Skyland Trail New Website Showcases Adolescent Program

ATLANTA – Skyland Trail, a nationally recognized nonprofit mental health treatment organization that provides evidence-based treatment for individuals with a primary psychiatric diagnosis, recently launched a new website. The new website includes information about  the new adolescent residential treatment program for teens ages 14 to 17, including:

  • Admissions criteria
  • Referral information
  • Descriptions of evidence-based programming
  • Information about the new J. Rex Fuqua Campus, opening fall 2019

Additionally, the updated website provides an improved user experience on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.

Visitors to skylandtrail.org will also find information on residential treatment and day treatment programs for adults ages 18 and older.  Potential  adult clients and their families will find information about:

  • adult psychiatric programs admission criteria
  • financial information
  • descriptions of levels of care, including residential treatment, day treatment, and intensive outpatient programs
  • an overview of integrated wellness programs, vocational services, and expressive therapies
  • client and family stories and treatment experiences

Mental health professionals and educational consultants will find information on how to refer to the adult and adolescent programs as well as information about professional workshops and mental health continuing education opportunities in Atlanta.

What is school refusal?

Do you remember how you felt when you first started attending school? How about when you transitioned to high school? If so, you likely remember some stress while adjusting to being away from family, making friends, settling into new routines, and achieving good grades.

For some students, that stress doesn’t go away quite so easily and may lead to a deeper struggle.

School refusal is a term used to describe the behaviors of children who regularly avoid going to school or who have difficulty staying in school when they do attend. School refusal, though, should not be confused with truancy.

“Truant students tend to hide their absences from their parents, and they do not experience anxiety or depression that is associated with coming to school,” says Dr. Heather Jones, psychologist at Rogers Behavioral Health.

Dr. Jones adds, “With school refusal, students are having difficulty being in school or staying in school because of pretty severe anxiety or depression, and other risk factors such as bullying, learning disorders, or substance use.”

How to identify school refusal behaviors

School refusal can be difficult to identify, as it can present differently based on the individual affected. However, there are six common signs of school refusal that can help you pinpoint students who may be struggling:

1. Habitually absent from school. School refusal involves chronic absence from school and difficulty returning after short breaks. “When we see that a child is refusing school multiple days per week, every week, or they just completely stop going to school, there’s typically something connected to that,” says Dr. David Jacobi, lead psychologist, child and adolescent CBT services at Rogers Behavioral Health.

2. Goes to school but has difficulty staying due to crying, clinging, or tantrums. Not all students struggling with school refusal have trouble going to school in the morning. Instead, they may experience outbursts during the day that impact their ability to learn and remain in class.

3. Becomes distressed during the school day and begs to go home. Some students show signs of school refusal when confronted with specific situations or triggers, such as a disappointing grade on an assignment, a big test, or tension with friends.

4. Frequently visits the nurse’s office. Spending more time in the nurse’s office than the classroom, despite no signs of illness, may be an indicator of school refusal.

5. Often complains of stomach aches, headaches, or other physical symptoms brought on by internal stress. These complaints are quite common and can even lead to unnecessary doctor appointments in an attempt to address the problem. Absences for valid medical reasons can also contribute to anxiety and depression and may lead to school refusal.

6. Avoids contact with classmates or teachers. Bullying and other social pressures can make a child wary of returning to school and interacting with others.

Understanding School Refusal podcast

Interested in learning more about school refusal? In Rogers Behavioral Health’s new “Understanding School Refusal” podcast series Rogers’ medical experts explain the many factors that contribute to school refusal, how to identify behaviors, the potential effects of accommodating those behaviors, and the most effective treatment options.

To listen to the podcast and view additional resources, visit the Understanding school refusal webpage.

FREE Communications Materials Available to NATSAP Members

Next webinar: How to Write a Strategic Marketing Plan, June 19, 1-2pm (Eastern)

If your school or program is navigating a communications, PR or marketing challenge, NATSAP may be able to help. During the past six years, NATSAP’s PR consultant, Sheri Singer, Singer Communications, has developed several webinars, handouts, and other materials to help NATSAP members navigate various communication challenges.

One of the recorded webinars focuses on how to handle a crisis. The webinar defines a crisis, identifies the three stages of a crisis, and describes how to write a crisis communications plan.

The information discusses how to determine your audience, create your Rapid Response team, decide what you can (and cannot) say, and when you can say it. It provides guidance about the various distribution channels and points to the dangers of social media during a crisis. It also includes follow up activities to undertake after the immediate crisis has passed.

While every school or program needs to follow the advice of counsel as soon as a crisis breaks, this information provides a foundation for NATSAP members to prepare for a crisis and some guidance on what to do when a crisis breaks.

The next NATSAP webinar will focus on how to write a strategic marketing plan and will be held on June 19 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. (Eastern time).

In addition to these materials, NATSAP has the following information available:

  • NATSAP myths and fact sheet
  • NATSAP messages
  • How to tell your story (article)
  • How to create a basic PR plan (article)
  • Media training (webinar)
  • The role of social media in a crisis (webinar)
  • Ethical marketing (webinar)
  • Writing a strategic marketing plan (webinar available after June 19, 2019)

These materials including recordings of the webinars are available on NATSAP’s website in the members-only section. For more information, contact Shanita Smith, Director of Membership and PR, shanita@natsap.org.

CooperRiis names new President & CEO

Dr. Eric A. Levine to join mental health healing community in April

ASHEVILLE, N.C.CooperRiis, a residential mental health treatment community in western North Carolina, is pleased to announce the appointment of Eric A. Levine as its new President & CEO.

Levine is currently Executive Director of ClearView Communities, a 36-bed residential treatment program in Frederick, Maryland, for adults with serious and persistent mental health challenges. He replaces Michael Groat, Ph.D., who is departing for a new role as Chief Clinical Officer at Silver Hill Hospital, a private psychiatric hospital in New Canaan, Connecticut. Levine joins CooperRiis upon Groat’s departure April 15, 2019.

“With more than 30 years working in education and mental health, Eric brings vast experience helping individuals affected by the challenges of mental illness and disabilities move toward healthy and fulfilling lives,” said Donald R. Cooper, CooperRiis Board Chair & Co-Founder. “We are fortunate to have him joining our healing community and look forward to the positive impact he’ll have on our residents, their families, and our staff.”

Levine began his career as a special education teacher, later overseeing schools for children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral disabilities. In 2005, he founded Eric A. Levine and Associates, an educational consulting firm that helps children and their families in the Washington-Baltimore metro areas find appropriate services.

Levine earned a doctorate in Education Leadership (Ed.D.), an Ed.S. in Career Transition and Assessment, a master’s in Special Education from George Washington University, and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Maryland. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Association for Community Integration and is a member of the Frederick County, Maryland, Board of Education Strategic Special Education Work Group.

“I’m a believer in programs that maintain possibility and hope as core values. CooperRiis is a place where people come to heal and learn new skills to help them better manage the challenges they’re experiencing so they can return to their lives,” said Levine. “I’m excited to be collaborating with the highly skilled and motivated staff of professionals at CooperRiis as we work toward improving the lives of individuals impeded by mental health challenges.”

About CooperRiis Healing Community

Founded by Donald R. Cooper and Lisbeth Riis Cooper, CooperRiis is a residential healing community in western North Carolina, with a rural campus on a 94-acre farm and an urban campus in the heart of Asheville. Since 2003, CooperRiis has been helping adults living with mental illness, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, PTSD, major depression and anxiety, achieve their highest levels of functioning and fulfillment. A personalized recovery approach combines trusted clinical therapies, community work & service, education and integrative wellness practices.

Visit http://www.cooperriis.org or call 828.894.7140 for more about CooperRiis Healing Community and its approach to mental health treatment.

Latham Centers Produces Inspirational Video

Latham Centers Logo

“And they said my child would never…” is available online

BREWSTER (Cape Cod, Massachusetts) – Students from Latham School and their families featured in a newly published video, “And they said my child would never”, would like the special needs community near and far to hear their stories of hope. The three-minute video, produced by Latham Centers in collaboration with Shoreline Media Productions of Hyannis, Mass. highlights the experiences of families of children diagnosed with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). PWS is a complex genetic disorder affecting appetite, growth, metabolism, cognitive function, and behavior. The hallmark characteristics include insatiable hunger and a slowed metabolism that can lead to excessive eating and life-threatening obesity.Video collage

“When you first receive the diagnosis of Prader-Willi syndrome, you may be told that there are things your child will never do,” begins Patrice Carroll, LCSW, Director of PWS Services at Latham. Ms. Carroll works with children and adults with PWS, and she is internationally known for her Prader-Willi expertise. Ms. Carroll tells parents, “Don’t accept the limits that other people place on your child.”

Latham students featured on camera include Annika, whose mother said she never thought her daughter would be in such a place of calm and confidence; Christopher, whose mother is amazed by his weight loss and said he is happy, thriving, and enjoying life; and Patrick, who works at a local library and proudly talks of his progress toward his MCAS portfolio and high school diploma. Family members reflect on the remarkable accomplishments their children have made at Latham, a therapeutic residential school in the “Cape Cod Sea Captains’ Town” of Brewster. One mother shares, “When we first got the Prader-Willi diagnosis, it was pretty scary. The person who told us about the disease gave us some very horrifying news about how he was going to be very cognitively impaired and wasn’t going to be able to function very well.” The video features moments in the classroom, on campus, and in the community in which her son is happy, achieving, and enjoying time with his peers.

Ms. Carroll’s message to PWS families is uplifting: “Your child will succeed. Your child with thrive, and love, and they will make you happy and proud. They will defy all expectations, and they will show you that perseverance and patience always pays off.”   

And they said my child would never” is available on the main page of Latham’s website, LathamCenters.org.

***

More about Latham Centers, Inc.:  Latham Centers’ programs include a therapeutic residential school for students ages 8 to 22, and a residential program for adults including 12 homes and individualized supported community living settings. Founded in 1970, the non-profit organization creates opportunities for independence, self-worth, and happiness for children and adults with complex special needs. Latham is internationally renowned for its expertise and success in working with individuals with Prader-Willi syndrome. Latham Centers is accredited by the Council on Accreditation. For more information, visit LathamCenters.org.

When Teenage Moodiness Becomes a Mental Health Concern

During the teenage years, emotions can change without warning and seemingly without reason. Oftentimes a teen’s moodiness can be attributed to life changes occurring at that time, but how do you know when the ever-changing moods are just part of puberty or if they’re a sign of something deeper?

What is a mood disorder?

EmoReg_tnAccording to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 14 percent of youth between the ages of 13 and 18 will have a mood disorder, which manifests as feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or irritability. Mood disorders typically interfere with how a person thinks and manages every day activities like sleeping and eating. Female teens are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with a mood disorder than their male peers. They’re also at a higher risk for emotional dysregulation, which is difficulty controlling emotional responses and behaviors, and for some, it can lead to self-destructive actions, self-harm, or suicidal thoughts. Emotional dysregulation can easily be misdiagnosed as major depressive disorder or anxiety disorders, and it can also accompany many other diagnoses.

“Emotional dysregulation occurs anytime that we experience an emotion and have a difficult time effectively managing it,” says Dr. Erik Ulland, medical director of the Nashotah Program at Rogers Behavioral Health. “It’s a pattern of avoidance of the primary emotion that you’re experiencing, which we all do to some extent. But those with emotional dysregulation often do it to the point where it becomes dangerous, because it will lead to behavior dysregulation that includes things like self-injury and suicide. Those behaviors are done out of an attempt to immediately decrease their current level of emotional distress,” he adds.

Dr. Ulland says patients with emotional dysregulation can be “internalizers”, meaning they tend not to outwardly express their thoughts, or feelings, but instead they process experiences privately.

“They often feel bad about themselves rather than anger at somebody else,” says Dr. Ulland.  “Internalizing individuals often struggle with conflict. Conflict often automatically generates shame, and they’ll feel like they’ve done something wrong. They can struggle to set effective limits, so at times they can have their feelings hurt and won’t say anything because of fear of conflict. They end up judging themselves harshly later that their emotions didn’t make sense in the moment even though they were felt,” he explains.

Treating emotional dysregulation

Certain forms of psychotherapy, medications, and other interventions can be helpful if there are other behavioral health diagnoses in a person with emotion dysregulation. However, they may often continue to struggle due to the dysregulation intensifying the other diagnoses.

Dr. Ulland says, “It’s critical to help individuals with substantial emotion dysregulation master Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills to regulate their emotions, and experience emotions more genuinely. It’s not uncommon to see depression or anxiety improve once an individual is regulating more effectively most of the time.”

Rogers’ residential Nashotah Program is a fully adherent Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) program. It helps teenage girls recover from a history of multiple psychiatric hospitalizations, suicide attempts, self- injury, and other behavioral patterns and diagnoses often common in individuals who have emotion dysregulation.

Rogers also provides outpatient DBT programs for both male and female adolescents.

For more information about programs for adolescents at Rogers, call 1-800-767-4411 for a free screening or request a screening online.

https://rogersbh.org/