Friday, November 17, 2017

National School Psychology Awareness Week

Power Up! Be a Positive Charge.

During the week of November 13–17, 2017, schools throughout the country will celebrate National School Psychology Awareness Week to highlight the important work school psychologists and other educators do to help all students thrive.

This year's theme is "Power Up! Be a Positive Charge." Our goal is to highlight how taking a small positive action can create momentum for positive change. The idea is that a small spark—a new skill, a piece of knowledge, an extra effort, a kind gesture—can create the connections necessary for students to develop critical academic and social–emotional skills. Sparks can include action words such as dream, laugh, connect, imagine, create, encourage, share, listen, help, explore, try, and speak up. Students can be both the recipients and conduits of a positive charge that generates personal achievement, growth and resilience, and sense of belonging and community.

The theme also applies to adults. With the high demands and ever-growing responsibilities placed on school psychologists, it can be easy to become overwhelmed. It is crucial that school psychologists recognize—and help fellow educators recognize—how even the small actions we each demonstrate every day have a profound impact on the students we serve and on the culture of our school communities. This awareness not only helps bolster adults’ resilience, it serves as a model for students, who look to adults to see how they should interact and engage with the world. By encouraging and valuing intentional, positive efforts, adults and students can grow personally, build understanding, create compassion, and become more resilient. Ultimately, these strengths empower all to feel connected with one another and to take actions—both individually and collectively—to change lives for the better.

Resources and messaging can be adapted to students and adults, different age groups, and multiple contexts. The program involves a series of resources and suggested activities to help the school staff, students, and families understand the variety of factors that contribute to thriving students and school communities. From sample newsletters, to interactive classroom activities, to press releases, there are multiple ways to bring the "Power Up! Be a Positive Charge" theme to your local community. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Did you know it's tougher to be a school ager amid advanced technology?

Blog Contribution by Elizabeth Harris, Ph.D.

Image result for sad kids images

Did you know it's tougher to be a school ager? Do you remember what it was like to be a school ager?  What we know is that school age is the time when social relationship awareness begins to culminate.  Children between ages 5 and 12 are at a developmental stage where self-concept and self-esteem become a central focus.  Oftentimes this develops through peer relationships.

School aged children are in Erikson's Industry versus Inferiority stage.  This is the stage when children become more aware of stereotypes and how they are viewed by others. 

What child have you met that wants to be disliked? I have yet to meet one.  However, there is a lot of discussion at elementary school about who likes who, who is good enough and who is not. 

I remember this concept being one of those growing pains that everyone experienced in one way or another. Everyone all dealt with it the best they could at the time.  The majority of us overcame. We overcame the boy competitions, the mean girls, the school demands, societal restrictions and other challenges. 

Image result for kids social media images

It seems that school agers today have a greater challenge that most of us didn't grow up with.  That's right, I'm talking about social media.  All the most popular sites and games  involve social media.  Roblox, Minecraft,, you name it. Social media for communication can be both a blessing when you can access friends more easily and a curse when you can hide your face and express your words with little or no filter. 

Children also don't realize that these words are permanently affixed on a public forum and can follow them beyond the elementary school.  There is a greater consequence to electronic posts than the written notes that could be torn up later. For this reason, we are seeing more reports of childhood depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation and attempts.

There are socioeconomic implications to social media socialization.  A child may not be a part of the "in group" if they don't have access to a computer, a tablet, a phone or other device with internet capability. These children may be left to feel out of the loop or ignored which can be significant negative hit to self-esteem.

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As psychologists, our role is to educate parents to determine if children are using appropriate social media sites and determine if the child is able demonstrate responsible use.  If your child uses social media sites, navigate the site with them.  Know what the site is about and how to use it.  Make sure the profile is private and that all contacts are kids that your child knows.  Monitor the amount of use and the content on the feed. No internet communication should be outside of your access. And most importantly, be there to support your child through any negative interaction as you would an in-person interaction. 

If you can't monitor use, it may be appropriate to have your child wait to communicate with friends in this manner. Our school agers might have it tougher than we as parents did, but they too, can overcome and persevere to become productive and emotionally healthy people.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

APA Resources on Managing Distress After Shootings

The American Psychological Association has numerous useful resources available on its website that may be helpful for students, families, and others, including:

Gun Violence: Prediction, Prevention, and Policy (an expert panel report)

Managing your distress in the aftermath of a shooting

Talking to Kids When They Need Help

7 Ways to Talk to Children and Youth about the Shootings in Orlando

Helping Children Manage Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting

How Much News Coverage is OK for Children?

Gun Violence Prevention

APA Initiatives to Prevent Gun Violence

NASP (The National School Psychologists Association) has also offered these resources. In many cases the resources for families are translated into other languages.

1) Educators can reinforce students’ sense of security by making classrooms predictable and welcoming, enabling students to process their reactions to events, providing access to mental health supports as needed, and connecting families with other available resources after school hours. NASP has handouts on reinforcing school safety, helping children after a natural disaster, and supporting relocated students.

2) Schools should provide supportive environments for students to talk about their feelings and concerns which, depending on the school community, may range from physical safety to concerns for the state of the country. NASP has handouts on talking to children about violence and a lesson plan for students about race and privilege.

3) Most children and youth are resilient and will cope well with the support and caring of their families, teachers, friends, and other caring adults. However, some students may be at risk for more intense reactions. NASP has handouts on helping children cope, identifying those most at risk for trauma reactions, and addressing grief.

4) School psychologists can reinforce children’s natural resilience and mental wellness, emphasize the preventive steps that schools can take to maintain a safe and caring school environment, and highlight the compassion of others. NASP has a number of handouts on promoting resilience, supporting mental health, and how administrators can reinforce a sense of school safety.

5) Remember to care for the caregiver. While we support those in need around us, be mindful to care for yourself. Take that time to connect with others and find healthy ways to create some peace. NASP has handouts on care for the caregiver for crisis team members and for teachers and families.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

APA Stance on DACA and Resources

APA has called on President Trump to preserve the "Dreamers" Program; however, today he announced he would end the program within 6 months. These individuals may be our students, colleagues, clients and friends. 

Norma Salcedo, the AB 540 Coordinator in the Dean of Students Office at SFSU put together this set of resources, and there are a few more tacked on at the end. This was shared via the APA Division 17 listserv. 

DACA Resources and Updates:

 DACA Update: Five Things You Should Know by the National Immigrant Law Center (NILC) (8/25/17)

Resources for Educators:
 DRC Resources for Educators

Advice on DACA.

Resources for Undocumented Youth.


Current Actions.

Additional Resources:

Sign this petition yourself, share it with friends, and ask your employer to sign this petition to stand with DACAmented employees.
Upcoming Actions in the Bay Area:
Defend DACA on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 2p in Oakland (Oscar Grant Plaza).

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Mental Health and Stigma

Mental Health and Stigma
by Guest Blogger, Kathy L. Lin

Did you know May is Mental Health Awareness month?


Although mental health treatments have had great advances, many individuals who may benefit from such services do not seek out these interventions. One reason is stigma towards mental health. Mental health stigma can consist of social stigma and self-stigma. Social stigma represents the discrimination and prejudice directed towards people with mental health problems while self-stigma occurs when individuals internalize these prejudicial attitudes and discriminating behavior (Corrigan, 2005).

Stigmatizing beliefs about mental health are held by a variety of individuals, even family members of individuals with a mental health illness. In a study examining stigma directed at adolescents with mental health problems, Moses (2010) found that 46% of adolescents experienced stigma from family members, 62% from peers, and 35% from school staff. Stigma matters as it can not only influence an individual’s quality of life in a negative manner, but also adversely affect treatment outcomes. Research has shown that stigma is correlated with increased social isolation and poorer employment success (Yanos, Roe, & Lysaker, 2010).

As mental health awareness and knowledge have increased, the reduction of mental health stigma can further contribute to mental health care. Some proposed ways to fight mental health stigma include (NAMI, 2015):
  • Educate self and others about mental health 
  • Question and push back against how individuals with mental health problems are portrayed in the media 
  • Talk openly about mental health issues 
  • Explain mental illness in a similar manner as any other illness 
  • Advocate for mental health reform 
  • Love and respect individuals living with a mental health condition 
The National Alliance on Mental Illness and (NAMI) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provide opportunities for individuals to get involved in reducing mental health stigma:


Corrigan P. W. (2005). On the stigma of mental illness: Practical strategies for research and social change. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

Moses, T. (2010). Being treated differently: Stigma experiences with family, peers, and school staff among adolescents with mental health disorders. Social Science & Medicine, 70(7), 985-993.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (2015). 9 Ways to Fight Mental Health Stigma. Retrieved from

Yanos, P. T., Roe, D., & Lysaker, P. H. (2010). The impact of illness identity on recovery from severe mental illness. American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, 13(2), 73-93.

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Kathy L. Lin, B.A., is a second-year graduate student in Miami University’s Clinical Psychology program. She works in the Culture, Affect, Relationships (CARE) Lab and her research interests consist of examining body image within a cultural context, looking at how body image may be impacted by cultural influences and perceptions.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Political Reactions and Coping

Prior to the election, APA released a survey showing that 52% of people were very or somewhat stressed about the election (APA, 2016). It is likely that, for many people, this stress has continued post-election, including as executive orders were issued over the past week on topics such as immigration, refugees, abortion, healthcare and more. You may have noticed that you and your family, friends, clients and/or colleagues are experiencing many emotions, physical reactions, and questions or concerns. These may be similar or different from people around you. 

What do I do?

The answer to this question will look different for every person. In addition, the answer might change depending on the day, how you’re feeling, or the topic. However, it is important to take care of yourself using healthy coping strategies as often as possible. These might include:

  • Give yourself a set amount of time to connect with your emotions
  • Reach out to family, friends, or other people for support
  • Exercise (e.g., running, walking, yoga)
  • Meditate
  • Do something you enjoy, such as;
    • Write, read, listen to music, cook, color, be creative, play video games, watch a movie
  • Limit time reading the news or using social media
  • Volunteer for an organization you feel passionate about
  • Contact your representatives at the local and national level
If you find that you or someone around you is having a difficult time coping, seek professional support.

Find a local psychologist:

If you are in immediate distress and need to talk to someone, contact a hotline: or 1-800-273-8255