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APC Hosts Monthly Parent Support Group

Tuesday, (will resume in September), 7:30-9:00 pm
Acalanes Collaboration Center
This is an open, peer support group where parents gather to share common problems and experiences of parenting teens struggling with chronic high stress, anxiety, depression and/or eating disorders. Our hope is to connect people with others coping with similar challenges to share empathy and understanding of what they're going through and to share the insight that comes from first hand experience. Parents from all four district high schools are invited to attend. Meetings are the third Tuesday of each month with no December meeting.  The Collaboration Center room is located on Front Quad Administration office area. Contact the Wellness Chairs below if you need more information.

Teen Moodiness or Something More Serious? 

Even the most tuned-in parent can have difficulty distinguishing between the kinds of mood swings typical of teen development and behaviors that might indicate anxiety or depression. The distinction generally hinges on the severity of mood or behaviors, their duration, and whether they impact the adolescent in several areas of their life (for instance, family relationships, friendships and performance). Click here for further reading on this subject. Parents can also look for physical signs of a more serious problem, including headaches, stomachaches, significant change in sleeping patterns and/or weight, as well as general fatigue. More information can be found here

District Mental Health Task Force

Recognizing the need to address the mental health needs of our students in a comprehensive district wide manner, the AUHSD has formed a Mental Health Task Force (MHTF). It is chaired by Assistant Superintendent Amy McNamara, with representatives from Acalanes, Miramonte, Las Lomas and Campolindo counseling departments, school psychologists, principals, district personnel and a parent representative. In November, the task force members visited Redwood High School in Larkspur for a presentation about the planning and implementing their Wellness Center. They toured the facility which includes the school nurse, counselors, crisis counselors and the student wellness center. The task force has had a follow-up discussion ranging from affordable actions that can be implemented easily at all schools now to how to fund a program such at Redwood’s. Ongoing updates will be provided regarding the MHTF’s plans.  If you would like additional information or wish to offer parent input, contact Graham Wiseman at at wellness@acalanesparentsclub.com. Graham serves as a parent representative to the task force and is co-chair of the Acalanes Parent Club Wellness Committee.  

Teens and Depression

Why should Acalanes parents be concerned about and aware of the signs of teen depression? According to Challenge Success, an estimated 20% of kids will have an episode of major depression by the age of 18 and 75% of them will have a second episode within 5 years. Unfortunately, the students of our school district are no exception. The results of the last "Healthy Kids Survey" administered to the Acalanes Union High School District 9th and 11th graders during the 2013 school year, show that 23 percent of 9th graders and 26 percent of 11th graders self-reported as fitting the clinical definition for depression. That same survey indicated that 16 percent of 9th graders and 18 percent of 11th graders had seriously considered suicide during the prior 12 months. 

Challenge Success - Do You Know?

AUHSD California Healthy Kids Survey 2015

AUHSD California Healthy Kids Survey 2013

Signs of Depression in Teens
  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Irritability, anger or hostility
  • Tearfulness
  • Withdrawal from friends/family
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Restlessness/agitation
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  • Fatigue/lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
It is important to realize that depression can look very different in teens than in adults. It is more common for depressed teens to be irritable or angry. They also may frequently experience headaches and stomach aches (particularly if they are driven to achieve). They may be extremely sensitive to criticism (due to feelings of worthlessness). While a depressed teen may withdraw socially, they are much more likely to seek out some social interaction than is a depressed adult. The school provides contact information for a number of organizations that may be useful if your child is struggling.

Where can Students access help in school? Mental Health Intervention Specialists

Many factors can impact a student's ability to perform to their full potential at school. Issues that Intervention Specialists deal with include family conflict, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse. They facilitate student support and recovery groups; work with teachers and counselors to identify at risk students, and provide educational presentations for students and parents on topics such as drug abuse prevention and intervention, stress management, and parenting teens. If you are concerned about your student, let them know that there is help available. Click here to contact your student's counselor for a referral, or contact the Counseling Office at (925) 280-3970.

Students can also self refer and request to see a Intervention Specialist by completing this form and putting it in the mail box that is on the entrance desk in the counseling office. This will be in the strictest of confidence. Acalanes Parents Club funds two Mental Health Intervention Specialists, and it is parents donations that have made this service possible.

Wellness Resources

Links and phone numbers for Crisis Hotlines, Substance Abuse, Assistance, Counseling, and other resources. Click here

Wellness Chairs Contacts

Emma Bishopp
Kelsey Kobayashi
Holly Nolan
Graham Wiseman