• Be the Voice: National Suicide Prevention Week

    Posted by Anne Gullota on 9/15/2015


    This is National Suicide Prevention Week. During September 6-12 organizations and schools around the nation will create awareness, and educate the public about suicide prevention.


    At Barrington High School, students involved with Erika’s Lighthouse Chapter will be passing out yellow ribbons, and through out the Barrington area, signs for the Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk in Chicago will be posted around town.

    Click here to learn more about the walk

    Social campaigns throughout the country will share programs and other statistical information, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention will share their results from a recent public survey.

    Click here to learn more from American Foundation for Suicide Prevention


    Suicide Prevention Tips for Kids and Teens

    • Take it seriously, even if your friend brushes it off
    • Suicidal ideation (continual suicidal thoughts) is not typical and reflects a larger problem
    • An angry friend is better than a dead friend
    • Ask, listen, tell, if the threat is immediate stay with the person
    • Bring friend to a trusted adult. If they don’t know what to do or don’t take it seriously find another adult
    • Be a good listener but remember suicidal ideation reflects a bigger underlying problem such as depression, substance problems, abuse, problem-solving difficulties. - - You can listen but they need to speak to a professional.
    • 30% of attempters tell someone before, many don’t tell anyone after.
    • When some talks to you, that is the moment for intervention
    • With each suicide attempt, risk of suicide increases

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    Warning Signs:

    • Change in mood- sadness, anxiety, irritability
    • Change in behavior- isolation
    • Change in sleep
    • Change in appetite
    • Increase in aggression or impulsiveness
    • Agitation
    • Feeling hopeless, worthless
    • Saying things like “No one will miss me” or “You’ll be better off” (feeling like a burden)
    • Feeling ashamed or humiliated or desperation, as after a break up or test
    • Collecting means
    • Talking about wanting to kill themselves
    • Drop in grades
    • Risk taking
    • Giving away prized possessions

    The Chicagoland Out of the Darkness Walk will take place at Avery Field ( Grant Park next to Soldier Field) in Chicago on September 26, 2015 at 10:00 am.


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    The Chicagoland Walk is the largest in the country for suicide prevention. The public is welcome, and it’s free of charge. Early registration is recommended given the size of the event. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention will host the event, and the day includes speakers, music, information tents, counseling, and a beautiful walk along Lake Michigan to help create awareness, remember those who have died by suicide, and help those who struggle with an underlying mental health disorder

    Event Details for Out of the Darkness Chicago Walk;

    Walk Date: 09/26/2015

    Walk Location: Avery Field - Grant Park

    Check-in/Registration Time: 09/26/2015 at 8:00 am

    Walk Begins: 10:00 am

    Walk Ends: 12:00 pm

    For more information, please contact:

    Contact Name: Chicagoland Walk Committee

    Contact Phone: 312-890-2377

    Contact Email: Chicago@AFSP.org

    Its not too late to sign up, create a team, or join a team. For more information locally contact Anne Gulotta, H.E.R.E. in Barrington and AFSP board member at annegulotta@gmail.com or 847-431-8504

    If you are in crisis, call:1-800-273-TALK (8255)

    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline click here

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  • B4Stage4 Changing the Way We Think About Mental Health

    Posted by Anne Gulotta on 5/21/2015

    Identifying signs of mental health in children and teens can be lifesaving, learn more

    Catching mental health conditions early is knows as Early Identification and Intervention, according to Mental Health America.

    It may be particularly difficult to know if a child is struggling with a mental health disorder whether it be depression, or an onset of a physical or biological disorder. The stigma often associated with mental health illnesses keep can our feelings hidden. The signs of mental illness often mimic those of a physical illness.

    Surprised? Many of the aches and pains associated with a physical illness are the same as a mental illness. We just don't know it. A traumatic experience can catapulte us into an unhealthy mental or physical state. Others, wake up feeling aches and pains that they have never felt before. Sometimes,a child may not want to get out of bed.

    But, mental health conditions that are not short term are not normal. The good news is these conditions are treatable.

    B4Stage4 Changing the Way We Think About Mental Health through Mental Health America says that what we do for physical illnesses we should do for mental illnesses B4Stage4.

    We begin with prevention! We shouldn't ignore the signs of a mental illness just like we don't ignore the signs of physical illness. Act now! If you are concerned that child may be suffering from a mental health disorder don't wait. Contact your child's physician or a mental health provider for more help. You may be saving their life.

    See this video from Mental Health America:

    Locally we are fortunate to have many opportunities for help!

    • HERE in Barrington is the only organization of it’s kind in the Barrington area, and strives to work alongside other organizations to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness, and strives to create a community where teens and parents feel they can be educated and talk about mental health issues.

    Click here to learn more about HERE

    • *Barrington Youth and Family Services*offers counseling and mental health assessments to address concerns of at-risk/unusual behavior. The provide comprehensive family counseling, youth outreach and prevention programming for Barrington area youth and their families.

    Click here to learn more about BYFS

    • Family Service works to strengthen families through counseling, education and related support services. We help individuals succeed in school, at work, in relationships and within our community.

    To learn more about Family Service click here

    Mental Health America has a website with lots of useful information.

    Click here to check out their site

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  • H.E.R.E in Barrington announces Partnership

    Posted by Jennifer West on 3/18/2015

    It is estimated that between 15-20% of teens will have a depressive episode before they reach adulthood. BHS organization is focused on creating awareness.

    Pictured above (left to right): Seniors Jack Wilson, Katie Andraschko, Mette Anderson, Leah George, Maddi Cheek, Matt Dowdy, and Parker Larson on March 6 for the H.E.R.E. in Barrington coalition meeting.

    H.E.R.E in Barrington continues to work diligently with BHS student board members — now a chapter of Erika’s Lighthouse, to fight the stigma regarding mental illness.

    They strive for a community where parents and teens can talk about mental health, learn about suicide prevention, and make a difference in the lives of those affected by mental illness and its most tragic outcome--suicide.

    Under the direction of H.E.R.E Co-President and BHS Student Assistance Program Coordinator,Brenda Nelson, BHS H.E.R.E. students voted to join forces with Erika’s Lighthouse and re-name the group to reflect the new partnership!

    Approximately 35 students are club members. Half of these students are trained as panel presenters.

    Erika’s Lighthouse is a Chicago-area organization, whose goal is educating communities about mental health issues. One of their initiatives is creating clubs in area schools and training club members through their teen panel program. This program is a peer-to-peer depression education program, where students learn to speak to their classmates about depression, the warning signs and how to get help to their peers. There are currently 24 student panels throughout Chicago area.

    To learn more about Erika's Lighthouse click here

    On March 6, the H.E.R.E in Barrington coalition had the opportunity to see some of BHS Erika’s Lighthouse students in action this month as they premiered their hour-long panel presentation. Professional and confident, the students presented an educational video and then shared real life teen stories of depression and how anonymous Chicago-area adolescents were able to find and hope and healing. Erika’s Lighthouse encourages teens to submit their stories of hope and healing that the teen panels then use for their presentations. The panel plans for more pilot presentations to a variety of BHS students in the remaining months of the school year.

    Why is Teen Depression education so important?

    According to Erika’s Lighthouse, Teen Depression Education:

    • Reduces stigma – When myths are broken and facts are shared about depression, stigma is reduced and teens are empowered to talk openly - cultivating an environment that supports mental health.

    • Promotes early identification – When students understand what teen depression looks like, we create a system of teen identifiers.

    • Encourages early intervention – When everyone has the same mental health “language” and understands that like other medical conditions, depression requires professional support, help-seeking behavior takes place.

    • Protects lives – When stigma is reduced and early identification and intervention occurs, we manage depression and protect precious lives.”

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  • Suicide prevention & QPR Gatekeeper Training: Know the signs

    Posted by Anne Gulotta on 2/22/2015

    Learn how you can better equip yourself to identify and handle someone who may be suicidal.

    Change of seasons can bring about heightened levels of suicidal ideation, and with spring around the corner depression, anxiety, and mood changes can increase.

    The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has a list of signs and symptoms to help you identify those that may be in need, and get them help.

    On March 6, 2015 HERE in Barrington (Help, Encourage, Resources, and Education for Teen Suicide Prevention) will host a Coalition meeting and QPR Gatekeeper Training.

    The training will help you to learn and identify the what follows below, so in person attendance is important. In 3 simple steps you can help save a life from suicide. Anyone who works with the public, or cares for someone young or old should attend this training.

    QPR for the brain is what CPR is to the body.

    What to know

    People who kill themselves exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do. The more warning signs the greater the risk.


    If a person talks about:

    • Killing themselves.
    • Having no reason to live.
    • Being a burden to others.
    • Feeling trapped.
    • Unbearable pain.


    A person’s suicide risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased, especially if it’s related to a painful event, loss, or change.

    • Increased use of alcohol or drugs.
    • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means.
    • Acting recklessly.
    • Withdrawing from activities.
    • Isolating from family and friends.
    • Sleeping too much or too little.
    • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
    • Giving away prized possession
    • Aggression


    People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods.

    • Depression
    • Loss of interest.
    • Rage
    • Irritability
    • Humiliation.
    • Anxiety

    In an Emergency, Contact:

    • Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
    • Psychiatric hospital walk-in clinic
    • Hospital emergency room
    • Urgent care center/clinic
    • Call 911

    Read about suicide risk factors and warning signs.

    Who is a Mental Health Professional?

    • Someone who can help people get relief from mental health problems and disorders and find ways to improve mental wellness and resiliency.
    • They may be a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, marriage and family therapist, psychiatric nurse, or counselor with mental health training.
    • You may find these professionals in emergency rooms, hospitals, clinics, schools, community and religious centers, and in private practices. You can ask your doctor for a referral.

    How Can a Mental Health Professional Help?

    • If you feel unhappy, depressed, anxious, fearful, moody, or in need of emotional help, a mental health professional can help you to understand your problems and to feel better.
    • They have specialized training to identify and understand problems that may be causing you discomfort or putting you at risk.
    • They also have specialized training in helping people with a variety of mental disorders.
    • If you need it, they can prescribe medicine, or can connect you with someone who can determine whether you need medication.
    • They are trained to offer an objective, independent viewpoint.
    • They can help you to connect with other professionals and specialists, if needed.

    What does Mental Health Treatment Involve? How Can Someone Find a Mental Health Professional?

    • Ask your family or primary care doctor, pediatrician, or ob-gyn physician for a referral.
    • Students who are in school and their families can talk to a guidance counselor.
    • Those in a college or university can contact the student Counseling Center or Health Center.
    • Connect to a clinic or treatment facility associated with a local Medical School or graduate training program in psychology, counseling or social work.
    • Contact the Department of Psychiatry at your local hospital.
    • If there is a university in your area, inquire whether they have a Depression Research Center or other mental health services.

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  • An Evening of Hope

    Posted by Anne Gullota on 2/2/2015

    BHS Grad & Former Red Sox Pitcher John Trautwein Book Signing Became an Evening of Hope

    HERE in Barrington Board Member Anne Gulotta shares how a night about suicide and loss, became a night of hope as John Trautwein shared his book and story.

    Anne Gulotta

    “That night, as he walked up those stairs, was the last time I would see Will alive. 'Love ya man' were the last words I ever spoke to my son”.

    John Trautwein is a devoted husband, father, and friend to many. John is a Barrington High School graduate, former professional baseball player, successful businessman, and a loving husband and father. He’s tall and well spoken, and is married to a wonderful woman named Susie, and has three great kids. On the outside life is good.

    But, John and Susie live with a loss that’s hard to fathom. Their lives were turned upside down on the morning of October 15, 2010 when they found their son, Will, dead in his bedroom. Will died by suicide. John says there were no obvious signs of depression. He feels that Will hid his depression, because it’s not something you talked about.

    John and Susie are not alone.

    Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth and teens ages 15-24, and the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

    In his recently self published book My Living WILL, a father’s Story of Loss and Hope, John explains Will’s death, the grieving process, and his decision to create the Will To Live Foundation dedicated to raising awareness about teen suicide in the United States.

    On Saturday evening at Chessie’s in Barrington, family and friends in the community streamed in to congratulate John on his published book, catch up on sports, and reminisce about the old times. Retired baseball coach Kirby Smith and swim coach Lee McCloud spent much of the evening talking about John’s career in baseball. John signed books throughout the evening, always smiling and genuinely happy that people came out to see him before the great snowstorm of the season swept through Chicago cancelling John’s flight back to Atlanta. But, John didn’t seem to mind.

    HERE in Barrington, a coalition for teen suicide prevention had a significant presence.Chris Bibby and I - both HERE in Barrington Board Members, and Chris’s wife were delighted to spend the evening speaking to several people about teen suicide prevention in support of the Will To Live Foundation. It’s events like this that make me realize how important HERE in Barrington is to our community.

    John and I both agreed that neither of us knew much about suicide causes and prevention before we both lost a family member to suicide. We now know there are several great organizations like the American Foundation for Suicide Preventionwhose mission is to eliminate suicide and the stigma that surrounds it. Other area organizations like NAMISamaritan Counseling CenterErika’s Lighthouse,Barrington Youth and Family Services, on site mental health programs, and private practices are available in our communities, but we don’t know much about them until we need them.

    “John's loss illustrates that suicide can penetrate even the strongest of families. What impressed me was his transparency and passion for taking this personal tragedy and forging it into preventative action for others. I was also struck by how grateful people seem to be by the work we're doing. We made some inter-agency connections which will hopefully increase our influence in the community,” said Chris Bibby, Psy.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist Barrington Center for Counseling & Psychotherapy & HERE Board of Directors

    Many communities have health providers, but they don’t have a HERE in Barrington to support mental health awareness, education, and recovery. HERE in Barrington doesn’t offer mental health services, but they support those who do, and work with organizations and providers to education the public about suicide prevention.

    John and I both said that talking about our losses is both therapeutic, and also beneficial because we are raising awareness about suicide in our communities. The stigma has come along way since I lost my husband to suicide in 2002. Social media, and the unfortunate loss of celebrities like Robin Williams, who died by suicide, bring more awareness and acceptance about mental illness.

    Mental illness needs to be treated like a physical illness. People need to be aware of the signs and symptoms, get the treatment and support they need, and be responsible for the recovery.

    If you put a bandage on an open wound and rip it off it’s going to get worse. Mental health treatment is the same way. People need to continually treat their mental illness as if it was Cancer, an open wound, or infection that won’t heal. We all need support when we are going through an illness, whether it’s an illness of the mind or body. The body won’t function if the brain isn’t functioning, so take care of your brain!

    John and I have both turned tragedy into something meaningful by creating a legacy in honor of the ones we lost. John said that Will’s short life affected many people.

    The Will To Live Foundation created Life Teammate Scholars, which supports and donates money to helping raise awareness about suicide, and gives scholarships to students who “exemplify the life teammates concept", John said.

    Kids learn how to share their feelings, and open up to one another, and say something simple like “Love Ya Man”.

    I felt the presence of true community at Chessie’s. People were there to honor Will, support the Trautweins, and support our community in our pursuit to eliminate suicide.

    I left Chessie’s smiling. When I got home I lit a candle for Jay and Will, and said “Love Ya Man.” With support and inspiration we can do anything.

    To learn more about John's book or to purchase the book, click here

    For more information about the Will to Live Foundation click here

    Learn more about HERE in Barrington by clicking here

    Learn more about The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention here

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  • Gratitude

    Posted by Anne Gulotta on 1/9/2015

    How adopting a daily dose of gratitude can benefit teens and positively change their perspective.

    After a nice winter break our kids have returned to school with new schedules, new gossip, and by the end of the first week they’re back into full gear.

    Winter months to early spring can bring about new emotional responses so getting back into gear should include proper sleep, diet, and a balanced homework and activity schedule.

    You might say,

    “Yea right, like that’s really going to happen?”

    Giving your teen tools to combat crazy schedules can be a lifesaver, literally. Making sure we our communicating with our kids, feeding them, driving to and fro, or saying ‘its bed time’ for the tenth time is all in a day’s work, but one tool you may want to bring out of your parental tool box is the teaching of gratitude.

    Kids live in 3 places: Me, Myself, and I. It’s all about self-discovery, but throwing in a fourth that includes the principals of gratitude may make them happier.

    What about gratitude? It doesn’t make us skinnier like a new year’s diet, but it might make us happier and a little bit smarter. To be thankful has been studied by major colleges and researchers, and the findings are positive. Surprise! Gratitude is a state of mind, and may be more.

    “Gratitude played an important role in many areas of positive mental health of the teens in our study,” said lead author Giacomo Bono, PhD, psychology professor at California State University. “Increases in gratitude over a four-year period were significantly related to improvements in life satisfaction, happiness, positive attitudes and hope.”

    To measure the development of gratefulness, researchers asked 700 students ages 10 to 14 to complete questionnaires in their classroom at the beginning of the study and four years later to provide comparison data. When comparing the results of the least grateful 20 percent of the students with the most grateful 20 percent, they found that teens with the most gratitude by the end of the four-year period had:

    • Gained 15 percent more of a sense of meaning in their life
    • Become 15 percent more satisfied with their life overall (at home, at school, with their neighborhood, with their friends and with themselves)
    • Become 17 percent happier and more hopeful about their lives
    • Experienced a 13 percent drop in negative emotions and a 15 percent drop in depressive symptoms

    Even if teens didn't start off with lots of gratitude, they could still benefit if they developed more gratitude over the four-year period, according to Bono.

    “They experienced many of the same improvements in well-being. Moreover, they showed slight reductions overall in delinquency, such as alcohol and drug use, cheating on exams, skipping school, detention and administrative discipline,” he said. “For instance, the top 10 percent of those who developed the most gratitude showed 9 percent less delinquency than the bottom 10 percent in gratitude growth.”

    “For the purposes of the study, the authors defined grateful teens as having a disposition and moods that enabled them to respond positively to the good people and things in their lives,” Bono said.

    The four-year study took place in New York with a sample that was 54 percent girls, 67 percent white, 11 percent Asian-American, 10 percent African-American, 1.4 percent Hispanic, 9 percent other and 1.6 percent no response.

    “These findings suggest that gratitude may be strongly linked with life-skills such as cooperation, purpose, creativity and persistence and, as such, gratitude is vital resource that parents, teachers and others who work with young people should help youth build up as they grow up,” Bono said. “More gratitude may be precisely what our society needs to raise a generation that is ready to make a difference in the world.”

    A little gratitude goes a long way, and reflecting upon it can be a good thing for the whole family. At the end of last year I reflected back on 2014, and it definitely had its low spots, but at the end of the year I was given some great news about two organizations that I am very passionate about; the Out of the Darkness Walk results; Over $1mm raised in Illinois from the walks that will go toward suicide prevention, and the state ofOrgan Donation in Illinois; Over 1,000 organs transplanted in 2014 a new record!

    My kids are doing well, and I have many wonderful people in my life. This helped me to focus on the positives not the negatives of 2014. Besides a bad flu bug, I think 2015 is looking brighter, and for that I am grateful. Life’s too short so gripe a little less, and love a little more. I feel better already!

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  • The Journey

    Posted by Anne Gullotta on 11/30/2014

    Holiday Season can be filled with joy, but for people who have lost someone, the holidays can be a struggle.

    The holiday season can be filled with comfort and joy, but for some people the holidays are a struggle, especially if they've lost a loved one to suicide.

    Survivors may feel sad or depressed during the holidays. It may trigger feelings of loss, as they remember previous holidays spent with their loved one.

    On November 22nd, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention celebrated their annual International Survivor of Suicide Day. ISOS, as it is referred to, began 16 years ago and is celebrated each Saturday before Thanksgiving. Having a day dedicated to survivors of suicide, provides a time to heal, to grow and to make connections. This year’s theme was The Journey. A video was shown of survivors and their journey of healing from loss.

    "There's no one way to grieve," said Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer of theAmerican Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

    Mental illness doesn't discriminate and survivors are equally diverse. Each person needs to find what works for them. Having a day dedicated to survivors is just one way to provide hope and healing to the community.

    Children can be especially affected by suicide loss - so it's important to be sensitive and aware of their needs during the holidays. One way to provide a healing environment is to communicate openly with your children about your own feelings of loss and find out what they might be thinking and feeling. Some teens may want to confide in their friends rather than their parents-don’t be hurt if this is so.

    If holiday events are too overwhelming take a break, shorten your visits. Jennifer West, LCSW, Co-President of H.E.R.E in Barrington says,

    “It is important to plan in advance for the feelings that may come during the holiday season. How do you do this? Think ahead of ways you can sooth yourself or others, if feelings become intense. Think of positive ways to remember your loved one and think of something small you can do to celebrate their memory. One way to begin moving forward may be to start a new holidays tradition. Although it is good to plan not to be alone –it may also be good to take time for yourself away from the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Most importantly be patient with the healing process-especially during the holidays!”

    Ten things you can do for yourself and your family in the aftermath of a loss:

    • Go at your own pace
    • Be kind to yourself
    • Eat nutritiously and get enough rest
    • Exercise; walk, run, swim, cycle, etc
    • Head outdoors and spend time in nature
    • Give yourself permission to seek professional help- individual and/or family therapy or counseling-and, if applicable to you, call on your personal faith to help you as well.
    • Learn more about the experience of suicide loss by reading the stories of those who are further along in their journey
    • Join a support group or online community for suicide loss survivors
    • Participate in walks and events such as International Survivor of Suicide Loss Day on an annual basis
    • Get involved with the survivor loss community by volunteering with an organization.

    AFSP.org may have a support group listing or volunteer group near you. Or, contact Anne Gulotta 847-431-8504.

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  • Anxiety in Teens, a Growing Concern in Our Area

    Posted by Jennifer West on 10/29/2014

    Sometimes caused by positive activities, balancing emotions can be a challenge for some teenagers.

    We all know the anxious feeling we get before a big event, or remember the first date or kiss? Trying out for a sport or a part in the school play can create anxiety. Exams and tests can be the worst.

    Most of us get through these anxiety producing events even if it feels overwhelming at the time. Our emotions may momentarily take over; we may get flushed faces, racing hearts or sweats.

    It’s when the feelings become overwhelming, and uncontrollable that Anxiety becomes a problem.

    Anxiety disorders in teens are not normal, but are an increasing concern in our area. The recent 2014 Community Survey (hosted the Healthier Barrington Coalition) results showed Anxiety and Nervousness were the number one concern respondents had about teens and children in our households.

    15.4% of survey takers felt this was a concern, up from 9.4% in the 2011 survey.

    Tens of millions of adults experience panic attacks as a result of not having their anxiety disorder diagnosed earlier in life.

    Here is a real life story told on teenhealth.org:

    Rachel’s Story

    “It was the spring of my junior year of high school — a particularly stressful time for many students. I had schoolwork to do, APs to study for, nightly soccer practice, and pit band rehearsal for the school musical. To put it lightly, I was overloaded. One night while I was sitting in my final dress rehearsal for the school play, I started thinking about my boyfriend. We'd been dating since the beginning of the school year, and because he was my first boyfriend, I was very inexperienced when it came to relationships. As I was sitting in rehearsal that night, thoughts about our relationship just kept popping up in my head. Where was our relationship going? Was it a good, healthy relationship? What was it really based on?

    While these were normal questions for anyone to ask, my reactions to them were both mentally and physically overwhelming. I couldn't focus on playing my music, and I started breathing too quickly and trembling, convinced that my boyfriend would dump me and my world would fall apart. I kept imagining only the worst outcomes from this situation, until finally I couldn't sit with the band anymore. I had to leave the auditorium during the last full dress rehearsal and run to the bathroom, where I began retching in one of the stalls”...

    In Rachel’s situation she ended up in bed for three days. She returned to school, changed some of her routine, and began to feel better over time. Her parents took her to see a psychologist who diagnosed her as having Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things. Speaking with the psychologist was helpful, but Rachel couldn’t kick her worrying habit, so the psychologist recommended seeing a psychiatrist for an anti-anxiety medication.

    Rachel is lucky, because her parents made sure she got the help she needed, and Rachel stuck with it. At the end of the article Rachel says that her anxiety has been the biggest challenge in her life, but that she is now a stronger more confident person.

    Now Rachel says;

    “The rewards of trying, whether I succeed or not, are always better than letting my worries run my life or wondering what would have happened if I'd only had the courage to try”.

    Without proper diagnosis or professional help, anxiety disorders can lead to many problems, including suicide. Jennifer West, MSW, LCSW and Co-President of H.E.R.E. in Barrington says,

    "It is normal for teens to worry about grades, friends, dating, competitions, or other normal teenage experiences. But for some teenagers - anxiety can become excessive, irrational or get in the way of achieving healthy goals. Anxiety disorders are some of the most common mental health conditions teenagers experience and are highly treatable. Unfortunately too many of our teens go untreated. If a teen in your life seems excessively worried, or starts trying to avoid situations or events, or if their anxiety seems to be affecting school, home or social life –talk to a mental health professional.”

    According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 8 percent of Teens ages 13-18 have an anxiety disorder . Symptoms can come on suddenly or over time. Studies are being done on what causes anxiety disorders, and the brain function behind them. The brain is still developing during the adolescent years. Teens may not understand what is happening to them. Their moods may change suddenly, and often. It can be overwhelming and confusing. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been known to be very successful, but it’s always best to check with your child’s physician first to make sure your child is getting the needed sleep, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle that he or she needs.

    Our lives are so busy these days, and anxiety won’t go away by itself. With some time, treatment and TLC life can be a whole lot better .

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  • Bullying Prevention Month

    Posted by Jennifer West on 10/11/2014

    Bullying can not be tolerated! There is plenty of support and information available to help.

    Bullying is a very important topic for all parents.

    Bullying can lead to depression and even suicidal ideation. The good news is we can Stomp out Bullying if we know what to do. I was bullied in the Junior High for blossoming into my youth too quickly. I didn’t like those experiences, and I didn’t forget them! Luckily I grew past it.

    When today’s youth are bullied, it may be in cyberspace, a place where the insults and injuries may never go away. Who is the bully? It isn’t behavior to be tolerated, but we have to understand there is an underlying social behavior that causes these behaviors. So how do we as a community addresses the issue of bullying?

    The building blocks to reducing bullying in communities were a recent topic at theInstitute of Medicine of The National Academies during a two-day Workshop onBuilding Capacity to Reduce Bullying And Its Impact On Youth Across the Lifecourse. A panel of twenty presenters shared their findings from reviewing research on bullying, prevention, and intervention efforts. The research spanned multiple contexts and settings including; Schools, Families, Technology, Communities, Peers Laws and Public Policy.

    Here are some of their findings:

    “Bullying is a community event, and it takes a community to deal with it”, Mike Donlin,Program Supervisor for the School Safety Center of the Office of the Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction, said of his experience working on bullying prevention in districts and schools with families and parents.

    • Bullying is common. Bullying can happen at any age from pre-elementary school post high school and adult. One study revealed that 20 to 30 percent of students had been bullied in the past year.

    • Bullying is Preventable and is an approach that needs to be taken. Action must be taken to learn more about prevention and the consequences of bullying to victims, perpetrators, schools, and society.

    • Bullying gets under the skin - that is a literal statement. There is genetic research, neuroimaging, biological changes and more associated with bullying.

    • Bullying is associated with other forms of aggression across the lifecoure.

    • Bullying can lead to other criminal and antisocial behaviors.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Education recently sponsored an effort to develop a uniform definition of bullying. This definition states in part that:

    “Bullying is any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths… that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated. Bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth, including physical, psychological, social, or educational harm.”

    Related to bullying, Julie Schoppe, a counselor at Station Middle School and H.E.R.E. in Barrington board member said:

    “Students today are facing so many more challenges than before. The use of social media has really played a major role in this, because students post negative things to each other online that they wouldn’t typically say to someone in person. They don’t realize how much those written words can hurt someone.”

    We must be cognizant of the norm we are setting from the first day of school. Collaboration is important between students and teachers. This is a grassroots movement to make it a part of the student norm. We can see the differences between the minorities vs. the majority in the process of bullying. The minority can often process it better than the majority. The importance of interpersonal connections is very important.

    In late middle school and high school anti-bullying programs can cease to become affective. It needs to be about changing a climate. Teens are resistant to being told this is the way you should think about this. Often times, the facts, along with the teachers and families can set a good example. Parents and children can tell their own stories and share ways to deal with the problem.

    Stopbulling.gov is a very resourceful website. It doesn’t talk down to the child. There is a push toward data driven methods that seem to be making a big difference.

    A freshman student from Barrington High School remarked:

    “Bullying is probably the single most horrible thing that happens in school. The words and marks that people give you never leave. They are scars that can last forever. The comments that people make replay in your head until you start to believe them about yourself. There is a fine line between goofing off with your friends, and bullying someone else. People need to learn that. People need to learn before they speak.”

    To see Barrington 220’s Bullying and Harassment Resources Click Here

    Tim Geleske, MD is a H.E.R.E. in Barrington board member. Tim feels that bullying can come in many different forms whether physical, emotional, or social.

    “It’s important for parents to inquire how their child is doing in school, what they think about the children in their class, or do they know someone who is being picked on. When I encounter a patient who is being bullied, I advise them to try not to react to the bullying, and try not giving into them. I advise them to stand tall, look them in the eye, and calmly walk away. They should tell a responsible adult as soon as possible. The most important thing is that a child feels safe, and that they should not be afraid or embarrassed to tell his or her parents or teachers about what has occurred.” Tim Geleske,MD

    There’s an app for that, too! SAMHSA’s app “Knowbullying” gives advice to parents, and instruction with pointers about bullying. You can even set reminders to ask your child about their day without being invasive. But, if you need to intervene they tell you how. It’s an easy and resourceful tool to have on hand.

    On October 6, 2014 the Station Middle School wore blue shirts that said; “Stomp out Bullying”.

    “The students were met with cheers from the staff, and the student lockers had blue paper shirts on them with positive messages from the staff. The advisors scheduled activities to show how much of a negative impact bullying has on others, and a guided discussion followed.” said Julie Schoppe

    Download the app from SAMHSA here

    In the state of Illinois we have a set of Anti-bullying laws some of which were amended and introduced this past summer. It is important to know that many long hours of research, and guided expertise went into the drafting of these laws.

    Click here to see HB5707

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  • Losing Her Husband to Suicide - Anne Gulotta Shares What She Has Learned

    Posted by Jennifer West on 9/11/2014

    Becoming involved in programs and charities that help with Suicide Prevention - Anne shares information about the upcoming Out off the Darkness Walk and other ways to get help.

    This year's annual Chicagoland Out of the Darkness Walk sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide prevention (AFSP) will be held on September 20, 2014 at 10:00 am at Avery Field in Grant Park Chicago.

    Over 3000 people have signed up for the walk already. The Chicagoland walk is the largest in the country of its kind and only one of several throughout Illinois raising awareness about suicide prevention, survivor outreach, and education

    “The walk is along the lakeshore, and is a beautiful and safe place to bring people together offering hope that one day soon suicide will be eliminated. The majority of mental illnesses are treatable,” said Anne Gulotta, board member of AFSP Illinois and HERE in Barrington.

    Anne walks in memory of her husband Jay who died by suicide in 2002. Since Jay's death Anne has been an active advocate for suicide prevention and organ donation.

    “Losing Jay to suicide changed my life, but it didn't have to stop it. I felt empowered to create a legacy by creating awareness about two subjects I became very passionate about. Two subjects I knew very little about before his death. If I knew then all that I've learned - Jay would probably be alive today so I want people to know there is help out there. Most importantly, there is HOPE.”

    Research and education offered through AFSP benefit communities throughout the United States. They offer programs for teens, community prevention, support networks, professional research, interactive screening, and survivor programs just to name a few.

    Anne, her family and other families in Barrington have attended the Annual community walk. HERE (Help, Encourage, Resources, and Education) Coalition helped sponsor the walk. All the money that the community walks raise go back into research, funding, and community programs. Since the Chicagoland walks have been so successful we've been able to direct more funds to community programs that benefit communities like Barrington.

    “They offer our services free to the public,” said Gulotta ”I believe the only way we change things is by reducing the stigma, and educating the public. Through research and education we can teach people about mental illness, treatment, and management. Mental illness should be treated just like any other kind of illness.”

    How to Save A Life

    The good news is a lot more attention is being paid to mental health and much of it is coming from organizations like The American a foundation for Suicide Prevention, NAMI, SAMSHA, Illinois Division of Mental Health, and community organizations and hospitals like Alexian Brothers, Barrington Youth and Family Services, HERE in Barrington, Erika's Lighthouse, Samaritans Counseling, and several private practices just to name a few. Suicide is seldom caused by a single event, and Mental illness like depression can be treated.

    “Admitting there is a problem is the first step,” said Gulotta. “Getting help and sticking with treatment is next. If you fear someone is in danger harming themselves call 911 or the Suicide Talk Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)”

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