Mental Health Awareness
According to the CDC, ADHD, behavior problems, anxiety and depression are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children.
- 7.1% of children aged 3-17 years have been diagnosed with anxiety.
Some of these conditions commonly occur together. For example:
- Having another disorder is most common in children with depression: about 3 in 4 children aged 3-17 years with depression also have anxiety (73.8%) and almost 1 in 2 have behavior problems (47.2%).
- For children aged 3-17 years with anxiety, more than 1 in 3 also have behavior problems (37.9%) and about 1 in 3 also have depression (32.3%).
- For children aged 3-17 years with behavior problems, more than 1 in 3 also have anxiety (36.6%) and about 1 in 5 also have depression (20.3%).
How do I know if my child and/or the student is dealing with anxiety?
According to the CDC, When a child does not outgrow the fears and worries that are typical in young children, or when there are so many fears and worries that they interfere with school, home, or play activities, the child may be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Examples of different types of anxiety disorders include:
- Being very afraid when away from parents (separation anxiety)
- Having extreme fear about a specific thing or situation, such as dogs, insects, or going to the doctor (phobias)
- Being very afraid of school and other places where there are people (social anxiety)
- Being very worried about the future and about bad things happening (general anxiety)
- Having repeated episodes of sudden, unexpected, intense fear that come with symptoms like heart pounding, having trouble breathing, or feeling dizzy, shaky, or sweaty (panic disorder)
Anxiety may present as fear or worry, but can also make children irritable and angry. Anxiety symptoms can also include trouble sleeping, as well as physical symptoms like fatigue, headaches, or stomachaches. Some anxious children keep their worries to themselves and, thus, the symptoms can be missed.
How will Regional Achievement Academy help?
At Regional Achievement Academy we work with the students to help them manage their anxiety symptoms in the classroom, at home and in the community. We educate them on how to identify their physiological symptoms of anxiety and their triggers in various settings. We educate them on coping strategies for times of intense emotion. Here are some of our tips for youth struggling with anxiety:
- Find support for your child outside of the home such as PerformCare, therapist, psychologist etc.
- Talk with your child to identify their coping skills that you can remind them of when they are experiencing anxiety symptoms.
- Assist your child in making healthy food choices, exercising daily and developing a sleep schedule.
- Practice mindfulness and deep breathing techniques.
- Create predictable routines for your child.
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
According to the CDC, the estimated number of children ever diagnosed with ADHD, according to a national 2016 parent survey,1 is 6.1 million (9.4%). This number includes:
- 388,000 children aged 2–5 years
- 2.4 million children aged 6–11 years
- 3.3 million children aged 12–17 years
Boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls (12.9% compared to 5.6%).
How is ADHD diagnosed?
The diagnosis can be made by a mental health professional, like a psychologist or psychiatrist, or by a primary care provider, like a pediatrician. Healthcare providers use the guidelines in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth edition (DSM-5), to help diagnose ADHD. This diagnostic standard helps ensure that people are appropriately diagnosed and treated for ADHD. Using the same standard across communities can also help determine how many children have ADHD, and how public health is impacted by this condition.
How does Regional Achievement Academy help students with ADHD?
At RAA, students are in a smaller classroom setting which allows the teachers to assist them in their academics on an individualized basis. The teachers are trained in how to effectively manage and modify the classwork for students with ADHD. Utilizing IEP and 504 plan’s teachers are able to develop a plan that meets each student’s needs. RAA utilizes behavior systems in order to encourage positive behaviors in the classroom, through a reward system, to discourage negative behaviors. Teachers and students utilize organizational strategies such as time management, planning skills and ways to keep school material organized to optimize students' learning and decrease distractions. Collaboration between the school, parents/guardians, and healthcare providers will help ensure the child is able to succeed in a classroom setting.
Bullying and CyberBullying
According to Stomp Out Bullying, in a national report, 1 in 6 students reported that they’ve either been the victim of some form of bullying or witnessed others being bullied. And 1 in 8 have experienced bigotry and name calling.
At Regional Achievement Academy, we have established policies and rules for the students to speak up if they and/or a classmate is being bullied. In the beginning of the school year students are educated on awareness of bullying in their home, community and school. Students are asked to take a No Bullying Pledge. Our school provides a safe space for students to report and discuss any bullying incidents.
Resources for After High School
Monmouth County Vocational School District: https://www.mcvsd.org/
Ocean County Vocational School District: http://www.ocvts.org/
Brookdale Community College: https://www.brookdalecc.edu/
Northeast Carpenters Apprentice Training: https://www.ncatf.org/
Ocean County College: https://www.ocean.edu/
Lincoln Tech: https://www.lincolntech.edu/
Commercial Driving Training at Brookdale Community College: https://www.brookdalecc.edu/continuinged/careerdevelopment/commercial-driver-training/
Warning Signs of Substance Abuse in Adolescents
Losing interest in activities they once enjoyed
- Dropping old friends for a new group
- Acting despondent, aggressive or angry
- Sleeping more than usual
- Breaking rules
- Physical changes: weight loss, frequent nosebleeds, bloody or watery eyes, shakes and tremors
- Avoiding eye contact
- Missing curfew
- Skipping school/work
- Frequently asking for money
- Locking bedroom doors and making secretive phone calls
- Poor hygiene
- Changes in mood or attitude
- Dilated pupils/red eyes
- Extremely tired or hyperactive
- Rapid weight loss or weight gain
5 Main Factors that increase risk for Addiction: FACTS
- Family history
- Age of first use
Warning Signs of Depression
It is estimated that 1 in 5 people will experience depression at some point in their teen years. It is essential to get treatment for depression to prevent serious problems down the road. Is your child depressed? Here are some common indicators to be aware of:
- Problems at school - poor attendance, drop in grades, poor concentration
- Low self-esteem- Feelings of low self-worth, shame, failure
- Drug/Alcohol Abuse- May be used as a form of self-medication for feelings of sadness
- Violence- May become aggressive or violent
- Loss of interest in activities - Activities that used to bring child pleasure and joy no longer do
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Irritability, anger, or hostility
- Tearfulness or frequent crying
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Loss of interest in activities
- Poor school performance
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Restlessness and agitation
- Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
- Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Symptoms of Suicide Ideation
- Talking or joking about committing suicide
- Making comments such as, “I’d be better off dead,” “I wish I could disappear forever,” or “There’s no way out”
- Speaking positively about death or romanticizing dying
- Using artistic outlets (writing, music) to discuss death
- Engaging in reckless behavior or having a lot of accidents resulting in injury
- Giving away prized possessions
- Saying goodbye to friends and family as if for the last time
- Seeking out weapons, pills, or other ways to kill themselves
When to Seek Help and Additional Resources
As a parent, the number one thing you can do for your child is offer support.
- Make sure that they know you have their best interest at heart
- Give them the opportunity to talk to you about their feelings and life experiences
- Listen, don’t lecture
- Know what troublesome symptoms to look out for
- Know when to seek help and utilize additional resources
National Suicide Prevention Hotline (24/7 Support)
Monmouth County Resources: https://www.co.monmouth.nj.us/documents/41/MentalHealthGuideJune2010.pdf
Nicotine and Tobacco Recovery Services
Institute for Prevention and Recovery: Peer Recovery Program (Tackling addiction)
Monmouth Coalition Agency - Prevention First
Ocean Coalition Agency: RWJBarnanas Health, Institute for Prevention and Recovery
Middlesex Coalition Agency: Wellspring Center for Prevention
Department of Children and Families: Mobile Response and Stabilization (24/7 Support)
NJ Hopeline (24/7 Support)