Mental Health of the Whole Child

Mental Health for the Whole Child: Moving Young Clients from Disease & Disorder to Balance & Wellness

People who work with children and teens may have suspected a growing reliance on prescription drugs to treat a variety of mental-health. Recent studies confirm these suspicions. But Scott Shannon belongs to a growing number of doctors who eschew prescription drugs before establishing trusting relationships with young patients to understand their many dimensions and the environments in which they live, learn, and play.

Youth Perspectives on Mentoring and Insights for Practitioners

A robust network of community members, relatives, neighbors, faith-based connections and family friends can guide a young person’s journey to productive adulthood. Unfortunately, research demonstrates that many young people lack these critical supports, leaving them with inadequate resources to navigate a successful transition to adulthood and putting their path to social and economic security at risk. Connecting young people to a quality mentoring program that matches them with a consistent and caring adult is a way to reverse this trend and drive positive outcomes for our nation’s young people. 
What do young people think about mentoring? This month, MENTOR will release results from the first-ever nationally representative survey of youth ages 18 to 21 about mentoring. This research seeks to determine how young people’s mentoring needs are – or are not – being met.

Reflections on Miller v. Alabama: Roses, Thorns and Buds

To generate some (hopefully) meaningful conversation around our dinner table, I have begun to use a tool that my daughters picked up at one of their summer camps: “Rose, thorn and bud.” We each describe a good thing from our day (the rose), followed by a lousy thing (the thorn), and then conclude with something we are looking forward to (the bud). The exercise enables each person to share several different moments from the past 12 hours with the rest of the family; it doesn’t require too much effort or contemplation, and it is relatively light-hearted. In fact, not infrequently the rose is the dinner itself and the bud is the dessert. The discussion that follows rarely leads to anything profound, but the ritual forces us to pause, consider the day’s events and make an effort to connect. Imagine my surprise when I attended the annual convening of the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth (CFSY) in November and the same prompt was used.

Why Teens Commit Suicide: And What Can Be Done to Prevent It?

By the time Cheryl Sharp was 18 years old, she had attempted to end her own life on three separate occasions. Her first attempt occurred when she was just 13. Despite having many friends and social outlets, she said her teen years were marked by a pervasive sense of loneliness. “I felt like I did not belong in the world, that I didn’t really have a place where I was of value,” Sharp said. “What happened in the first attempt was the same thing that happened in all others.

Eating Disorders: More Than Meets The Eye

The last time I went to rehab, I had no hope,” admits 24-year-old Kaylee Vanderhoof, regrettably. “I did not care if I died, and I had lost all hope. No one wants that.”

Vanderhoof has been dealing with an eating disorder since she was only 7 years old. Now, after 17 years of fighting, Vanderhoof has found that hope. And so have I.

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder.

Warning Signs: Looking the Other Way is Not an Option

As I watched my daughter’s dance class, it became obvious that her instructor’s role involved teaching much more than dance steps. It involved what’s called the “hidden curriculum.”
The little girls were forming a dance train. One girl whined and said she wanted to be first but didn’t know how to express herself calmly. It was an opportunity for a life lesson as the instructor pointed out that the girls would take turns being the leader. The frustrated girl relented when she realized she would get a turn.

Getting at the Roots of Trauma


When violence and mental illness stem from adverse childhood experiences. Eddie Bocanegra grew up in Chicago’s mostly Mexican-American Pilsen neighborhood in the 1980s and early 1990s, at a time when violent crime was peaking nationally and locally, with nearly 1,000 murders per year in the city of Chicago. His world was rocked by domestic violence at home, constant fighting among his neighbors and their parents, bullying in school and street violence among gangs in the evening. Then, at 13, one afternoon while on his way to a baseball game, he saw someone shot multiple times and killed. “The following year, I got involved in a street gang, both for protection and identity,” Bocanegra said.

Self-Harm: Identifying and Supporting Teens Who Intentionally Hurt Themselves

For some students, stresses in their lives can lead to dangerous behavior, such as intentional self-injuries
Juliana Kerrest started hurting herself when she was 13 years old. Juliana said the first time it happened was almost ““an accident.”  Juliana, who had suffered from depression since she was 10, was upset, noticed a toothpick nearby, and began scratching herself with it, “without thinking” about it.  Over time, the scratching turned into cutting, and then progressed to burning and hitting. In high school, Juliana cut herself several times per week, sometimes more than once per day. In college, her self-injuries were less frequent but more severe. She bears the scars today.