A Collaborative Community that meets students where they are

A Collaborative Community that meets students where they are

Dear Community,

As we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to every one of you who invests time and resources to address this critical health need that impacts everyone, regardless of race or zip code. By working hand in hand with our community, we create a comprehensive and nurturing environment where young minds flourish.

Together, we will continue our focus on increasing access to quality care by increasing awareness, removing barriers, and dismantling stigmas related to mental wellness. No organization can do it alone, but together, we can transform lives.

Warmest regards,
Linda Jennings
Community Education Building, CEO

Download the May 2023 Issue (PDF)

Youth Suicide Rates Increased During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Youth Suicide Rates Increased During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Suicide is a leading cause of death among young people in the United States. Rates of youth suicide deaths were rising before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began, so it is critical to understand how the pandemic impacted this public health crisis. In a new study supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, researchers examined national youth suicide trends and characteristics in the United States before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A research team led by Jeffrey Bridge, Ph.D., Donna Ruch, Ph.D., and Lisa Horowitz, Ph.D., MPH, analyzed national suicide data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The researchers first identified all U.S. youth aged 5 to 24 years with suicide listed as the cause of death over the first 10 months of the pandemic (March 1, 2020–December 31, 2020). They calculated the total and monthly suicide deaths overall and by sex, age, race and ethnicity, and suicide method. Then, they examined how many young people died by suicide during the first 10 months of the pandemic and compared it to an estimated number of suicide deaths during that same period had the pandemic not occurred (calculated using data from the previous 5 years).

The researchers identified 5,568 youth who died by suicide during the first 10 months of the pandemic, which was higher than the expected number of deaths had the pandemic not occurred. Higher than expected suicide rates were found a few months into the pandemic, starting in July 2020.

The increase in suicide deaths varied significantly by sex, age, race and ethnicity, and suicide method. During the pandemic, there were higher than expected suicide deaths among males, preteens aged 5–12 years, young adults aged 18–24 years, non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaskan Native youth, and non-Hispanic Black youth as compared to before the pandemic. Suicide deaths involving firearms were also higher than expected.

The significantly higher number of suicide deaths reported for certain racial and ethnic groups, specifically non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaskan Native and non-Hispanic Black youth, highlights ongoing disparities in rates of suicide that the pandemic may have exacerbated. The increase in suicide deaths among preteens also suggests that more attention may need to be paid to this age group, who tend to be understudied in suicide prevention research and have different developmental needs than older adolescents and young adults.

This research is only a first step in examining the pandemic’s impact on youth mental health and points to several areas for further investigation. First, it is possible that other events or factors unrelated to the pandemic that occurred during the study’s time frame contributed to the rise in youth suicide deaths but were unmeasured. Second, research is still needed to identify the underlying causes of the increase in youth suicide deaths, both overall and for specific groups. Third, the COVID-19 pandemic period analyzed in this study was limited to 10 months in 2020 and does not reflect longer-term trends in youth suicide that may have changed as the pandemic wore on. Last, suicide deaths for some groups may have been underreported due to inaccurate or misclassified data; ongoing monitoring of suicide rates will help clarify the suicide risk faced by young people in the United States.

This study shows that the pandemic impacted youth suicide rates, but the impact was not the same for everyone and varied based on sex, age, and race and ethnicity. As such, the authors suggest that it may be helpful to broadly implement suicide prevention efforts in settings that serve young people, while also tailoring those efforts to address the disparities faced by specific groups. Moreover, given the extended duration of the pandemic and its ongoing impact on young people in the United States, it will be important to monitor long-term trends in suicide rates associated with COVID-19 and identify factors driving the increased risk for suicide among some people.

Source: May 22, 2023 • National Institute of Mental Health

Indeed We Are On Indeed

Indeed We Are On Indeed

Come Join the DGS Family.

DGS continues to experience steady growth. The agency is large enough to make an impact in the community, yet not too big to lose a caring work environment where employees can make a difference. With the wide variety of positions and programs, employees have several options to develop their careers.

Our employees tell us Delaware Guidance Services (DGS) is a great place to work. There is opportunity for work-life balance, challenging work, and a supportive and stimulating work environment. Employees at DGS have a great opportunity to make a significant impact in the lives of children throughout the state of Delaware, on the agency, and within their careers.

We offer a comprehensive and competitive benefits package to our employees, including:

  • Competitive compensation
  • Incentive pay plan for certain clinical staff positions
  • Medical and dental insurance
  • Health savings accounts (HSAs)
  • Life, AD&D, LTD, STD
  • Paid vacation, sick, and holidays
  • 403(b) plan with match and generous contribution

DGS Benefits

Employee contributions are required for some benefits. Delaware Guidance Services is an Equal Opportunity Employer

View Jobs on Indeed   |   View on LinkedIn

To apply for a position, please visit our designated career website.

The Kids Aren’t All Right—but Hope Can Help

The Kids Aren’t All Right—but Hope Can Help

Colleges have a role in cultivating hopefulness in a generation of young people suffering the mental health effects of the pandemic and political conflict, Sian Beilock writes.

Sian Beilock | published February 22, 2023
image source: HowLettery/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
The events of the past few years have literally changed the brains of our young people, prematurely aging them in ways we used to primarily see in children suffering from violence or neglect. And while the brain is capable of healing itself, especially through treatment, it’s hard to undo trauma altogether, leaving the COVID generation with historic rates of depression, anxiety and also hopelessness.
In psychology, we define hope as the belief that you can achieve your aims coupled with the motivation to do so. It’s easy to see, then, why hope—or its absence—can deeply impact areas like academic achievement, success at work, the quality of one’s relationship and even health outcomes. What’s more, studies have shown that hopelessness perpetuates depression and anxiety—a link we desperately need to break.There’s no quota cap on crisis, and we can safely bet this won’t be the last time young people face upheaval and uncertainty. They’ll need hope to weather whatever disruption comes next, and we can help them grasp it by teaching them to see themselves as capable agents of change.Unfortunately, increased political partisanship and the ongoing culture wars we’ve allowed to infiltrate our educational system are pushing hope further from reach. Studies have shown that exposure to charged political events, which have become commonplace on K-12 and college campuses alike, are directly connected to experiencing negative emotions and increased stress. Just witnessing partisan politics is enough to activate a fight-or-flight nervous system response.

It’s hard to feel hopeful in a world where we (the grown-ups) can’t even agree on basic facts. Rather than being ground zero for political discord, our schools and colleges at all levels need to be places where students learn that even seemingly impossible challenges can be overcome and that different viewpoints that make us uncomfortable can help us get to a better outcome—that there is a path forward.

The good news is, our brains are malleable and can learn (or re-learn) through strategies or interventions to become more hopeful and optimistic. In fact, many strategies we already use to support overall well-being have also been shown to strengthen a hopeful mind-set. Unfortunately, well-being initiatives for students—while being widely accepted as a necessary step to ending the mental health crisis—have also become another political target, which is making it hard for schools to find middle-ground solutions.

Full article here


DGS’s and CEB New Partnership

DGS’s and CEB New Partnership

We’d like to thank all who came out to celebrate our partnership (and new space) at the Community Building. This new collaboration only strengthens our ability to provide quality behavioral health services for our Delaware youth and their families.
DGS receives American Gift Fund donation

DGS receives American Gift Fund donation

Delaware Guidance Services for Children and Youth, Inc. (DGS) received a donation of $25,000 from the American Gift Fund. The funds will be used to support critical behavioral health services for children and youth in Delaware.

In a press release Jill Rogers, executive director of DGS said, “We are so grateful to the American Gift Fund for their generous donation. Children and families are facing unprecedented challenges as they learn and grow. Now more than ever, donations such as these will help us serve more children who are struggling or who might be experiencing a mental health crisis.”

DGS is Delaware’s largest provider of outpatient behavioral health services to children and families. With offices in Wilmington, Newark, Dover, Lewes, and Seaford, DGS clinicians treat a wide range of diagnoses including depression, anxiety, mood disorders, eating disorders, traumatic stress-related disorders, and suicidal ideation. DGS serves children and youth up through age 18 and provides care to anyone in need, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay for care.

Courtesy: Delaware Business Times | Sabrina Gonzalez  | October 18, 2022

Experts weigh in on best ways to protect kids from cyberbullying

Experts weigh in on best ways to protect kids from cyberbullying

recent survey by the RCMP found that 31% of Canadian youth say they have been cyberbullied before. That’s an increase of 17%, which can be blamed on the pandemic, a time in which kids’ screen time soared.

With kids back to school, cyberbullying will become a hot topic once again.

You can’t make a mean person less awful so how can parents, teachers and other concerned adults keep their children safe?

We spoke with experts Dr. Howard Pratt, a psychiatrist and behavioral health medical director at Community Health of South Florida Inc., and Dr. Sara Goldstein, a professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Delaware, who specializes in bullying during childhood and adolescence.

“Because so much of what we do is online, there’s always that space available for someone to message someone negatively online or in a public space and bully another person,” Dr. Pratt tells the Toronto Sun.

“It’s really not a matter of staying safe but rather how to say safer,” he explains. “So, if there is a platform or space online that you learn is a place where bullying is taking place and affecting your child, then much in the same way you do when you learn there is a geographic location where crimes take place, you know you don’t want your kid there and you don’t let them go there.”

That’s easier said than done since parents and teachers can’t protect kids at all times. But adults can watch out for signs. Like bullying, the signs of cyberbullying are similar.

“Often there is a sense of embarrassment by the victim and the kid will try to hide that the bullying is going on,” Dr. Pratt says. “You may notice signs of withdrawal, symptoms of depression and anxiety despite the source coming from someone who is not physically present in your child’s life.”

Depending on the situation — and every situation is different — there are plans that can be implemented for an effective intervention.

“If the bullying is happening on a particular platform, you have to consider risk versus reward when it comes to eliminating it,” suggests Pratt, but warns that parents have to be very sensitive when making these decisions.

“When kids are bullied, whether the bully is someone they know or is a complete stranger, it calls into question so many things for that child,” he explains.

“The kid may ask themself, ‘Is this the way the world is?’ ‘Is this normal?’ ‘What’s wrong with me that this is happening?’

“So, you want to minimize exposure to bullying whether it’s coming from someone they actually know, or whether it’s coming from a complete stranger.”

As far as protecting kids as best as possible, Dr. Goldstein suggests setting clear guidelines and parameters for online behaviour, limiting time online access to devices, and maintaining positive, open relationships with them.

“When kids feel that they can open up to the important adults in their lives, they are more likely to share with them when something challenging is happening,” she says.

“You can never really be 100 per cent safe from cyberbullying,” admits Dr. Pratt. “Bad people are out there who will say and do bad things and we don’t have control of them.”

He suggests getting spyware to find out what your children are up to online.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry,” he says. “You want to know who is communicating with your kids, what they are saying, and most critically, discern the intent behind that messaging, which a child may not be able to fully grasp.”

Full Article HERE  |  Denette Wilford    Publishing date: Sep 10, 2022


Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training

Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training

Attention Mental Health Professionals – Register for two-day training on “Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills”, led by Ellery Parker III, a licensed professional counselor of mental health for the State of Delaware.

 Course Level: Intermediate Social Workers, Counselors, Psychologists, Mental Health Professionals (ACE #: 1726  NBCC ACEP #: 6655)

Meet the Facilitator

Ellery Parker III is a licensed professional counselor of mental health for the State of Delaware. Ellery received his Master’s in Mental Health Counseling in 2012 and became fully licensed in 2014. Ellery has served in multiple clinical roles during his professional development that included community-based services (OP/TSF, FBMHS) and has supervised school-based counselors, outpatient therapists, master-and doctoral-level students, and is currently the Kent County MRSS supervisor. Ellery has served in multiple leadership roles, has been published, and is currently working on his PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision, specializing in a dual concentration –Consultation and Program Development.

Training Objectives

  • Identify the 4 components of DBT
  • Provide psycho-education to adolescents & families re. DBT
  • Identify & utilize DBT interventions
  • Define “Walking the Middle Path”
  • Provide psycho-education to families re Walking the Middle Path
  • Identify and utilize at least 1 new intervention with adolescents & families from “Walking the Middle Path”

Details & Registration

Live in Dover

  • DBT Skills Part 1 (September 21 or October 1)
  • DBT Skills Part 2 (October 19 or November 2)
  • All trainings are scheduled from 9am-12pm
  • Registration is required and must attend both parts

Training presented by: Delaware Guidance Services for Children and Youth, Inc. 

Questions, grievances, cancelation, refund and special accommodations can be submitted to Cori Meek at cmeek@delawareguidance.org

Registration and more info can be found HERE.

Click HERE to view the flyer.
Mental health is key to a child’s overall health

Mental health is key to a child’s overall health

— 𝗲𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗮𝗳𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗖𝗢𝗩𝗜𝗗-𝟭𝟵  – 𝗢𝗽𝗶𝗻𝗶𝗼𝗻

As parents or guardians, we tend to react quickly when our children’s physical health is in question. If children show physical symptoms, get injured, or express they don’t feel right, we immediately ask questions and seek medical guidance and care. Parents and guardians are also pros at prevention — making sure children get vaccines and wellness exams and keeping an eye out for anything unusual that may indicate they are sick or hurt. That same level of attention and action for prevention and treatment is critical to supporting children’s mental health.

Many children will experience a mental health and/or substance use problem before age 18. In a survey of 80,000 youth around the world, 1 in 4 reported depressive symptoms and 1 in 5 experienced anxiety symptoms. Those rates are double what they were before the pandemic and we also know that more children have experienced trauma in response to COVID-19. The good news is that there are things that caregivers can do to help promote children’s mental wellbeing. Children thrive in the presence of thriving adults who support them in co-regulation and processing their emotions. When a child has an emotionally healthy, caring adult in their life, it can help buffer against stress and help them to navigate experiences with resilience.

Anyone can be that adult for a child and make a real difference in their life. How? One of the easiest ways is for caregivers to talk with the children in their care — naturally, regularly, and intentionally as a part of daily life. Ask how they are feeling in general and about specific situations, like an upcoming social gathering or recent world event. These talks can take place in the car, standing in line, or at the dinner table. Be an active listener and show interest in all aspects of their life and the things that matter to them. And don’t hesitate to talk with them if you are concerned about their mental health and ask whether they are thinking about or planning suicide. If you are concerned about a child in crisis, you should call the 24/7 Child Crisis Line, also known as Mobile Resource Stabilization Service, at 1-800-969-HELP (4357).

In addition to a caring adult, research shows that prevention and treatment programs do work and there are resources available to help children and their families through the Delaware Children’s Department Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services and the Department of Education and local schools.

The Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services provides free summer prevention programs for children and teens that promote resilience, develop positive relationships with peers and adults and build life skills.  Families and community members can contact the division’s Prevention Helpline to learn about these services by calling (302) 633-2680, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or by email at PBHS_Prevention_Inquiries@delaware.gov. You can click here to see the current catalogue of programs. You can also visit DPBHS’ website to learn more about covered treatment services.

Delaware schools support children through wellness promotion, monitoring for early warning signs, and screening for risks. Students may access group and individualized supports for building social and emotional skills. The state’s Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Wellbeing Plan provides infrastructure for this response system, integrating the innovations from Project DelAWARE — designed to reduce the stigma associated with mental health access — and Project THRIVE — which contracts directly with mental health provider organizations to offer trauma-specific interventions for ALL uninsured and under-insured  students, regardless of whether they attend public or private schools demonstration project funded by the US Department of Education. Both of these programs have increased mental health equity for children and youth across our state.  Students or parents and caregivers on their behalf can learn more by calling 211 or texting their zip code to 898-211.

Delaware Online Mark Holodick and Josette Manning – Special to the USA TODAY Network

Mark Holodick is Secretary of Education. Josette Manning is Secretary of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families.