Talking to your kids is easy… right???

We talk to the kids in our lives everyday about a ton of stuff.  We talk about school and sports and schedules and homework and chores and on and on, but when was the last “serious” talk.  Not the be safe, have fun, see you later moments, but the intentional discussions about the “hard” topics.

Everyone has “hard” topics that they dislike talking about and as a result it is difficult to address these topics with your kids and the youth in your life.  For me the hardest conversations are about the birds and the bees…  the infamous sex talk…  I really hate this topic, but I want the kids in my life to make good decisions and so we talk.

Different people are uncomfortable with all kinds of different topics, and for many parents one of the hardest to discuss is substance use.  I think this is a tough topic for a variety of reasons.   Sometimes it is simply an uncomfortable topic, sometimes its a hot button issue, occasionally parents feel hypocritical if they have any substance use in their own history, and some parents assume kids already know their opinion.  The suggestions below from Child Mind Institute’s Blog can help you take the next step and have an effective conversation with your child about substance use.

Plan to have the talk


Spell out the rules
Explain your reasons
Obey the golden rule
Let them speak
The ‘I learned it from you, Dad,’ dilemma
Conditional amnesty
An ongoing conversation

When you are preparing for this conversation with your children, keep these tips from Partnership for Drug-Free Kids in mind:

  • Always keep conversations open and honest.
  • Come from a place of love, even when you’re having tough conversations.
  • Balance positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement.
  • Keep in mind that teachable moments come up all of the time — be mindful of natural places for the conversation to go in order to broach the topic of drugs and alcohol.

Remember that one conversation is not enough.  Start talking early when your children are young and continue to have these conversations through adulthood. Visit this Partnership for Drug-Free Kids webpage for scenarios and scripts on what to say to your child, no matter their age.

Kids whose parents talk with them regularly about the dangers of substance use are 50% less likely to use!


During the month of November, HC3 is offering a gift card drawing for joining our  #Talk2Me campaign.  Here is how you can enter and win:

  1. Talk to your child about the dangers of substance use.
  2. Take a selfie with your child and post this on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with #WeTalked (Be sure to tag @hc3partnership so that we can see your post)
  3. You are entered to win!*


*Drawings are held weekly and all entries must be posted before November 31st to be considered.



Know! The End of Bullying Begins With YOU

Shared from Prevention Action Alliance, KNOW! Parenting Tips…


October is National Bullying Prevention Month.


Wondering why we hear so much about bullying? Because there’s way too much of it going on and it’s a huge problem for everyone involved.


Students report getting bullied most often because of looks, body shape, race and sexual orientation. While every student is at risk for being the target of bullying, young people with disabilities or special education needs get bullied two to three times more often than their peers. At the same time, students with disabilities are also at an increased risk for bullying others as well.


In 2016, more than one in five students reported being bullied. According to research however, the majority of young people who are bullied do not report it. And the older a student becomes, the less likely he or she is to tell anyone – including peers – which is especially bad news because peer intervention is so important.

More than half of all bullying situations come to a halt when a peer steps in. We’re not talking stepping into the middle of a school fight (in that situation you’d want to encourage students to grab a teacher to help). We’re talking about supportive actions, like befriending the person being bullied, letting them know they are not alone or helping them tell someone, like a school resource officer, teacher or school counselor.

When it comes to a bullying situation, there is typically a target, a bully and bystanders. Regardless of what position a student is in, the consequences can be detrimental.


Youth who experience bullying are at increased risk for poor school performance, sleeping difficulties, low self-esteem, feelings of fear, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

Youth who engage in bullying are also at increased risk for academic problems, in addition to a greater likelihood for substance use and violent behavior during later adolescence and adulthood.

There is typically not a lot of sympathy for a person who bullies others, but oftentimes, a child engages in such behavior due to peer pressure, fear, insecurity, a lack of positive role models and sometimes as a response to being bullied themselves. These do not excuse the behavior, but may provide a better understanding of where the behavior originates.


Youth who both engage in bullying and are the target of bullying themselves are at the highest risk for a variety of mental health and behavior problems.


Even witnesses of bullying experience negative consequences. They say they feel less safe at school and report feelings that range from anger to guilt to fear. They often want to help, but they don’t know how.


As teachers, it is important to be specific in telling students:


·     It is never ok to hurt, harm or humiliate another person with your words or behavior

·     It is never ok for anyone to do this to you either; you deserve respect, kindness and to feel safe.

·     If you experience bullying, please tell me or another trusted adult – we can help make it stop.

·     If you witness someone being bullied, do something – YOU can make a difference!


For additional information and advice from the experts at PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center –

For Teachers: Middle and High School, Starting the Discussion Toolkit.

For Students: Bullying 101: Guide for Middle and High School Students.


Source: PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center: The End of Bullying Begins with YOU.



Kids whose parents talk about the dangers of substance use regularly are 50% less likely to use alcohol and drugs than those whose parents don’t have that discussion.

If you have a child attending Middle School in Fulton County you may have seen then bring home a new school spirit shirt like the ones shown in the image above. These shirts are a great way to show school spirit, and support student athletes, but unlike your typical spirit tees, these shirts have a little more purpose. On the back of every t-shirt is a design that reads, “Use your impact, #Talk2Me about the dangers of substance use.” This logo represents the #Talk2Me campaign, developed in partnership by HC3, YAC and the Fulton County Prosecutor’s Office.

This campaign aims to engage parents to build skills through the many resources available on our HC3 website ( and take this opportunity to talk to their child about substance use. #Talk2Me brings special attention to the tremendous influence Fulton County parents have over their children when it comes to decisions about substance use. In the 2016 Fulton County Community Health Status Report, 63% of Fulton County youth report their PARENTS as the number one influence in making substance use choices. This is triple the percentage of influence attributed to their peers! Unfortunately, the majority of our youth also report that their parents have NOT spoken with them on a regular basis about the dangers of substance use. The #Talk2Me campaign is a reminder for parents to speak to their children about the dangers of substance use and “USE YOUR IMPACT!”

“The Fulton County Prosecutor’s Office is proud to partner with HC3 in the fight against youth substance abuse. The goal of the #Talk2Me campaign is to simply recognize the influence that parents and adults have, and to encourage them to talk with their kids, grandkids and the other young people in their lives about the dangers of drugs. Because, while you may think that your kids aren’t listening to you, they are, and the first time that they’re presented with a choice on whether or not they should try drugs, you want the first and loudest voice that pops into their head to be yours.” Scott Haselman, Fulton County Prosecutor

These shirts are one of several public awareness efforts for this new #Talk2Me campaign. You may also notice billboards, flyers or social media posts showing these designs. There is also a top 10 winning video PSA, entitled, Use your Impact…Talk2Me, developed by the Youth Advisory Council earlier this year. For more information or to watch this video, visit our website at

Stomping Grounds at the Fulton County Fair

On Sunday September 3rd the Youth Advisory Council (YAC) along with Healthy Choices Caring Communities (HC3), are thrilled to report that our popular 5th quarter event #StompingGrounds returned to the Fulton County Fair! Stomping Grounds featured a fun and friendly place for middle school students to hang out. Kids brought friends and made new ones while they enjoyed sno-cones, snacks and games! Haley & Ian, Zach & Zeb and Brooke & Reagan won prizes in the corn hole tournament.  Over 90 kids joined the water balloon toss, played dodge ball, Pictionary, four square, and many other activities! Rayne Kinsman, who was recognized earlier this year as HC3’s Youth Coalition Champion for her work in publicizing last year’s Stomping Grounds event, shares, “I really love Stomping Grounds because you get to hang out with your friends and have fun and there’s lots of really fun games.” HC3 and YAC are very thankful for all of the outstanding community partners who have helped to make this event a success!

All 6th – 8th grade students were also encouraged to wear your #Talk2Me school spirit shirts and enter our drawing to win a gift card! (#Talk2Me is a social norms campaign, developed in partnership with HC3, YAC and the Fulton County Prosecutor’s Office. This campaign is designed to bring attention to the tremendous influence Fulton County parents have over their children when it comes to decisions about substance use. These #Talk2Me shirts are a reminder for parents to speak to their children about the dangers of substance use and “USE YOUR IMPACT!”)


Congrats to Ian & Blake from Archbold MS, Alexis and Kameron from Wauseon, Conner from Delta MS, and Grant, Emma and Kaitlyn from Evergreen MS!

HC3 and YAC had two main goals in mind while planning the 2017 #StompingGrounds event. The first goal was to provide a fun, educational, all county, youth event at the Fair that was free of charge with the end goal of increasing positive choices/behavior among our youth. The second goal of this event was to acquaint Fulton County citizens, both youth and adults, with Healthy Choices Caring Communities (HC3) and our Youth Advisory Council (YAC).   HC3 is a community coalition comprised of caring adults (law enforcement, faith-based community, schools, government officials, professionals, civic organizations, media, health care professionals, businesses, treatment professionals, youth, and parents) and YAC consists of student representatives from Fulton County High Schools whose focus is the prevention and reduction of underage substance use.

To learn more about local HC3 events, the #Talk2Me campaign, or our organization, please check out our website, or follow us on social media.

6 Back to School Must-Haves!

It’s that time of year again…  time to load up the backpacks, pick out the lunch snacks and get ready to go back to school.

It is important to remember that this is a huge transition for kids.  This week I would like to push out one of the KNOW! Parent Tips from the Prevention Action Alliance about this transition and your kids.

Know! Transition Increases Risk

While there is much excitement about the start of a new school year, there may be much apprehension and anxiety as well. This may be especially so for youth entering into their first year of middle or high school, and for adolescents of any age transitioning to a new school (due to a move or a number of other reasons). The thought of unfamiliar faces, new teachers and coaches, increased academic and athletic expectations, lockers that possibly won’t open and sharing hallways with older students – the risk for first day jitters is at an all-time high. But there is another “risk” factor that increases during such times of transition as well – the risk for the onset of substance use.

Middle school is the time when substances like alcohol, cigarettes and possibly marijuana, tend to make their first appearance. According to the 2016 Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, by 8th grade, 23% of students drank alcohol, 10% smoked cigarettes, and 13% used marijuana. As young people progress into high school, the risk for use of these particular substances, and others, grow significantly due to an increase in access and availability, drug use by upper classmen and an increase in substances being used at social activities. To compare, among 12th grade students, 61% drank alcohol, 28% smoked cigarettes and marijuana use had more than tripled, with 45% having used in the past year.

It is also important to note that among high school seniors, the MTF study showed the use of small cigars (16%) and prescription drugs (12%) to be significant.

When it comes to the reasons young people give for drinking, smoking and using other drugs, not much has changed over the years: Teens use in an attempt to ease anxieties, loosen up at social gatherings, relax when stressed or to “stop feeling” when sad or depressed; teens use with hopes of fitting in or when they give in to peer pressure; teens use certain substances with the goal of improving academic or athletic performance, losing weight or gaining muscle; and of course some teens use simply to get high, take a risk or satisfy their curiosity.

What has changed over the years, according to the MTF study, alcohol, tobacco and drug use among teens declined significantly in 2016, and have hit their lowest rates since the 1990s. In looking at the percentage of students still drinking and smoking, however, we see that there remains work to be done. Parents are the first line of defense in the prevention of substance use among youth; and while it may seem very basic, here are some things you can do to protect your child, regardless of age or grade level:

Include these items on your Back-To-School To-Do list:

1. Be active and supportive in your child’s daily life.
2. Ask questions about substance use and reinforce non-use messages.
3. Make clear your expectations and consequences for breaking rules.
4. Know where your child is and who they are with at all times.
5. Make sure young people are being monitored when hanging out together. For times you are not physically present, check in with them regularly.
6. Keep an eye on your child’s social media activities.


Remember that YOU as a parent are the largest influence on your child’s life…

parent influence sq-01


Raising girls who are “includers” instead of “mean girls”

We want our girls to grow up strong, confident and happy?!?!  Right??  But being a girl in today’s society is hard…they have the media telling them one thing, friends telling them another, the school even another. Then they have to deal with “mean girls” or being left out which is NO fun at all.    It is our job as moms, aunts, teachers and mentors to give them the skills to address and overcome the challenges they will face and to be an “includer”.  Girls, we need to be “for” each other walking along side….not against.  Empowerment is key.

– Rachel Kinsman, RoX facilitator


I remember walking into the cafeteria of my new school and it was like someone punched me in the stomach.  I was in sixth grade.  My family had just moved from Virginia to Ohio.  At first, I attended the local Catholic school.  Within the first two months, I was begging my parents to go to the public school because the girls were so mean.  And when I look back, wow, they were cruel.  My maiden name is Ackerman.  They’d call me “Lisa Acneman” as sixth grade brought with it oily skin and some breakouts.  When my parents discerned that I would change schools, I felt relieved.  I won’t even tell you about the last day at school there when all the girls knew I was leaving.

Off to public school I went.  But soon I was to find out that it didn’t matter whether I went to parochial or public school.

Instantly a group of girls took me in.  They invited me to sit at their lunch table.  Little did I know that they had kicked another girl off the table so I could sit with them.  I was so grateful to have friends.  I was a bit naïve.  Maybe that’s because I grew up in a home where we were all out for each other and my assumption going “out into the world” was that everyone was like that, too.

Then one day, I walked into the cafeteria.  I nearly dropped my brown paper lunch bag.  I looked at the table where I had been sitting for the last week.  My first week at school.  I counted the number of girls at the table – eight.  Eight was the maximum number of people who could sit at one table.  The two girls who were the “leaders” looked at me, whispered to the other girls at the table, and everyone turned around to laugh at me.

My heart sank.  I actually went up to the table and feebly asked, “Is there space for me here?”   Hoping maybe I was wrong, that it wasn’t as it seemed.  I couldn’t feel my feet beneath me.  I felt dizzy.  I swear my heart was going to jump out of my chest.

I can’t remember what they said, but I must have gotten the picture because I turned and I quickly looked around for a place to sit.  It was a small cafeteria and soon someone would notice me.  I didn’t want anyone to look at me.  My ears were ringing, my hands were clammy, my heart was beating so fast.  I felt the eight girls’ snickering whispers like daggers in my back.  There was no “physical fight” or blow up so the teachers on lunch duty were none the wiser.  I saw a table with no one at it.  So I sat down.  I wanted to cry.  But I didn’t.

This is where I sat for two months.  Alone.  By myself.

Once, a male teacher came up to me after whispering to another teacher, with a sympathetic, pleading look on his face and asked me something I can’t remember now.  But I didn’t see him as a resource.

I know that eventually I sat somewhere with some group.  For the next two years that we lived in Ohio, I had some good experiences. I still have a friend from there who is one of my best friends.  But the two girls continued to be bullies.  Yes, that’s what I can call it now as I understand as a psychotherapist and adult what was really going on.  They were the kind of “friend” who would invite you over and you’d feel like “Oh good! We are friends again!”  Only to have them talk about you or put you down.

We have all had experiences like this where other girls have been mean to us.  Just the other day, another mom friend of mine told me that she waved to two moms talking and they looked at her and laughed.  It happens in childhood. It can happen between adult women.

As a psychotherapist, I intimately know that when someone hurts others it’s because they are hurting.  I have counseled both the bully and the one being bullied.

I know, too, from counseling parents how, when our children’s lives eclipse our own, we remember (consciously or unconsciously in our body’s cellular memory) our own experiences of hurt, rejection, and betrayal.  And those old experiences, though healed, come back up and make us tender.


Read More about raising “includers” in this excellent post from Lisa McCrohan.

If you are a parent to a daughter, no matter the age, can you imagine your daughter telling such a story?  Can you imagine creating the space for her to share, to abide with her, and to empower her?   Can you imagine raising girls who “include”?

Can you imagine we ALL model being an “includer,” and resolving conflicts or hurts or insecurities with regard and compassion?

Can you imagine how this would impact our world if we raise daughters who know how to name what is happening within them and a situation, who know how to speak up in the face of injustice, who believe in their innate goodness, and who INCLUDE rather than exclude because they have an inner confidence and have been raised to listen to the wisdom of their inner voice?

We HAVE to imagine it and create it — for all of us women, for our daughters, and for our world.

Please share with all of us your wisdom, your questions, your ideas of transforming our culture of “mean girls,” of uplifting our daughters, and of “being includers”…. so that we no longer have schools, playgrounds, or workplaces filled girls who are mean, but girls who are compassionate, confident, and include.

Visit the RoX website to learn more about how we are working to combat this issue here in Fulton County!



HC3 Celebrating 10 Years!

In May of 2007, a group of community members, concerned about the high rate of binge drinking among Fulton County youth, met to discuss a community solution to the issue, thus beginning, Healthy Choices Caring Communities (then called Partnership for a Drug-Free Fulton County). These members saw a need to work together to prevent substance use among middle school and high school youth while increasing healthy youth behaviors. The group has grown to include representatives from the following sectors; youth, parents, business, media, schools, youth organization, law enforcement, the faith-based community, civic organization, health care, government, and substance treatment agencies. The group has expanded its focus and goals throughout the past decade.


  • Decrease youth access to alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, and prescription opiates.
  • Decrease overall acceptance of youth substance use.




  • Fulton County youth (grades 6th – 12th) have demonstrated a 20% decrease in current use rates since 2005.
  • Fulton County youth (ages 17 and older) have demonstrated a 50% decrease in current use rates since 2005.
  • Collaborated with local law enforcement agencies in 2016 for the planning and implementation of a SPEAKOUT, an anonymous tip line, to support a culture in which underage substance use is reported to law enforcement and school authorities.


  • Fulton County youth (grades 6th – 12th) have demonstrated a 4% decrease in current use rates since 2005.
  • Fulton County youth (ages 17 & older) have shown a 1% increase in current use rates since 2005.


  • Fulton County youth (grades 6th – 12th) have shown a 13% decrease in current use rates of cigarettes since 2005.
  • Fulton County youth (grades 6th – 12th) demonstrated a 1% decrease in current use rates of e-cigarettes since 2014.

Prescription Opiates:

  • HC3 has established an Opiate Task Force and developed a logic model and strategic plan to address prevention of prescription/opiate misuse within Fulton County youth

HC3 has worked with all facets of the community to address these goals through data-driven and evidence-based strategies:

  • HC3 has offered 14 large scale targeted parenting events with over 600 parents participating.
  • Over 400 local employees and festival volunteers have participated in responsible Seller-Server (ASK) Training since 2010.
  • YAC membership increased from twelve youth in 2010 to the current membership of forty-eight youth, representing six of our local high schools.
  • HC3’s blog,, has reached over 1350 individual visitors since inception in 2016.

Healthy Choices Caring Communities is showing some excellent progress toward our goals in Fulton County, but we are not finished. Now is the time to press forward and continue reaching out for a better future for Fulton County youth!

View the Final HC3 Annual Report PDF

HC3 is making a difference and YOU can help! Check out our website, or follow us on Facebook (Healthy Choices Caring Communities), Twitter and Instagram (HC3Partnership) to learn more about the program. Consider attending an HC3 meeting, which are held on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at the Fulton County Administration Building in the 2nd floor conference room at noon. Please contact HC3’s Program Director, Beth Thomas at 419 337 0915 or by email at with questions.

“Fun in the Sun” Kids Activities

School is officially out for most of us and the word of the day from the kids is BOREDOM…

This year, to help combat the dreaded “I’m bored” statement, I have developed a short listing of ideas/website links for great fun the sun kids activities you might like to try this year!


Fun in the Sun Summer Activities

This site offers several fun Sensory Activities for: Multi-age, Preschool/Pre-K, 3-5.

Sunscreen Science for Kids

This is a fast and fun experiment to prove how important sun screen really is.  Ages 3-6.

Fun In The Sun! Activity-a-Day Calendars & Weekly Plans

This site offers great activities for three age groups.

  1. Preschool – Grade 1
  2. Grade 2 – Grade 4
  3. Grade 5 and Above
Nature Activities for Home, School or Anywhere

Get your tween outside for some exercise and fun with these activities.

100 Hands-On Activities for Middle School and High School

This list of activities could be more inside than out but had so many fun ideas I tossed it in for rainy days! Recommended for Middle School and High School kids.

Fun Summer Activities Checklist

This long list of summer activities is fun for the whole family…  Great ideas for summer fun for all ages.

Help me add to the list!  Please comment with your favorite activities, or list your go to website for blog posts for family fun!


“13 Reasons Why” now is the time to talk to your child about suicide.

The Netflix series 13 Reasons Why has been causing a stir across the country since its release at the end of March.  Have you heard about it?  Perhaps you have received a school notice or some other alert referencing the show?  Most likely your teen or tween has already heard about this show, and possibly already watched the entire season.

While I believe that it is always important to keep up with what is trending and what youth are watching, sometimes that is easier said than done.   The reality of how far and fast this show traveled was brought home to me when I overheard my 12 year-old nephew discussing a suicidal girl (from TV) with his friend less than a month after the show came out.

This show is bringing discussions of suicide into every day life and this month during Mental Health Awareness, I encourage you to take this opportunity to open up the discussion with your children.  Talk about mental health and the risks of depression and suicide.  Talk about 13 Reasons Why.  Have they watched it?  Have they heard about it from friends at school?  The show can be pretty intense and graphic, especially for teens and tweens and it is important to make sure you help them process the content.  Make sure they KNOW where support can be found from friends and family, school counselors, hotlines etc.  Here are just a few of the many resources available:

  • Teen Line:  call 1-877-419-SAFE
  • Teen Line:  text “419SAFE” to 898211 to chat via text
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  call 1-800-273-TALK (immediate 24/7 help)
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  https://suicide prevention

Educate yourself about some of the warning signs of depression and suicide:  According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the most common warning signs include:

  • Feeling like a burden to others
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Acting anxious or agitated and behaving recklessly
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Talking about feeling of hopelessness
  • Searching for suicide methods online
  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

My sister and I had that conversation with my nephew and sometimes it really was uncomfortable but helping him process the show (he watched a little and heard a lot) was actually great for all three of us.  We were able to address some issues, dispel some suicide myths, and most importantly we were able to make sure he know we were there for him!



I  have listed a few more links below on suicide warning signs, suicide prevention and suicide myths and understanding for your reference:

  • Click here to read more about the warning signs of suicide from the Drug Free Action Alliance.
  • Click here to read more information about suicide and prevention from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
  • Click here to read more about gaining an understanding and dispelling myths about suicide from the Drug Free Action Alliance.

Do you want more information about 13 Reasons Why and how it might affect your children?




Mental Health Warning Signs for your kids.

“If our pancreas has a chemical imbalance, we seek treatment. If our kidneys are not physiologically working right, we seek treatment. When our most complex organ, the brain, is not physiologically working right or has a chemical imbalance, for some reason we ignore or hide it.”

Drug Free Action Alliance, KNOW Parenting Tip

The stigma surrounding mental health is very real.  Let’s take a step toward changing that this month during Mental Health Awareness month.  It is time to start talking about mental health and learning to recognize the warning signs if your child is experiencing problems. Read this excellent information from the KNOW parenting tips.


Mental health conditions are far more common among teens than most people would imagine. In fact, one in five youth ages 13 to 18 have or will develop a serious mental illness.

They are disorders that affect a person’s thinking, feeling or mood, impacting their ability to interact with others and function in their daily lives. However, just like many physical conditions, mental health conditions can be treatable and people can and do recover and live happy, full lives.

Mental illness is no one’s fault and is rarely the result of one particular thing. Instead, research suggests that there are multiple linking causes including genetics, environment and lifestyle. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), extreme stress, traumatic events and substance abuse are among the factors that can make a person more susceptible.

The importance of early detection and intervention is crucial, yet the average delay between the onset of symptoms and intervention is usually between 8 to 10 years – and lack of treatment can be fatal. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for 15 to 24-year-olds, and the third leading cause of death for 10 to 24-year-olds. More than 90% of young people who die by suicide have a mental health condition.

Adolescents with untreated mental illnesses are also more likely to drop out of school, have chronic physical health conditions in adulthood and have a shortened lifespan of up to 25 years.

Half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14. For some youth, the onset of symptoms can be scary and confusing, and for some parents, it can be unclear whether what they are seeing in their teen is typical adolescent behavior and personality changes or symptoms of a mental health condition.

Every child with mental illness will have different experiences, even those with the same diagnosis. However, common warning signs include:

  • Feeling sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks (crying, fatigued, unmotivated)
  • Trying to harm or kill oneself or making plans to do so
  • Out-of-control, risk-taking behaviors that can cause harm to self or others
  • Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason (racing heart, physical discomfort,
  • fast breathing)
  • Significant weight loss or gain (not eating, throwing up or using laxatives to lose weight)
  • Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Repeated use of drugs or alcohol
  • Drastic changes in behavior, personality or sleeping habits
  • Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still that can lead to problems in school
  • Intense worrying that gets in the way of daily activities, including hanging out with friends and going to class

As a parent who suspects there may be an issue with your child, there are four very important things you can do, according to the experts at NAMI. Talk with your pediatrician, get a referral to a mental health specialist, work with your child’s school and connect with other families experiencing similar situations.

A teen experiencing symptoms of mental illness needs to know they are not alone, and that they have many resources available to them as well, including – an online opportunity to connect with other young people who may be going through the same things as them. To connect with a trained crisis counselor to receive free, 24/7 crisis support via text message – text NAMI to 741-741. For additional information and support, call the NAMI helpline at 800-950-NAMI or visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness at

If you or your child are experiencing difficulties with mental health, substance abuse or just need a listing of local services, visit for local Fulton County area organizations that are here to help you.