Our young people need a new approach to mental health treatment. Since 2003, the number of ADHD diagnoses has increased by 43 percent. In some states, more than 10 percent of children are taking medication for the disorder. Meanwhile, another 5 million American youth, ages 17 and under, are using antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs.
Are we over-diagnosing and overmedicating our kids?
Alan Schwarz, author of ADHD Nation, and experts from Newport Academy explore this question at a transformational daylong conference. The mental health event at the University of Connecticut, Stamford, was very successful.
Rethinking Teen Mental Health: A Path to Sustainable Healing explores creative, evidence-based clinical solutions for teens and their families who are struggling with mental health issues. Therefore, participating mental health and healthcare professionals will experience dynamic, interactive workshops on how to help teens create authentic connections with self, peers, and family.
Experts present on therapeutic modalities including:
- Music therapy
- Art therapy
- Family Systems Therapy
- Motivational Interviewing
- Self-Medication Theory
- “Food as medicine”
- Mindfulness practices.
“We need to approach teen mental health treatment holistically to address the core issues that cause depression, teen anxiety, and self-destructive behaviors. When we look past behaviors influenced by teenage drug abuse and/or mental health struggles, we are able to see the underlying catalysts driving behavior. We need to guide teens through their struggles and help them find a path to self-acceptance and healthy living.”
—Jamison Monroe, Newport Academy Founder and CEO
Alan Schwarz and ADHD Nation
Alan Schwarz is an investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize finalist. Furthermore, his New York Times series on concussions in the NFL led to nationwide safety reforms.
His workshops offer an eye-opening look at how ADHD became the most misdiagnosed condition in American medicine. Alan explores this topic in depth in his book, ADHD Nation. His comprehensive investigation traces the troubling history of the diagnosis and of the drugs that have been used and developed to squelch this supposed disorder.
Alan looks at how teen abuse of ADHD drugs, such as Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta, and Vyvanse, can lead to addiction, dependence on other drugs, and even death, by suicide or overdose.
“Millions of kids today are labeled with a brain disorder they probably do not have, changing their self-image and personal narrative forever.”
—Alan Schwarz, ADHD Nation
The Power of Music in Teen Mental Health
Emily Bevelaqua, MMT, MT-BT, is codirector of Connecticut Music Therapy Services. Moreover, Emily is a board-certified music therapist who has experience with a wide range of client populations, including children and adults with autism and neurological disorders, Rett Syndrome, learning disabilities, and depression.
In her workshop at the day conference, Emily explores how music, and its inherent sounds, structures, and emotions, can create connection, reveal possibilities, and enhance well-being.
For adolescents, using the body and their creativity to work through emotions is often more effective than using the mind. Teens need tools for releasing energy and emotions. Additionally, music not only releases negative emotions, it creates positive emotions.
Engaging Teens in Mental Health Treatment
Elizabeth Jorgensen, CADC, is director of Insight Counseling, based in Ridgefield, Connecticut. She has 26 years of experience as a psychotherapist, specializing in adolescent psychotherapy and substance abuse counseling.
Moreover, she is a nationally recognized expert in substance abuse counseling, engaging resistant teens, and motivating them to change. Furthermore, she is a recipient of a Congressional Award for her work as an educator and community prevention activist. Elizabeth’s workshop at the day conference is titled “How to Engage Highly Resistant Adolescents in the Process of Treatment.” She will explore how Motivational Interviewing techniques, in conjunction with Self-Medication Theory, can facilitate a more effective therapeutic relationship with teens.
Food as Medicine
Jeffrey Zurofsky, Culinary Program Director for Newport Academy, delves into the connection between nutrition, recovery, and healing. He will also look at how planning, preparing, and eating healthy meals can foster connection with self and others.
Jeffrey is the founder and CEO of No Small Plans, LLC, and the co-founder and former president and CEO of ’wichcraft, Riverpark, and Riverpark Farm. In fact, he believes that learning how we grow and make our food can have a powerful healing effect and a lasting positive impact on our lives.
In addition, an increasing number of scientific studies show that there is a direct link between diet and mental health. Moreover, this is particularly true for teens, whose brains and bodies are still developing. Hence, nutrition is critical at this stage of life.
“Knowing you planted and grew something, and then picking it and cooking it, grows self-confidence. When you prepare a meal for someone, it changes the nature of your relationship with that person and with yourself.”
—Jeffrey Zurofsky, Executive Chef
Creativity and the Adolescent Brain
Kristin Wilson, MA, LPC, is Newport Academy’s Director of Clinical Outreach. Kristin has been working in the treatment field since 1997, in a variety of mental health treatment settings. These include inpatient, residential, and outpatient levels of care. Moreover, she has worked with numerous types of addictions, including chemical dependence, process addictions, and eating disorders.
Kristin holds a master’s degree in creative arts therapies. Additionally, she is passionate about the integration of holistic care in the treatment milieu.
At the conference, Kristin presents a workshop on using the creative arts to foster authentic connections with teens. Hence, she will review new research on the adolescent brain and the importance of increasing creative expression at all stages of life. Furthermore, participants will take away a toolkit of art and movement activities to foster creative expression in their practice.
“Teens know the buzzwords, and the talk therapy process can be impacted by that. The creative process doesn’t allow for that kind of manipulation to happen. Expressing who they are, without words, can lead to authentic connection with self.”
—Kristin Wilson, MA, LPC
Creating Authentic Connections Within the Family
Creating authentic connections within the family is the topic of a workshop with Dr. Barbara Nosal, PhD, LMFT, LADC, Chief Clinical Officer at Newport Academy; and Heather Senior Monroe, MSW, LCSW, Newport Academy’s Director of Program Development.
Their workshop explores approaches to healing shame and trauma within the family system. Specifically, they examine how family dynamics are informed by multigenerational transmission and relational trauma. Such dynamics may include patterns, roles, and emotional reactivity within the family.
“The ability to have healthy relationships can be disrupted by early childhood trauma. However, there are ways to heal from these experiences. Hence, we can learn the skills to build authentic connection. It involves practicing compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness.”
-Dr. Barbara Nosal, PhD, LMFT, LADC
Furthermore, the day conference also includes a Q&A session with the full panel of experts. Moreover, participants will experience a mindfulness exercise to end the day.
In conclusion, here is the vital message of this conference: It is possible to cure depression and anxiety without risking teen lives with prescription medication. We can—and must—offer teens safer, more sustainable, and more effective treatment.
Find out more: Register for the day conference on November 9.