Tag Archive: mental illness

  1. Asking for Educational Assistance

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    Being mentally healthy means that kids have a good quality of life and experience minimal problems at home and in school. A good mental condition and stable support system are key to achieving certain developmental and emotional milestones that allow kids to create boundaries between themselves and others. They also learn how to communicate, socialize, and manage emotions and expectations. Mental health is not fixed in one spot, though, and actually exists on a continuum. It’s normal for kids to experience days where they just need some rest and relaxation to recenter.

    A problem arises, though, when they express continued distress and dysfunction. They may be getting in trouble frequently at school and not listening to parents at home. This may be an indication of a mental illness, which is fairly common in the U.S. Millions of Americans are diagnosed with disorders like ADHD, behavioral problems, anxiety, and depression. Other children are described as being “on the spectrum” or neurodivergent. Supporting parents in acquiring educational assistance for their child, whether your client has a mental disorder or is neurodivergent, can be helpful in getting them the attention they need in the classroom.

    Statistics on Mental Disorders 

    The CDC explains that “mental disorders among children are described as serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, which cause distress and problems getting through the day.” Mental, behavioral, and developmental disorders tend to manifest in early childhood at a rate of 1 in 6 children between the ages of 2 to 8 years of age.

    Among the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders in children are Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, and behavioral problems. These disorders can also co-occur and cause significant problems with learning in school.

    Here are some CDC statistics on the number of children aged 2-17 diagnosed in a given year:

    ADHD: ~6.1 million

    Anxiety: ~4.4 million

    Depression: ~1.9 million

    Behavioral problems: ~4.5 million

    How Is Neurodivergency Different?

    In the late 1990s, the term ‘neurodivergent’ emerged in response to challenge the dominant view of neurological diversity as pathological. As a term, it describes persons who have an atypical neurological configuration. These persons have conditions like dyspraxia, dyslexia, ADHD, dyscalculia, autistic spectrum disorder, and Tourette syndrome. Social and emotional disorders can also fall into this category. Neurodivergent is a concept that views these conditions as stemming from normal variations of the human genome, and thus, neurological differences should be recognized and respected. In other words, kids who have these conditions are not abnormal or strange; rather, they are unique in their own way. A neurodivergent perspective also rejects that these conditions need to be cured. Instead, they should be accepted as being a part of who the person is.

    An important component to this perspective is that of support systems. Neurodiversity advocates are in favor of programs that can help others live with their condition. Some examples include occupational training, inclusion-focused services, independent living support, accommodations, and communication and assistive technologies. Kids that are neurodivergent could benefit significantly from aides that facilitate their learning in, for instance, a classroom setting.

    Accommodations in the Classroom

    Nowadays, many schools provide educational assistance – sometimes labeled as ‘disability services’ – for children with mental illness or neurodivergence. However, if your client’s school is lacking, there are some suggestions you can offer parents so they can advocate for accommodations.

    Within the classroom, teachers can first recognize that individuals differ in how they learn best. Even for students who are not neurodivergent or do not have a mental health condition, there is a diverse range of modalities that teachers can use to provide learning opportunities for all. Some kids do not respond well to the traditional and strict approach of long lectures, continuous writing of notes, and exams. Embracing this diverse worldview can help educators re-evaluate their teaching styles and adapt according to students in the class. Allocate time to check in with the kids and see how the methods are working. Teachers could also implement the use of online learning platforms. These can be a valuable tool to supplement in-classroom work and can be used at home.

    Another important point for teachers to be aware of is that neurodivergent children tend to have specific and significant strengths. It’s crucial for the teacher to know his or her students and be informed about their condition. For example, kids with autism spectrum disorder can be highly attuned to small details and identifying patterns that others do not notice. Thus, they may problem-solve differently than their peers. Children with a mental health condition may also have specific needs that need to be addressed. Teachers and parents should not feel shy to engage and support each other through this process, as the student is not the only one learning here. Family members know their loved one best and can offer practical insight into which learning styles the student will best respond to.

    Mental illnesses and neurological conditions can make learning challenging. Millions of children are diagnosed in the U.S. with conditions that disrupt daily life, like ADHD, anxiety, depression, and behavioral disorders. Some kids are described as being “on the spectrum” or neurodivergent, which means they have an atypical neurological configuration. This concept takes the perspective that the condition should not be cured, rather, it should be accepted and embraced. Either way, children with a mental or neurological condition need special attention, particularly in the classroom. Parents can advocate for educational assistance for their child by communicating openly with teachers about their child’s strengths and unique needs. Educators can embrace a diverse worldview that may lead to a re-evaluation of their teaching styles. This can help neurotypical students as well. Sustain Recovery is a treatment facility that specializes in adolescent mental health and addiction treatment. We believe family plays an important role in any recovery process and encourage members to get involved. Call us today for more information: (949) 407-9052


  2. Holiday Stress and How It Can Affect Co-Occurring Mental Illnesses

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    Holiday Stress

    Every year, commercials, Hollywood fare, and familial pressure give us the message that the holidays are supposed to be joy-filled occasions. Holidays are meant to allow us to escape from life’s daily stressors and live life like it’s a Hallmark movie. These messages are unrealistic and apply tremendous pressure to people who feel they must live up to impossible standards. Stressors that come with each holiday season include gatherings with extended family, the pressure to participate in multiple parties and get-togethers, and the expectation that everyone is on their best behavior. These are unrealistic expectations, especially for an adolescent dealing with co-occurring mental illnesses and their families.

    Co-occurring mental illnesses include:

    • Depression
    • Bipolar Disorder
    • Social Anxiety Disorder
    • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
    • Eating Disorder
    • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
    • Schizophrenia

    Holidays Commonly Contribute to Mental Illness Symptoms

    According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, almost two-thirds of people dealing with a mental illness say that the holidays worsen their conditions. They also report that the highest rate for child psychiatric hospitalizations occurs in winter. Ofter a person who has a mental illness relies on schedules and regular routines. The holiday season often upsets mentally ill young people, causing extra stress. Being surrounded by large groups of people gathering together can cause a child to experience feelings of anxiety, panic, depression, and confusion. These feelings can negatively impact eating and sleeping patterns and cause a recurrence of psychotic symptoms.

    Warning Signs Your Child May Be In Trouble

    When dealing with an adolescent who has co-occurring mental illness diagnoses, it’s essential to look out for any indications that they may be struggling. Some signs to watch out for include:

    • Mood changes
    • Withdrawing from people or activities
    • Change in sleep patterns
    • Change in eating patterns
    • An increased amount of anxiety
    • Paranoia or hallucinations
    • Expressing excessive anger
    • Depressive or manic episodes
    • Discussion of suicide

    Alcohol, Drug Use, and Mental Health

    When managing a mental illness is coupled with alcohol or drug abuse, the holidays can make everything worse. The presence of alcohol and drugs can exacerbate your child’s mental health symptoms. Likewise, poor mental health often coincides with more alcohol and drug consumption. When faced with holiday stressors, symptoms of mental health issues like depression and anxiety can become elevated. A frustrated adolescent may be tempted to reach for old habits like alcohol or drug use to alleviate these symptoms. Learn to anticipate problems and help your child navigate the holidays without losing the ground they have gained during treatment.

    Tips For Staying Safe During the Holidays

    It’s essential to clarify to your struggling child that they are always welcome to discuss any concerns or emotions they are experiencing. Knowing their family members are willing to listen and are on their side can make a huge difference in how much a child is ready to open up when they are struggling. If the child is still receiving treatment, such as individual or group counseling, they must continue to attend their appointments and take advantage of the help they need. It might be tempting to skip an appointment or two due to how busy people get during the holidays. Still, every effort should be made to continue with professional treatment and take any prescription medication to help manage mental health conditions.

    Families can formulate a plan to help their child anticipate interruptions in their schedule brought on by the holidays and be prepared with ways to help alleviate stress. To avoid overscheduling, which is often stressful for adolescents dealing with mental illness, ask their input on upcoming holiday activities. Present options like a dinner with family friends and a party at a relative’s house and ask which one they prefer to attend. When the child feels they have some say in deciding what events they attend, it helps reduce their anxiety levels. They feel empowered and as if their family recognizes their struggles and is happy to help with solutions.

    Make Time For the Immediate Family

    When a child is overwhelmed by loud parties and events with large crowds, make sure to include a happy event at home that is just for the immediate family. Family members can take turns selecting things like the food served or which movie to watch or what music to play, and make a night in feel like a calming event. Keep things within their comfort zone since so much of the holidays may have already been about that. 

    The holidays can be stressful for anyone, but an adolescent struggling with co-occurring mental illnesses may find that this time of year increases their symptoms. Parents need to know what to be on the lookout for and be prepared to assist their child in dealing with any added holiday stressors. Sustain Recovery offers an intensive long-term residential program for adolescents that helps them learn to manage their co-occurring mental illnesses, as well as alcohol or drug abuse. Our multi-phase system allows adolescents to learn to express themselves, take responsibility for their recovery, and return home ready to continue with the healing methods they have learned with us. Our evidence-based clinical treatment modalities and best practice principles give every adolescent new ways to manage their mental health and feel empowered. Call us today to find out how we can help your family start healing! (949) 407-9052


  3. Recovery is Evolving

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    doctor and female patient talk about mental health

    In the 1970s, treatment professionals became aware of a real correlation between mental illnesses and substance abuse. Initially, the terms ‘dual diagnosis’ or ‘dual disorder’ were used to describe this but were confusing in that they implied there were only two diagnoses in place when there could be multiples ones. The term ‘co-occurring disorders’ has since replaced those terms and is defined as having one or more alcohol or drug abuse disorders and mental health challenges.

    The mental illnesses that can co-occur with substance abuse include:

    • Anxiety Disorders
    • Depression
    • Bipolar Disorder
    • Eating Disorders
    • Schizophrenia
    • Borderline Personality Disorder
    • ADHD (Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder)
    • OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)

    Public Awareness Allows For More Acceptance

    Increased awareness of mental health issues has gone a long way in helping people seek treatment. For generations, people were taught to hide their symptoms and, if they sought treatment, to keep it quiet. “Therapy is for crazy people” was a jaded and common way to view those seeking help for their mental health conditions. Nowadays, the general public has become much more aware of the reality of living with a condition such as bipolar disorder or depression, taking away some of the stigmas. Today’s younger generation is much more accepting of mental health issues and more likely to speak openly about their own experiences with it. 

    The same is true for alcoholism and addiction. While in the past, it was relegated to something people with no self-control experienced. It is widely understood today that people suffer from the disease of addiction and alcoholism, and with the proper diagnosis and treatment, they can achieve sobriety. Similarly to mental illness, those who struggled with substance abuse were encouraged to keep it a secret. Currently, there is a much more open climate in which people can talk about their experiences. 

    One Size Does Not Fit All

    Society has come a long way in how they treat and view co-occurring mental illnesses. For a long time, many people who needed individualized care, instead suffered in facilities reminiscent of the one featured in the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. These asylums were a last resort that didn’t so much focus on providing what each patient needed but kept them out of society and from harming themselves or others. Many patients were pronounced hopeless either due to mismanagement or a lack of understanding of how to help them.

    Today there are many more options, such as PHP (partial hospitalization program), IOP (intensive outpatient program), and residential programs in which each person is fully evaluated for co-occurring illnesses, and a treatment plan is created specifically for them. Patients are not expected to fit a pre-formed mold; they are given the respect of discovering who they are and what they need to manage their illnesses and live a productive life. Often families are offered the opportunity to participate via family therapy appointments, which gives them a better understanding of what their loved one is experiencing and arms them with ways to assist them.

    Legislation Has Helped Treatment Evolve

    In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, which was a game-changer for millions. While offering newfound protection to those with physical disabilities, it also reclassified several mental illnesses as disabilities, opening the door for many to experience assistance with obtaining and understanding the rights to employment, schooling, public service and accommodation, and home life situations. President George H.W. Bush signed the Act into law, and it is considered by many to be more than just protection, but a piece of civil rights legislation. 

    When the Affordable Care Act was passed under the Obama Administration, it offered protection from insurance companies that typically refuse to cover pre-existing conditions. For someone suffering from mental health challenges that often require long-term care, allowing coverage for pre-existing conditions can mean the difference between having access to treatment options, and not being able to afford any treatment at all. For example, someone suffering from an eating disorder may benefit from seeking individual counseling, a nutritionist, going to an IOP or residential program, and after-care treatment. If all of these become something they can only fund out-of-pocket, many sufferers or their families have no options to provide for professional help. 

    Treatment Options for Your Clients

    Clients who need help dealing with co-occurring diagnoses are fortunate to live in a time where there are many treatment options available. Studies on genetic predisposition and the environment in which a person lives or grew up, continue to shed light on what causes co-occurring disorders and how best to treat them. The continued revising of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) creates an ongoing conversation about what treatment professionals know and what modalities and definitions can be updated. All of this provides myriad options for designing a treatment plan for those who need help with their co-occurring disorders. 

    Once upon a time, there were few options for treating either addiction or mental illnesses for people of all ages. Nowadays, incredible strides have been made in understanding both conditions, as well as the commonly co-occurring disorders that afflict so many people. Sustain Recovery provides Outpatient Services, Intensive Outpatient Programs, Partial Hospitalization Programs, and Residential or Inpatient Services. We understand the unique challenges that face adolescents who struggle with co-occurring disorders, and our professional staff can help design a treatment plan that addresses all of them. Our California programs provide the specialized treatment that adolescents in trouble require. If you need assistance finding help for a child who deals with both the disease of addiction and mental illness, call us today to discuss how we can help them heal and become whole again.

    Get your child on the road to wellness today! (949) 407-9052


  4. Going Beyond the Surface

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    mother asking questions to explore deeper

    The great challenge for any treatment professional is to find out why their client acts and feels the way they do. If an individual struggles with substance abuse, they may feel like their family members, friends, and even previous treatment providers wrote them off as ‘just’ an addict. Too often, the assumption is that the problem has been identified, and treating it alone will lead to recovery and no recurrence of addiction.

    It’s imperative to go beyond the surface and dig deep into what the real issues are. The parents of an adolescent struggling with addiction are better prepared to help their loved one when they reframe the situation and understand that a child typically abuses alcohol or drugs as an attempt to deal with their problems, rather than the addiction being the actual problem. When the people treating the adolescent help the client explore the depths of their issues, there is a much-improved chance for long-term success.

    Mental Illness Often Accompanies Addiction

    More than 60% of adolescents in community-based substance use disorder treatment programs also meet diagnostic criteria for another mental illness. Drug use often begins during adolescence, which is also a typical time for mental illnesses to start showing signs. Studies show that youth who abuse drugs are at a greater risk for the development of mental illness. As well, minors with mental health conditions may go on to develop an addiction. 

    Therapy that involves making a connection between addiction and mental illness can help a young person realize that their problem isn’t so black-and-white. They did not choose to experiment with substances and become addicted to them out of immaturity or thoughtlessness. Removing the guilt factor this way allows the person to begin to make progress towards treating their underlying issues to reduce the need for drugs and alcohol to self-medicate.

    Multiple Options Allow Clients to Go Deep

    When assessing an adolescent for treatment, it’s important to draw from several options when putting together a success plan. In the past, the stereotype of a patient lying on a couch and engaging solely in talk therapy was often seen as the best, and only, option. Today there are several approaches to take when treating an adolescent dealing with mental health and addiction diagnoses. Individual therapy remains essential for each person, but ideally, other avenues are incorporated, too. The more appropriate options explored, the more likely it is to go beyond the surface in treatment.

    EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) provides a patient with a newfound ability to process traumatic events and lower their anxiety levels. Addressing physical health is an approach with many options. Exercise, including gentler forms of it such as yoga, can help when they are incorporated regularly. Picking a particular sport or pastime, such as mixed martial arts, gives new focus and the potential for experiencing pride as the young person begins to master this new activity. 

    Power in Numbers

    Group therapy can provide an eye-opening experience for young people. They may have spent a great deal of time believing they were alone in their problems and are relieved to see others their age have had similar emotions and experiences. Peer support often offers an effective way to help a young person open up and feel less isolated. Twelve-Step based groups are a much-used source for adults and youth alike to address their struggles with addiction. Like group therapy, they assist in removing the feeling of isolation or not knowing anyone who understands the person’s struggles. Research suggests that adolescent’s strategies based on a 12-Step program may contribute to the individual attending outpatient treatment. 

    Including the Family in Treatment

    When a young person dealing with co-occurring disorders sees that their family is involved in educating themselves and learning to help them succeed, it can provide a much-needed boost in confidence. When one family member is wrapped up in their issues, the entire family is fractured, making it essential for them to move individually and as a unit to help become whole again. It allows each family member to consider what they might have contributed to the problem, and how they can help change the family dynamic to something healthier. The family can participate in therapy while the child is in a residential program and continue on an outpatient basis.


    Many mental health conditions respond favorably to prescription medications. A full assessment of the client by a physician or psychiatrist is vital to decide which route to take. Many people are nervous about taking a new medication, making it important to reassure them that they will be monitored for any side effects or a need to discontinue the medication. There is commonly a fear of being on a drug for the rest of their lives. While this may be true for some, many people who begin taking prescription meds will only use them temporarily, which should be pointed out to the individual.

    When your child is suffering from addiction and mental illness, you want to help them immediately. The problems did not develop overnight, which means the treatment will take time. Sustain Recovery understands that going beyond the surface is important when it comes to designing a treatment plan for your child. Our long-term programs for adolescents dive deep into how we can help them understand the issues and commit to treatment, both while attending our programs and after they return home. We offer comprehensive treatment, including individual therapy, 12-Step programs, holistic modalities, and residential schooling. Our California facilities are the perfect place to let your child start over. We are eager to talk to you about how we can help your child turn their life around and how your family can become whole again.

    Call us now! (949) 407-9052.


  5. Young Adults With Mental Illness Are Less Likely To Receive Addiction Treatment

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    Young Adults With Mental Illness Are Less Likely To Receive Addiction TreatmentAccording to data from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, only a third of mentally-ill adults aged 18-25 receive any treatment whatsoever for their conditions. That’s roughly 20 percent less than the 26-49 age group (an unsurprising discrepancy, given the number of senior citizens who live in assisted-living environments in the US).


    Mental Illness Gone Unchecked

    Throughout the year of 2014, about 2.4 million young adults in need were able to access mental health services like inpatient rehab or prescription medication. That leaves close to 5 million young adults in the dark. Given the untreated suffering experienced by these young people, the commonality of dual diagnoses and co-occurring disorders makes sense: they’re choose drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication.

    Clearly, there are more people in need of treatment than are currently being served it. Why is this? A lack of services? A lack of interest in those services? Most likely, it’s a combination of both.


    The Shortage Of Services

    Of all the young adults who did receive help, only 1 in 4 received prescription medication (25.5%) and 1 in 5 received outpatient services (21.3%). Perhaps the most important treatment modality of all, inpatient rehabilitation, was only available for about 3.7% of the mentally ill patients. The CDC also reports that at any given time, 3.1% of adults are suffering severe psychological distress (such as a mental breakdown).


    What Can Be Done?

    With these statistics in mind, it is critical that the public becomes more informed of mental illness, its signs, and how to handle it. There is a desperate need for further referral and treatment services in the US, and filling the gap probably requires the participation of mentors, life coaches, and teachers.

    SAMHSA, the organization charged with improving the quality and availability of prevention, treatment, and rehabilitative services, believes that young adults may benefit from developmentally appropriate services to facilitate the transition to adulthood, sponsors several programs that provide crucial information on the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and psychological crises.

    These programs also offer referral and treatment services to young teens and adults needing help with mental illness.


    Mental illness and addiction go together like fire and smoke. If you or someone you know is suffering from the former, watch out closely for the latter. If that situation is already a reality, the first step is detox–then treatment. To get started, call Sustain today for a consultation: 949-637-5499.

The people at Sustain Recovery are truly passionate about their work. They put all their love, energy and spiritual strength in to it. They continue to support me today as I continue my ongoing journey in my personal recovery. I now have over a year of sobriety, my own apartment, a job, true friends and a support network that is always available to me. Although all that stuff is great, what matters most today is that I love myself and have the ability to love others. Thank you to all who had a hand and heart in Sustain Recovery

© 2023 OCTLC Inc.