Archives for October 2016

Boys Can Connect with Youth in Similar Situations While at a Therapeutic Boarding School

Boys Can Connect with Youth in Similar Situations While at a Therapeutic Boarding School

Adolescents want to connect with other teens. According to Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, “In order to get ready to leave the home nest, adolescents seek out membership in groups of other adolescents in order not only to feel good, but to survive. And feeling connected to other doesn’t just seem crucial to contemporary teenagers. In fact, the very engrained genetic programming of our brains gives us a feeling that connection is a matter of life and death.” Teenagers, no matter where they are, feel the need to connect with others. What’s great about a therapeutic boarding school is that they will have the opportunity to connect with youth that understand them on many levels – mentally, emotionally, and situationally.

The connections that boys make in a therapeutic boarding school doesn’t only help them while they are enrolled. The conversation skills they build during their stay will stay with them forever. As Barton Goldsmith Ph.D. specializing in emotional fitness says, “There will always be problems in our lives, but sometimes we don’t have the capacity to handle them by ourselves. Getting a 360-degree view is impossible when all you can see is what’s going wrong. And talking with another person can give you perspective.” Teenagers can learn that as they connect with youth at the therapeutic boarding school. With most of them dealing with the same situations and many of them in different stages of recovering from the path they were headed down, everyone can learn and grow. When they leave the school, they will remember how beneficial it was to be part of a group of people who understand, and will likely seek that out again in life when times become challenging.

Better Connections for a Better Life

Juveniles make up 40% of gangs. That’s about 400,000 teenagers. The reasons adolescents join gangs are because they want:

  • An established identity
  • Protection
  • Recognition
  • Fellowship
  • Brotherhood

While all of these reasons may not seem so bad, it’s the intimidation and criminal activities that come along with being in the gang that’s the problem. However, if teens can get the same (establishing identity, protection, recognition, fellowship, and brotherhood) from youth and adults who are good influences, they will stay out of harm’s way. A therapeutic boarding school can do that for them.

Contact Liahona Academy today to learn more about our therapeutic boarding school for boys. We help teen boys come together, so they can connect and start a new path towards a healthy, safe, and successful future.

Avoiding These 5 Things In Their Youth Can Prevent Teens From Dealing with Substance Abuse

Avoiding These 5 Things In Their Youth Can Prevent Teens From Dealing with Substance Abuse

When it comes to drug and alcohol abuse, it’s hard to know how to keep your teens safe. Teenagers experiment with substances for different reasons, but there are a few major factors that have heavy correlations towards prolonged drug and alcohol abuse. If your teens avoid these five things, they’ll be much less likely to face substance abuse problems down the road.

1. Early Sexual Activity

Research shows that when teenagers are involved in sexual relations early on, they’re more likely to do drugs in the future. It’s something about the freedom of doing whatever they like without getting caught that leads to substance abuse down the road.

Carefully monitor your teen’s relationships. Make sure they’re never in a situation in which they can cross any lines through parent supervision and knowledge of their whereabouts.

Additionally, help them avoid early exposure to pornography. Like sexual relations, this has been linked to drug abuse problems, and monitoring online activities can significantly reduce the risk of substance abuse.

2. Alcohol and Drugs in the Home

It’s hard to tell your kids that drugs and alcohol are not allowed when you have substances within reach. Lock up your prescription drugs and alcoholic beverages to prevent teens from stumbling upon them and experimenting. For some teenagers, it only takes one drink to form an addiction.

3. Inability to Handle Conflict

When your teens can’t handle conflict, which will arise daily in their lives, they’ll often resort to negative coping mechanisms such as drug use. Teach your teens to handle themselves when conflict arises.

Explain the importance of standing up for themselves and sticking to their morals. It’s hard to help your teen visualize the impact this has, but as they approach conflict and come off triumphant, they’ll feel empowered by the act and know how to handle situations in a healthier manner.

4. Bad Friends

You can’t choose your teen’s friends, but you do have some control over where they spend their time. Get to know the peers that spend time with your teens, and keep an eye on their movements. Encourage them to hang out at your house rather than around town to help them avoid the dangers of substance abuse.

5. Destructive Media

Carefully consider what the media is teaching your teens about substance abuse. Too many television shows and movies make the use of drugs look “cool” and inviting. Limit this kind of media in your home.

You won’t always be able to avoid destructive media at home, so when it comes up, use it as a teaching moment. Explain how the choices made on the screen will lead to very bad outcomes. A little education goes a long way in the fight against teen drug abuse.

In the event that your teen has issues with substance abuse down the road, there’s still hope. Through residential treatment centers like Liahona Academy, your teen can get the help he needs and escape the perils of a life long drug addiction. For more information, call 1-800-675-8101.

Uncovering and Addressing Depression in Teens

Uncovering and Addressing Depression in Teens

As young people enter their teen years, parents become concerned about possible issues they will face — substance abuse, peer pressure and sexual behaviors, to name a few. However, they might overlook a common problem — teen depression. Research shows that about 13 percent of teens suffer from depression, but, of these, only 20 percent receive help.

Teen depression can affect every area of a young person’s life – physical, emotional, academic, social and mental. The factors that contribute to depression can worsen as depression worsens, resulting in a vicious cycle. In addition, teens might face an additional risk of depression because of hormones, circumstances and other issues that affect them.

Risk Factors

Some young people face a greater risk of depression if they suffer from the following factors:

  • Related conditions, such as other mental health issues, including anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder or a personality disorder
  • Struggles with self-esteem, such as bullying, peer pressure, educational challenges or obesity
  • Physical disabilities
  • Serious health issues, such as asthma, diabetes or cancer
  • Eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia
  • Substance abuse, including nicotine
  • Dysfunction in the family, including conflict
  • Past violence, either personal or a witness to domestic violence, sexual abuse or physical violence
  • Stressful life circumstances, such as frequent moves, divorce or a family death or suicide
  • Learning challenges or attention-deficit or hyperactivity disorder
  • Having a close family relative who has been diagnosed with alcoholism, depression or bipolar disorder
  • Homosexual, bisexual or transgender, especially if the teen has little support
  • Some personality traits, including low self-esteem, high codependence, self-criticism or extreme negativity.

Signs of Teen Depression

Watch for the following signs of possible teen depression:

  • Apathy
  • An observable change in behavior, such as lack of motivation and extreme withdrawal from family and friends
  • Changes in eating habits and excessive sleep
  • Juvenile delinquency, such as shoplifting or DUI
  • Memory loss
  • Self-blame and guilt
  • Drastic drop in grades
  • Dangerous behavior, including drinking, drug use and sexual promiscuity
  • Complaints of fatigue or generalized pain
  • Upset sleeping patterns
  • Blatant rebellion
  • Struggles with decision-making and concentration
  • Feeling overwhelmed and hopeless
  • Loss of memory
  • Extreme weight fluctuations
  • Irresponsibility regarding school and other obligations
  • Fixation with death and dying.

However, your teen might demonstrate only a few of these warning signs.

Long-Term Effects if Depression Is not Addressed

Failure to address depression can affect teens both short- and long-term. Short-term effects include weight loss, sleep fluctuations or other physical issues. Long-term effects might include memory loss, lethargy, obesity or malnutrition. In extreme cases, depression contributes to suicide and is a factor in about two-thirds of cases when a person takes his or her life.

How to Talk to a Depressed Teen

If you are trying to talk to and connect with a depressed adolescent, take the following steps:

  • Empathize with his or her feelings. Do not minimize negative emotions. Instead acknowledge what he or she says and provide support and understanding.
  • Listen to his or her concerns without saying anything judgmental or critical. You want your teen to share openly. Express your unconditional love even if your teen faces consequences for inappropriate behavior.
  • Your teen might not be able to verbalize his or her emotions. Let him or her know that you are available and willing to listen. Help him or her express himself through patient yet persistence determination to find the root of the problem.
  • If you feel that something is “off,” don’t ignore your gut. If your child won’t talk to you about the problem, contact a trusted spiritual counsel, a medical professional or a school counselor. He or she needs to talk about their struggles.

Solutions for Teen Depression

One of the leading causes of disability for Americans between the ages of 15 and 44 is major depressive disorder. Catching the problem and early intervention helps improve the person’s overall mental health.

Your primary care physician can refer you to a mental health care provider who will pursue a course of treatment using one or more of the following:

  • Family therapy — The teen might benefit from feeling the support of family and school professionals, especially if the depression is related to grades or peer issues
  • Medication — While controversial, prescriptions can help combat depression in teens. The Mayo Clinic reported that the most effective treatment option was using a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and medication, specifically Prozac. The study compared combination therapy with the use of just medication and just cognitive behavioral therapy in a 12-week study. In rare cases, antidepressants can increase the possibility of suicide in some patients. Therefore, these medications should not be used without careful monitoring.
  • Hospitalization — In some cases, a teen might need to be hospitalized in a psychiatric unit for severe depression.

How Parents Can Help

Gone are the days when parents told their teens to behave without providing any type of rationale or reasoning. Teens need to understand why rules are in place even when they don’t agree. Effective communication with your young person will help you both during this admittedly difficult time. The following parenting strategies can help:

  • Listen to his or her problems even if they don’t seem serious to you.
  • Avoid shame-based parenting. Instead of focusing on blame, which affects self-worth, focus on behaviors. Emphasize that behaviors do not determine your child’s worth, but use positive reinforcement when your teen makes the right choices.
  • Realize that your child will make mistakes. However, let them experience the related consequences. For example, if he or she drinks and drives, he can suffer the loss of driving privileges.
  • Let your child live his own life without forcing your lost dreams on him or her.
  • Understand that your teen will need to find his own way and might not follow your rules.
  • Offer suggestions without becoming heavy handed in discipline.
  • Have an open door policy even when your child seems withdrawn.
  • Involve a third party if your teen is open to the suggestion.

If you are still concerned and feel that you aren’t getting through to your child, talk to a qualified mental health professional.

Get to Know the Meds in Your Home that Are Getting Your Teens Hooked

Get to Know the Meds in Your Home that Are Getting Your Teens Hooked

People, including teens, might decide to take a medication that wasn’t prescribed to them. They sometimes use the drug to self-medicate and eventually use it to avoid withdrawal and to get high. It’s illegal for someone to take prescription medications, also called controlled substances, if they have not been prescribed to the person. While some teens get caught up with the use of depressants or stimulants, opioids, commonly used as pain medication, are the most commonly abused prescription drug by teens.

According to a 2005 report released by NPR, about 5 percent of 12th graders admit to taking OxyContin, an opiate derivative and painkiller with a strong likelihood of addiction. From 2002 to 2005, the number of high school seniors who admitted to using the drug rose nearly 40 percent. While the medication effectively treats pain when used as directed, it affects a person much differently if he or she is not in pain, seriously increasing the risk of addiction.

According to the Center for Disease Control, by 2014, that figure grew to 25 percent of kids as young as 12 who had experimented with prescription drugs. Even more alarming is the fact that teens aren’t just buying the drug from a supplier in a rough part of town. Instead, they are obtaining access to the drug from a source much closer to home — literally. All they need to do is walk to their parent’s medicine cabinet where they will likely find an accessible supply of the drug and other similar addictive prescriptions. In fact, one of the reasons that teens struggle so much with the drug is because they think it’s safe since it’s a prescription.

One Teen’s Experience

In some cases, teens crush up the pills, snorting them to experience a high. One teen, who since went through a drug-treatment program, stated that the drug relaxed him and was easy to obtain. He knew at least 10 classmates selling it. However, just days after he started using it, he tried to stop. He began feeling sick if he didn’t keep using. When he tried to stop again, he realized the severity of the addiction as he went from dripping sweat to freezing cold to throwing up. In order to feed his growing addiction, he cashed in savings bonds and sold electronics and everything he had. He finally went to his parents and confessed that he needed help. His experience was common as he reported that kids across all groups — from jocks to nerds to misfits and more — were using.

Accidental Addicts

As in the above case, the addiction for many is accidental. However, once the teen experiences the numbing effect of the painkiller after surgery for the removal of wisdom teeth, a sports injury or other incident, they don’t — or can’t — stop using.

Another related dynamic involves the problem of injuries for high school athletes. Thinking they are helping, parents want their teen to take powerful medications, such as OxyContin. However, they might not realize the addictive qualities of the drug, resulting in serious issues for their child. One mother shared her family tragedy. After her son fractured his collar bone, he took OxyContin and become addicted almost immediately. He graduated to heroin, which eventually claimed his life at the age of 26.

When sold on the street, the pills are expensive. Some users switch to heroin, which costs just a fraction of OxyContin.

Parental Cautions for Opioid Use

Some experts believe that teen brains process the drug differently and are not mature enough to implement effective decision-making skills. If a child definitely needs pain medication, parents can combat this issue by dealing asking a doctor for the lowest possible dosage and as few pills as possible, seeking a refill if necessary. Parents should also count the pills to ensure that the prescription is taken appropriately.

Check with your doctor to see if an over-the-counter pain medication might work just as well for your child. Be sure to address the issue of prescription drug addiction as well. While many parents address marijuana usage with kids, they fail to discuss prescription drugs.

In addition to OxyContin, painkillers fall under some of the following generic and brand names:

  • Codeine,
  • Fentanyl,
  • Hydrocodone/Diyrdrocodeinone/Vicodin,
  • Hydromorphone/Dialudid,
  • Meperidine/Demerol,
  • Methadone and
  • Morphine,

Additional Statistics about Opioid Use

Accidental drug overdose is the leading cause of death in the nation, with numbers steadily on the rise. In 2014, opioid overdoses claimed the lives of nearly 20,000 people, which equates to about 40 deaths per day. Furthermore, about 11,000 people died from heroin overdoses. The majority of these were male.

Possible Signs of Painkiller Abuse/Addiction

Look for the following signs:

  • Tiny eye pupils
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Different friends
  • Drop in grades
  • Changes in personality
  • Differences in personal hygiene
  • Apathy, decreased energy level and
  • Increased sleep patterns.

Helping Your Teen Stay Drug Free

  • Keep the lines of communication open. If your teen feels comfortable talking to you, he might be less likely to use drugs. Recognize that he might want to keep some matters private, but make sure that he knows that you are available any time that he wants to talk.
  • Know your son’s friends. Invite them over to your house, connect with their parents and know their interests.
  • Keep him busy and involved with various, proactive activities, such as music, sports, clubs or other activities.

Seeking Help for a Painkiller Addiction

If you suspect that your teen is using drugs, seek professional medical help as soon as possible. You can ask your general practitioner, pediatrician or a specialist if he or she can screen for drug use. A screening generally includes questions regarding substance use/abuse and related behaviors. The doctor might also take a blood or urine test.

Addiction specialists, listed in the American Society of Addiction Medicine, provide specific counsel and will help you determine if you need to send your teen to in-patient treatment. Your provider can refer you to an appropriate treatment program.

In some cases, family pressure might not motivate your child to enter treatment. While interventions, such as those made popular by some television shows, might backfire in the case of teens, the juvenile justice system often mandates treatment programs, which often effectively address addiction.

The Teen Years are Full of Emotional Growing Pains

The Teen Years are Full of Emotional Growing Pains

How long has it been since you, as a parent, have been a teenager? For most parents, it’s probably been more than 20 years. Though you likely went through some of the same things your teenagers are going through now, 20 years is a long time, and it’s easy to forget what it was like.

If you think back to that time, you’ll probably remember all the crazy emotions that surrounded you. It’s tough to fit in at school, keep up with the latest trends, do well in class, and make friends, all the while being surrounded by peers who openly judge you.

When you’re dealing with troubled teenagers, don’t forget that there are a lot of emotional growing pains involved. Your teens have a lot going on as they learn some of life’s most difficult lessons.

Meeting Expectations

Adults expect a lot out of teenagers, which isn’t unrealistic, but it can be very daunting. They have to keep up in sports, school, at home, and in other social functions in order to meet their parents’ wishes and maintain a good reputation among peers.

Hormones Everywhere

A lot of your teen’s behavioral problems could be hormones. As adolescents hit puberty, their bodies begin secreting more hormones, making it difficult for teens to control their emotions fully. One minute, they’re happy and the next they’re crying. These emotions can lead them to act out as a defense mechanism.

The Bully Problem

Unfortunately, bullying in school never goes away. Whether you’re teen is the bully or they’re being bullied, it’s a huge and ever-present pressure in the school system. It doesn’t take much to be the victim of a bully. Something as minor as wearing their hair a different way can set your teens up for constant pinpricking.

Identity Search

It’s hard to know who you are when you can’t be entirely independent, but you also need the guidance of your elders. If you think back, you’ll remember the times where you searched for your own identity, even if you didn’t know it at the time. It’s stressful, confusing, and often leads to making some dumb choices.

Handling Privacy

It’s dangerous to let your teens handle privacy all on their own, but privacy is an important part of growing up for them. They want the independence it gives them, but you want them to be safe before they have the maturity to realize the dangerous places it can put them in. It requires finding a good balance.

Any of these emotions can lead to behavioral problems and even substance abuse. Understanding the situation can smooth things over and help your teens get the treatment they need when they need it.

5 Ways Parents Can Take Control of the Video Game Controller

5 Ways Parents Can Take Control of the Video Game Controller

Video gaming can be a healthy way for teens to spend time with friends and blow of steam. It helps with their hand eye coordination, and it can keep them out of drugs and similar bad behaviors.

However, video games can also be very negative. Teens can develop addictions to video gaming just like they would to drugs or alcohol. It also keeps them from getting exercise, developing proper social skills, and even graduating high school.

As a parent, you have a responsibility to prevent these negative occurences. A little gaming isn’t a problem, but if you’re not careful, it could turn into a full blown addiction. Here are five ways you can take control of video game usage and help your teen live a healthier lifestyle.

1. Set Limits

Start by setting some rules and schedules for video game usage. Limit the amount of time your teens play video games daily by taking away the controllers after a certain time period.

2. Approve Games

Some f the games available to teenagers can be very dangerous. Know what your teens are playing and how that content is affecting them. There have been links between violent, gory video games and significant behavioral problems and aggression in teenagers.

3. Know the Plan

If you start taking away video game time at home, your teen may try to reclaim that time at a friend’s house. Discuss plans in detail with your teenagers to make sure they’re going to a friend’s to do homework or participate in a better activity.

Talk to the friend’s parents to make sure they understand the restrictions placed on video game time. If they don’t want to enforce your rules, have your teen spend time with friends in your own home.

4. Replace the Activity

Give your teens something else to do instead of playing video games. If you take away one bad habit, but don’t replace it with a positive one, chances are they’ll pick it up again later.

One idea of a replacement activity could be a long term project of your teen’s choosing. For example, they might start building model cars or learn how to ride horses. These replacement activities can fulfill needs and erase bad habits.

5. Have Family Time

Set aside one night per week for family night and always eat meals together. Family time helps you bond more closely with your teenagers, helping them to understand that your rules are made out of love and that there’s a good reason behind them.

If you find that your son has a serious gaming addiction, it’s never too late to seek professional help. A summer at a therapeutic boarding school can do wonders for helping your teens get over their addiction and get back to a healthier lifestyle. For more information, contact Liahona Academy.

Changing up the Education Your Teen Is Receiving to Improve Their Grades

Changing up the Education Your Teen Is Receiving to Improve Their Grades

If you’re dealing with a troubled teen, there are many factors that come into play. Teens may be struggling with substance addictions, which leads to troubling behavior. Behavioral disorders can also cause them to act out.

Any of these situations can lead your teen to struggle in school. As they engage in their less-than-wholesome recreational activities, school becomes a low priority and their grades begin to drop.

As a parent, you have the foresight to know that getting a poor quality education as a teenager makes it very difficult to continue on in education and success after high school. This calls for action before your teen decides to drop out of high school and seriously dampen his chances of success.

Try an Alternative Education Route

You can’t get the entire school system to change for your teenager, but you can change the school system you use. Rather than forcing your troubled teens to attend school they hate and that isn’t helping them learn, find education that’s specifically tailored for their needs.

There are several options rather than public school, such as charter schools and private institutions, although the tuition for such places can be extremely expensive and may not have the full effect you’d like.

If you really want a quality, tailored education for your teen who’s struggling with outside factors, a residential treatment center is a wise choice. This is a form of boarding school that takes teenagers with behavioral and addiction problems that get in the way of their studies. They have a series of treatment plans and school programs to meet the needs of individuals rather than the masses.

Through a residential treatment center, your teens can receive one-on-one professional attention to help them work through whatever concerns or issues they may have. Their education can become a priority for them again as they recognize where they want to be in life and receive the help necessary to get there.

Education Starts at Home

Don’t forget about the importance of bringing education home as well. A residential boarding school is an excellent choice for troubled teens who need the outside support, but it’s very important for parents and family members to be supportive within the home as well. They can help to reinforce any education and provide the necessary nurturing for their troubled teens.

At Liahona Academy, our mission is to proved a safe and nurturing environment where each student can develop the mental, emotional, and physical skills necessary to become a productive and contributing member of society. For more information about the options we can provide for your troubled teen, call 1-900-675-8101.

Nature vs. Nurture: Searching for the Root Cause of Violence in Our Teens

Nature vs. Nurture: Searching for the Root Cause of Violence in Our Teens

As parents, teachers, and concerned observers, we hear a lot about teen violence. Unfortunately, it's a problem that continues to worsen over time – and that deserves our attention. While experts study the issue and media coverage increases our awareness, it's difficult to know where to turn for real solutions.

However, if we can identify the root cause or causes of teen violence, perhaps we can begin to recognize potential problems before we have a violent behavior pattern that is difficult to change. Why, for example, do some teens act out in violence while others do not? Where do those tendencies come from, and what are the risk factors that might help us predict violent potential?

Risk Factors for Teen Violence

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are several risk factors that could indicate a potential for future violent behavior. While these factors are not a direct cause, they do contribute to a higher likelihood of violent behavior in teens. There are risk factors that operate on an individual, family, or community level.

Some Individual Risk Factors Include:

  • High levels of emotional stress or problems
  • Having been victimized by violence
  • Exposure to violent and other types of family conflict
  • Drug, alcohol, or tobacco use
  • Learning disabilities, ADHD, and hyperactivity
  • Social-cognitive or information-processing issues
  • Antisocial tendencies

Main Risk Factors at the Family Level:

  • Low parental involvement or supervision
  • Inconsistent parental discipline
  • Authoritarian or harsh child-rearing practices
  • Lack of emotional attachments
  • Low levels of parental income or education
  • Parental criminal behavior or substance abuse

Community Risk Factors Include:

  • Elevated levels of transiency
  • Social disorganization / low participation in neighborhoods
  • Fewer economic opportunity
  • High concentration of poor residents

But There is More to the Story

While we may gain an understanding of the risks and other contributing factors for teen violence, they don't always offer a complete explanation. Some teens will act violently in the absence of these risk factors, while others will buck the trend and keep themselves clear of violent behavior, even in an environment where several risk factors are present. This leaves many to look even deeper for a root cause of teen violence.

Nature vs. Nurture

The nature vs. nurture debate has been ongoing for decades. It asks the question: are people born with violent tendencies, or is violence a learned behavior only?

On the nature side, a 2014 Finnish study conducted a genetic analysis of nearly 900 violent offenders, identifying two genes the authors associated with violent crime. They found that those with specific variants of the genes MAOA and CDH13 were 13 times more likely to exhibit a violent pattern of behavior.

However, it was also found that this so-called “warrior” gene is present in a large percentage of the general population of non-violent people. Further, the majority of the most violent offenders studied did not even possess this “high-risk” genetic combination.

In support of the nature argument, leading psychological expert in aggression management, Dr. Arnold Goldstein, searched for the fundamental source of aggressive behavior. His studies lead him to postulate that aggression is primarily a learned behavior. For example, he concluded that children who are exposed to aggressive behavior at home, in the media, or with peers may observe it as a means of getting what they want. So when a conflict arises, they resort to using what they know to control the situation and gain their objective. When other children shy away from interacting with them, the children who have learned aggressive behavior tend to gravitate toward each other, thus reinforcing and normalizing these tendencies.

As you can see, there has been extensive study of the root cause of violent behavior, and the debate continues with no absolute answer. But where does that leave parents who are concerned about the future of their combative or aggressive teen?

There is No Easy Answer – But There is Hope

Whatever the cause or causes of teen violence, there is bound to be overlap between several factors. There may indeed be some genetics at play, but the topic is still under intense study. There are likely some contributing environmental issues as well, but those could come from a number of sources. One thing is certain: whether the cause of teen violence in your situation is genetic or environmental – or both – many contributing factors may have an impact on a teen's ability to make wise decisions, especially in the heat of the moment.

While the potential roots of teen violence continue to be examined, perhaps the best thing concerned parents can do is to to be proactive. If your teen is living with some of the above risk factors, it's important to try and remove as many of them as possible in your case. Perhaps they need treatment for a learning disorder. Maybe they need deeper, more positive attachments to you and your community. Or, there could be family conflicts that need peaceful resolution.

Along with examining the risk factors that may be present in your teen's life, you can learn to recognize the earlier warning signs of violent teen behavior, so you can get them the help they need before things get out of hand. These warning signs may include:

  • Frequently causing harm to others – even if it's just “horsing around”
  • Breaking things, punching or kicking walls or furnishings in frustration or anger
  • Destructive behavior or bullying at school
  • Fearing for the safety of yourself and other household members

If your teen's behavior does concern you, there are some things you can do at home to encourage more positive, non-violent ways to deal with their feelings.

  • Provide healthier coping mechanisms via outlets such as sports or exercise
  • Examine the effect of your own example – do you manage your anger well?
  • Being available to talk – even if they say they aren't interested, your teen needs to know you're there for them

If at any time you worry that your teen may need some outside help for violent behavior, don't hesitate to speak to a counselor or therapist. In extreme situations, more intense help is available, including in-patient therapy. In any case, the sooner you take action, the better. With the proper guidance, you and your teen can build the successful future you both deserve.

How Utah Offers Alternative Therapy for Troubled Boys at Boarding Schools

How Utah Offers Alternative Therapy for Troubled Boys at Boarding Schools

The troubled youth of Utah are in need of alternative therapies for help with mental, emotional, and behavioral issues. Mental health issues abound with approximately 34,000 children suffering from a serious mental illness. Most of these children do not receive treatment for their condition, which is why about 557 Utah teens commit suicide and 4,543 attempt suicide annually.

Many teens seek alcohol and drugs to help them deal with their mental health conditions. This may explain why 7.1% of teens 12 to 17 years old have used illicit drugs, and 61,000 of them are dependent on them. Only 8% of those dependent on drugs receive treatment, and 15.1% get help for alcohol abuse. Lack of treatment for alcohol and drug addiction explains why the rates of youth arrests is quite high.

Out of approximately 2,096,365 teens in Utah, 26,481 have been arrested. Approximately 360 of those crimes were violent and 5626 were property related. Burglary, assault, and sex offenses are other common crimes among teenagers in Utah.

It’s obvious something has to be done to help teens in Utah. Mental health conditions that influence adolescents’ behaviors and actions result in jail time, or worse, death. To save the life of our youth, we need to help them with their mental health issues and the substance abuse they have clung to as a way to cope.

Alternative Therapies

When a teen first shows sign of a mental health or substance abuse issue, most parents turn to a counselor to help. In many cases, the adolescent becomes resistant to the help a counselor provides because they believe there is nothing wrong with how they are feeling, what they are thinking, and what they are doing. They believe they are being controlled, and this makes them want to run the other direction.

The reason is more than just being a stubborn teenager. Biology has a lot to do with it. According to neuropsychologist Deborah Todd-Yurgelun, PhD of Harvard University’s McLean Hospital Cognitive Neuronmaging and Neuropsychology Laboratory, “Don’t assume that because you’ve laid out the argument or presented the idea that teenagers are interpreting it in the same way you’ve presented it. The frontal cortex is continuing to develop, and if you don’t have the neural structure in place, the adolescent cannot really think things through at the same level as an adult.” When you throw in other factors such as substance abuse, reasoning and judgment can be greatly skewed.

It’s why alternative therapies must be implemented for our children. They don’t simply need a counselor once a week. They need a new way of seeing the world by getting away from the world they are in for a little while.

With troubled teen boarding schools, adolescents are better able to understand how they were behaving. With intense analysis of their own thoughts, beliefs, and feelings, teens are able to see how they influenced their bad decisions. Working through those thoughts, beliefs, and feelings, teens can start to change them, which change their actions.

Detox, recovery, and mental health care can all be included in the alternative therapies included at troubled teen boarding schools. These are the root issues driving our adolescents down the wrong path. With treatment, education, and support, they will be able to leave the boarding school with a new outlook on life.

Contact us today for more information on the alternative therapies at our troubled teen boarding school.

Understanding Clinical Depression, Coping Mechanisms, and The Possibility of Improving Our Mental State


Clinical depression (also called major depression) is a major hurdle in the lives of many people. In fact, about 14.8 million American adults – nearly 7% of the population – suffer from it during any given year. While it can strike anyone, it is more common among women than men. However, women are more likely to seek treatment.

When it comes to teens, the depression problem only gets more severe. In fact, experts estimate that as many as 1 out of every 8 adolescents in America are depressed, but only 1 in every 5 of those get the help they need. Even children, at a lower percentage, can be diagnosed with clinical depression.

What is Clinical Depression?

Depression disorders vary widely in severity and duration. What most people refer to as "depression" would typically describe more mild and temporary episodes. Why any type of depression is troubling, clinical depression often rises to the level of a persistent and debilitating illness. As the more serious form of depression, it is not typically caused by a single tragic event. It consumes sufferers most of the day, nearly every day, and cannot be treated as a temporary sadness to "snap out of." Clinical depression is exhibited in the following symptoms:

  • Depressed mood, sadness, and a feeling of emptiness
  • Low or no interest, and taking no pleasure in most or all activities
  • Significant, unintentional weight loss, weight gain, or appetite changes
  • Insomnia or excessive desire to sleep; fatigue
  • Feeling restless or slow
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Misplaced guilt or feelings of worthlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Contemplating death or suicide; suicide attempt(s)

What About Teens?

While the symptoms are very similar in teens and adults, there are some more particular signs of depression in teenagers that parents should be looking for in addition to the list above. Many depressed teens will exhibit poor performance in school or neglect their appearance. They might withdraw from friends or activities that they usually love. They may also show increased hostility or irritability without provocation. Many others will speak or write of suicide or wanting to disappear -- even in apparent joking.

What Causes Clinical Depression?

While the exact cause of clinical depression isn't clearly understood, experts have considered some contributing factors that may increase the risk of you or someone you love developing it. For example:

  • Biological or chemical differences in the brain - The brains of people with clinical depression may operate differently from those who do not have it.
  • Hormonal changes or imbalance - Changes in the way hormones in the body are balanced can be a trigger for depression.
  • Genetics - Doctors are studying the role genetics may play in depression, since those with a family history of it are more likely to have the same diagnosis.
  • Substance abuse - These habits may trigger or exacerbate depression, especially for others already at higher risk.
  • Certain medications - Some medicines, such as sleep aids or blood pressure medication, can increase risk for clinical depression.

How to Cope with Clinical Depression

In addition to seeking medical assistance or counseling, there are a lot of things you can do to help yourself or your teen with the effects of depression. Family support is a big indicator of treatment success, so rallying around each other is a great first step. But as far as the affected individual goes, there are some specific things you can encourage them to do to feel better:

  1. Stay connected
    People with depression tend to isolate themselves, withdrawing from their usual social circles. From social media and phone calls, to in-person visits and even pets, help them stay involved with people who love and care about them.
  2. Focus on the fun
    When your teen or other loved one wants to back away from things they used to enjoy, encourage them to continue with the hobbies and actives you know they love. It could be as simple as lunch with a few friends, a day trip, or a creative project.
  3. Move more
    The tendency to stay in bed or lay low can only make the depression feel worse. But physical activity itself can be a powerful anti-depressant. If a rigorous or formal workout is too much, begin with a short walk, stretching, or something fun like dancing.
  4. Eat right
    Believe it or not, your diet has a big impact on your mood - for good or bad. Foods that can make your mood more volatile include alcohol, caffeine, or foods with chemical preservatives, trans-fats, or hormones (such as some dairy or meat products).
  5. Know the source
    When someone has depression, the negative thinking can overwhelm them. They may feel weak, hopeless, and irritable. Encourage them to consider the source of the thoughts that enter their mind, and evaluate the real-world rationality of them. Most of the pessimistic, negative self-talk is actually the depression distorting their normal thinking.

Treatment Options

Clinical depression is a diagnosis that tends to weigh heavily patients. It may seem like a life-long sentence of sadness, but it often responds remarkably well to treatment. As a friend, family member, or parent of someone with depression, it's important to seek qualified professional help and consider all the available options to see what fits best. Some of your options may include:

  • Psychotherapy - Cognitive, family-focused, one-on-one
  • Medication - Prescription mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and more
  • Brain stimulation - Electroconvulsive or magnetic treatments
  • Self-management strategies - Education, meditation, and faith
  • Alternative treatments - Nutrition, natural mood stabilizers, and acupuncture

Take Action

No matter your situation, it's vital that you never ignore the signs of depression in yourself or someone you love. In the case of a teen, you are in a strong position to make a major difference in the rest of their lives. With the proper attention and treatment, clinical depression doesn't have to define who they are.

As long as you know what to look for, you can reach out for help where necessary. If you suspect depression is becoming an issue in yourself, your teen, or someone else close to you, don't hesitate to ask for help from a counselor or medical professional.