Mental Health Awareness Month has changed since it started 70 years ago.
Just ask Dr. Holly Katz, clinical and training director for 19 years at the Faulk Center for Counseling on Boca Rio Road. The center has offered free and low-cost counseling, therapy and support since 1973.
“The level of seriousness is starting younger and younger,” she said, citing behaviors like cutting. “We’re even seeing that in elementary school kids.”
Here’s our Q&A with Katz, followed by a list of Faulk’s support groups.
Q: Why do you think kids are showing symptoms earlier?
A: There’s a lot of pressure and stressors. Social media creates a whole wave of challenges. More sharing information. For many kids, there’s no escape from peer pressure or bullying. We know teen suicide is at an all-time high. Faulk is now going into schools after the Parkland tragedy.
Q: What can you do?
A: We have four teen programs. Teen Cope for 14- to 17-year-olds teaches how to regulate emotions and have healthier coping strategies. Teen Connect for 13 to 18 helps improve social skills. Young Teen Cope is for 11 to 14.
My Generation 2 is a support and discussion group we’re holding over the summer for young adults and seniors from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays starting May 21. It’s free, but call 561-483-5300 to register before the first session.
Q: Are people still hiding their symptoms?
A: Individuals can be good at putting on a happy face. Even with actors’[suicides] people say they had no idea.
Q: What about their family? Is there still a stigma?
A: For a lot of people, it’s scary. They don’t understand it. They don’t know how to fix it. For some there’s a feeling of shame, or they did something wrong to cause it.
Q: What can Faulk do about that?
A: Awareness is one piece of it, but it’s also access to services. A lot of families wouldn’t have anywhere else to go for quality mental health service.
Q: What is Faulk doing for Mental Health Awareness Month?
A: We have butterfly releases at 5 and 6 p.m. May 9 at our center at 22455 Boca Rio Road. They’re free, and you can reserve a butterfly for a $25 donation in support of programs for children and teens.
Our reception with city officials and mental health partner agencies is 4:30 to 7:30. Pre-registration is required online or call Ali Rubin at 561-483-5300.
“Will Grandpa Remember Me?” is a free, meet the author event from 11 a.m. to noon May 8. RSVPs are also requested. You can also buy the book at Amazon and 25 percent of the sale will be donated to Faulk.
Here’s Faulk’s support groups:
· Divorced & Separated, 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesdays
· Moving Forward for Widows & Widowers, 1-2:30 p.m. Wednesdays
· Life Issues: A Support Group for Adults, 10-11:30 a.m. Mondays or 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesdays
· Women’s Issue Group, 10-11:30 a.m. Tuesdays
· Men’s Issues Group, 6:30- 8 p.m. Mondays
· LGBTQ Support Group, 6-7 p.m. Tuesdays
· LGBTQ Teen Support Group, 6-7 p.m. Tuesdays
· LGBTQ Friends and Family Support Group, 6-7 p.m. Tuesdays
Cost $5 per session or $100 unlimited for the year. LGBTQ groups free. “You can drop in and try them out,” Katz said about any support group.
By Marci Shatzman