Susanna Harris was sitting in her lab class for her graduate program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when she received an email that told her she had failed what she describes as “the most important exam in grad school,” the doctoral qualifying exam. She took the rest of the day off, went home and baked cookies.
Harris continued with her regular schedule: lab, work, home, repeat. Everything seemed fine until she realized she was having a hard time focusing due to lack of sleep. That’s when she decided to go to campus health to ask for a prescription for a sleeping aid. The doctor said they could give her a prescription, but it would be for antidepressants instead.
Harris was surprised how common depression is among Ph.D. students, so she began sharing aspects of her own mental health journey on social media by creating the Twitter account and hashtag #PhDBalance. People share the stories they might otherwise keep private — stories of anxiety, depression, abuse, substance use, PTSD. Others comment on the posts and reach out to the author. “People have found friends and compatriots through our page based on what they are going through, and I think that is beautiful,” said Harris, who has also shared her experiences onstage at The Monti — a nonprofit organization in North Carolina that invites people to tell personal stories.
While struggles with mental health were traditionally kept private, in recent years a growing number of sufferers are adopting the opposite tack: sharing their mental health battles with the world, via social media.
Celebrities and public figures like actors Dwayne Johnson and Gina Rodriguez and singer Ariana Grande have used social media as a platform to share stories about their mental health and encourage others. Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers began using his Twitter account to share the story of his struggles after writing an article for The Players’ Tribune — a new media company that provides athletes with a platform to connect directly with fans. The article highlighted how he came to realize that sharing improves not only his life, but the lives of others.
Sammy Nickalls of Lebanon, Pa., is an editor and writer who created the hashtag #TalkingAboutIt in 2015. Nickalls said she did it because, as a University of Michigan study has found, Facebook and other social media can make people feel worse because they tend to show the happier aspects of users’ lives. “When all you see are highlights from people’s lives, social media encourages comparisons, FOMO [fear of missing out], all that good stuff,” Nickalls said. “That’s why I wanted to start #TalkingAboutIt — because if we’re open about the dark times, too, social media will be less likely to make users feel lonely and like their lives don’t measure up.”
People often connect with one another by using hashtags like #TalkingAboutIt and #mentalhealth that have a broad target audience. Others such as #YouGoodMan and #YouOkSis were created specifically for mental health concerns in the African American community. #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike is used by people with that specific problem.
People have also used social media to express their increased anxiety about mass shootings. Hashtag #ItsGettingTooHardTo began being used on Twitter in response to the mass shootings that occurred in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The hashtag #IAmNotDangerous was used to combat erroneous statements that mental illness is responsible for driving people to commit mass shootings.
Lauren Evans, a Philadelphia public relations professional, is a survivor of domestic violence who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety in 2013. The community she found on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook helped her cope. Evans keeps the hashtag #DVsurvivor and words “Mental Health Advocate” in her Instagram bio to help her find other mental health accounts on social media. Finding others who understood her struggle and didn’t discount her feelings was invaluable. She said social media “has been one of the most helpful things for me to have my voice feel validated, especially regarding past trauma. It’s also super cool to network with others who are on their journey, and it makes it seem more socially accepted.”
It is also common for organizations to use social media as a platform to share information, tips and strategies. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a Facebook page that provides information about events and a safe space for people to discuss their concerns.
Dr. Isaiah Pickens, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles and founder of IOpening Enterprises, believes that, when used the wrong way, social media can have a negative impact. “Social media can also exacerbate problems if it’s not the right kind of community and if it’s a community that potentially responds in ways that are toxic,” Pickens said. “When people sometimes try to share their experience and their experience is received in a way that increases the type of harassment, intimidation and bullying that happens.”
He cautions that people should think of social media as a secondary tool and get help from professionals and traditional support groups. Seek out groups on social media that share your problem, he said, and give yourself permission to hold back some aspects of your life. It’s important to set boundaries.
For people who are open about their mental health on social media, there is a possibility that they will face backlash from friends, family or co-workers. “One time, when I made an understandable and human — in my opinion, anyway — mistake at work and had also been open about my mental health online the same day,” Nickalls said, “a former employer said something along the lines of ‘Maybe you should focus more on your work and less on your mental health.’”
But overall, she said, “I think people in general are thinking about mental health differently than they did before, and they’re using social media to reach out for community and support.”
If you or someone you know has talked about contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or use the online Lifeline Crisis Chat, both available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
THS wants to share this story in order to highlight the use of new technologies in serving an individual’s mental health on a cultural level.
In response to overwhelming demand, Therapeutic Health Services is happy to announce that it will begin offering youth mental health services at its existing Kent location at 24823 Pacific Highway South.
“We’ve been receiving so many calls and emails from families in Kent, Federal Way, Des Moines and Burien. Our Seattle-based counseling staff has been doing a great job responding. We’re at the point where it just makes sense to have counseling staff closer to the communities they are serving,” said Phillip Carr, Therapeutic Health Services’ Youth Mental Health Clinical Supervisor.
Therapeutic Health Services is a regional leader in providing quality wraparound behavioral health services for youth and young adults and their families in Seattle’s Central District. They are building on this experience working with youth, families, schools and other community organizations to serve the needs of the changing population in South King County. Their array of programs allows them to build a custom portfolio of services addressing key issues youth and their families face today: trauma, anxiety, depression, bullying, peer pressure, suicidal ideation, substance use and behaviors which can lead to juvenile justice system involvement. Therapeutic Health Services’ staff has expertise providing culturally appropriate care to communities of color, especially African-American youth and their families.
“With the continuing gentrification of parts of South Seattle, more low and moderate income families are pushed to move further south,” said Therapeutic Health Services CEO Patricia Edmond-Quinn. “We are thrilled to be able to continue to work with these families in South King County.”
If you are interested in Therapeutic Health Services’ programs for South King County youth and families, please call their Kent Branch at (253) 681-0010 or complete their Get Help Form.
We want to share Royale’s story with you. Royale was a client of our Youth and Families program. His story, in turning his life around, is a bright light that we hope brings you a smile. We serve many young people like Royale and we hope to share more stories like his with you in the coming year. Please consider making a gift today to ensure we can continue lighting up lives like Royale’s.
Every year the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) surveys 8th, 10th, and 12th graders across the country about their substance use
The most recent results from 2017 show some interesting changes in the popularity and perceived risk of cigarettes, “vaping,” and marijuana.
While cigarette use has shown a steady decline since the survey began in 1991, vaping is becoming more and more popular. In 2017, 27% of 12 graders said they had ever smoked a cigarette, while 36% said that had vaped. But these students aren’t just vaping nicotine. About 12% of 12th graders and 10% of 10th graders said that they had tried vaping marijuana. That’s close to 1 out of every 10 students. The number of students smoking marijuana also continues to increase, with 23% (or almost 1 in 4) 12 graders reporting that they smoked marijuana in the last month, compared to only 14% in 1991.
What could be contributing to this change? It seems that these trends are largely influenced by teens beliefs about the harmfulness of different drugs. The graph below illustrates this point very clearly for changes in marijuana use between 1975 and 2013, as the trends are almost perfect mirror images of each other.
Although the NIDA survey shows that more teens believe regular marijuana use is safe, teens brains are at particular risk if they use marijuana regularly. Research shows that regular marijuana use beginning in the teen years can lead to increased problems with learning and increased risk for substance use and mental health disorders.
Not every teen who uses marijuana will become addicted or develop other mental health problems, but it is important to be aware of the risks and warning signs. Watch for changes in friend groups, hobbies, sleep or eating habits, and major mood changes.
For more information about trends in teen substance use:
For more information about the risks associated with teen marijuana use and how parents can help:
We need your help to raise $10,000 in the next 2 months
Every so often we have a program that needs “a little help” – additional funding that allows us to serve more people in need or to enhance services so existing participants can be more successful. In order to provide extra help for the ROYAL program, THS has started its first ever crowdfunding campaign to provide extra summer programming for local youth in need. Our goal is to raise $10,000 over the next two months.
Your donation will allow us to provide essential summer programming for youth in the R.O.Y.A.L. Program
African American youth make up 9% of the youth population in King County but 40% of the population of incarcerated youth. R.O.Y.A.L was designed to break this pattern of disproportionality and reduce recidivism.
R.O.Y.A.L.’s approach is simple:
S is for Services: Counseling, community referrals, intensive case management
O is for Opportunities: Internships, special events, leadership development, job fairs
S is for Support: Job coaching, mentoring, family engagement, community support
Visit https://fundly.com/support-raising-our-youth-as-leaders to join the campaign and support local youth.
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is based on the understanding that the way we think influences how we feel and the choices that we make. Cognitions (thoughts and beliefs) are the things we say to ourselves about the world around us. These thoughts can sometimes be unhelpful, negative, or distorted from reality.
For example, Sam is walking down the hallway at school and tries to say hello to one of his classmates. The classmate barely looks up at Sam, mumbles something and keeps walking. Sam thinks to himself, “I must have done something to make him annoyed with me.” Sam spends a lot of time thinking about what he could have done wrong, feels guilty and anxious, and avoids talking to his classmate for the rest of the week. In CBT, the therapist would help Sam look at different ways he could think about this situation. Is it possible that Sam did something to upset his classmate? Sure. But that’s just one of so many possibilities. Sam’s classmate could be stressed out about an exam, have had a recent fight with his parents, or just not heard Sam say hello.
We all have experiences like Sam’s where we think something negative about ourselves, but people with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders get overwhelmed by negative or distorted thoughts. These thoughts can make it hard to cope with anxiety, depression, and to reduce substance use. For example, Lily has depression and is also trying to quit using marijuana. She hasn’t smoked in 2 weeks, but decides to get high at her friend’s birthday party. Afterwards Lily thinks to herself, “This is pointless, I’m never going to change. I couldn’t even make it longer than 2 weeks. Forget it.” These thoughts might lead Lily to start using marijuana more regularly again.
How does ICTP apply Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help youth with co-occurring disorders?
In ICTP, therapists help teens with co-occurring disorders get a better understanding of their thoughts and how they impact their feelings and choices. Then we develop skills and strategies for dealing with or changing these thoughts so that they are not so powerful. Of course there are times when we will still have painful emotions, even after changing our thoughts. For these situations, ICTP therapists help teens develop other skills like distress tolerance, problem solving, and communication.
CBT is effective in treating many mental health disorders. These include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, as well as many substance use disorders. If you think someone you know could benefit from CBT, contact our office to see if our program is the right fit.
For more information about CBT and the ICTP program, check out the ICTP FAQ Post.
ICTP is pleased to announce that our Spanish Parent Coaching Group starts April 23, 2018
Spanish-speaking parents and caregivers of youth with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders are invited to attend this FREE 5-week workshop. Families can expect to learn about the teenage brain and why co-occurring disorders require a different set of strategies. We will also talk about skills to help develop healthy household rules, reduce conflict, build relationships, and maintain safety in the home.
THS Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Laura Songras-Rosales will lead the group. Laura also has a background in mental health counseling and has experience working with youth and families.
The group is open to Spanish-speaking parents and caregivers who are concerned about co-occurring mental health and substance use issues with their teen. Priority is given to residents of South Snohomish County, but residents of other areas may also join if space is available.
The group will take place on Monday evenings 6:30-8:30pm beginning April 23, 2018 at the Verdant Community Wellness Center: 4710 196th St. SW, Lynnwood, WA.
Please contact us to register! If you have not registered but would still like to attend
206-322-7676 ext. 6248
ICTP Ofrece un grupo de apoyo para padres de adolescentes
ICTP tiene el agrado de anunciar el grupo de apoyo en español para padres de adolescentes, el cual comenzara el lunes 23 de abril de 2018.
El grupo será guiado por la enfermera psiquiátrica Laura Songras-Rosales, quien tiene experiencia previa en el área de salud mental, y específicamente con adolescentes y sus familias.
Padres y tutores de adolescentes con problemas de alcohol/drogas y de salud mental, están invitados a esta clase de 5 semanas, la clase será gratis. Los participantes aprenderán la importancia de usar estrategias específicas para este tipo de problemas. También aprenderán como crear reglas para el hogar, reducir conflictos, mejorar relaciones, y mantener un hogar seguro.
Se dará prioridad a los residentes del área sur del condado de Snohomish, si el espacio lo permite, residentes de otras áreas serán bienvenidos.
El grupo se llevará a cabo los lunes en la noche de 6:30 a 8:30pm, comenzará el lunes 23 de abril de 2018, en el centro comunitario de Verdant: 4710 196th St. SW, Lynnwood, WA.
Para registrarse, llame al 206 322 7676 extensión 6248.
Para obtener más información sobre los trastornos coexistentes, visite la ICTP Program página.
ICTP Director Dr. Susan Caverly was a featured panelist at Sno-Isle Libraries Issues That Matter series on March 7, 2018. Other panelists were ICTP Therapist Rochelle Long, Co-Occurring Disorder Specialist for Stanwood-Camano School District and Megan Boyle, Director of Children’s Intensive Services at Compass Health. Dr. Caverly offered a unique perspective in this panel. She has seen the impact of co-occurring disorders in teens on a professional and a personal level.
The panel discussed some of the treatment options for youth with mental health and/or a co-occurring disorder. They also offered tips for parents for supporting a teen who is struggling
- Be supportive and present. You might not need to “fix” the problem right away, sometimes just being there and offering empathy is enough.
- Try to avoid asking a lot of questions. If we ask a teen “How was your day?” they usually will just say, “Fine.” We can sometimes get our teens to open up more if we use a statement instead of a question. You might try, “Tell me about something you learned today.” If something seems “off” you might say, “You seem sad/down today” or “It seems like you’re avoiding your homework today.”
- Monitor social media accounts. You might decide to use a third-party app to temporarily disable your teens’ accounts or control data/Wi-Fi use.
- Keep teens involved in prosocial activities, no matter what! These are things like sports, clubs, volunteer work, or other activities that help them learn something new, stay active, give back to the community, or spend time with positive peers or adults. Parents shouldn’t take away prosocial activities even when a teen is acting out or not following rules. Research shows that keeping teens involved in healthy activities with healthy people is good for them, especially when they are struggling.
- You know your teen the best! Rely on your instincts to help you decide if it’s time to get professional help.
- If you think your teen has a mental health disorder it is important to get a thorough evaluation. Providers should spend time with the teen individually and also get information from parents about family history.
Other questions from the audience included concerns about “vaping,” psychiatric medications, and how to navigate the mental health system. Watch the replay of the presentation to see how the panelists responded to these and many other questions
If you think your child might have a co-occurring disorder, check out the ICTP FAQ post.
What are co-occurring disorders?
The term co-occurring disorder applies when someone has both a mental health and a substance use disorder. This is also known as dual diagnosis or dual disorder. For example, an individual with anxiety who is also struggling with alcohol use. For more information visit: https://www.samhsa.gov/disorders.
How is the Integrated Cognitive Therapies Program (ICTP) different from other programs?
Often youth with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders see multiple providers, one who specializes in each area. Integrated treatment means that one therapist provides both mental health and substance use treatment at the same time. In ICTP, youth also have access to psychiatric services if needed. Integrated treatment reduces stress on families since they don’t have to coordinate multiple appointments. It can also help reduce costs. In addition, fewer appointments means that youth have more time for positive activities like sports or after school clubs. As a result, they are able to spend more time with peers who don’t use drugs.
How does ICTP treat co-occurring disorders?
The first step is an assessment to determine whether co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders are present. Then the therapist helps the youth set goals and begin weekly therapy, usually for a total of 16 sessions. ICTP therapists are trained to address both mental health and substance use disorders. They use proven, evidenced-based approaches like Motivational Enhancement Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Contingency Management. Treatment is individualized to each youth and his or her own goals. Sessions focus on developing skills to manage urges to use substances and cope with difficult emotions. Therapists also teach other skills that promote healthy decision-making.
How common are co-occurring disorders in youth?
It’s hard to say how many youth have co-occurring disorders because many have not been diagnosed. According to SAMHSA’s data from 2014, 1 in 10 youth ages 12-17 had a major depressive episode that year. These youth were twice as likely to try alcohol or other drugs compared to their peers. Youth with mental health disorders are at a greater risk for developing a substance use disorder than other youth.
How do I know if my youth has co-occurring disorders?
You don’t have to know! If it seems like your youth is struggling with emotional problems or drugs/alcohol, give us a call. We can help you determine if you should schedule an assessment. Some signs can include:
- Frequently missing school or getting in trouble at school (especially if related to using drugs or alcohol at school)
- Sudden changes in sleep patterns
- Sudden changes in friend group or avoiding friends completely
- Losing interest in activities that used to be fun
- Angry outbursts
- Talking about suicide or attempting suicide
- Sudden changes in weight
- Finding drugs/alcohol or paraphernalia (pipes, empty bottles, pills that were not prescribed, etc.) in your home/youth’s room
- Unexplained cash or especially expensive items (or money going missing)
- Arrests/legal problems
What if a youth needs medication?
Youth in ICTP can receive psychiatric services and medication management appointments with a psychiatric practitioner when indicated.
What about family therapy or other support for parents?
ICTP staff understand that parenting a teen with co-occurring disorders is difficult. ICTP offers the option for parents or caregivers to participate in family coaching. You can participate in individual sessions or in a group with other families.
Who is eligible for ICTP and where are services located?
In the Greater Seattle area:
Youth age 13-26 can come to our Youth and Family Services Branch on Martin Luther King Jr. Way S. in Seattle. This location accepts private insurance and Medicaid. Contact the ICTP Administrative Program Manager at 206-322-7676 ext. 6248 for questions or to request an appointment.
In South Snohomish County:
Our South Snohomish County Program serves youth age 13-19 who either: – – Live in South Snohomish County and are involved in the juvenile justice system (Diversion Agreement, Probation, or At-Risk Youth programs)
– Attend school in the Edmonds School District
Youth in the Edmonds School District may be able to have sessions at school during the day or after school. Student Support Advocates at the schools can help you set up an appointment. Youth involved in the juvenile justice system should ask their Juvenile Probation Counselor or other court staff for a referral. Sessions take place at the Verdant Community Wellness Center in Lynnwood. A grant from the Verdant Health Commission helps cover the cost of services.
For more information, please call 206-322-7676 extension 6248 or visit the ICTP Program page.
THS is proud to announce our 2017 Mental Health and Substance Use Program Outcomes
For both youth and adult clients, we track progress every 90 days on a number of general measures of improvement towards treatment goals. For the Substance Use program, we track measures of improvement such as basic medical care received, alleviation of chronic symptoms and reduction in use of alcohol and drugs. For Mental Health, we track the development of self-management skills, improvements in mood and behavior, and client ability to engage positively with family.
The First Step to Recovery at THS starts with an assessment, a private consultation with one of our counselors talking about the issues the new patient is facing. Here our staff can figure out exactly what issues someone is coping with. Whether it’s heroin or opioid abuse, mental health issues, or trouble with other substances, our team is standing by to help anyone take their First Step to Recovery. Watch the video above or read below to learn more. Learning more..
What happened to my senior year? Where’s my yearbook, prom and graduation ceremony? With all the uncertainty about graduation requirements and the emotional loss of “once-in-a-lifetime” high school senior milestone events it’s understandable that you feel COVID-19 has taken something important from you. Our High School Seniors COVID-19 Process Group can help you work through these feelings, as well as the anxiety, depression and loneliness we are all feeling in the midst of the epidemic. Our High School Seniors COVID-19 more..
From the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/children.html?deliveryName=USCDC_2067-DM23953 Caring for Children Talking to Children About COVID-19 Based on available evidence, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date. You can learn more about who is most at risk for health problems if they have COVID-19 infection on Are you at higher risk for severe illness. more..
During the coronavirus|covid-19 pandemic we want to minimize the risk of exposure and infection for our patients and staff. At the same time, we know you, like everyone else, are anxious, afraid and depressed. We want to continue to provide you with the recovery support you need and help you feel connected at this extraordinary time. Beginning Wednesday, March 25 your counselor will be making weekly check-in calls to you via the phone number we have listed in your patient record. Make more..
Therapeutic Health Services cares deeply about the health of our patients and of our community. We will be posting information as needed regarding any changes in program and service delivery at THS related to coronavirus (covid-19). Our goal is to keep our patients safe and provide the care they need. Please remember to watch our website’s Services Updates page (https://ths-wa.org/news-events/ths-service-updates-coronavirus-covid-19/) page for any changes in service. We will post on our website if there are any changes to daily dosing. more..
Therapeutic Health Services cares deeply about our patients and our community, that’s why we want to share this notification and any others in the future to keep you informed of any changes at THS regarding coronavirus (covid-19). Our goal is to keep our patients safe and provide the care they need. MAT Dosing at our Branches Daily dosing will continue until further notice. We urge patients to please follow dosing line instructions and be aware they may be screened prior more..
By ReutersFeb. 18, 2020 (Reuters Health) – Sedentary teens may be more likely than their active peers to be depressed, and a new study suggests even light exercise like walking might help reduce this risk. Following more than 4,000 young people from age 12 to age 18, researchers found physical activity levels declined as kids got older. But those who were the most sedentary at ages 12 through 16 were the most likely to have symptoms of depression at 18. Conversely, more..
The Therapeutic Health Services team had a great year, especially on our website, where we saw a 118% increase in total web traffic! You have our sincerest thanks for visiting our site, sharing us, and connecting to care with us. We wanted to take a moment to compile some of the great stories, videos, and posts we shared in 2019. Patient Stories Brenda’s Story – Recovering from Opioid Addiction – Brenda’s fall into opioid use stripped her life of the more..
A Lifetime Opportunity Check out our new video Central Youth Development – Developing Youth and Making Bright Futures above. It showcases the Central Youth Development (CYD) program and the amazing educational opportunities we are providing to students in Seattle and Seattle Public Schools. The CYD program connected students with a once-in-a-lifetime college tour through southern Califonia. By partnering with our friends at Y-Scholars at Garfield High School through Meredith Mathews East Madison YMCA, our CYD program was able to expand the more..
BY: Carole Jakucs, MSN, RN, PHN on September 11, 2019 There is a shortage of psychiatrists in the U.S., but some states are in greater need of psychiatrists than others. One example is the state of Washington, which has only met its need for psychiatrists for its population size, by just more than 11%, according to a recently published report by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The state needs a minimum of 165 more psychiatrists to remedy its current shortage. “The shortage has greatly more..