Featured Article: 10 Ways to Take a Mental Health Day from School
Adults in the workforce occasionally take a mental health day as a way to avoid burnout and dedicate time to self-care. But new legislation promotes the idea of teens taking a mental health day from school. The law comes in response to research teen anxiety, depression, and suicide rates are higher than ever before.
Championed by four teenage activists, the Oregon provision excuses student absences for mental or behavioral health reasons. And it’s no coincidence that it was passed in a state where the suicide rate is 33 percent higher than the national average. As the teen mental health crisis reaches epidemic proportions across the country, this could be the start of a national trend.
What is Mental Health Day?
Taking a mental health day from school is a chance for teens to reset their nervous system and get out of fight-or-flight mode. It’s a break from the everyday stress of tests, deadlines, and social pressures. Plus, it provides time for rest, reflection, and recharging.
Moreover, teen mental health days bring awareness to the challenges that today’s adolescents face. In addition, they foster open dialogue about this issue. As a result, the concept of taking a mental health day from school has the potential to reduce stigma around mental illness.
What Mental Health Day is Not
For many teens, it can be tempting to spend the day binge-watching TV, scrolling through social media, or napping away the afternoon. However, a true mental health day is not about kicking back—or at least not just about kicking back. While some downtime is appropriate, overdoing the online activity and media consumption is likely to have a negative impact on mood.
Furthermore, the free time provided by a mental health day can increase the risk of teen drinking, drug use, or other risky behavior. Here’s where parent involvement can be helpful: Parents can help adolescents plan healthy activities aimed at alleviating stress.
What to do on Mental Health Day?
Here are 10 activities to try when taking a mental health day from school.
- Catch up on sleep.
Teens suffer more than any other age group from lack of sleep— due to homework, late-night cellphone use, and biological hardwiring that keeps them up later. In fact, fewer than 9 percent of teens get enough sleep.Teens can catch up on Zs the night before and the night after a mental health day. But they shouldn’t sleep away the day—it’s important to use the time to do things that truly boost happiness.
- Take time to eat well.
Because they’re often rushed and overscheduled, teens are notorious for eating poorly or skipping meals altogether. That takes a toll, because good nutrition is essential for mental well-being, not just physical health. Scientists have identified specific nutrients that protect against depression. In addition, eating in a relaxed atmosphere, without time constraints, improves digestion and mood.
A mental health day is the perfect opportunity for a digital detox. Unplugging frees up time for IRL activities and also separates teens from social media, which has been shown to increase symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Cultivate authentic connections.
Supportive, caring relationships—with peers, parents, siblings, and other relatives—are essential to adolescent well-being. Therefore,a teen mental health day might include quality,face- to-face time with a trusted friend or family member.
- Move your body.
Studies show that exercise impacts serotonin levels, bolstering well-being and reducing depressive symptoms. Hence, a teen mental health day should include some form of movement— such as dancing, hiking, yoga, or sports.
- Spend time in nature.
Because teens are in classrooms five days a week, their time outside is limited. Therefore, a mental health day is a great chance to spend time in nature, proven to lower the stress hormone cortisol. As a result, stress, depression, and anxiety levels go down.
- Express yourself.
Visual art, music, and journaling are beneficial activities for processing emotions and tapping into creativity. “Creative pursuits provide a way to be grounded in the moment,” says Kristin Wilson, Vice President of Clinical Outreach at Newport Academy. “In addition, creativity can give teens a feeling of mastery.”
- Help someone else.
Studies show that doing good for others makes us happier. So teens might spend time with a younger sibling, volunteer at an animal shelter, or help serve a meal at a soup kitchen while taking a mental health day from school.
Research has found that meditation is just as effective as antidepressants. And it doesn’t have to be done seated cross- legged on a cushion. Teens can take a mindful walk, paying attention to the sights, sounds, and scents around them. A slow yoga practice or breathing exercise can also support a meditative state of mind.
- Do things that spark joy.
When teens slow down and tap into what they really need, they’re more likely to choose behaviors that support their thriving. That’s true on mental health days and every day.
ASMAT FARAH, LCSW
Everyone is destined to experience stress, loneliness, isolation, loss, illness, pain, self- defeating choices, unhappiness, uncertainty, relationship or work problems. Sometimes it’s hard to know when to ask for help.
Seeking therapy does not mean there is something wrong with us. Many of us are concerned about getting labeled with a mental illness because we are struggling with life issues, traumatic events or troubled families. Asmat is less interested in finding labels, and more interested in working with you to better understand your struggle and help you develop more successful coping techniques.
Asmat strives to foster a collaborative relationship with her clients to help them develop their own internal resources and capabilities so that they emerge with new skills for dealing with their struggles, and a more positive sense of self.
Asmat believes treating every person with respect and kindness is a prerequisite for good therapy. The most important factor in successful treatment is the match between therapist and client. Asmat will help you assess this.
Asmat is empathetic, supportive, caring, engaging, seasoned clinician with 28 years of clinicalexperience. She earned her master’s degree in clinical social work in 1992 from San Diego State University. She is trained in a wide range of therapeutic techniques and approaches: (EMDR) Eye Movement Desensitization and reprocessing; (EFT) Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples; EFT for individuals; (CBT) Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy and (AEDP) Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy.
Specialties: Couples and relationship issues, depression, anxiety, anger management, emotion regulation, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), LGBT and gender identities, life transition, and work problems.
SHANNON NOSENZO, LMFT AND AAMFT DESIGNATED SUPERVISOR & MENTOR
Shannon is a seasoned professional serving individuals and relationships under stress and with diverse presentations. She holds a leadership role in behavioral health program management and clinical supervision. Shannon’s gifts are providing an emotionally safe and comfortable experience, helping you feel heard and understood, conveying a sense of validation, affirming yet gently challenging your perspective, motivating you to get unstuck from unhelpful or ineffective habits with a coach-like style aimed at using your areas of strength and resourcefulness to live your best life.
- Trauma and traumatic stress
- Adjustment to significant life changes
- Fear, anxiety and worry
- Lack of motivation and interest
- Challenges at work
- Feeling stuck, experiencing barriers to achievement
- Substance use
- Loss of a loved one
- Couple or family stress
- AMFT designated supervisor offering therapy, clinical supervision and mentoring for students, professionals and supervisor mentees in person or online via Motivo.
Evidence-based and best practice modalities:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy
- Cognitive processing therapy
- Solution focused brief therapy
- Motivational interviewing
- Structural family therapy
- Certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator Shannon’s words to live by: Look for the good, embody hope, laugh and give love.
JESSICA ZELIKMAN, PSY
Dr. Jessica Zelikman is a Licensed Psychologist with over 15 years of specialized training and experience serving clients with severe and persistent mental illness, addiction, family and couples, military personnel, and forensic issues. Dr. Zelikman
tailors her approach to best help her clients and creates a holistic and nonjudgmental environment that promotes wellbeing and positive growth.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “One out of every four older adults falls every year, and 20 percent of those falls are serious, resulting in a broken bone, head trauma or the similar injury.” Seniors who experience a fall double their chance of experiencing another fall in the future. Unfortunately, the risk of falling can’t be completely avoided, so it’s crucial to provide immediate help and assistance if and when a fall happens.”
This is where home medical alert systems can be invaluable. These devices allow seniors to retain their independence at home and in their communities while minimizing the risk of further injury or death from falling being unable to receive immediate help. More information: https://www.caring.com/caregivers/best- medical-alert-systems/
Caring.com is a leading senior care resource for family caregivers seeking information and support as they care for aging parents, spouses and other loved ones. We have been featured by AARP, The Administration for Community Living, The National Legal Resource Center, and Forbes, as well as referenced by many governmental agencies and organizations across the Internet.
Book of the Month: The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure – Thank you, James Carr, Help Provider
Office space available in El Cajon
If you are looking to expand your practice in the East County area, available office space is for rent either by day or evening, located near city center. Wednesday and Thursday are the available days at the rate of $125 per day for the month. Evenings and weekends are also available to be discussed. For additional details contact Joseph Akronowitz, LCSW at (619) 318-3775.
- Nurse Practitioners coming soon
- Expanding to Arizona
- Contracted with Scripps HMO
Welcome new providers to HELP Team:
- Shannon Nosenzo Goodman, LMFT- San Marcos
- Matthew Brown, LMFT- San Marcos/Escondido
- James CArr, LCSW- Hillcrest
- Dr. Stamatia Daroglou, PSY 20266 – La Jolla
- Asmat Farah, LCSW- Rancho Bernardo
- Brenda Mack, LMFT- La Mesa
- Anthony Matthews, LCSW- La Mesa & Hillcrest
- Martin Landau North, LMFT-Solana Beach & San Marcos
- Ellen Reese, LCSW – Mission Valley
- Dr. Parva, PhD- Orange County Jessica Zelikman, PsY – Mission Valley
Dear Referring Agencies,
We just wanted you to know that we truly enjoy working with you and your clients and feel honored to be your choice for mental health services.
Your business is much appreciated, and we will do our very best to continue to meet your clients needs. We would be so grateful if you could write a positive review on our website.