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Teen Girl beachA recent study has found that the mental health of teenagers has worsened significantly since 2006, with lower-income kids being hit the hardest. But parents can help their teens stay on the path to wellness, even during the summer!

Hands reaching

By Justin

Last Sunday night, my wife dropped me off 20 minutes early to get the 7:56 pm Amtrak train to Boston. I walked around the station and, as usual, it was practically deserted. A young woman was sitting on a bench texting. 

The only other person present was an older man in his late 50s or 60s with white, disheveled hair and scruffy facial whiskers, wearing shorts but no shirt. He was standing quietly on the train track, casually looking around with vacant eyes. Unlike a kid who jumps on and off the track, the man was standing still.

For years I have made fun of my wife for constantly calling the police to report “suspicious” activities. I am repeatedly telling her to mind her own business. But this scene was unsettling, so I walked up to the man.

eugineJuly is Minority Mental Health Month! We want to first acknowledge all of the mental health pioneers of color who have paved the way by discussing issues of stigma, fighting for equal access to services for all, and by serving their communities as clinicians, social workers and advocates. 

Although we still have a long way to go before everyone has access to affordable, culturally competent care there are more resources available today than ever before.

teens_outdoorsIt’s summertime and our kids are finished with school. For many parents, finding childcare or some sort of structured leisure activity for their children is a major task. For parents of a teenager with depression or bipolar disorder, the concern is heightened considerably.

Structured environments of predictable schedules, classes with expectations and accountability, and regular social contact are suddenly replaced by months of free time. Parents have the extra worry that isolation at home and a disrupted schedule may send some teens into a more depressed state. Here are some suggestions on how you can keep your teen on the track to wellness during the summer months.

alexandra_styronWe are often contacted by Families for Depression Awareness supporters and volunteers for information about turning a family story about depression into a book. Some people ask for help with transforming personal experiences into a marketable piece of nonfiction. Others want help with figuring out who their audience will be.

We are excited to announce that Alexandra Styron, daughter of celebrated writer William Styron and acclaimed author of the memoir Reading My Father, will answer questions about writing a memoir in an upcoming video!

Brain scan
Researchers at Emory University are studying whether PET brain scans may help to predict whether a person will respond better to antidepressant medication or talk therapy (cognitive behavioral therapy) as a treatment for depression. The study, published by the JAMA Network, is among those seeking to identify biomarkers related to depression treatment as researchers hope to improve the outcomes for people with major depressive disorder.

Unfortunately, PET scans are expensive and not necessarily readily available. Until this approach is more widely tested and verified, it can be considered a good idea but not an answer to the complicated question of what is the best treatment for each individual with depression.  

However, here are some tools you can use now to improve your depression treatment!

neuroimaging"MRI may be an effective way to diagnose mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, according to experts from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. In a landmark study using advanced techniques, the researchers were able to correctly distinguish bipolar patients from healthy individuals based on their brain scans alone. The data are published in the journal Psychological Medicine."

Read the full Science Daily article.

Use these current tests to diagnose bipolar disorder:

white house sealToday, Monday, June 3rd, President Obama and Vice President Biden are hosting a National Conference on Mental Health at the White House as part of the Administration’s effort to launch a national conversation to increase understanding and awareness of mental health.

"There should be no shame in discussing or seeking help for treatable illnesses that affect too many people that we love," President Obama said during his opening remarks.

girl_crying According to the Center for Disease Control's first ever data on cyberbullying, cyberbullying triples the risk of suicide in teens.

"Suicide attempts that required treatment were more than three times as likely in teenagers who reported being bullied online, compared with youths who were not bullied, an analysis of federal data on more than 15,000 adolescents found," reports Sherry Boschert in this month's Clinical Psychiatry News Digital Network article on the topic.

president_obamaMay is Mental Health Awareness Month!  Although the month is coming to a close, we wanted to share some of the top news stories that we have been following with you.

President Obama's Proclamation of May as Mental Health Awareness Month discussed the need to eliminate the stigma of depressive disorders because it can act as a barrier to treatment. He wrote, "We need to make sure [people with a mental health condition] know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness -- it is a sign of strength."


 

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If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 800-273-TALK or 911 immediately. For crisis support via text message, text LISTEN to 741741.