Blog Posts by Month

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Creating Safe and Supportive Schools: A Community Schools Model at Work

Posted: 9/15/2023 12:00:30 AM by Dr. Joseph D. Fantigrossi

With the goal of creating a safe and supportive environment, a collaborative group of school districts in Wayne and Seneca Counties, respectively, utilize a Community Schools framework to gather and organize resources. It appears that a significant correlation exists between the implementation of these practices and improvement in several key categories regarding the well-being of our young people.

The Coalition for Community Schools at the Institute for Educational Leadership says: “Using public schools as hubs, community schools bring together many partners to offer a range of supports and opportunities to children, youth, families and communities” (Coalition for Community Schools, n.d.). This is a movement away from schools acting alone and towards active partnerships with community entities. It includes practices as diverse as parent workgroups, therapy provided by outside agencies, oral care from local dentists, and support from neighborhood literacy organizations, often within the friendly and familiar confines of the school building itself.

Tagged as: community, education, frontline, people, responsive, schools, students, teachers, trauma, workers, young
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We Are More Deeply Connected Than We Know

Posted: 8/15/2023 12:00:30 AM by Lindsay Cray, MS, MHC-P

Traditional psychology promotes the direct connection between body and mind as the crux of mental health; more easily visualized as a straight line from point A to point B. There is, however, an equally important [and rarely spoken of] third element in this equation; a “point C” which is seldom included but critical to consider - nature.  

In simple terms, our bodies feel blissful as they instinctually connect with sunshine and soil. Our minds perceive beauty as they experience the color and complexity of a flower. So many of us live in a culture that has raised us from birth to believe we are apart from the world in which we live. In doing so, humans have given up our past; Roots withered in the soil – a connection disintegrated with the totem ancestors that dwell in the earth. Instead, we have turned outward, drifted away to the conquering of people and materials of other lands because deep inside, there is an inherent emptiness; human consciousness feels exiled from its soil.  

This is an inevitable outcome for such loss, but it does not have to be permanent. 

Tagged as: change, climate, earth, health, mental, nature, therapy, wellness
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I am a Gardener when I Speak To You

Posted: 8/1/2023 12:00:30 AM by Elizabeth Meeker, Sr Director, CCSI

My mother is from Brooklyn and despite living in Rochester, NY for over 50 years, she has not lost her accent of origin. With the advent of new technology, we have learned that Siri does not understand Brooklynese which has led to text messages that range from confusing to outright hilarious.   
Recently I received the following message: “I am a gardener when I speak to you.” I have not yet deciphered what the message was supposed to be, but the text left me pondering none the less. A gardener plants seeds, enriches soil, cuts away what is no longer needed, and nurtures growth. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my mother has always been a gardener when she speaks to me. Through words she has planted beliefs and values, soothed me when hurt, encouraged me when struggling and supported me when it was hard to let go. And if she has been a gardener to me, I began to wonder what kind of gardener I have been, not only to my children but to my family, friends, colleagues, and those I have served over my career as a therapist and consultant.

Tagged as: collaboration, community, health, inclusive, journey, mental
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My Name Means Something To Me

Posted: 7/17/2023 12:00:30 AM by Kesha Carter, CDP, PHR

Dale Carnegie is quoted as saying a person's name is to him or her [sic] the sweetest and most important sound in any language. This may very well be true. However, history has shown us that there is a lot of bias associated with names. This is especially true amongst job applicants who experience name bias in hiring. Name bias is a discriminatory act that involves a negative judgment or preference for a person's name. In a study conducted by two professors from University of Chicago and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), they found that applicants with white sounding names were 50% more likely to be contacted for job interviews than those with typical black sounding names. I recently facilitated a training on unconscious bias to a group of leaders, and during the training, one of the leaders asked, “If the disparities are so prevalent, why wouldn't people just name their children names that won't provoke those biases?” This was a question that generated a lot of dialogue amongst the training participants. 

Tagged as: diversity, inclusive, representation, wellness
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Mental Health Is Health

Posted: 6/15/2023 12:00:30 AM by Rachel M Ludwig, LCSW

Spiritual teacher and author Eckhart Tolle said, “Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” Being aware includes information or knowledge and a level of understanding. Let’s start with information: Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Our mental health affects how we think, feel, and act and helps determine how we make decisions, relate to others, and handle stress. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. You can take action to increase awareness and understanding by increasing your knowledge and sharing resources with your friends and family to raise acceptance surrounding the mental well-being of children, youth, and young adults.

Tagged as: "behavioral health", COVID-19, health, mental, resilience, resources, wellness
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May 2023 Blog Post

Posted: 5/1/2023 9:32:34 AM by Elizabeth Meeker

As we recognized Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Awareness Day at the end of April and move into Mental Health Awareness Month in May, I have been reflecting on children’s mental health and well-being.  The headlines are everywhere about “the crisis in children’s mental health”, particularly in the context of the pandemic.  While the headlines are drawing needed attention to our children’s overall health, we know that there was a rising crisis well before COVID-19 and that the pandemic is certainly not the only contributor to the current state of mental health for young people. 

Tagged as: aces, COVID-19, health, mental, Youth
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10 Lessons Learned on Essex County NY’s Journey Toward a Trauma-Informed System of Care

Posted: 4/1/2023 12:00:01 AM by Stefanie V. Miller, MBA, Building Resilience in Essex Families (BRIEF) Coalition Coordinator

The first time I attended an ACEs training for human service providers, I found the trainer to be brilliant and the research fascinating. The trauma-informed practices were so promising, yet left me feeling dizzy with the magnitude of the work that needed to be done. I suddenly saw the impact of trauma everywhere but had little power or resources to implement meaningful change. I was the only one from my program attending, and there was no follow up. I was just one person and had little authority. I realized it would require a level of leadership and system change that felt unfathomable at the time. Even with buy-in, where would our organization even begin? Would it even be possible to measure an impact? And even if our organization became trauma-informed, but the system did not, would it even matter? Whomp whomp.

Tagged as: ACEs, resilience, "system of care", TIC, "trauma-informed care", wellness
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ACEs Awareness Day - Why It Matters Every Day

Posted: 3/1/2023 3:42:15 PM by Teena Brooks, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs are potentially traumatic events in childhood (i.e. parental divorce or incarceration, violence, food insecurity, etc.,) that can have negative, lasting effects on health and well-being throughout life. The higher the number of ACEs experienced, the greater the risk of having negative health risk behaviors and outcomes, such as obesity, ischemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), suicide, substance use disorder, and depression. ACEs are costly and preventable.   

Tagged as: ACEs, adversity, resilience, TIC, trauma, youth
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How Nice is Too Nice?

Posted: 2/1/2023 12:00:20 AM by Jenna Velez, LCSW, Senior Consultant, Coordinated Care Services, Inc.

If you ask the average person to explain the fight, flight, freeze response, most will know that this is the body’s automatic response to a threat or stressful situation. Many will also easily describe the difference between the responses. It is well understood that the human stress response is adaptive and effective at protecting us from threats, activating immediately without waiting for our conscious thought to catch up. Less commonly understood but not infrequently experienced is the fawn response, which refers to the consistent dismissal of one’s own needs to appease those around them.

Tagged as: "stress response", survival, TIC, trauma, "trauma-informed approach", wellbeing
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Connecting Beyond the Camera: Creating Community in a Virtual Landscape

Posted: 1/4/2023 1:54:43 PM by Brittany A. Pereira, M.Ed.

It is January 2023, nearly three years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that altered business as usual in our professional worlds. There was an abrupt shift in operations for many of us; we whirled in uncertainty for some time, re-writing the rules as we went. It is clear to us now that the landscape of the workplace has been permanently altered as remote work opportunities seem here to stay.  

Many employees find remote work favorable for several reasons - accessibility for underrepresented workers, flexible work hours, reallocation of time usually spent commuting, reduced emissions and vehicle congestion on the roads- yet identify feelings of social disconnect from their coworkers, contributing to a diminished sense of community in the workplace. Though some employees may not perceive a disconnect and find these conditions favorable, others may find a deteriorated sense of community consequential to their overall feelings of job satisfaction.

Tagged as: community, connection, 'remote, wellness, work', workplace
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