Ask the Experts by
Sean Cassleman, M.D.
Q: I overheard my teen daughter and her friends talking about another girl at school vaping. I am concerned that my daughter will try vaping, should I discuss it with her? I know almost nothing about it, how can I approach her about my concerns?
A: Vaping is raising anxiety levels for parents of adolescents everywhere. There is reason to worry because vaping is a new delivery system for nicotine – an adversary that parents have struggled to keep their children away from for decades. Although e-cigarettes and tobacco products like cigarettes both contain nicotine, there are differences between the two. An appropriate response to the threat of vaping – and a quality discussion with your kids about it – is dependent on knowing the basics of e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are electronic devices powered by batteries that deliver a nicotine-containing vapor. E-cigarettes do not all look the same, nor do they all have the same components. But they have some common functional parts, including a mouth piece, microprocessor/sensor, liquid cartridge, battery and atomizer. Inhaling at the e-cigarette’s mouthpiece signals the microprocessor/sensor to activate the atomizer, which turns the liquid into a nicotine vapor which is inhaled by the user at the mouthpiece. Although there are no standard ingredients for the liquid or “juice”, they are usually made up of nicotine, propylene glycol/glycerol, flavoring and water. There have been similar nicotine products in the past, but the modern e-cigarette was invented by a Chinese pharmacist in 2003. One of the most popular e-cigarettes is called the ‘Juul,’ which was released in 2015 and is extremely popular among teens. If no one told you, you might mistake the sleek design of the Juul for a usb flash drive.
Read more: Teens and Vaping Dangers
Ask the Experts by Mary Petersen
Q: My child just left to go away to college, and I am struggling with the adjustment to an empty nest. What would make this easier?
A: Parents put so much into the raising of children, and yet they are still surprised to find that once they are launched it can leave a big hole in their lives. But this transition is also a beautiful thing that allows children to spread their wings in the way they have been prepared to do. It also gives parents a new freedom they haven’t had for many years – but now with the wisdom of maturity to enjoy it more richly.
We all want our children to succeed, but some deliberate about the best way to help them do that, and in what time frame. Some believe in protecting children as much as possible and limiting their exposure to things that might harm them. Others (myself included) believe that we cannot (and should not) shelter children from everything. We must give them reasonable precautionary measures and life skills, and then teach coping and resilience so they still thrive even through the normal life challenges. Our goal is to raise confident children who are functional, adult members of society. Then let them fly! Realizing that you have completed your mission can make the transition easier.
Read more: Teach Coping and Resilience as Your Child Leaves the Nest
Ask the Experts by The Family Center
Q: I heard September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. What can I do to learn more about suicide prevention and mental health?
A: September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness month and is meant to unite community members with prevention organizations, survivors, and allies to promote suicide prevention awareness. In our community, there are a few different ways you can learn more about suicide prevention and mental health.
Mental Health First Aid Training is being offered for individuals working/interacting with youth, to learn risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns, strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations, and where to turn for help. The course is an eight-hour training, given in two four-hour sessions, on September 19 and 26, 5:30pm-9:30pm, at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church. The training is limited to 30 participants and you must attend both sessions to receive the 3-year certification.
Read more: Suicide Prevention Month
Ask the Experts by Training & Treatment Innovations, Inc. (TTI)
Q: Can you tell me about the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training sessions that will be offered through The Family Center this fall – who should attend and what can we expect if we do?
A: Just like First Aid and CPR training provide people with the skills to help someone experiencing a physical health crisis, Mental Health First Aid is a course, designed for lay people, to provide the skills needed to reach out to a person experiencing a mental health crisis. There are two primary formats for MHFA, Adults and Youth. The fall session we are hosting in September is focused on youth. The Youth Mental Health First Aid course is designed for adults who work with young people, ages 12-18 — teachers, coaches, leaders of faith communities, social workers, and other caring citizens. Anyone is welcome to attend.
Read more: Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training sessions
Ask the Experts by Pete Pullen
Q: How do I prep my student who learns differently for the new school year?
A: For many students including those who learn differently, change and transition can be difficult. Every student will be starting a new grade, a new school, or both. Those are all significant changes that children of all ages experience each year. Students typically struggle in three areas when starting their new school year: 1) Organization 2) Anticipating what is coming next, and 3) Anxiety.
Read more: Transition Can be Difficult – Parents Can Help
Ask the Experts by Kris Scarfone and Kristen Whitney
Q: My elderly father is still driving, though I have concerns about safety and am looking for guidance. What should I do?
- A: Ideally, the first conversations about driving safety should come before driving becomes a problem. Having an open dialogue early on can help eliminate the strain of asking someone to change his or her driving behaviors. However, for most of us, this is not the case.This topic is an emotional one for both parents and their children. Be prepared to have multiple conversations regarding driving safety and your parent’s ability to remain on the road safely. The following are warning signs that it is time to take action and your parent’s driving may be unsafe: Read more: Driving Safety and Your Parent’s Ability
Ask the Experts by Asha Shajahan, MD, MHSA
Q: Is engaging in creativity and art a good treatment for anxiety and depression?
A: Participating in creative art can reduce anxiety, depression, pain, fatigue and improve the perceived quality of life. These therapies include music, dance, movement-based expression (such as acting), visual art, and creating art
You may wonder how? These creative expressions influence the neurotransmitters of the brain- specifically norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. Norepinephrine awakens the brain and enhances self-esteem. Dopamine improves mood, motivation and the sense of wellness, addiction management and the attention system of the brain. Serotonin combats sadness and impulse control.
Read more: The Benefits of Creativity for your Health
Ask the Experts by Susan Fell
Q: I feel like my kids are over-scheduled, even in the summer, but when they have downtime, all they want to do is be on their devices or playing video games, which I like to avoid as much as possible. How can I have the best of both – an active schedule with appropriate, quality “down-time”?
A: As parents, we want the best for our children, but we sometimes forget to teach them how balance and healthy stress management play into a successful life.
Our society does not promote or reward laziness. Efficiency, expertise and over-involvement are highly promoted. We expect much from ourselves and our children; it’s easy to fall into the comparison trap and feel pressure to overextend by signing up for multiple activities, teams, clubs, volunteering, etc.
Read more: Learning to Balance Social and Academic Pressures
Ask the Experts by Lauren Vanderlist
Q: When should I consider an occupational therapy evaluation for my child? Are there symptoms or red flags that I should be concerned about?
A: When your child has difficulty with activities of daily living (e.g. dressing, grooming, eating), play activities (e.g. toy play, coloring, building, playing games), or participation in learning environments (e.g. writing, staying attentive, following directions) an occupational therapy evaluation may be necessary. Your child’s strength and coordination, sensory processing, social-emotional development, fine and visual motor skills will be assessed to determine why they are having difficulty.
Below are examples of behaviors that may warrant an evaluation. Please reach out to a professional to discuss your concerns further.
Read more: When to Consider an Occupational Therapy Evaluation
Ask the Experts by Amy Lawrence-Skwiers
Q: How do I improve my self-esteem?
A: To change anything, we must first understand it. Self-esteem reflects the confidence we have in our own abilities and worth. It is not inherited but learned and can fluctuate between high and low depending on circumstances. Those with high self-esteem typically believe in themselves, recognize where they are successful, make assertive decisions, trust their own judgement and have a strong sense of self-worth. On the flipside, those with low self-esteem tend to be highly self-critical, hypersensitive, have a need to please people and struggle to enjoy life due to feelings of unworthiness.
Read more: Steps to help Improve your Self-esteem