Self-Care Strategies for Happier, Healthier Kids

Self-Care Strategies for Happier, Healthier Kids

By Colleen Stewart, Guest Blogger

A child’s success throughout life can depend on the level of emotional support from parents and caregivers. These suggestions promote positive self-care behaviors that last a lifetime.

Foster Open Communication
A weekly family meeting gives every member time to express concerns and address tensions so that issues don’t fester under the surface. Feeling heard and understood is an essential human need and the foundation of solid relationships. Keep to a set time limit and take care not to let disagreements devolve into bitter arguments.

If possible, attempt to have one meal together daily where the emphasis is on being a good listener. Help your kids see the value of listening by demonstrating balanced conversational techniques and teaching them how doing so creates healthy friendships.

Enjoy Recreational Events
Help your little ones relax by going to a game of the family’s favorite sports team. Enjoy some tasty treats and pick up souvenirs for treasured lifelong memories. Make it a weekend getaway if you have to travel more than a couple of hours to get to the event. For instance, if you’re wondering how to score Yankees or Mets tickets, search online and sort by date, price range and seat rating. Check the seller’s site for an interactive seating chart to see a 360-degree view from your seats ahead of time. And when you get home, continue the fun by playing catch with your kids!

Unwind with a day at the zoo or a walk in the woods. The natural setting can be a calming form of therapy, but prepare to adjust plans if your child becomes unsettled by specific animals. Read a book or visit a website teaching about the types of animals present to assuage fears.

Volunteer as a Family
Instill high moral values in your children by devoting time to assisting others and strengthening the community. At least an hour or two each week should be spent on volunteer activities. Encourage the kids to sign up for helpful groups and earmark time for giving in their personal schedules.

Set a Good Example
Model self-care. Study after study confirms that stress is contagious and alters how human brains work, leading to other physical and mental illnesses. Create self-care goals that the family tackles together.

Prevent outside influences from disrupting the peace of the family. Doing so can be especially challenging for business owners, so establish boundaries. Family members must agree to allow you time during the workday to focus on your company without unnecessary distraction. In return, set times where you focus on the family and silence all professional alerts and messages. Relegate intensive tasks to the morning when you’re fresh and can give them resolution before the day’s end. Don’t micromanage the business and delegate mundane assignments where possible.

Consider Counseling
A child overwhelmed with stress and anxiety can benefit greatly from regular counseling at North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, which is now offering both in-person and virtual therapy.

Bottom line: Reducing stress through a variety of means is worth the effort, so collaborate to give your children a self-care routine that helps them refresh, reset and ready themselves for life’s challenges.

Bio: Colleen Stewart loves giving her two kids a healthy example to live by. Her passion for community and wellness inspired her and her husband to team up with their neighbors and create a playgroup that allows the adults and their kids to squeeze in a workout a few times a week. She created Playdate Fitness to help inspire other mamas and papas to make their well-being a priority, and set a healthy foundation for their little ones in the process.

Supporting the Mental Health of BIPOC Youth

Supporting the Mental Health of BIPOC Youth

 By Alex Levitt

As Reported in Insight into Diversity, “This July marks the 14th annual observance of BIPOC Mental Health Month, previously known as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. The observance comes at a critical time as concerns regarding psychological and emotional well-being are at an all-time high for young people and students, especially those from underrepresented communities.”

An ample collection of research on Mental Health America. has demonstrated that the educational, economic and social turbulence caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the epidemic of anxiety and depression among youth. For young people of color, these repercussions have been magnified by racial violence and discrimination. Yet this population is less likely to seek out psychological support services due to “the high costs of mental health care, the social stigma associated with seeking treatment, a lack of access to culturally competent counselors and a general mistrust of medical professionals.” (Insight Staff, 2022)

Mental health conditions are not selective based on race, color, gender or identity. The obstacles of mental illness can take hold of anyone regardless of their background or history. However, background and identity can make the availability of mental health treatment much more challenging. As reported in SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), “America’s entire mental health system needs improvement, including when it comes to serving marginalized communities. This puts BIPOC youth at a serious disadvantage. For example, Black and Latinx children were about 14 percent less likely than White youth to receive treatment for their depression overall and were less likely to receive treatment in inpatient settings” (SAMHSA, 2020). Furthermore, The Trevor Project identifies that “LGBTQ+ youth from American Indian and Alaskan Native backgrounds were 2.5 times more likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year, compared to their non-Native LGBTQ+ peers.” (The Trevor Project, 2020).

There has been progress taking hold to improve the resources and support for minorities’ mental health, such as The Children’s Partnership and the National Black Women’s Justice Institute partnering together to establish the Hope, Healing and Health Collective (H3C). It says on their site that their “aim is to expand the availability and accessibility of culturally competent and gender-responsive mental health services and supports for youth of color, particularly Black girls, Indigenous youth and Latina girls.” (The Children’s Partnership, 2021) Unfortunately, behavioral health services are underutilized in marginalized communities despite the obvious need for them. The reasons why youth and adults of color do not participate in traditional mental health service include limited access, social stigma, misgivings about the effectiveness of treatment and distrust of providers.

Schools are proving to be leading the charge in providing support of BIPOC youths’ mental health. A study in the School Psych Review says that “youth are six times more likely to receive mental health care in schools compared to other community settings.” It also states that “In considering what serves young people well, schools must pay greater attention to how building power through youth organizing and leadership development supports positive mental health, builds on community strengths and supports developmentally driven needs for identity development that is reflective of their race, culture, gender and sexual orientation.” (Nadeem, Jaycox, Kataoka, Langley and Stein, 2011).

 Historical and community traumas have also brought on disturbing patterns in children experiencing mental health crises. Patterns are exacerbated for youth with several marginalized identities, including their gender identity, sexual orientation and their race or ethnicity. As the Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports, BIPOC youth have found that, through social media, they are not alone in their mental health experience and journey. It takes a lot of courage and strength to consciously unlearn and destigmatize mental health as a young member of the BIPOC community. Youth are redefining what mental health means and are trying to discard some of the negative stigmas that have been taught or demonstrated by older generations. BIPOC youth are also advocating for themselves and actively working to change the way their communities acknowledge and embrace mental health.

Bio: Alex Levitt is a senior at Farmingdale State College, where he is majoring in Professional Communications. He is an intern for North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, Long Island’s preeminent children’s mental health organization. To reach the Guidance Center, call 516-626-1971.

Guidance Center Names New Board Member, July 6, 2022, Blank Slate Media

Guidance Center Names New Board Member, July 6, 2022, Blank Slate Media


North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, the preeminent not-for-profit children’s mental health agency on Long Island, is pleased to announce that Michael Schnepper has joined its board of directors.

Schnepper, a Partner in Rivkin Radler’s Commercial Litigation, Insurance Coverage and Insurance Fraud Practice Groups, is a longtime supporter of the Guidance Center’s mission to bring hope and healing to children and families facing mental health challenges.

For nearly a decade, Schnepper has served as co-chair of one of the most important of the Guidance Center’s annual fundraising events, the Jonathan Krevat Memorial Golf & Tennis Classic.

“We feel extremely fortunate to have Michael joining us,” said Paul Vitale, president of the Guidance Center’s Board of Directors. “He has been a vital force in making the Krevat Cup a huge success year after year, and he approaches the role with enthusiasm, creativity and a wonderful sense of humor. We have no doubts that he will bring that spirit to his work on our Board.”

“It’s a real privilege to become part of the dynamic team at the Guidance Center,” said Schnepper. “The past few years have been an enormous challenge for the kids and families of Long Island, making the need for compassionate, expert mental health services more important than ever before. I look forward to working with the dedicated board members who give so much of their time and devotion to this amazing organization.”

To learn more about how to support the Guidance Center’s work, contact Lauren McGowan at 516-626-1971, ext. 320.

Helping LGBTQ+ Youth: The Guidance Center’s Approach

Helping LGBTQ+ Youth: The Guidance Center’s Approach

Interview with Marisa Padgett, LCSW, conducted by Alex Levitt

These kids are trying to live a life that is authentic to what is going on inside of them, and when loved ones reject them, that is detrimental to the kid’s mental health and self-esteem.”


In what ways do you see changes when it comes to acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth in society?

Marisa Padgett: It’s interesting because I recently talked to a 12-year-old boy here who identified as gay. I was speaking with the grandmother, and she was worried at how society at large will accept him. While she accepts him, she has her fears. We were talking about how acceptance has changed a lot in the last 10 to 20 years. I remember that when I was in high school, most people were not out. It was getting more accepted, but not how it is now.

I don’t worry as much about the kids with their peers, but more when they are out in the community. I think it has gotten better, but there is still a long way to go. In some ways, now it is more divisive than ever. I think that people are very hard-lined where they stand, either one way or another. While the LGBTQ+ community is growing, and we have things in place for pride and a lot of support for the kids in this community, there are people out there who are rejecting and intolerant, and they skew toward hate just for hate’s sake.

Middle school kids can also be very vocal and put down kids for any reason because that’s kind of where they are in life, developmentally. Also, generational issues surface a lot – for example, “My mom gets me, but she says don’t tell my grandparents that I’m transgender.” There is still a lag generationally. There can also be a shift in a relationship between a kid and loved ones after coming out. When the reality of it hits the parents, some have a hard time reconciling this new information about their kid’s identity.

How can we build an atmosphere of inclusion, regardless of our personal or religious views?

MP: We tell families that when a child comes out, this is who they are; they are not different people. What you think about a person before you found out they are gay, transgender or non-binary is still true because they are still that same person. There are many layers to people. Recognizing this is important for the families and for the society at large in becoming more tolerant. Look at people as people who are living their lives and their identity, and recognize it is not something they are choosing. We try to help parents understand they are not choosing this because in truth, it is a hard path. Having to deal with the prejudice, intolerance and the outright hate out there is immensely difficult.

Asking yourself what if it was your child, sister, brother or parent is a helpful exercise. If it was someone that you love deeply, would that be any different for you? Also, if an LGBTQ+ youth is not accepted by their peers, maybe they need to hang out with different people. A club like GSA [Gay-Straight Alliance] has done wonders for giving young people a space of acceptance. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, absolutely, but that should not affect how other people should be treated in society.

What are the mental health challenges facing LGBTQ+ youth, and how can loved ones can be supportive?

MP: We are seeing a lot of young people dealing with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and self-harm. I think it is a result of the fear of not being accepted and the way that the people closest to them will respond. It’s a very different thing if they are not openly LGBTQ+, but they almost know that their parents will not accept them. They’ve heard the way their parents talk about it, or for instance say their cousin came out and they heard their parents’ talk negatively about it. These kids are aware and have an idea already of how their parents are going to react. They might be out to their friends, but having to hold that in and not being comfortable with who they are in front of their parents causes a lot of tension.

Coming out must be handled very sensitively. Parents need to figure out how to respond to their teen, especially if they are already depressed or having suicidal thoughts. An issue with those who identify as transgender and non-binary is they have come out and the parents won’t accept them or use their pronouns. I tell the kids that if their parents are trying that’s good, but when parents refuse, that’s where the friction happens, and the kids struggle with mental health issues. These young people are trying to live a life that is authentic to what is going on inside of them, and when loved ones reject them, that is detrimental to the kid’s mental health and self-esteem. It’s like saying, “It’s not okay to be who you are”. Kids can attempt to take their lives over this.

What services does North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center provide LGBTQ+ youth to help them?

MP: There are basic services we provide like individual and family therapy. We build an LGBTQ+ group every fall once we have enough clients. Every therapist here is understanding and aware of LGBTQ+ issues. As a supervisor, I educate my team and make sure they are all very aware and sensitive and supportive. We do the family work and help the parents with the issues that they themselves are struggling to accept and understand for the child.

During the intake process, we ask the child in private if they want to address their sexual orientation or identity in treatment. In addition, we ask if their parents know and if they want them to know. You don’t want to assume anything. Making them comfortable to open up is vital to treatment.

Bio: Marisa Padgett, LCSW, is Clinical Supervisor of Emergency, Triage & Suicide Prevention Services at North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center. She can be reached at or 516-626-1971, ext. 367.

Bio: Alex Levitt is a senior at Farmingdale State College, where he is majoring in Professional Communications. He is an intern for North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, Long Island’s preeminent children’s mental health organization. To reach the Guidance Center, call 516-626-1971.


Research on LGBTQ+ Youth

  • LGBTQ+ identified individuals have a 2 to 6 times higher lifetime risk of suicide and/or depression than the general population.
  • The concept of “dual alienation” is the idea that individuals who belong to more than one marginalized group are doubly marginalized. Individuals with mental health issues who identify as LGBTQ belong to at least two traditionally marginalized groups.

Source: LGBTQ Mental Health: What Every Clinician Needs to Know.

  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 10 to 24— and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning LGBTQ+ youth are at significantly increased risk.
  • The Trevor Project estimates that more than 1.8 million LGBTQ+ youth (13-24) seriously consider suicide each year in the U.S. — and at least one attempts suicide every 45 seconds.
  • The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health found that 45% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.

Source: The Trevor Project

  • The data show that 43% of transgender youth have been bullied on school property. 29% of transgender youth, 21% of gay and lesbian youth and 22% of bisexual youth have attempted suicide
  • 16% of gay and lesbian youth and 11% of bisexual youth have been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property, compared to 7% of straight youth.

Source: Human Rights Campaign

Nassau Nonprofit to Use $3.9 million grant to Target Maternal Mortality, mentions Birth Justice Warriors, our collaboration with Hofstra, June 30. 2022

Nassau Nonprofit to Use $3.9 million grant to Target Maternal Mortality, mentions Birth Justice Warriors, our collaboration with Hofstra, June 30. 2022


A Nassau County nonprofit has received a $3.9 million state grant to help underserved women at high risk of maternal mortality in eight Nassau County communities, officials said Thursday.

The five-year grant awarded to the Long Island Federally Qualified Health Center will fund programming for women in Elmont, Freeport, Glen Cove, Hempstead, Long Beach, Roosevelt, Uniondale and Westbury — areas with significant populations of at-risk women.

Statistics show African-American women are five times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, said David Nemiroff, president of Long Island FQHC, one of 26 organizations across the state to receive the Perinatal and Infant Community Health Collaborative grant from the state Health Department.

Nemiroff said Long Island FQHC, which has 10 facilities to help low-income, underinsured and uninsured residents, will partner with community groups such as the Women’s Diversity Network and other health care providers in an effort to reach women, educate them about healthy lifestyles and provide better access to health care.

The assistance will continue for at least two years after the woman has given birth.

“We’re excited to finally be able to focus and make a dent in these health care disparities,” Nemiroff said at a news conference with community leaders outside the LI FQHC facility in Roosevelt.

Dr. Tarika James, chief medical officer at Long Island FQHC, said many of the conditions women deal with are treatable and preventable if detected early, such as hemorrhaging in the days after delivery.

“We have to educate providers and clinicians to look for those signs more early in the pregnancy and we have to educate patients about what to look for and what to observe about themselves in order to get the help they need in a more timely way,” James said.

In 2018, 51.2% of women who died of pregnancy-related causes in New York were Black, non-Hispanic, even though only 14.3% of births statewide were to Black women, according to state Health Department data.

Experts have said some of the reasons for this disparity include discrimination, health care providers not paying attention to the concerns of their patients, lack of follow-up care and inadequate patient education about potential complications.

As part of the new program in Nassau County, community health workers will be hired and conduct outreach to find women and assist them with a variety of services, such as access to healthy foods, educating them about the importance of avoiding tobacco, alcohol and drugs, and following up on medical appointments.

James said women also will learn how to advocate for themselves and speak up to doctors if they feel something is wrong.

Martine Hackett, director of public health programs at Hofstra University and co-founder of Birth Justice Warriors, which works to reduce maternal and infant mortality numbers, said some people are surprised to learn Nassau County, viewed as a wealthy suburb, has a serious problem with maternal and infant mortality.

But she pointed out the county is separated and segregated into areas with a lot of resources and residents in good health and others with few resources and residents in poor health.

“Where we live has a strong influence on our health,” Hackett said. “And this is especially true for the most vulnerable in any society — pregnant women and infants.”

The Suffolk County Health Department also received a Perinatal and Infant Community Health Collaboratives grant, to continue services in Babylon and Islip townships and expand into Brookhaven and Riverhead townships this summer.

Photo: David Nemiroff, president of Long Island FQHC, is joined by area health care leaders in Roosevelt on Thursday. Nemiroff said the nonprofit will partner with community groups and other health care providers in an effort to reach women, educate them about healthy lifestyles and provide better access to health care. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca