SAVE OUR TREES
There seems to be a sad epidemic of trees dying due to lack of water, poor pruning techniques, or being deemed inconvenient. Our trees, especially the mature ones, need to be cherished and taken care of — now, more than ever!
Trees help fight climate change and pollution, are home to countless living creatures, and are beautiful! Our trees need to be watered, even the mature ones, and they should not be pruned improperly by cutting large limbs or topping them. They should not be cut during warmer months.
And when the utility companies, the city, the county, or special interest groups decide a tree is inconvenient, we need to fight back. We all need to help our beautiful trees. They depend on us, and we depend on them to give us so many priceless gifts.
Let’s do whatever we can to save our trees!
~ VIVIAN WOOLFSON
TALK ABOUT DEPRESSION
After the tragic shootings at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School it was reported that the shooter was depressed. According to the reports, he had suffered from depression and other mental health issues for some time. Some of the adults who were being interviewed seemed to think that although he was depressed, there were no red flags.
According to the DSM-5 (diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders) depression is best looked at as a “spectrum of illness.” Some amount of sadness and depression in our lives is to be expected. Often these feelings get resolved and go away without disrupting our normal activities. But when the symptoms of major depressive disorder kick in, things can get serious quickly.
I am a mental health professional and a parent of a current high school student. I listened to these reports from Parkland with both concern and empathy. Each student interviewed broke my heart. After listening to these conversations I thought it would be helpful to have a discussion about teenage depression in our schools. Teenage depression is a real problem. Every day, far too many students across America sit quietly in their classrooms suffering from mental illnesses like depression. Yes, we need to improve gun control, but depression walks into our schools undetected every day.
It is important to understand that depression is a red flag. It’s a wake-up call. It means that things are going wrong and something needs to be done. A depressed teenager is a child crying out for help, and they are hoping someone is listening. Are we listening?
It is true that clinical depression can be treated with medication and psychotherapy, but in some cases it still leads to harmful behavior like suicide. The research suggests that adolescent depression is underdiagnosed. If left untreated children can carry these feelings of helplessness and despair into adulthood. This is a journey we don’t want our children to take. What can schools and colleges do?
it’s OK to talk about depression. Don’t be shy. Students should talk about it. Parents should talk about it. Teachers and administrators should talk about it. The last thing we want is for depression and other mental health issues to be left hiding in the shadows. We want depression out in the light of day so we can identify it and start treating it. It is nothing to be ashamed of because we all experience psychological stress. It is part of life. Life stressors can hit adolescents particularly hard, causing sadness, depression, anxiety or anger. When this happens, they need our help.
It is important that teachers and parents are on the lookout for depression because we want to keep it from getting worse. Be proactive. Raising emotionally healthy children is a team effort and it needs to become part of the school culture. When we give teenagers the emotional support they need early on, they are less likely to engage in harmful behavior. The support needs to be ongoing and consistent.
If you feel one of your students is sad or depressed, reach out to them. Start a conversation. Find out what’s going on. Talk with their parents. Just a little emotional support from a teacher or a staff member goes a long way. Make a referral to a clinician. Hopefully there are mental health counselors available on campus.
The recent mass shooting in Parkland has taught us that we need to take teenage mental health and gun control seriously. Let’s start now!
~ RICHARD DURBOROW, MA, LMFT
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