MHANYS Healthy Young Minds Newsletter – Issue 2
Great information to share with schools about mental health

For those who work with schools and all interested parties, we are
resending the second edition of Healthy Young Minds, a resource dedicated

to high school aged youth to help promote understanding and encourage
discussion of mental health issues among teachers, students and parents.
In September, we sent out our first edition to every school district in New
York State and we received an overwhelmingly positive response. This issue
features information about protective factors in a youth’s life, positive
school culture, signs of potential mental health problems and improving
mental health education in New York State.

If you are interested in finding out more about our work in bringing
mental health curriculums into schools and greater teacher education and
support than contact MHANYS Public Policy Director John Richter at 

Remember to follow us on twitter at @MHAacrossNYS

Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc.
194 Washington Avenue, Suite 415
Albany, NY 12210

Dear High School Principal:

Here is the latest issue of Healthy Young Minds a resource for your
school on timely topics of importance to high school aged youth.
It’s intended to promote understanding and encourage
discussion of mental health issues among teachers, students and parents.
One in five teens reported that they have suffered from a mental disorder
with symptoms severe enough to impact their daily lives. This is why it’s
so important to create an environment where these issues can be discussed
and information is easily available.

Please share the newsletter, with parents, teachers and staff. Reprint
articles in your regular communications with parents and students. We know
that educational outcomes are improved when mental health is regularly
discussed and accurate information is readily available. Furthermore,
bullying and stigma are reduced and students are more likely to seek the
help they need.

The Mental Health Association in New York State (MHANYS) is a respected
advocate for promoting access to mental health services. MHANYS and our 30
affiliates across the state work to combat stigma and promote well-being
and recovery through all our programming.

Healthy Young Minds is distributed 4 times a year, free of charge. Please
give credit when reprinting articles. Copies are available by contacting
the Mental Health Association in New York State. or or

Thank you in advance for your help in promoting mental health. And thank
you for your work in educating our youth.


Glenn Liebman

Here is the latest edition of Healthy Young Minds a quarterly
publication of the Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc.

Schools are encouraged to share articles and content of the
Healthy Young Minds newsletter as appropriate in either printed or
electronic forms. Please give credit to MHANYS.

Making a difference: Protective factors in a youth’s life

What causes one youth to struggle with addiction, mental health problems or
risky behaviors and another seem to coast through high school unencumbered
by anxiety, depression or substance abuse? We all know that there is a
complex maze of factors such as genetics, family connections and community
that impact each youth. Protective factors increase a young person’s
likelihood of success and risk factors increase the likelihood of mental
health problems or substance abuse.

When students enter high school, they face social, emotional, and
educational challenges. What’s exciting is that schools, teachers and
parents can improve student outcomes by increasing protective factors and
reducing risk factors.

Building a positive school culture
A positive school culture is linked to improved academic and behavioral
outcomes and helps create a sense of acceptance and attachment to school
life. This shapes students’ feelings and attitudes, which in turn impact on
their academic performance and mental health.

To build a positive school culture, schools are encouraged to introduce or
strengthen programs that provide opportunities for students and teachers to
interact with one another on an informal basis and provide activities that
promote positive peer bonding such as recess, clubs or school buddy
programs. Schools should promote high academic expectations for their
students and place more emphasis on mastery of a subject matter and less on
competition and relative ability. A positive relationship with at least
one adult who is not the parent, is a strong protective factor. Therefore,
teachers who get to know their students can make a difference in their

Creating a protective school culture:

· Encouraging a commitment to learning

· Praising achievements and accomplishments

· Acknowledging successes and abilities

· Asking students for opinions and solutions

· Modeling positive behavior and respect

· Encouraging student participation and helping

· Setting clear classroom rules and consequences

· Keeping the channels of communication open

Typical Adolescence? or Signs that Require Help?

Adolescence is a time of change—change that prepares a young person for
adult life. Young people begin to develop their own beliefs, cultural
values and sexual identity, and begin thinking about the future. These
changes can lead a youth to turn away from family and toward friends, to
question authority and take risks. We also know that mental health problems
often appear during adolescence. How do we distinguish between normal
adolescent behavior and signs of serious mental health problems?

There are a number of signs and symptoms to look for. If a young person is
experiencing several at one time and the symptoms are causing problems in
their ability to study, work or relate to others, he or she should be seen
by a mental health professional. Youth with suicidal thoughts or thoughts
of harming others need immediate attention.

Some signs of potential problems:

· Social withdrawal, withdrawal from activities or a loss of interest in

· Problems with concentration, memory, speech or difficulty performing
familiar tasks

· Increased sensitivity to, or avoidance of, sounds, smells, touch, sights
or stimulating situations

· Apathy or feeling disconnected or a sense of unreality

· Illogical thinking, exaggerated beliefs or magical thinking

· Nervousness or fear or suspiciousness of others

· Odd or unusual behavior

· Dramatic sleep or appetite changes or a decline in personal care

· Rapid or dramatic mood changes

Improving Mental Health Literacy in New York’s Capitol

Mental health is a public health emergency. As the number of teen suicides
continue to rise, New York policy makers are searching for ways to improve
access to mental health information and services. The Mental Health
Association in New York State (MHANYS) is promoting a campaign to increase
mental health literacy. And in doing so, to im-prove understanding and
access to services.

Our campaign includes:
Mental Health Education in Schools: Legislation has been introduced to
include mental health as part of the health education curriculum. (A.3887-A
and S.6046).

Mental Health Education for Teachers: Legislation in the Senate would
help teachers get access to information and resources to better understand
mental health and support students learning about the subject. (S.6234-A)

Funding Mental Health Literacy: MHANYS is proposing additional funding in
the New York State budget for training in Mental Health First Aid and Youth
Mental Health First Aid. This training helps adults understand what to do
when someone is experi-encing a mental health crisis or is showing signs of
a mental health or addiction disorder. We are also proposing enhanced
funding for school based mental health programs to support more school
social workers and therapeutic after-school mental health services.

Other legislative and budget priorities include: Supporting legislation
to raise the age of young people being sent to prison; providing mental
health support to youth in the justice system; providing mental health
workers employed by not-for-profit agencies with a living wage; supporting
access to medications by providing service providers with a mechanism to
override insurance restrictions in the best interest of the patient; and
supporting funding for crisis intervention teams and services for erans and
military personnel.

Did you know? Eating Disorders Facts for Teens

– Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder found in 3.5%
of women and 2% percent of men. It is characterized by recurrent
binge-eating episodes and a feeling of loss of control.
– Anorexia nervosa is found in .9% of women and .3% of men. It is
characterized by deliberate self-starvation, emaciation, and a distorted
self image.
– Bulimia nervosa found in 1.5% of women and .5% of men is characterized
by frequent episodes of eating large amounts of food followed by purging
such as vomiting, use of diuretics, or excessive exercise.
– People with eating disorders often have mood, anxiety, or substance
use disorders and may attempt suicide. The median age for onset is 12 to 13
– Over 50% of those with eating disorders reported receiving treatment
for emotional problems, but less than 45% sought treatment for their eating


Tell us what you think!
We hope you find Healthy Young Minds helpful. MHANYS wants to know what you
think. Please share your thoughts, suggest topics for future editions, or
let us know who might like to receive a copy of  Healthy Young Minds.
Send your comments to

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