I hope this summer was good to you. This has been a good year for me - my wife and I enjoyed a trip to meet our younger son in Dublin and our older son is loving his job and family. Back in the office, my work in helping kids stay healthy is getting easier.
Since 2008, we have known that 1 in 5 cases of depression are preventable. In the normal course of things, pediatricians will share practical exercises with kids beginning around 2018. Some years later, schools will adopt these prevention activities.
I choose to reduce that delay. You can, too. Here are tools you can bring directly to kids:
- High school age - Johns Hopkins curriculum for depression awareness
- Middle and high school age - Boston Children's Hospital curriculum for depression awareness includes supplemental prevention activities
- As young as age 8 - Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology curriculum for depression awareness and prevention activities in game format
Each tool has a link in this newsletter. You can also get involved with mentoring programs. These are the peer mentoring programs where I currently volunteer:
- Northeast chapter of the Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention
- Wellesley Rotary Club
- Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD)
- Interfaith Gathering 'Round Our Wellness (iGROW)
Each program has a link in this newsletter; either scroll down the newsletter below or the In This Issue column on the left. If you want an introduction or if you want to help Adolescent Wellness, simply let me know.
-Bob Anthony, President
Did you know...
1 of 5 cases of depression are preventable
High school ages - curriculum from Johns Hopkins
Adolescent Depression Awareness Program
Middle school and older - curriculum from Boston Children's Hospital
Break Free From Depression
This curriculum addresses depression awareness and adds a supplemental set of prevention exercises. It is selected for the New Research Poster Presentation at the 60th annual conference of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Age 8+ curriculum from Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology
MSPP Freedman virtual Wellness Center
Awareness and prevention activities in game format for age 8+ are delivered through the popular virtual world of Whyville.
|Click image to visit the virtual Wellness Center|
Northeast Coalition for Suicide Prevention
How to enhance wellness skills and knowledge at age 8?
Preventing 10% of cases of depression is a goal of the Surgeon General for children ages 11-17
(a drop from 8.3% to 7.4%
). The seemingly huge
barriers are to first, let younger kids build resilience before symptoms occur and second, provide the
resource for kids across the country.
One group found how to overcome these barriers, the Northeast chapter of the Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention. To bring resilience building exercises to young children, they helped fund an age-appropriate tutorial on problem solving. To overcome the barrier of offering all kids access to wellness activities, the tutorial is positioned along with several other exercises within a new Wellness Center inside a popular children's chat and game 'virtual world'. In the first month, over 200 individuals participated with its PIP Problems-Ideas-Plans tutorial and other activities. The other activities were funded by private donors and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Northeast coalition volunteers have started introducing the virtual Wellness Center to schools, youth groups and parent organizations so that children in the 20 northeast communities will know it is available to them. Please click here for the website of the coalition.
The virtual Wellness Center provides age-appropriate mental health and wellness related activities, materials and referral information. In addition to home use, it is suitable for classroom use.
What's next? Fund-raising is underway to develop certification of players within the virtual world of Whyville to mentor others. This would allow outreach to introduce the Wellness Center to more of the several million existing Whyville players and to the many more kids not yet familiar with it.
Community-based peer mentoring: Wellesley Rotary Club
Providing leadership skills, project suport and psycho-education
Treatment for depression is expensive and not meeting demand. The Wellesley Rotary Club (WRC) wants to prevent some cases of depression by building and strengthening healthy communities. This month its Wellness project was introduced to the community and the first volunteers were welcomed by the club.
Teen volunteers receive professional training from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology on caring for oneself and others. The teens then pick their topic of focus. For the Volunteer link, look under UPCOMING EVENTS after clicking here for the WRC website.
The adult volunteers help them structure their project and develop a manageable scope. WRC members offer guidance and support the mentoring activities. The Rotary members undergo training in September and the teens in November.
School-based peer mentoring:
Students Against Destructive Decisions
Teen leaders design SADD Wellness kit
Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) is a national organization with chapters in schools across all 50 states. Local chapters pick a topic of interest to promote within their school. Chapters must develop their own content if there are no professionally prepared content kits available through the national organization.
Promoting mental health and wellness is a new priority of teen leaders. To serve this interest, the teens have collaborated with curricula author Nadja Reilly, PhD, and the Executive Director for the national SADD organization, Penny Wells. They are assessing the specific topic to address and the first component of a professionally prepared Wellness kit for use by local chapters. Clicking this link takes you to the national SADD website.
|Congregation-based peer mentoring: Interfaith Gathering 'Round Our Wellness
What works to balance life's worries?
Congregations in Needham and Wellesley have opened up sessions of their religious education schedule to iGROW teen mentors. This AWI program was founded during a suicide contagion in Wellesley, which took 8 Wellesley youth in a 10 year period. iGROW teens were recognized at the Massachusetts State House for their leadership in suicide prevention.
iGROW provides professional training to high school age teens who go on to share exercises in balancing life's worries with peers and younger ages. Some continue this work in their college communities. The iGROW training of teens this year occurs October 5.
The people who make it happen; we are very grateful to the current AWI volunteers listed below:
- Bob Anthony - President
- Vivian Dole - iGROW
- Bill Russell - Director
- Anthony Schweizer - Chair
- Calvin Place - Director
- Chip Douglas - Director
- John Seeler - PIP documentation
- Barbara Boger
- Roberta Boylen
- Kathy Curley
- Lisa Siegel
- Melisa Hughes
- Carrie Sandstrom
- iGROW teen mentors
- Youth Advisory Board members