Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Power of Sleep

 As some of you may know, I am not a morning person and I greatly value my sleep. I honestly can't function on less than 7 hours of sleep a night, so anytime articles or research cross my desk in regards to sleep, I read and try to apply those principles to my own sleep habits.

Most recently, I came across an article on teens and sleep. Although this article had minimal to do with my sleep habits, I read it to hopefully educate my students on the hazards of little sleep. This article, published by Scholastic Magazine, stated that a full school schedule paired with after-school activities is not entirely to blame for teenagers loss of sleep, instead the loss of sleep can be attributed to cell phone use.

If you look around, except during the school day, most teenagers always have their phone in their hand. Although most teens would not think this is a problem, it is. Researchers have found that there is a direct link between sleep and phone habits. Although it seems teens are busy with school and activities, their phones are providing more distractions. Take homework for example; your teen has started homework and a text comes through, the ding of the text causes them to stop working on homework for a brief moment to look at and possibly respond to a text. This small, but significant incident has now caused their minds to shift from the homework to the phone. It will now take a brief minute to focus back on their homework, only to have this happen over and over. This can elongate the time they spend doing homework as their minds have to transition back and forth. It takes a great deal of self control to ignore the notifications coming from the phone and instead focus on homework or even chores before the evening is over.

Even after they go to bed, most of them charge their phones on their nightstand, still disturbing their sleep. Every time the screen lights up with a notification, even if the phone is on silent, will cause a disturbance in melatonin, the hormone needed for sleep.

Sleep is essential for everyone, especially teens. It is when the developing brain continues to grow and lack of sleep can hinder educational progress and everyday mood. When you take a test and you can't come up with an answer, when you miss goals during your game, when you snap at your friends, these all can be attributed to a lack of sleep. If you disrupt sleep, you disrupt function everywhere.

How can you get more sleep?  Try to limit your phone use. Make phone time a reward and only check messages after you complete homework in a subject or after you complete an entire chore. At night, put your phone in the kitchen or the living room to charge, not on your nightstand or even in your room. The light from the phone surpresses the production of melatonin. Use your bedroom as a sanctuary for sleep, no television, no phone, just for sleep.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Counseling Intern Information and Suicide Prevention Month

Over the next few months, you may see a new face around Father McGivney working alongside Mrs Madura in the Student Services and Counseling office.  Ms. Catherine Stark is a graduate student at Missouri Baptist University majoring in School Counseling, and is completing her internship in the FMCHS Student Services and Counseling office.  Therefore, please know Ms. Stark may reach out at some point by either email or telephone regarding student success and development during her time here.

Each week, I plan to cover a coping strategy or topic to broaden awareness of what you/your child my be experiencing.  The topics will range from Study Skills, to Counseling and Coping Skills, and will hopefully be something to spark discussion with your parents/child(ren).

I write this on September 1, and those in the Mental Health field know that September is Suicide Prevention Month.  I have been provided resources from CHAD (Communities Health Adolescent Depression and Suicide) as well as the Illinois School Cousneling Association, in an effort to spotlight the awareness of mental health and risk management with regards to suicide.

According to the Coalition for Mental Health, up to 25 percent of adolescents beginning at age 14 will suffer depression, and only two-thirds will receive help. Sadly, of that total, 90 percent of all suicides are associated with mental illness, and could have been prevented.

Nationally, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for 11 to 18 year olds in the United States. -CDC, 2010

Over the past 15 years, the total suicide rate has increased 24% from 10.5 to 13 per 100,000 people and the suicide rate among males has remained approximately four times higher than amoung females. - National Institute of Mental Health.

***If you believe someone is a harm to either themselves, or another person, please don't hesitate to call   9-1-1 and get help immediately.

The following is a list of resources on Suicide Prevention:

Suicide Prevention Resources:  http://www.sprc.org/

The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide: http://www.sptsusa.org/

CHADS Coalition for Mental Health: www.chadscoalition.org