Question: I’ve heard so much on the news lately about teenagers hurting themselves or other people because of mental health problems. How do you know when a teenager’s problems are serious or when they’re just blowing off steam or going through the normal angst of growing up?
All parents of teenagers worry about this. Is a teen moody or really depressed? Are friend breakups serious or just a part of growing up and finding new interests? Is an angry outburst hormones or something more dangerous?
When do you take a teen’s behavior seriously? All the time.
You’ve got to take everything your teen does or says seriously – just like you did when they were younger. Neuroscience tells us that adolescent brains are still developing, with the part of the brain that allows for good decision making and clear evaluation of personal risk developing last. As your children grow up, you parent in a different way, but your guidance and oversight of their safety is as important as ever.
What should you look for? Look for significant changes in the way your child behaves. Is your daughter making direct statements verbally or on social media about wanting to die or focused on death-related themes in music or art? Is your normally outgoing son beginning to spend almost all of his time alone? Is there a room in the house that’s off limits to you? Have your daughter’s friends changed? Does she have any friends?
Because every child is different, your child may show different signs. Is he sleeping too much or not enough? Is she taking risks or making plans to do unusual things? Has he lost interest in things he used to enjoy? Is he eating as usual? Is she more irritable than usual?
Sometimes teens who are experiencing mental problems may lash out in uncontrollable rage. They may begin to cut themselves or hurt others. They may have no plans for the future or plans that are grandiose and unrealistic. Following them on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube can give you insights. Keep talking with your teen, doing careful, intentional listening.
When should you call for professional help? It’s always better to be safe than so very sorry.
Youth Villages operates crisis response services for children under age 18 in most of Tennessee. In that state, a call is answered by a crisis counselor who may be able to assuage your fears and point you to the right help in your community. We believe that intensive in-home services and community-based care are the best options for most teens. Often an in-home counselor or crisis specialist can spot safety issues in your home that you may not see and can provide a professional evaluation of the concerns you have noticed related to your child’s behavior.
In other states, crisis hotlines are available or you can ask your child’s pediatrician for recommendations. If you ever feel your child is a danger to himself or others, call 911 and ask for an immediate connection to appropriate help in your community. Being attentive to our teens as carefully as we watched them when they were toddlers will always pay off.
Tim Goldsmith, Ph.D., is chief clinical officer at Youth Villages, where he directs a staff of clinical specialists who oversee the work we do with children and families across the country.
Dr. Tim and his core clinical managers have nearly 100 years of experience helping children with the most serious problems. Together they oversee the counselors and specialists who work directly with parents, teaching them ways to help their children overcome serious problems and go on to do well at home, at school and in the community.
This year, our clinical and counseling staff will help more than 22,000 children across the country.
Now Dr. Tim and his staff of experts can answer your questions, too. All parents have moments when they wish they could consult with an expert. If you have a question about your tween or teen’s behavior, send it to DrTim@youthvillages.org.
This year’s Youth Villages Oregon Celebrating Success luncheon brought together donors and children’s advocates to support our children and families.
More than 300 Youth Villages Oregon supporters gathered for the luncheon at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland to hear nonprofit strategist Daniel Stid discuss “our fiscal challenges and the promise of evidence-based solutions.” Youth Villages Oregon honored Carole Cooperman, who joined the Red Kite Society, which recognizes individuals, corporations and foundations who have contributed $100,000 or more in support of our programs. Cooperman is a member of the Youth Villages Oregon board.
Fred and Joanne Horstkotte received the Lifetime Service Award. Joanne Horstkotte is a member of the Youth Villages Oregon board. Lois Day, director of child welfare for the Oregon Department of Human Services, received the Driver for Change Award. Christina McMahan of the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice received the Pioneer for Youth Award. Cambia Health Solutions received the Community Partner Award.
Outstanding Advocate for Youth awards went to:
- Bev Davis, family intake coordinator for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs
- Jennifer Allen of FamilyCare Health Plans
- Lynn Holguin of the Alberta branch of the Multnomah County Department of Human Services.
Sponsors of the event include Cambia Health Solutions, Les Schwab Tire Centers, Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, The Standard, Wieden+Kennedy, CFM Strategic Communications, FamilyCare Health Plans, Stoel Rives LLP, Pat and Trudy Ritz, Carole Cooperman, Dan Floyd of Hood to Coast, WRG Foundation – Byron and Cynthia Grant, Fred and Joanne Horstkotte, Krina Lee and Ron and Lynne Saxton.
Youth Villages held its first-ever Happy Hopeful Proud cocktail soiree on Saturday, April 26, at the home of Rick Baker and Lina Lopez. Youth Villages, a national nonprofit with offices in Atlanta, helps troubled children and their families live successfully through a variety of programs. Youth Villages also serves children on its Inner Harbour residential campus in Douglasville, Ga.
The event, chaired by Baker, featured musical performances by Hallie Jackson with Jeff Carlisi and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Band, delicious food from Baraonda Ristorante and Publik Draft House and signature cocktails from Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Four Roses Bourbon. Sean O’Keefe Events managed the festivities.
In addition, guests were able to bid on limited-edition photographs from The Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York. As a special treat, two of the photographers, Neal Preston and Pattie Boyd, were on hand to sign their work and tell the stories behind the photos. Preston, of Los Angeles, has worked with some of the most legendary musical acts in history, including Led Zeppelin and Michael Jackson. Boyd, who traveled from London to support Youth Villages at the event, had a front row seat to music history during her marriages to George Harrison of The Beatles and Eric Clapton. A talented photographer, Boyd captured those moments and shares them with fans around the world. Proceeds from the silent auction benefitted Youth Villages programs in Georgia.
In addition to Boyd and Preston, the event was attended by several high profile guests, including professional athlete Bo Jackson, CNN Anchor Fredricka Whitfield, Fulton County Commission Chair John Eaves, local businessman Tommy Dortch, Arby’s President and CEO Paul Brown and CNN Legal Analyst Mark O’Mara. Youth Villages Chief Executive Officer Patrick Lawler and Chief Development Officer Richard Shaw, along with several members of the Youth Villages national and local boards were also in attendance.
As national Foster Care Awareness Month comes to a close, we’re excited to highlight a few participants in our transitional living program for former foster youth (ages 18-23) who are taking part in some high-profile activities May 29.
|Watch Darrah (left) and Sixto (center) talk with Katie Couric. (Video)|
Darrah, a recent graduate of the University of Memphis, and Sixto, a junior at Virginia Commonwealth University, talk with Katie Couric on today’s “Katie” show about how, with the right support, former foster youth can become successful, independent adults. Find times for the syndicated show in your area here.
As only 3% of former foster youth complete a four-year degree, both of these young adults are incredible examples of this success. With a degree in social anthropology and minors in African and African American Studies, Darrah is in Washington, D.C., beginning an internship on Capitol Hill. Sixto is already a national advocate for foster youth and he’s keynoting a national conference this week.
Another example of a young person now succeeding, Ryan (left) is studying criminal justice at the Daymar Institute in Clarksville, Tenn., and today he will be in Washington shadowing representatives on Capitol Hill and visiting with officials at the White House.
Our Lost at 18 campaign was launched in March to raise awareness and funds for young people like Darrah, Sixto and Ryan. We urge you to watch the videos there and learn how this vulnerable population can overcome the overwhelming hurdles they face.
To celebrate their accomplishments, we are asking you to join us and offer a hand up to one more young person in need. With your help today, we will reach our goal of $10,000 with the #Give18 initiative.
Please help me meet our goal and be sure to share our message on social networks using the #Give18 hashtag and http://lostat18.org URL. Your gift today will allow the next Darrah, Sixto or Ryan to realize their potential!
In April, Youth Villages partnered with the Owen Association of Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management for the third annual Vanderbilt MBA Golf Classic to raise more than $15,000 for Youth Villages’ transitional living program in Middle Tennessee. The total exceeded the amount raised in the previous two years combined.
Thirty teams, more than 30 volunteers and plenty of sponsors and supporters gathered at Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn. Vendors, donors and sponsors such as Dunkin’ Donuts at Vanderbilt, Chick-fil-A and Vineyard Vines, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, Panera Bread, Tobacco Road Coffee & Smoke Shop, Nothing Bundt Cakes and the Owen Golf Club played a significant role making the golf tournament a tremendous success.
This year’s Youth Villages Massachusetts Spring Celebration was a record-breaking success!
We are grateful to the 300 supporters who joined us Sunday, May 4, at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in downtown Boston. The event raised a record-breaking $319,000 to allow Youth Villages to do even more for young adults.
We give special thanks to the evening’s co-chairs, Yvette and Pete Mulderry, and our amazing event committee, without whom this event would not have been possible.
|You can still support our work in New England. Please consider a donation today.|
View a photo gallery from the evening and watch the video below to learn about some the positive impact Youth Villages has had in the lives of young people in New England.
President Obama has proclaimed May 2014 as National Foster Care Month. In his proclamation, the president recognized the almost 400,000 children in foster care across the United States, as well as the foster parents and dedicated professionals who are in their lives.
“This month, and all year long, let us all recognize that each of us has a part to play in ensuring America’s foster children achieve their full potential,” President Obama said in his proclamation. “Together, we can reach the day where every child has a safe, loving, and permanent home.”
Youth Villages’ foster parent recruiters have lots of events planned for May, including foster parent appreciation events, fundraisers, orientation sessions, training classes and more. The community is also encouraged to get involved by participating in a Day of Prayer. Flyers, prayer cards and other resources are available for your church, business or organization to help spread awareness of the need of loving foster homes. Contact your local foster parent recruiter to learn how you can get involved, and visit the Youth Villages Foster Care Facebook page to stay up-to-date on all of Youth Villages’ foster care awareness activities this month.