Connection and Support are Keys to Mental Health

SAY San Diego has the important and sensitive role of serving as a mental health (and behavioral health) resource and provider for children, youth, and families across the County. During May, Mental Health Awareness Month, we wish to highlight some of our mental health and behavioral health treatment resources for the community.

Our school-based mental health program connects youth and their families to assessment and therapy to overcome mental health challenges and empowers them to live up to their full potential in school and at home. Appointment times are flexible, and services are culturally and linguistically appropriate. Client- and family-driven services are provided at home, work, or at designated school sites.

Reflections, another of the many SAY San Diego programs which promote mental well-being, focuses on treatment and recovery for court-involved youth. Reflections offers a collaborative approach with County Probation and the County Office of Education for youth ages 12–17 and their families. Participants receive support from a highly skilled team of probation officers, therapists, a psychiatrist, substance abuse counselors, and teachers. At Reflections, we have emphasized the unique value of therapeutic writing which enables teens to express their own realities including isolation, fear, and anxiety, as well as their hopes for connection and change.

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Supporting Military Mommas This Mother’s Day

By Kat Brown
Community Engagement Specialist at SAY San Diego Military Family Collaborative

Mother’s Day is coming soon. As a military spouse, my husband has missed more holidays and birthdays than I count. But somehow his missing Mother’s Day seems like an especially cruel slap in the face. This is supposed to be my day—a day dedicated to pampering and breakfast in bed and maybe a couple hours of quiet time to myself. Not a day to again be the sole caregiver; holding tight to my daughter as we both wish for Daddy to come home.

Mother’s Day is bittersweet for so many military spouses like me who are missing the other half of their parenting team. Or on the flip side, there’s the mom who’s stuck out to sea or half a world away wishing like anything that she could hold her beautiful babies in her arms. And then there are the moms who have lost their children to these wars. This day is painful for them in a way that not many of us can understand. I weep at the thought of it.

Oftentimes I hear from non-military friends that they want to support, but they just don’t know how. That makes sense. This life is so difficult to understand for those who have never served. The military community in itself is extremely supportive, and they “get it” in a way that my civilian friends just don’t.  But, this Mother’s Day, I thought I’d share a few thoughts on how you can help the military mommas in your life:

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Prom Season Is Here! What Can Parents Do?

By SAY San Diego Community Assessment Team Plus (CAT+)


Start the Conversation:
 Teens talk to their parents about sex are more likely to delay sexual activity, have fewer partners, and use condoms and other contraceptives when they do have sex.

Alcohol and Sex: Youth who drink alcohol are more likely to have unplanned and unprotected sexual activity. Talking about these issues can help teens make healthier decisions.

Peer Pressure: Some teenagers decide to have sexual relationships because their friends think sex is cool and everyone is doing it. The truth is only about 47% of teenagers reported ever having sex. Talking about the facts including why more than half of all teenagers decide to wait can help them to determine their own values.

Educate Yourself: Some parents worry that they won’t know the answers to their teen’s questions. The best way to teach kids about sexuality is to find the answers together and discuss the research together.

How do I talk to my teen? Check out these resources and videos from Planned Parenthood.

Volunteers lift the lives of children, youth, and families

Each and every day, here at SAY San Diego, our volunteers and interns give the abundant gifts of their talent and time to caring for their neighbors and lifting the lives of the children, youth, and families that we serve. Volunteers and interns form the heart of our community at SAY San Diego—and each year, they outnumber paid staff by about 150%. Among their many contributions to our clients and community, volunteers provide tutoring, tax assistance, counseling, lead youth development activities, organize and run events, conduct research, and much more.

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Teen Court: Good for Adults, Too

By Chelsea Stephens
SAY San Diego Case Assistant/Interpreter| Teen Court

ChelseaStephensIt’s been a part of my life for over five years now; longer than many of my friendships, longer than my time as an undergraduate, longer than any other volunteer or work position I’ve held. Teen Court has become a part of my life that, to my benefit, has also become a key part of my identity. This is a program that has taught me patience, empathy, and has helped shape me into the person I am proud to be today. Although I’m a volunteer for the program, Teen Court has paid me in countless ways for which I will always be grateful.

What is it that brought me to Teen Court in the first place? It was a combination of two things: a desire to be involved in my community and also an interest in becoming an attorney. I was a college freshman trying to figure out life and was fortunate enough to come across a volunteer posting as a Case Assistant with SAY’s Teen Court program. After applying and being accepted, I began attending the biweekly hearings and quickly found myself falling in love with the ability to help others. Working with the clients and their families opened my eyes to the struggles so many families in San Diego face—poverty, unemployment, and substance abuse, to name a few. It helped give me a more well-rounded worldview that I know I will be able to apply wherever life’s journey takes me.

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Helping Kids to Spring Forward—Our Afterschool Advantage!

nancyafterschoolblogSAY San Diego’s commitment to enriching the lives of children and youth, supporting their healthy development, and making life a bit easier for working families includes our major extended-learning programs before and after school. All facts point to the resulting afterschool advantage. Effective afterschool programs, like ours, boost academic performance, particularly in the key areas of reading and math. They also improve attendance, school engagement, personal aspirations, and positive health outcomes—including improved diet and exercise habits, healthy peer relationships, graduating high school, and attending post-secondary school—while reducing risk factors.[i]

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Tips for Parents: Your Role in School Success

By Donna Wilson, Child & Youth Development Program Supervisor, with special thanks to teacher Susan Bulloch and retired teacher Donna Moyer for their contributions.

Studies show that children’s academic achievement is directly influenced by their parents’ involvement in their education. Learn how you can bolster your student for success.

A Teacher’s Expectation of Parents

Students, teachers, and parents all share responsibility in the education of a child. As a parent, here’s a minimum level of involvement most teachers expect:

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Prevention is at the Heart of SAY San Diego’s Approach

heartsPrevention is truly at the heart of SAY San Diego’s approach—and has always been. Notably, the science of prevention has advanced greatly over the years, in our area of social services, just as it has in public health and medicine. One area of emphasis has been reproductive health. Reproductive health is not only a critically important area of well-being for youth, it is one where evidence-based prevention efforts have led our county to join the nation in achieving historically low rates of teen pregnancy. Not long ago, San Diego had teen pregnancy rates that were 72–74 out of every 1000 births, now we are 22 out of every 1000 births—the lowest rate on record (CDC, 2016).

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5 Tips for a Healthy, Loving Relationship

holdinghandsBy Raul Roman, SAY San Diego Case Manager and Certified Trainer, World Class Relationships Curriculum

Love in a relationship cannot flourish without a strong foundation. Empathy, authenticity, and acceptance are all traits that support healthy relationships. Here are 5 tips to keep the love alive:

  1. Communication: This is key in any relationship, especially when first engaging in a partnership. Talk about what’s important to you and how you’re feeling.
  1. Goals: Set shared and agreed-upon goals. Focus on things you want to accomplish together and independently. For example, a shared goal would be to schedule more date nights, and an independent goal might be to learn a new skill.
  1. Support: Be your partner’s biggest cheerleader. Back his/her dreams and personal goals. For instance, if your partner really wants to continue school, be encouraging.
  1. Initiative: Do not rely on your partner or others to meet your needs. Assume responsibility for your own needs. No blaming or guilt trips. For example, if you’d like your partner to rub your shoulders, let him/her know.
  1. Re-kindle: If you feel you have reached a plateau or rut, go back to what worked during your honeymoon phase. Continue to find ways to keep the flame burning. Maybe visit a favorite restaurant you used to love, or watch a favorite movie together.
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