News and Updates

Mental Health and Wellness – When Intervention Is Needed

It’s normal for teens and children to have ups and downs when it comes to emotions, but how do you know when it is time to seek outside help? Sometimes it’s difficult to know when intervention may be needed. However, early intervention is key to helping children and teens cope with feelings and emotions.

Emotional Symptoms Under the Surface

Sometimes it may be difficult for young people to open up and communicate their feelings to others. There may be outward signs of trouble coping, such as academic grades declining. Suppose your child is becoming more socially withdrawn – not keeping in touch with friends as they used to, spending more time isolated in their bedroom, or not wanting to go to extracurricular activities or events they normally participate in. In that case, these may be early signs as well.

Anger and opposition is a common emotion and is typically displayed with raised voices in the heat of an argument. Many times, things are said that can be hard to take back and aren’t easily forgotten or forgiven. This can make adult/child relationships difficult to navigate, and sometimes an impartial third party can help in more challenging situations. Whether this person is a school counselor or an outside therapist, a neutral professional can help people learn coping skills and ways to communicate that can help them better manage their emotions when tensions run high in situations that are difficult to manage.

Physical Symptoms Need to be Addressed

Older children and teens may also have physical symptoms in stressful situations, especially if they have been going on for extended periods of time. Decreased appetite, weight loss, abdominal pain or discomfort, headaches, and fatigue may all be physical symptoms of anxiety or depression. School avoidance may also be occurring due to physical symptoms. Therefore, it’s important to have any physical symptoms checked out by a health care provider.

In more severe cases, youth and teens may even voice suicidal ideations or thoughts and feelings of wanting to hurt themselves. If feelings progress to this, immediate intervention is warranted. For this reason, it is so important that when children or teens begin to feel overwhelmed by their emotions or any outward signs can be identified, steps are taken to intervene early. By putting a plan in place to get them the services they need, healthier outcomes can be successfully achieved.

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Home for the Holidays: How to Help Family Members in Recovery During the Holiday Season

The holiday season can be a time of great cheer for many, but for others, it’s also a rather tough time of year. For those going through recovery, for example, there are a host of challenges throughout this time, from family expectations to substance-related temptations and even memories that might stir up inner turmoil. However, if you have a friend or family member who has been through a recovery program and is coming home for the holidays, there are certainly steps you can take to help them.

First and foremost, make sure that you take the time to speak to the person who is coming home. This might feel like an obvious thing to do, but there are many who get so caught up with the idea of ‘helping’ that they don’t actually take the time to consult the person who needs help. So instead, check in with the person who is coming home and ask what you can do to make their life a bit easier. There may be certain things that they have learned in recovery that could be helpful here, and in some cases, they will communicate those techniques or ideas to you.

Beyond that, it’s vital that you take some time to really think about what kind of situations that you’re putting your friend or family member into. Try to avoid putting the individual into situations that might lead to extreme stress, as such stressors can be part of the recipe that leads to relapse. Suppose your friend or family member was in recovery for issues with alcohol, for example. In that case, you might want to make sure that you’re not planning on having a gathering in a bar or that alcohol isn’t the main feature of the evening.

In most cases, though, the best thing you can do for a family member is to give them room to advocate for themselves. Don’t push them to do anything they don’t want to do, and make sure that you’re providing a safe space for them when necessary. Remember, you’re only there to help – otherwise, your friend or family member is taking charge of their own recovery.

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Providing Support During the Holidays

While the holidays are undoubtedly pleasant for many, they can also cause problems for those in recovery. Not only do these celebrations often bring back reminders of times past, but the use of various substances during the holidays can make it hard for someone who has worked to get clean to stay that way. As a friend or family member, then, it is important to know how you can provide support during the holidays.

Don’t Leave Loved Ones Alone During the Holidays

For many, simply having a constant presence can work wonders. So don’t leave your loved one alone during the holidays, whether that means making sure that they have company during important events or simply checking in to have coffee from time to time. Isolation can be a significant issue during recovery, and those who find themselves struggling to connect are also those who might have the most prominent problems staying on the right path as the holidays come and go.

It’s also helpful to make sure that you provide safe alternatives for your friend or family member during his or her recovery. If the person in question is recovering from issues surrounding addiction, for example, you may want to avoid having parties in places that are closely tied to his or her addicted past. Likewise, simply being willing to stay sober during events can allow your friend or family member to feel like they are less alone.

The Importance of Time Management

Finally, make sure that your friend or family member isn’t using the holidays as an excuse to duck out of treatment. While business hours can change wildly during this time of year, make sure that you’re providing support to ensure that they can still get to therapy or attend meetings. Sometimes just being able to give someone a ride can be helpful.

Don’t be afraid to support a friend or family member who is going through recovery. Whether this means being present, providing stability, or just supporting the other person’s journey, you can do a great deal to help ensure that your friend or loved one has a better chance of making it through the holidays unscathed.

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Discussing Mental Health with Teens

Though mental health awareness has gotten a big push in the media over the course of the last few years, it’s still a topic that many parents find hard to bring up with their growing children. If you have a teen at home, though, you should be setting an example for how to discuss mental health issues. Doing so will not only inform the attitudes that your teen takes into their adult years, but it will also give them a chance to know that you’re there if they are struggling.

Normalize Talking about Mental Health

The first and perhaps most important thing to do is to normalize the concept of struggling with one’s mental health. Though you may not have any particular struggles that you can point to, it’s vital that you let your teen know that many people do struggle with their mental health and that doing so is not a mark of weakness or a sign of bad character. Instead, it’s merely another health issue that needs proper care.

This discussion can and should be a dialog. While you may be giving your teen information, you should be prepared to listen to their questions and let your teen direct at least part of the conversation. If you are unsure of any answers to their inquiries, make sure to consult trusted online resources or to make an appointment with a mental health professional so that you can gather the correct information.

Create a System to Communicate Mental Struggles

It’s also a good idea to create a system for letting your teen talk to you about their own struggles. While they might not feel comfortable revealing everything, creating a system that allows your teen to express their general feelings will allow for more communication and might enable them to better track their mood. With a good system in place, you can notice trends and determine if any kind of intervention is necessary.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your teen about mental health issues. Doing so not only helps to keep them safe now, but will have an impact as they grow up. With the proper discussions now, you can prepare your teen for a healthier life in the future.

cheerful latin family hugging and looking at camera during lunch at home
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National Hispanic Heritage Month

While it’s always important to remember the things that unite us all, it is likewise vital to recognize the importance of one’s heritage. This month is Hispanic Heritage Month, a month that celebrates the heritage of one of the fastest-growing segments of the American population and allows us to focus on those who have made extraordinary contributions to the country as a whole.

Learn & Embrace the Importance of Hispanic Heritage

This month gives those of Hispanic heritage a chance to look back at the past and take a moment to celebrate how vital their heritage has been to their own lives. It’s also an amazing chance for those who are not necessarily of Hispanic heritage to stop and think about all the ways that the culture of the country has been enriched by the traditions, beliefs, and actions of those of Hispanic heritage.

This month presents a unique chance to broaden our view of how we look at our own culture, pointing out those things that would be impossible without the diverse nature of the nation. From the very vocabulary we use to the fashions we wear and the food we eat, individuals of Hispanic heritage have made a huge impact on the way we all live our lives. For those who themselves have this heritage, though, it’s important to remember that these are not simple additions to their way of life – it’s an important part of who they are and the history of their families.

Whether you have Hispanic ancestry or you simply want to acknowledge the importance of Hispanic heritage in the United States, this month will give you plenty of chances to do so. Whether you choose to celebrate, research, or just acknowledge the impact of individuals, taking the time to appreciate the amazing things that are only possible because of the diversity present in the nation can give you a unique chance to grow and learn. No matter who you are, taking the time to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month can enrich your life and leave you with a better understanding of the world around you.

Close-up portrait of a sad young man lying on the bench in the p
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Suicide Prevention Month

Suicide is something that touches us all. From those who have had suicidal ideation to those who have lost friends or family members, it’s hard not to see ways in which the phenomenon has become a significant part of modern life. That’s why it is so important to take the time to talk about Suicide Prevention Month and the steps that can be taken to protect those who are the most vulnerable, not just now, but year-round.

Take Steps to Understand Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention Month is designed to shine a spotlight not just on the ongoing suicide epidemic, but on the resources and methods that can help prevent it from taking lives. From workshops and books to counseling and residential treatment programs, these resources are invaluable for saving lives. But, unfortunately, many of those who are at their lowest and feel like they have nowhere left to turn simply might not be aware of the resources that are available to them.

It’s vital that even those who have not had their lives impacted by a suicide or suicide attempt take the time to understand what can be done to help those who feel like they have nowhere to which they can turn. Knowing the numbers to call or resources to tap can help many get the help they need. Rather than trying to villainize those who take their own lives or to somehow insist that individuals can power through suicidal ideation on their own, realizing that suicide is a societal issue that requires a societal approach really is the way forward that can make the most change for the most significant number of people.

Whether you have struggled with suicidal thoughts or you simply want to ensure that you know what to do if someone in your life is considering committing suicide, the programs spotlighted this month and the outreach performed can give you the knowledge that you need to offer an alternative. Sometimes simply knowing that there is help out there can be the necessary first step in helping an individual in crisis find a way to stay safe during a trying time.

Family Psychotherapy. African American Couple Listening To Counselor's Advices During Therapy Session
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Discussing Intervention with a Teen

As a parent or guardian, it can be difficult to determine exactly how to start the conversation about treatment options with a teen. Not only do you broach a subject that’s difficult at best, but you may be looking at a situation that will generate a significant amount of pushback from the person who needs help the most. Learning how to start the conversation is often the best way to gain the confidence you need to move forward.

The Steps to Effective Interventions

It’s important to start by doing your research. There are necessarily going to be questions about what intervention looks like, how long your teen might need to be in a program, and other related factors. The more you know, the more you will be able to answer honestly. With that said, you also need to admit that you don’t have all of the answers so that you can honestly tell your teen what you know and what you do not.

From there, you need to think about the conversation itself. You’re doing this out of a concern for your teen, after all, and the conversation needs to center around him or her. A dialog is best, of course, but it’s not always a guarantee in these situations. Instead, you need to be able to calmly and honestly set out your concerns and your reasoning for choosing this particular intervention for the teen in your life. Centering things on your care for him or her may not make the conversation easier, but it may help you to avoid a more heated confrontation.

Finally, you’ll want to do what you can to get buy-in from the teen if possible. While it’s not a given in every situation, teens that go into intervention with the right mindset will usually have an easier time accepting the necessity of any program. If you can talk to your teen out of a place of love and concern while making sure to answer any of his or her questions as honestly as you can, you may be able to take the next steps as a team rather than in an adversarial relationship.

Teenage Boy With Problem Talking With Counselor At Home
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How to Prepare for Counseling

Counseling can be an incredibly useful experience for those who are in the process of recovering from trauma or addiction. It can also be a useful process for anyone who is looking to sort through personal issues or who simply feels like they need help moving forward in their lives. With that said, it can be difficult to speak to a counselor for the first time, especially if you’re going in without outside supports. That’s why it’s vital to have a plan to prepare for your first counseling session.

Steps Toward Counseling

The first step to take is to think about the reason why you are attending counseling. For some, those reasons will be crystal clear from the first moment. For others, though, it will take a bit of digging to figure out why you are looking for help. It’s entirely appropriate to go to counseling simply because you’re not sure what else to do because you want to get your life on track, but it never hurts to spend a bit of time interrogating your reasoning for speaking with a counselor.

The next step is to prepare yourself for what an actual counseling session is like. While there are many depictions of counseling in media, most of them are quite inaccurate. It might be useful for you to call the counseling office to find out what to expect for your first session. In some cases, you’ll simply complete some minor intake paperwork and spend a bit of time on introductions. In other cases, you might get right to work. Knowing what comes next can calm your nerves and better prepare you for what comes next.

No matter what you do, you should also remember that meeting with a counselor is ultimately your choice. You have the power in this situation, so you are taking a positive step to improve your own life. If you are ready to speak with someone about the problems that you are encountering, you should give yourself credit for taking an action that will ultimately give you more options as to how you will move forward to a better future.

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Post Covid Activity

As the world faced an unexpected halt as a result of the pandemic, clients have been faced with a wall of adversity in day-to-day activities. Clients’ normal schedules and activities were changed due to rules and mandates from the CDC and Public Health Departments to help keep our clients protected and not come in contact with the infectious virus COVID-19.

At Alpha Connection we know that activities are extremely important to one’s well-being and mental health and if not able to do normal everyday activities it can negatively affect the clients’ mental health and create depressive and isolated behavior. As the world is opening up and vaccines are readily available we plan to keep our clients active and engaged in therapeutic outdoor activities and outings with protective plans in place.

Alpha Connection will do everything we can possibly do to keep our clients safe and protected during these outings. Our team emphasizes that this pandemic is NOT over and hundreds of Americans continue to catch this virus daily. We all need to do our part to stand up and continue the fight against COVID-19 by wearing masks and getting vaccinated.

– Cam Wilson

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Recovery as an Ongoing Process

One of the most important steps that an individual can take to recover from addiction or trauma is to go through the process of recovery. While it’s incredibly important for individuals to seek out the services that they need in order to better deal with the issues in their lives, it’s also important for their friends and family members to understand that recovery is a process that doesn’t necessarily end just because an individual leaves a residential treatment facility.

Treatment is One Step of the Healing Process

When an individual leaves treatment, he or she will be in a unique position. For what might be the first time in his or her life, he or she will likely have the tools necessary to take control of what’s going on around him or her and to steer his or her life in a positive direction. This does not, however, mean that the individual in recovery has magically been ‘cured.’ Instead, he or she almost certainly realizes that he or she is on a lifelong journey to healing and recovery.

It is vital that friends and family members realize that leaving treatment doesn’t necessarily mean that the healing process is over. One’s expectations should be set to promote further change and growth rather than to simply act as if a problem has been solved. Remember, making it through treatment is an important step in recovery, but it’s also the first step that really returns agency to the lives of those who have made it through such a process.

Finding the Tools to Promote Long-Term Success

It’s also important to remember that while recovery is an ongoing process, that process really does need to start with a good treatment program. Giving individuals the tools that they need to succeed in the real world is a vital part of preventing relapses into problem behaviors and an even more important tool for learning how to get back on track when problems occur. Without a proper recovery program, it’s difficult for many to understand that there are no quick fixes for what ails them and few chances to speed up a process that can take a lifetime.

Whether you’re in recovery yourself or helping a friend or family member through the process, it’s important to remember that recovery takes time, effort, and dedication. With the right help, though, it is a realistic goal.