESA” in your life…
What is an ESA?
Also called an assistance animal, an ESA is a companion animal that provides therapeutic benefit to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability.
What animals qualify for an ESA?
An emotional support animal can be any type of animal that serves as a companion to you, and can provide comfort or relief to any of your symptoms accompanying your mental disability. Although dogs are the most popular registered emotional support animals, there’s no reason your cat, bird, lizard, etc. cannot serve as your support, as long as you can prove their companionship brings a form of relief to your symptoms.
Who qualifies to have an ESA?
Anyone with an identified and diagnosed mental disability qualifies to have an emotional support animal.
Some of these diagnoses could include, but are not limited to :
Where is your ESA qualified to go?
Unlike a registered service dog, an ESA does not have open access to public places as many would think, however, there are some surprising places that an ESA is appropriate to take. Like an airplane! According to Service Dog Certification, Delta Airlines had over 250,000 emotional support animals fly with them last year! Additional to flying, an ESA qualifies to live within a home or apartment that has a “no pet” policy.
Your ESA is even approved to stay with you in a hotel when they’re officially registered!
How does your companion become an ESA?
You must be certified as emotionally disabled by a psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist,
or other duly-licensed and/or certified mental health professional via a formal and appropriately
formatted letter on the professional’s agency letterhead.
Ensure that your letter contains the following:
The use of an ESA is growing substantially as people are learning all of the benefits that come from having a comforting companion by their side. Recently, even Uber has been working to incorporate ESA regulations within the rides that they offer! If after reading this article you feel that you would benefit
from having an ESA, be sure to talk to your mental health provider today! Comfort may be closer than you knew!
How to Qualify for An Emotional Support Animal. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2018, from
https://www.servicedogcertifications.org/how-to- qualify-for- an-emotional- support-animal
Counseling Intern, Level 1
Suicide is not an isolated issue. It is a universal issue that affects individuals regardless of gender, race, socioeconomic background, and family structure. And as the Kansas City community has seen this year—suicide affects young people, too. As of June 2017, Johnson County, Kansas has experienced 11 suicides among children ages 25 and younger, and Jackson County as seen 17 suicides among the same age
group. The fact is, death by suicide is occurring among some of our youngest
individuals in our community.
For parents and caregivers reading this, it can be scary and overwhelming to
acknowledge the possibility of death by suicide occurring to a child. In the midst of
all this fear and uncertainty, there is hope. As a parent, you are armed with the
intimacy and ability to care and advocate for your child’s mental health and
wellbeing. No matter the health status of your own child, it is important to begin the
conversation about suicide now. In beginning that dialog and road towards healing,
here are four things to know when talking to your child about suicide.
1. Speak openly and honestly
One of the most common myths about suicide is that talking about
suicide can give someone the idea to kill himself or herself. For most
individuals, it can be a relief to have a loved one address their deepest
pain and lift a piece of that the burden. By speaking to your child
about suicide directly, you are reaching out your hand to comfort your
child and tell them that they are not in this suffering alone.
2. Express empathy
Being heard. It’s a simple concept, but can be one of the greatest gifts
to give your child. It can be so scary for an individual to experience
suicidal thoughts and contemplate something as serious as taking his
or her own life. In speaking with your child, it is important to withhold
any judgment or opinions and just listen.
In an effort to take away pain, sometimes we jump to a quick fix or
solution. We want to put a Band-Aid on the scraped knee instead of
letting the wound sit until it is properly cleaned and cared for. We say
things like, “But you’ve got such a great life ahead of you” or “At least
you have me.”
Suicidal thoughts don’t go away when they are dismissed. Remember to
seek understanding and express empathy before jumping to a
3. Offer Hope
Suicidal feelings and thoughts are temporary. They are not the
identity of the child and do not make the child weak or damaged. This
pain that the child is experiencing does not have to be the end of their
4. Seek professional help when necessary
Suicidality operates on a continuum. It is not uncommon for an
individual to have suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives, but
that may not mean they have an intention or plan to act on those
Look for warning signs such as changes in behavior and mood,
depression, withdrawal and isolation.
If your child discloses that he or she has suicidal intentions or a plan,
it is important to take his or her threats seriously and seek
Trust your instincts. You know your child best. If you notice that
something is not right, take that step for your child and get help.
If you find yourself in immediate crisis, call the confidential and free National Suicide
Prevention Lifeline at 1-800- 273-8255.
Sarah Kindscher, LPC, NCC