How to improve your mental state and how others can help

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How To Improve Your Mental State and How To Help tips offered by:

—Lisa Sassi, the nursing coordinator in the Monroe-Woodbury school district

—Jody Vesuvio, a partner and therapist at the Counseling and Wellness Center

—Tom Careny, social worker at Monroe-Woodbury

—Debbie Mann, owner of a West Milford, N.J. practice

“Find outlets to relieve stress. A lot of people are involved in activities, whether it's athletics, music, going for a run, there are different ways to relax and relieve stress, both at school and at home, and they should find what works best for them.”

“If no one ever taught me what some of my choices are when I'm angry or sad, I don't know what I would do,” “We can teach teens a handful of things they can do when they're sad or anxious, and put tools in their toolbox so they can function better when these feelings arise.”

“For a lot of kids, the school has become more of a resource than it was years ago when no one knew about social workers or psychologists, but now the community looks for these resources. We work collaboratively and have created a culture in the building, along with a good network to encourage proactive support, and have kids rise up to take the opportunity to help a person in need.”

Teens should talk to any adult they trust: parents, guardians, friends, teachers, social workers, coaches, priests—there's help out there, know where to get support services in your town.”

“Working with middle and high schools, to have their support and come up with plans to help the kids, I think that's effective. The more we collaborate, the better we are—we need to work more as a community to help these kids, and have parents be supportive and understanding to help their children.”

“Teens need to be reminded to reach out. Go to Family Success Centers, share with teens information regarding service providers that may be of help, and find access to activities and services that afford families the opportunity to spend quality time together.”

“We need to switch our language and verbiage towards certain behaviors and accept others. We need open communication.”

“The most important thing is have the guts to ask if someone is okay.”

“We give out cards to students on what to do if they're upset and who to call. We have the support of our administration and talk about mental health in K-12, like how to identify if you have a problem, where to go, and who to trust.”

“We're all in this world together. I think that's what it's all about—having the guts to ask and help someone, to say, 'I'm here, you're not in it alone.'”

“If you think someone's struggling, don't be afraid to say, 'I noticed x, y, and z, are you okay?' It's never offensive to say, 'If you want to talk, I'm here. A real close second is practicing tolerance and compassion—one of worst things when any of us suffer is the stigma of not wanting others to know, so if we could eliminate that, I think more people would ask for help and not be afraid, embarrassed, or ashamed to not only ask, but to take it.”

“Sometimes for parents, fear looks like anger, and even though it may be a scary thing for parents to address, the first thing to they can do to effectively support their teen is to control their emotions. Then get support for them. Sometimes teens are afraid to tell their parents they're having an issue because they want to protect their parents, or are afraid they'll get upset, so taking a supportive stance is really useful.”

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