Crisis Intervention & Resources
In case of a life threatening emergency, call 9-1-1
- ALCOHOL AND DRUGS
- EATING DISORDERS
- GRIEF AND LOSS
- SELF HARMING BEHAVIORS
- SMART PHONE APPS
- SUICIDE PREVENTION
- SUPPORT PROVIDERS
Risk Factors of Young Drinkers
Some factors that may increase an individual's drug or alcohol use may include:
- Genetics: teens with parents or siblings that have a drinking problem are four times more likely to develop a problem of their own.
- Race and ethnicity: Some racial groups, such as American Indians or Native Alaskans, are at a higher risk of developing an alcohol dependence.
- External pressure: Teens whose parents, siblings, or friends are heavy drinkers are more likely to start drinking earlier and believe that behavior is acceptable.
- Personality: Young people who believe alcohol makes them more social are more likely to drink heavily in order to fit in.
Here are some common myths and facts about Drugs and Alcohol:
Drugs and alcohol aren't dangerous if I am responsible.
Teenage brains are not fully developed yet and therefore they tend to be more impulsive, which can lead to binge drinking. Using alcohol and drugs before the brain has fully developed increases your risk for future addiction to alcohol and drugs dramatically. Young people who start drinking alcohol before age 15 are 5 times more likely to develop alcohol abuse or dependence than people who first used alcohol at age 21 or older.
Alcohol isn't as harmful as other drugs.
Alcohol increases your risk for many deadly diseases, such as Hepatitis C, liver disease, or cancer. Drinking too much alcohol can quickly lead to alcohol poisoning, which can kill you.
Drinking is a good way to loosen up at parties.
Drinking can make you act silly, say things you shouldn't say, and do things you wouldn't normally do (like fights, drugs, or sex). Alcohol actually lessons your inhibitions so you are less likely to think through your choices.
I need to drink alcohol to fit in with other kids.
If you really want to fit in, stay sober. Most young people/teenagers don't drink alcohol. Research shows that more than 70% of youth aged 12-20 haven't had a drink in the past month.
I can sober up quickly with a cold shower or drinking coffee.
On average, it takes 2-3 hours for a single drink to leave the body. Nothing can speed up the process.
Beer and wine are safer than liquor.
Alcohol is alcohol. It can cause you problems no matter how you consume it. One 12 oz beer or 5 oz glass of wine has as much alcohol as a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor.
References and Resources
Addiction Center - 888-982-3077
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
NIDA for Teens
Mind Over Matter for Teens
The Science of Addiction
What is Anxiety?
There are many different types of anxiety that people experience. However, individuals usually describe anxiety as a combination of the following:
- Constant worry
- Feeling "on-edge"
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing
- Irrational thinking that spirals 'out of control'
- Difficulty sleeping
The anxiety, worry, or other similar symptoms may make it hard to carry out day-to-day activities and responsibilities. They may cause problems at school, in relationships, at work, or in other important areas of life.
Some people that experience anxiety may also experience symptoms similar to a panic attack (difficulty breathing, fast heartbeat, sweating, tunnel vision, etc.).
Anxiety attacks and panic attacks may look relatively similar, but have some key differences.
With anxiety attacks, there is usually a "trigger" or "stressor" that causes someone to experience symptoms.
Panic attacks typically have no trigger or stressor and are unpredictable and unprovoked. During a panic attack the individual is usually frozen with terror, fear, or apprehension. They often experience many physical symptoms some of which may include chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea. In addition to these terrifying panic attacks, people begin to worry about having the next one, which can prevent them from doing many things.
What Causes Anxiety?
1. Family history of mental health conditions
Genetics plays a significant role in mental health conditions. You are at a heightened risk for anxiety if someone in your family has a history with mental illness. However, it is important to note that just because a family member may struggle with a mental illness, that does not automatically mean you'll develop anxiety or a similar mental health condition.
2. Personality factors
Research suggests that people with certain personality traits are more likely to have anxiety. For example, children who are perfectionists, easily flustered, timid, inhibited, lack self-esteem or want to control everything, sometimes develop anxiety during childhood, adolescence or into their adulthood.
3. Ongoing stressful events
Anxiety conditions may develop because of one or more stressful life events. Common triggers include:
- Work stress or job change
- Change in living arrangements/ unstable living environment
- Family and relationship problems
- Major emotional shock following a stressful or traumatic event
- Verbal, sexual, physical or emotional abuse or trauma
- Death or loss of a loved one
- Physical health problems
- Being in a confined, small space
- Being in social situations (speaking in front of people)
- Test taking
4. Other mental health conditions
While some people may experience an anxiety condition on its own, others may experience multiple anxiety conditions, or other mental health conditions. Depression and anxiety are often "co-morbid" which means they occur together. It's important to seek medical help and get assistance for all these conditions at the same time.
Types of Bullying
Bullying is identified by three main characteristics:
- The behavior must be aggressive.
- There must be an imbalance of power (physical, popularity, strength, etc.).
- There must be repetition - the bullying behaviors happen more than once or the potential to happen more than once.
Verbal: saying or writing mean things
- Inappropriate comments
Physical: intending to hurt a person's body or possessions
Social: hurting a person's reputation or relationships
- Spreading rumors
- Purposefully excluding someone
- Embarrassing someone in public
- Telling people not to be someone's friend
Cyber Bullying: use of electronic devices and social media
- Mean text messages/emails
- Rumors sent by email/phone/social media
- Posting embarrassing photos online (pictures, videos, fake profiles, etc.)
- Online shaming people through social media avenues (Instagram, Snapchat, etc.)
Effects of Bullying
Students who experience bullying are more likely to:
- Use alcohol and drugs
- Have high rates of absences at school
- Receive poor grades
- Have lower self-esteem
- Have health problems
- Increased risk for anxiety and depression
- Experience somatic symptoms (stomachaches, headaches, etc.)
- Have increased thoughts of suicide
What to do?
- If you or someone you know is being bullied - tell an adult (parent, counselor, coach, administrator, student support specialist, teacher, etc.)
- Stand up for the person who is being bullied - DON'T BE A BYSTANDER!
Depression is an overwhelming feeling of sadness and despair. It does not discriminate across race, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic status. Celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Angelina Jolie, and Robin Williams have openly discussed their experiences with depression.
Depression often can present itself in various ways:
- Depressed mood
- Decreased interest or involvement in most activities
- Significant changes in sleep
- Significant weight or appetite changes
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of energy
- Suicidal thinking
How do I determine 'depression' from a case of 'the blues'?
Depression is different from 'the blues' because it typically is intense feelings of sadness, despair, and/or irritability for 2 or more weeks. During this time, the feelings of sadness occur most of the day, nearly everyday. Depression can be a serious issue that can prevent a student from being successful in the different areas of their life (relationships, school, work, etc.). Sometimes getting out of bed in the morning can be the most difficult part of the day.
Statistics related to depression
- An estimated 2 million American adolescents will experience depression each year.
- 1 in 5 adolescents will experience depression before the age of 18
- Of those that experience depression, approximately 60% do not receive treatment
- Before puberty boys and girls are equally likely to experience depression. After age 15, girls and women are twice as likely as boys and men to experience depression.
Eating disorders are not just about food, weight, appearance, or willpower; they are serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses. Young people with eating disorders see their self-worth largely in terms of their body shape and weight and their ability to control them. Most people with eating disorders are very distressed about their appearance, body shape, and weight, and this distress causes significant disruption to their lives. A lot of these concerns stem from media portrayals of thin models. We often internalize these model photos as what "beautiful" is and strive to look similar to them. A young person with an eating disorder can be underweight or overweight or fall within the healthy weight range.
Eating disorders affect 10% of the U.S. population and is prevalent in both males and females.
Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders
- Extreme dieting behaviors
- Evidence of binge eating (e.g., disappearance or hoarding of food)
- Evidence of vomiting or laxative use on purpose (e.g. taking trips to the bathroom during or immediately after meals)
- Avoids eating meals with family by claiming to have already eaten
- Has rigid patterns around food selection, preparation, and eating
- Avoids eating a meal, particularly in a social setting
- Lies about amount and types of food consumed
- Has body-image focused behaviors
- Social withdrawal
- Extreme weight loss or weight fluctuations
- Changes or loss in periods due to low body fat % (in females)
- Swelling around cheeks or jaw; calluses on knuckles; dental discoloration from vomiting
- Depression, anxiety, or irritability
- Heightened anxiety around meal times
- Expresses extreme body dissatisfaction
- Denies having a problem
- Does not usually ask for help
- Is increasingly preoccupied with exercise
- Talks about fat; focus on specific body parts
- Changes their clothing style to conceal weight changes
People with anorexia nervosa may see themselves as overweight, even when they are dangerously underweight. People with anorexia nervosa typically weigh themselves repeatedly, severely restrict the amount of food they eat and eat very small quantities of only certain foods. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. While many young women and men with this disorder die from complications associated with starvation, others die of suicide. In women, suicide is much more common in those with anorexia than with most other mental disorders.
- Focuses on body shape and weight as the main measure of self-worth
- Maintains a very low body weight
- Has an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat
- Has altered pattern of menstrual periods
- Extremely restricted eating
- Extreme thinness (emaciation)
- A relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight
- Fear of gaining weight
- Distorted body image, a self-esteem that is heavily influenced by perceptions of body weight and shape, or a denial of the seriousness of low body weight
Other symptoms may include (but are not limited to):
- Thinning of the bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis)
- Brittle hair and nails
- Dry and yellowish skin
- Severe constipation
- Low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse
- Brain damage
- Organ failure
- Lethargy, sluggishness, or feeling tired all the time
People with bulimia nervosa have recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food and feeling a lack of control over these episodes. This binge-eating is followed by behavior that compensates for the overeating such as forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviors. Unlike anorexia nervosa, people with bulimia nervosa usually maintain what is considered a healthy or relatively normal weight.
- Focuses on body shape and weight as the main measure of self-worth
- Has repeated episodes of uncontrolled overeating (binge eating) for at least twice a week for three months or more
- Has extreme weight control behavior; such as extreme dieting, frequent use of vomiting or laxatives to control weight, diuretic and enema abuse, excessive exercise
- Does not meet characteristics of anorexia
- Chronically inflamed and sore throat
- Swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw area
- Worn tooth enamel and increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth as a result of exposure to stomach acid
- Acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems
- Intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse
- Severe dehydration from purging of fluids
- Electrolyte imbalance (too low or too high levels of sodium, calcium, potassium and other minerals) which can lead to stroke or heart attack
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the U.S.
People with binge-eating disorder lose control over his or her eating. Unlike bulimia nervosa, periods of binge-eating are not followed by purging, excessive exercise, or fasting. As a result, people with binge-eating disorder often are overweight or obese.
- Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time
- Eating even when you're full or not hungry
- Eating fast during binge episodes
- Eating until you're uncomfortably full
- Eating alone or in secret to avoid embarrassment
- Feeling distressed, ashamed, or guilty about your eating
- Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
Body Dysmorphia is also a serious disorder associated with eating disorders as well. Oftentimes individual see one thing in the mirror, when in fact that may not be true. For example, someone may dislike something about his/her appearance and they obsess and think about that imperfection, causing much distress. People with body dysmorphia focus so much on their appearance that they often have difficulties with social situations, work, school, and tend to have low self-esteem.
Eating disorders frequently appear during the teen years or young adulthood but may also develop during childhood or later in life. These disorders affect both genders, although rates among women are 2½ times greater than among men. Like women who have eating disorders, men also have a distorted sense of body image. For example, men may have muscle dysmorphia, a type of disorder marked by an extreme concern with becoming more muscular.
Treatment and Therapy
Adequate nutrition, reducing excessive exercise, and stopping purging behaviors are the foundations of treatment. Treatment plans are tailored to individual needs and may include one or more of the following:
- Individual, group, and/or family psychotherapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Medical care and monitoring
- Nutritional counseling
Most of the information for this page was gathered from The National Institute of Mental Health.
Grief is a normal response after experiencing the loss of a loved one. Grief and loss can be experienced for a number of reasons: the death of a loved one, incarceration of a loved one, abandonment, etc.
There are typically 5 stages that an individual might experience during a period of grieving:
1. Denial - "This can't be happening."
In this stage, individuals may refuse to accept the loss has occurred.
2. Anger - "Why is this happening to me?"
When an individual experiences a loss, he/she may become angry at themselves or others. They may argue the situation is unfair.
3. Bargaining - "I will do anything to change this situation"
In bargaining, the individual may try to change their loss. For example, they may try to search for unlikely cures in the case of a terminal illness.
4. Depression - "What is the point of going on after this loss?"
At this stage, the individual has come to recognize that loss has occurred. They may isolate themselves and spend time crying/grieving.
5. Acceptance - "It's going to be okay."
Finally, the individual will come to accept the loss. They understand the situation and have come to terms emotionally with the situation. This stage does not mean that the loved one is forgotten, but that the individual has now been able to properly grieve.
Every person experiences grief and loss differently. These stages may not be experienced in any particular order, and you may or may not experience all five.
Grief symptoms also may be experienced differently based on a persons age. Here are some common symptoms that a teenager might face:
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Becoming more active or restless
- Becoming upset easily
- Becoming afraid of loud noises
- Having guilty feelings
- Refusing to go to school
- Experiencing headaches/nausea
- Difficulty sleeping
- Having nightmares, etc.
What is the difference between sex and gender?
Sex refers to the biological and physiological differences that differentiate men from women.
- Gender refers to the socially constructed roles of masculinity and femininity through behaviors, activities, and mannerisms.
Common definitions for sexual orientation and gender identity:
An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people.
One's innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One's gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.
The external appearance of one's gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.
An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.
A person who experiences a "mismatch" of body and brain. Transsexual individuals will undergo medical treatment including hormonal therapy and sexual reassignment surgery to change their physical sex to match his/her gender.
The process by which some people strive to more closely align their internal knowledge of gender with its outward appearance. Some people socially transition, whereby they might begin dressing, using names and pronouns and/or be socially recognized as another gender. Others undergo physical transitions in which they modify their bodies through medical interventions.
Clinically significant distress caused when a person's assigned birth gender is not the same as the one with which they identify. According to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the term – which replaces Gender Identity Disorder – "is intended to better characterize the experiences of affected children, adolescents, and adults."
Most of the information for this page was gathered from the Human Rights Campaign.
About 14-17% of adolescents have engaged in self-harming behaviors, with about 5-8% still actively self-harming.
Self Injury, most commonly known as "cutting" can be seen in various ways:
- Hitting/Banging head
- Punching or throwing things against your body
- Swallowing poisonous substances or objects
- Intentionally preventing wounds from healing
Self-harm can be seen on wrists, legs, stomach/rib area, etc.
Although most self-injury is used by students as a coping mechanism, it can also be dangerous.
There are many different reasons why student's self-injure. Teenagers are faced with a variety of stressors which include, but are not limited to:
Fitting In With Peers
In adolescence, being rejected by your peers is a traumatic experience. Adolescent students who lack strong social skills often struggle to make friends and may resort to extreme behaviors endorsed by more popular and powerful peers; they may experiment with cutting as their entry ticket into the high-status, inner-circle clique. Many adolescents and children also spend far too much time online, communicating with their peers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Some adolescents have been victimized by peers who play the on-and-off befriending game or spread terrible rumors about them as a form of underground psychological warfare.
Overloaded Stress Circuits
In addition to juggling social connections, many students are trying to manage massive homework loads and often feel pressured to perform at a high academic levels (AP courses, honor courses, etc.). Some adolescents are growing up in achievement-oriented families, in which they experience undue pressure to get straight A's. In addition, the parents often push their adolescents to schedule too many extracurricular activities to make them as attractive as possible to top colleges and universities. To cope with the stress, some of the more emotionally vulnerable adolescents turn to self-harm, resort to eating-distressed behaviors like bulimia, or engage in substance abuse.
Quick Fix Solutions
Adolescents are growing up in a media world where one of the most popular messages is that we must obliterate stress and other problems as quickly as possible. What better way to get rid of all your problems than to take a pill, which many advertisements on TV suggest is the ultimate solution for physical, psychological, and behavioral difficulties.
Self-harming adolescents have discovered that their brain chemistry can serve as a 24-hour pharmacy (Plante, 2007). When adolescents self-harm, their bodies immediately secrete naturally manufactured endorphins into their bloodstreams to protect them from physical pain. These endorphins rapidly numb the emotional distress they may be experiencing.
Emotional Disconnect and Invalidation
In families of self-harming adolescents, emotional disconnection and invalidation are common family dynamics. For whatever reason, one or both parents are not emotionally and physically present to comfort their adolescents when they are emotionally distressed. When the parents are present, they tend to respond in invalidating ways, such as by yelling, threatening, becoming hysterical, dishing out extreme consequences, distancing themselves, or not listening. So some adolescents take matters into their own hands—they self-harm to soothe themselves.
Another factor that contributes to emotional disconnection in families is the computer screen. Developing emotional intimacy by means of a screen of some sort has become much more important to some adolescents than having human contact. Brazleton and Greenspan (2000) found that children and adolescents spent, on average, five and one-half hours a day in front of a screen. Close to 70 percent of 8 to 18-year-olds have a TV in their bedroom (Taffel, 2009); laptops or personal computers have most likely replaced many of these.
Parents often do not provide firm guidelines for screen usage and do not regularly monitor the websites their children visit. There are many toxic websites and so-called online support groups for self-harming individuals where adolescents can witness people brutalizing their bodies, see other graphic images, read poetry and stories with self-harming themes, and learn new methods for self-harming.
Myths and Facts
Myth: People who cut and self-injure are just seeking attention.
Fact: People who self-harm typically do it in private. They aren't trying to manipulate others or draw attention to themselves. Shame and fear can actually make it difficult to seek help.
Myth: People who self-injure are dangerous and crazy.
Fact: People who self-harm typically suffer from anxiety, depression, or trauma. Self-injury is a coping skill that does not make someone crazy or dangerous.
Myth: People who self-injure want to die.
Fact: Most people who engage in self-harming behaviors do not want to die. Self-injury is not an attempt to kill oneself, just a coping skill used to mask the pain. However, long-term people who self-injure have a higher risk of suicide.
Myth: If the wounds aren't bad, it's not that serious.
Fact: The severity of the wound has little to do with how much/little the individual is suffering.
Use this guide as a way to try other healthy coping skills:
- Hit a punching bag
- Use play-dough or clay
- Break sticks
- Crank up music and dance
- Exercise (walk/jog/run)
- Play a sport
- Write down feelings on a paper and rip it up
- Take a hot bath
- Light incense
- Listen to soothing music
- Call a friend or family member to talk about something you like
- Visit a friend
- Pet or cuddle with an animal
- Squeeze ice cubes
- Snap your wrists with a rubber band
- Take a cold bath
- Focus on your breath, notice your body moving
- Draw on your skin with a red felt-tip pen
- Paint yourself with red paint
- Get a henna fake tattoo kit
Above are just some ideas. If the thought of self-injury continues, please consult your doctor, counselor, parent, or a trusted adult.
Most of the information for this page was gathered from Educational Learning
Below you will find a list of FREE smartphone apps for download:
Virtual Hope Box is an app designed to enhance and strengthen positive coping skills. Within the app there are games for distraction, relaxation techniques, and a section for inputting inspirational quotes or photos. You can also pick several contacts for "support" in case of any emergencies.
MindShift is an app used to teach and educate about anxiety. The app can be tailored to each individuals needs in regards to situations that cause anxiety, symptoms of anxiety, and effective coping skills.
An app for guided meditation and mindfulness practice.
An app for check-ins on feelings and reminders to meditate and take breaks throughout the day.
An app designed to build kindness and inclusion in schools. The app was developed by a 16 year old girl that was a victim of severe bullying. Allows users to invite others to join them at lunch and make new friends.
An app designed to create happiness and challenge negativity. Through use of games the user will learn many positive ways to conquer negative thinking and build stronger self-confidence.
An app designed to monitor how restful your sleep is.
If you are having serious suicidal thoughts, please call 911
In 2007, suicide ranked as the second leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults; only accidents and homicides occurred more frequently. In recent years, more young people have died from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, congenital birth defects and diabetes COMBINED (CDC, 2009).
Did you know.....?
- Young males are much more likely to die by suicide than their female peers (AAS, 2009).
- Female adolescents are more likely to attempt suicide than their male peers.
- For every young person who dies by suicide, 100-200 youth attempt suicide. Only one of four youth who attempt suicide actually gets medical attention (AAS, 2009).
- Firearms remain the most commonly used lethal suicide method among youth however; in the last decade the suicide rate by firearm decreased while the rate for suffocation increased, especially in young girls (CDC, 2009).
- Depression is the most prevalent mental health disorder (NIMH, 2009).
- It is estimated 1 in 33 children and 1 in 8 adolescents may suffer the symptoms of depression (NIMH, 2009).
- Teenage girls are more likely to develop depression than teenage boys (NIMH, 2007).
- A family history of depression (i.e., a parent) increases the chances (by 11 times) that a child will also have depression (NIMH, 2009).
- Based on the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBSS), 26.1% students in grades 9-12 reported a prolonged sense of depression over the past year; 13.8% of students reported they seriously considered attempting suicide while 10.9% actually made plans. 6.3% of students participating in the survey reported making one or more attempts in the past year (CDC, 2009).
- Depression is the psychiatric diagnosis most commonly associated with suicide and approximately 2/3 of people who die by suicide are depressed at the time of their deaths (AAS, 2009).
If you are having serious suicidal thoughts, please call 911 or call/text one of the crisis hotlines listed on this page.
- California Youth Crisis Line (24/7): 800-843-5200
- Crisis Text Line (24/7): Text HOME to 741-741
- Teen Line (6-10pm): Call 800-852-8336 or text TEEN to 839863
- Orange County Centralized Assessment Team (CAT) - (714) 517-6353
- Suicide Prevention Center LA/Orange County (24/7): 877-727-4747
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24/7): 800-273-8255