How to Establish Healthy Boundaries

Who wouldn’t like to say that they have perfect relational boundaries?

While perfection might seem pie-in-the-sky, working on boundaries truly does strengthen them. The effort definitely pays off. Many times, the most difficult part of boundary work occurs when the boundary is established. Calmly and directly stating the boundary to your friend, colleague, or family member can seem intimidating; however, this step sets up the boundary to truly have a positive impact on your own mental health.

We all need healthy boundaries in our lives.

A boundary is where one person ends and you begin. If you feel yourself succumbing to agreeing to events you would rather not attend or people-pleasing your way through life, you need to take the first step and set a boundary.

Boundaries are not mean.

They help you grow and care for yourself. Many people and families have dysfunctional ways of relating, and in the beginning it can feel mean or generate guilt to establish firm boundaries. But, boundaries serve to strengthen the individual setting them and allow others to make decisions about their own lives, leading to more contentment and lower anxiety and depression.

An example of a simple boundary might be, “I am unable to attend the event this weekend.” Terri Cole, author of Boundary Boss lists in her “Boundary Boss Bill of Rights” that “you have the right to say no (or yes) to others without feeling guilty.” Taking the first step and deciding for yourself the best use of your time is boundary work that can reap dividends in peace of mind. 

Whether you are dealing with a co-worker who relies on your advice too often or a family member who is disrespectful, boundaries can make an impact on the quality of not only how you feel about your interactions with others and relationships in general, but also help your confidence increase as you begin to set healthy boundaries with those around you. 

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

Featured Provider: Meet Vanessa Bruce-Miller, LMSW

This month’s featured provider is Vanessa Bruce-Miller, LMSW.

Vanessa Bruce-Miller is a Jamaican-born Queer woman. Vanessa’s pronouns are She and They.

Vanessa (Vee) is a skilled Metalsmith and Clinician with formal training in working with LGBTQ communities. She holds a Bachelor’s in Sociology and a Master’s in Clinical Social Work from CUNY Hunter College. Vanessa lives and works in New York, NY out of their studio apartment that they share with their 30+ plant children.

As a Therapist, Vanessa addresses an array of concerns including: racial distress, anxiety, spirituality, work distress, multicultural issues, trauma, and LGBTQ affirming care. She has two interests: (1) Somatic and mindfulness-based work within communities with complex identities (2) Utilizing the power of creativity and art making within sessions.

What podcast or book are you currently reading/listening to?

“I’m currently reading: Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab.”

What do you love to do when you aren’t seeing patients: 

“When I’m not seeing patients, I love to create jewelry as well as visit plant nurseries.”

Best advice for navigating 2022:  

“The last few years have been a whirlwind, the best way to move forward is with patience & grace towards ourselves.”

Most memorable moment of 2021:

“Taking a family trip back to my homeland Jamaica for my cousin’s wedding. It was our first time seeing each other in a few years so it was really humbling & beautiful to be together again.”

Lesser known facts about you:

“I’m very spiritual & my spiritual practice helps to keep me grounded. “

What would you like to say to potential patients: 

“Change is the only constant in our lives & when you change, everything changes. Let’s take your power back & work toward addressing the things you’ve been wanting to change together. You don’t have to do it alone.”

Mental Health Services
Your Way,

Learn about Ruby and her journey towards freedom in her relationships and childhood wounds through SouthEnd Psychiatry.

Millennial mental health. From 9/11 to Parkland, politics to pandemics, social media to telemedicine – this generation is set to positively disrupt the world.  We purposely built SouthEnd for a mental health revolution.

Featured Provider: Meet Theodore Klein, LMSW

This month’s featured provider is Theodore Klein, LMSW.

Theodore, (you can call him Ted), is a person-centered and non-judgmental therapist who will work with your strengths to help you towards achieving your goals. Ted will assist you towards meeting your goals, and alleviating symptoms related to your mental health struggles and identifying and processing trauma. Ted utilizes an eclectic blend of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Psychoeducation, and other types of therapy, to create a two-way atmosphere for healing.

A graduate of The New School for his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences Touro College for his Master’s in social work, Ted is a Licensed Master’s of Social Work. He has worked with multiple populations, including substance use dependency, parole and probation, disabilities, and clinics. He can work with people who suffer from Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, Substance Use Disorders, Disabilities and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

What is on your bucket list?

“My bucket list includes traveling to the following places: Japan, Maldives, Tahiti, Belize, Panama.

I also have a vision to create a few charities or programs to assist with housing and recovery, as well as paying off debt.”

What do you love to do when you aren’t seeing patients: 

“When I’m not seeing patients, I love to watch The Mets (huge Mets fan), play with my daughter, binge watch shows with the wife, video games, anime, and make time for friends and my dog.”

Best advice for navigating 2022:  

“Be patient with yourself, and set boundaries.”

Lesser known facts about you:

“I am a world traveler, going to places like China, Philippines, Russia, Turkmenistan, Egypt, Jordan to name a few. “

What would you like to say to potential patients: 

“If you’re struggling, and looking for someone to talk to, please reach out. Taking that first step is important and necessary towards healing.”

Mental Health Services
Your Way,

Learn about Ruby and her journey towards freedom in her relationships and childhood wounds through SouthEnd Psychiatry.

Millennial mental health. From 9/11 to Parkland, politics to pandemics, social media to telemedicine – this generation is set to positively disrupt the world.  We purposely built SouthEnd for a mental health revolution.

Featured Provider: Meet Tara Merchant, LMHC

This month’s featured provider is Tara Merchant, LMHC.

Tara is a person-centered, non-judgmental, relationship-based LMHC (licensed mental health counselor) who recognizes the intrinsic value of all people and holds positive regard for all her clients. Tara views counseling as a collaborative effort by providing psychoeducation and coping skills for the obstacles with which clients may be struggling, and clients provide insights as the experts on themselves. She believes that all thoughts, feelings and behaviors are interconnected, having valid underlying factors. Tara seeks to help clients connect the dots, from both past and present, to have a greater understanding of themselves and their environments. She also fosters a safe space for clients to identify and embrace their feelings toward emotional catharsis.

Tara received her Bachelor’s Degree from Purchase College, State University of NY, and her Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Long Island University. She has an eclectic style that utilizes Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy and psychodynamic modality. Tara aims to uphold cultural humility for ongoing learning and awareness that supports racial and social equity. She is experienced in working with relationship issues, anxiety, depression and child development.

What podcast or book are you currently reading/listening to? 

“Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us podcast. She is one of my favorite voices in the field and has sparked helpful consideration of what it means to be vulnerable in order to connect with others. And if I’m not watching TV or listening to my girl, Brene, I am absolutely reading the one and only Harry Potter. (I think my letter to Hogwarts or Ilvermorny got lost in the mail, but that’s okay, I’ve accepted muggle life…) ”

What is on your bucket list?

“I have to say that should we ever get out of this pandemic, I would love to travel more and see other countries, mostly to eat their food!”

What do you love to do when you aren’t seeing patients: 

“When I’m not seeing patients, I love to hang out with friends or family because despite being an introvert, I’m a person who needs people – none of us can go it alone. Also, I love watching TV shows, probably an unhealthy amount, but I count it as self-care.”

Best advice for navigating 2022:  

“Don’t touch anything! We don’t need any more germs. Just kidding. My advice is that there are no “should”s. There are so many culturally imposed timelines, standards and internalized messages we live by, but if some of those aren’t working for you, it’s okay to challenge them.”

Most memorable moment of 2021:

“The most memorable moment of 2021 was when I found out my husband and I were about to become three! It was all rainbows for about five seconds and then reality sunk in and it was terrifying, but now it’s less terrifying :)”

Lesser known facts about you:

“Some lesser-known facts about me include that I love to sing! My original dream was to be on Broadway, but now I’m just one of those people who tries to actually sound good at karaoke. I also haven’t eaten meat in 13 years! My husband and I went mostly vegan in 2017 – people think it’s healthy, but we eat the Impossible sliders from White Castle.”

What would you like to say to potential patients: 

“So if you want to have someone to talk to, please book an appointment! There are many benefits of therapy to consider. For one: being able to process thoughts and feelings with someone who is trained in how to respond therapeutically. Two: having a compartmentalized outlet to release opinions, anxieties, irrational thoughts, etc. without fear of judgment or impact on your inner circle. And three: there’s a magic to saying words out loud. Hearing yourself say a thought can either take away its power or reinforce your belief in it. The goal is to figure out which you want to do with it.”

Mental Health Services
Your Way,

Learn about Ruby and her journey towards freedom in her relationships and childhood wounds through SouthEnd Psychiatry.

Millennial mental health. From 9/11 to Parkland, politics to pandemics, social media to telemedicine – this generation is set to positively disrupt the world.  We purposely built SouthEnd for a mental health revolution.

Childhood Emotional Wounds: How They Affect Us As Adults

Emotional wounds from childhood…the vast majority of us have them. In fact, roughly 60 percent of adult Americans report having experienced trauma or difficult relational dynamics as children—and that doesn’t even include those of us who have repressed these experiences.

But what is an emotional wound anyway, and why do they matter now?

An emotional wound is a negative experience, or series of experiences, that causes pain on a deep psychological level. It typically involves someone close to you: a parent, family member, lover, mentor, friend, or other trusted individual. It may be tied to a specific event or pattern of events, to learning a hard truth about life, or to going through a physical limitation or challenge. Most emotional wounds are associated with abuse, abandonment, loss, neglect, mistreatment, and inconsistency in close relationships, but even these terms can be defined differently depending on the person. We are all different in a myriad of ways, from genetic makeup to the circumstances in which we live, so what may have been traumatic for you may not be for someone else. Thus, the most important factor in identifying and understanding emotional wounds is not the world’s perception of what happened, but the individual who has them.
Childhood emotional wounds are particularly devastating because of who we were at the time: children. If adults have trouble processing these occurrences, just imagine the stress and overwhelm felt by a child trying to understand the same. Unlike adults, children are not yet able to analyze circumstances through the lens of education, social norms, and life experiences. All they know is that they are in pain, and without another point of reference, their conclusion is usually that they themselves must be to blame—that something inside them is inherently wrong, bad, or undeserving.
Unfortunately, these deeply rooted hurts and beliefs don’t just disappear with time. Even in cases where the conscious brain cannot recall the experience, the anxiety caused by it continues to be felt by our bodies to some degree. This is why emotional wounds come up later in life, particularly in relationships that mimic the ones in which they were caused (with significant others, family, and close friends): They can only stay hidden for so long. Such long-term, unresolved heartache has both mental and physiological effects. Not only does it chip away at a child’s sense of stability and self, damaging their self-worth and later producing feelings of guilt, shame, lack of belonging, and disconnection from others; emotional wounds can also lead to heightened anxiety, difficulty managing emotions, depression, and anger in adults. It isn’t uncommon for those with a history of trauma or painful relationships to develop struggles with addiction, chronic illnesses (cancer, heart disease, etc.), poor memory, and other mental disorders as well.
These effects ultimately dictate how we view ourselves, the world, and those around us, changing the way we interact with others. Many adults with emotional wounds have trust issues in relationships and develop victimhood thinking. This causes them to cap their own potential, compromising their success in careers, relationships, and other goals and dreams. For example, when self-expression and self-defense felt unsafe in childhood, unhealed wounds often manifest as passivity and subservience in adults. While these characteristics are sometimes viewed as positive, such people-pleasing behavior can have detrimental effects on the trajectory of one’s life as bottling up feelings instead of communicating can lead to resentment, blow-ups, and even depression. Moreover, people-pleasers’ “go-with-the-flow” nature makes them more susceptible to the exploitative intentions of narcissists and other parasitic people. Other adults may yell, lash out, be overly assertive, seek control, and push people away in times of distress. 

In situations where any form of child abuse took place, emotional wounds tend to show up as insecure attachment styles. These include:

  • Fearful-Avoidant Attachment: It is normal for some children exposed to abuse and neglect to fear close relationships. Now, as adults, those with fearful-avoidant attachment are distrustful, have a hard time sharing emotions with their partner and others and often avoid emotional intimacy altogether.

  • Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment: When a parent or caregiver ignores or rejects a child’s needs, this attachment style results. As an adult, individuals with this style turn to ultra-independence to protect themselves from being rejected again.
  • Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment: Adults with this attachment style require repeated validation in relationships and at times, come across as clingy and needy. Due to a childhood in which their parents were not consistent in the emotional security they provided, these individuals never feel secure. Loving the child and then rejecting them over and over again causes the child to constantly question their place and the validity of the love they receive.

Although distinct, each of the responses mentioned above is a coping mechanism, first learned in childhood in order to function under difficult circumstances and now a pattern of behavior in adulthood used to manage fear, uncertainty, rejection, abandonment, and uncomfortable feelings of any kind.
In sum, emotional wounds run deep and have a profound impact on our beliefs and behaviors as adults, specifically on our self-image and relationships. These traumas, whether big or seemingly small, fracture our foundation and can taint our perception of what is normal and true. They are not easily overcome, but the good news is that they can be. If this article resonated with you and you are not currently seeking support from a mental health professional, contact us today. We would love to help you take steps towards healing—because even though these wounds may be part of who you are, their negative effects don’t have to be. 

Mental Health Services
Your Way,

Learn about Ruby and her journey towards freedom in her relationships and childhood wounds through SouthEnd Psychiatry.

Millennial mental health. From 9/11 to Parkland, politics to pandemics, social media to telemedicine – this generation is set to positively disrupt the world.  We purposely built SouthEnd for a mental health revolution.

Featured Provider: Meet Lynette Miller-Volel, LCSW

This month’s featured provider is Lynette Miller-Volel, LCSW.

Lynette is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with sixteen years of experience working with youth and adults. Lynette has a warm, gentle, reliable approach as she listens to what’s important to you, learns about your unique experiences, taps into and cultivates your strengths, and collaborates with you to find effective strategies to improve your mood and successfully navigate life’s challenges.

Lynette specializes in treating depression, anxiety, trauma, relationship problems, communication, and self-esteem issues. Her work has included, providing psychotherapy, crisis management, conflict resolution, advocacy, supervision, and training. Lynette is a leader who is committed to coaching and developing others. She has supervised teams in an outpatient mental health clinic and a legal setting where she advocated through an anti-racist lens for criminal justice reform.

Lynette obtained her bachelor’s degree in Biology at Hofstra University and her master’s degree in Social Work at New York University. She utilizes various treatment modalities including, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, psychodynamic oriented therapies, as well as holistic approaches. Lynette tailors treatment according to each client’s needs.

What podcast or book are you currently reading/listening to? 

“I’m currently reading Becoming by Michelle Obama.”

What do you love to do when you aren’t seeing patients?

“I love to play with my dog Bembe and solve jigsaw puzzles which have helped reduce stress and increase positive energy, especially during the uncertain times of the pandemic.”

Lesser known facts about yourself: 

“I am a singer. I enjoy expressing myself through music and have performed at various venues in New York City.”

Best advice for navigating 2022:  

“With all the stressors we’re facing daily, prioritizing your mental health is vital to your overall health and well-being. Your mental health impacts every aspect of your life. Be gentle with yourself and patient as you embark on new changes in your life.”

What would you like to say to potential patients: 

“Therapy nurtures self-compassion, provides support, discovers solutions, is empowering and motivates positive change. Start your journey and schedule an appointment today.”

New Year: New Anxieties, Old Regrets

It’s a new year—a time to pause, plan, reflect, look forward, and dream before life picks up and the days and weeks start to blur together again. It’s what many would consider the second most wonderful time of the year—a fresh start, a clean slate, a moment of optimism. For others, though, the New Year isn’t so inspiring. It’s a reminder of setbacks and shortcomings, a reason to feel sorrow over decisions and events of years past. And, for at least 20 percent of the US adult population, it’s also a time of heightened anxiety over the months ahead. 

So, what’s the secret to actually enjoying the start of a new year—to fighting the regret and anxiety so many of us are feeling?

Be more positive! And no, we don’t mean “Cheer up, buttercup.” After all, emotions, whether positive or negative, aren’t bad. They’re just human. We mean finding a balance between the two by mitigating the never-ending flow of negativity in our lives in very intentional ways. This, research suggests, makes our minds more resilient, leading to less anxiety, regret, and an improved quality of life overall.

To help you get started, here are a few resolutions you can make to kick off your New Year right:

  1. Trade two for one. It won’t be easy to reverse your negative thought processes, but that old saying, “Slow and steady wins the race,” really does apply here. When you find yourself ruminating on past failures—the school you didn’t go to, divorce you never wanted, 30 pounds you didn’t lose—remind yourself that the past is the past, and you can only work on today to have a better tomorrow. The same goes for negative thoughts about the future: When expecting the worst, speak truths about the situation to yourself, remembering the positive possibilities and the strength you’ve developed from situations in the past.
  2. Aim to replace every negative thought with two positive affirmations, observations, or gratitudes that counter it. By trading two for one, you’ll be teaching your brain to see situations in a better light.
  3. Similarly, practice thankfulness. If you’re tired of focusing on the past or future, redirect your mind to the present by listing the people and things for which you are thankful today. Be thankful for a good night’s sleep, a steady job, a friend who cares about you, your education, yummy lunch, the task you just completed, etc. It doesn’t matter what it is, just give thanks! Keep a list in your notebook or phone, and glance at it throughout the day. You’ll notice a difference in no time.
  4. Want to get out of a mental rut? Prove it in your posture. It’s old news that the body affects the mind and vice versa, but studies have found that it’s not just healthy eating and exercise that make a difference, but the small habits too—like posture. On the days when you’re in a lull and can’t break out, stand up tall, pull your shoulders back, and stretch your arms out wide. This posture will not only get your blood pumping, but it will cause you to produce endorphins, much like exercise, that boost your positivity.
  5. To take this a step further, try power posing! A social psychologist at Harvard University found that there are “high power” and “low power” posture poses that affect our mood. By holding high power poses for about two minutes, we cause hormonal shifts in our bodies to take place, sparking feelings of self-confidence. The next time you need a coffee break, break into a power pose instead (like the Wonder Woman pose!), and feel more positive and empowered instantaneously.
  6. Set firmer boundaries. Distance yourself from negative people, and surround yourself with more positive ones—ones that are on the same journey towards self-improvement as you. We all know that phrase, “You are the sum of the people closest to you.” That’s because it’s true. Being around negative people for an extended period of time can rewire our neuronal connections. When this happens, the networks in our brains begin to respond negatively to situations that we once considered positive. These “re-wirings” can cause long-term depression and anxiety. It can take time, sometimes years, for our brains to learn to think differently again.
So, who uplifts you? Who pushes you towards your goals? Who is kind, patient, and genuinely concerned for your wellbeing? Choose them, and take measures to limit your time with the rest.
 
Last but not least, seek out a licensed counselor or therapist. Nobody should have to face regret and anxiety alone, and it’s important that one of the people standing next to you through these struggles has a deep understanding of their causes and effects. Friends and family are great for advice, consolement, and encouragement, but when it comes to chronic emotional distress, treatment is necessary. A professional will be able to break patterns of negativity on a more individualized basis—that is, according to your unique situation and needs.
So, begin implementing the habits above. If these feelings of regret and anxiety continue, schedule a time to talk to someone who can navigate these new habits with you, and maybe even help you identify more that will make this year worthwhile.
Here’s to a more positive 2022! Happy New Year to you and yours.

The Holidays and Depression: What to Look For and Ways to Cope

You’ve made it through the Thanksgiving meal, and now you’ve got weeks of holiday parties and gatherings ahead. If just the thought of all that fills you with sadness and dread (more than just the introvert kind), you’re not alone. This year, more adults will experience feelings of depression during the holidays than ever before.

The holidays already tend to be a hard time for mental health: the financial stress of gift-giving, the nostalgia of holidays’ past, and the inherent anxiety in getting together with some of the loved ones we prefer to love at a distance. But add loneliness, the loss of a family member, or just the thoughts of what “could be,” and you’ve got Grandma’s recipe for anything but holiday cheer.

And that was all before the pandemic sent depression rates skyrocketing. Since the start of the pandemic, depression among American adults has tripled—and they haven’t dropped. Even with reopenings and the release of the vaccine, rates have only increased, revealing that 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. now suffers from depression.

So, like we said, you’re not alone.

But other than statistics, what else do you need to know, or do, to cope with feelings of depression this season?

Know the Warning Signs.

If you’re reading this post, then you’ve probably already noticed some of the more well-known symptoms of depression in yourself or someone close to you. While sadness and demotivation are at the top of the list, it’s important to know that depression can lead to other, less overt changes, such as unusual sleep patterns, irritability, trouble concentrating, impulsivity, exhaustion, loss of appetite and weight, crying spells, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, mood swings, feelings of overwhelm and anxiety, and so on.

If you notice yourself experiencing some of these symptoms, take action: Call someone you trust, and consider contacting a mental health professional if they persist. If you observe these in a loved one, kindly express your concern, and be willing to listen.

Get plenty of sleep.

A hectic holiday schedule can easily cut into your sleep schedule, but when feeling distressed, sleep is the last thing that should go. Poor sleep makes you more vulnerable to depression, and sleep deprivation worsens symptoms like irritability, crying spells, exhaustion, and poor concentration. In other words, sleep helps to prevent low moods and manage them! To ensure your sleep is a priority, set a bedtime alarm, create a nightly routine, and avoid keeping your phone near you at night.

Drink only in moderation.

As “at ease” as it can make you feel, alcohol is a depressant, meaning it can bring down your mood, exacerbating negative emotions—the opposite of what you want when you’re feeling depressed. So, to keep spirits high, limit the amount of alcohol you drink during the holidays, aiming to consume no more than one or two drinks in a single setting.

Exercise.

A much better alternative to alcohol for managing emotions is exercise. Exercise increases the production of endorphins in your brain, leaving you feeling euphoric, and research shows that incorporating it into your daily routine can prevent and reduce symptoms of depression. While starting a rigorous, time-consuming workout routine right now is probably a no-go, starting your day with a quick walk or a 30-minute workout video is no big thing and really all it takes to keep some of those holiday blues away.

Don’t isolate.

Whether you’re longing for company or want to be alone (or a little bit of both), resist the inclination to isolate. A tendency to hunker down is a huge factor in the development of depression. If you’re alone this season, reach out to a friend for a Zoom call once a week, and let them know you’re down. Get connected in your community: Join a church, volunteer at a soup kitchen, sign up for a group exercise class. And don’t rule out meeting with a therapist. Seek support even when it’s uncomfortable. Negativity only breeds negativity without sources of positivity.

Plan things you can look forward to.

Who says you have to spend the holidays at home? Book a trip, visit a friend across the country, stay with extended family—do something different! Make a schedule of things to do or try, and stick to that schedule even when your enthusiasm dips. Having something to look forward to—like trying that new restaurant!—will motivate you to get up and go and mitigate the hopelessness you feel. Plus, when you’re on the move, your body (and brain) are bound to feel better!

Prioritize your needs.

We often think of the holidays as a time of “have tos,” but the truth is, you’re an adult, and you CAN say no. Don’t want to go to that party with the aunt that always asks why you’re still single? Don’t! This is not to say you should say no to every less-than-pleasant event, but it does mean that you need to consider what is healthiest for you…because nobody else is going to. Assess how you are feeling and what you need throughout the day, and hold yourself accountable to respecting those needs in your decision-making. Remember, just because you’ve always done it, doesn’t mean you should now.

Reconsider your expectations.

Sometimes, the enemy of good is great. Instead of running around in mental circles considering how your holidays don’t look as you had hoped, remind yourself of what is good about your life. Be intentional about staying present with your loved ones in the moment, actively stopping thought processes that lead you to unmet expectations. Don’t like how your days look? Figure out a couple realistic ways to improve them. The key is to realize that an imperfect reality doesn’t make your reality any less meaningful.

We hope that these tools help you and yours have a most joyous, peaceful holiday season! If the holiday blues turn into New Year’s gloom, consider scheduling an appointment with one of our mental health professionals. If at any point your symptoms lead to suicidal thinking, call 911 immediately.

Parents: 5 Tips to Prevent Bullying

November 15th through 19th is Anti-Bullying Week—a week meant to raise awareness about the prevalence and dangers of bullying across the globe. Roughly 20% of U.S. children and teens in school report being bullied, with 41% of these students indicating that they expect to be bullied again. And these numbers are only growing. With social media (Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, etc.) increasingly becoming children and teens’ primary form of communication, bullying is easier than ever…because why do it in person when you can hide behind a computer screen?

If you’re a parent, these statistics aren’t exactly comforting, especially when you consider the effects of bullying. More than physical harm, victims of bullying are at an increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, and dropping out of school.

So, what, if anything, can you do to make a difference? Here are 5 tips to get you started:

  1. Ask questions.

Some kids are more communicative than others, but either way, asking your child about their day can go a long way in helping you (and them) identify unsafe people in their midst. Ask, then listen intently to what they have to say. Learn their friends’ names, even the classmates you’ve never met. Stay mindful of patterns, and remember: Bullying isn’t just throwing punches. Verbal assaults and/or antagonistic behavior can be just as harmful to a child’s wellbeing.

  1. Teach your kids how to respond.

Teaching your children emotional intelligence—how to manage their emotions and identify and relate to the emotions of others—is a great way to prepare your child for abusive situations of any kind. Encourage your child to call out bullying when they see it, to ask questions, and on the flip side, to notice the effects of their own actions on peers. For example, when approached by a bully, teaching your child to respond, “Are you being mean to me right now? That is not okay with me,” and then to confide in an adult is much more effective than teaching them to ignore the bully (whose behavior might only escalate).

  1. Set limits.

As we mentioned, cyberbullying is on the rise and can be more difficult to detect than other forms of bullying. This is where limiting the amount of time your child spends on social media is key. Bullies often know no bounds, so helping your child create their own by “signing off” after a certain amount of time sends the message that they need to have boundaries even when others don’t—even when it’s uncomfortable. Also, having “screen-free” hours will give you the chance to connect with your child and monitor their communication as needed.

  1. Be willing to intervene.

Nobody wants to be a helicopter parent, but when it comes to bullying, the “hands off” approach probably isn’t the way to go. If your child is expressing that someone is repeatedly picking on them, first try to understand the situation and your child’s point of view. Then, if possible, show them how to address the situation independently. If it’s clear that the bullying behavior is too severe or will continue, take action. Your child needs to know that you are their greatest advocate and first line of defense.

  1. Emphasize kindness.

This year, the theme of Anti-Bullying Week is One Kind Word, inspired by the idea that positive connections fostered through kindness can break down barriers and make a big difference for someone facing loneliness (Coincidentally, World Kindness Day also falls in November!). And this idea couldn’t be more true. Studies show that kindness increases our sense of connectivity with others, reducing loneliness and enhancing both our mood and interactions. It really is contagious!

So, perhaps the best way you can help prevent bullying is to make sure your child doesn’t become a bully themselves. Create a culture of kindness in your home, and apply the Golden Rule as often as you can in both speech and practice.

Mental Health Services
Your Way,

Learn about Ruby and her journey towards freedom in her relationships and childhood wounds through SouthEnd Psychiatry.

Millennial mental health. From 9/11 to Parkland, politics to pandemics, social media to telemedicine – this generation is set to positively disrupt the world.  We purposely built SouthEnd for a mental health revolution.

Recognizing These Six Signs of Depression

Unfortunately, depression does not discriminate. This disease has affected the lives of over 300 million people worldwide. Just looking at statistics can be overwhelming, but it’s necessary to understand the magnitude of what’s happening to those around us. It’s imperative that we are in tune with the ones we love and cue in on the signs and flags they are metaphorically waving. 

6 Signs to Watch For:

Feelings of Worthlessness

When someone is constantly doubting themselves, never feeling confident in their abilities and their reflections are negative– this is a sign. 

Loss of Interest- 

When someone suddenly loses interest in activities that previously brought them joy such as sex, sporting events, hobbies, and social gatherings–this is a sign. 

Suicidal Thoughts- 

When someone feels they are no longer of use in this world, makes a plan, or speaks of taking their own life–this is a sign. 

Change in Appetite- 

When someone is overeating or undereating due to stress or anxiety, and these habits cause a dramatic change in appearance–this is a sign.

Trouble Sleeping

When someone begins to lose sleep due to daily stresses such as financial woes, work issues, marital or relationship problems–this is a sign. 

Fatigue-

When someone, rather they get enough sleep or not, has an overwhelming feeling of tiredness–this is a sign. 

Symptoms in children are quite similar, but we must keep a closer watch as 3.1 million children from ages 12-17 are experiencing depression. They might withdraw socially, suddenly become more sensitive, have unusual vocal outbursts, or feel overwhelmed with sadness. 

Regardless of the different outlets available to those who are depressed, 35% still receive no help. Listening is invaluable. Listen to your friends and family.  Check in on them and ask the questions that in a positive way, force an answer that will allow you to help. Here are some examples of questions to ask:

How can I best support you?

  • What specifically is hurting you? 
  • Who do you have in a supportive circle at work? At school? At home? 
  • What night can I bring dinner so we can talk? 
  • My calendar is open, pick a morning and let’s meet for coffee. 

Ask the questions, have the conversations, and tune in to those around you.

The flags will wave, it’s critical that you see them. Once seen, take the next step and have the conversations. Bring a certified professional in. Don’t be afraid to push them toward healing. At Southend Psychiatry, we offer services primarily online and in-person at flexible locations near you, and will be ready to support you and those you love on the path to mental wellness!