Exploring Digital Creativity for Kids’ Mental Wellness

Exploring Digital Creativity for Kids’ Mental Wellness

By Guest Blogger Ronnie Salazar

Children’s mental wellness plays a pivotal role in their overall development and happiness. As young minds navigate the challenges of growing up, it is essential to prioritize their emotional and psychological well-being. A solid foundation of mental wellness not only fosters resilience but also contributes to better academic performance, healthier relationships, and a positive outlook on life.

In today’s digital age, children are exposed to various technological devices and platforms. However, these digital tools can also serve as a powerful medium for nurturing kids’ mental wellness. Digital creativity, encompassing various forms of artistic expression such as digital art, music, storytelling, and video editing, can provide a safe and constructive outlet for children to explore their emotions, build self-esteem, and cope with stress.

The Power of Digital Creativity for Kids

Expressive Outlets for Emotional Release

Digital creativity offers children a unique platform to express their thoughts, feelings, and emotions in a safe and non-judgmental environment. Kids can channel their innermost emotions, allowing them to process complex feelings and experiences. Whether they create digital paintings, compose music or edit videos, these outlets enable children to communicate and cope with emotions they might find challenging to express verbally.

Boosting Self-Esteem and Confidence

As kids witness the results of their creative efforts, whether it’s a captivating piece of digital art or a self-edited video, their sense of achievement grows, boosting their self-esteem and confidence. Positive feedback from peers, family, and teachers further reinforces their belief in their abilities, contributing to a solid and healthy self-image.

Stress-Relief and Relaxation through Creativity

When immersed in creative activities, the mind focuses on the task at hand, diverting attention from daily stressors. Whether it’s composing a soothing piece of music, engaging in digital storytelling, or experimenting with art, these creative pursuits can become a form of mindfulness, promoting a sense of calm and relaxation in young minds.

Exploring Digital Art and Video Editing

Digital Drawing and Painting for Self-Expression

Digital drawing and painting provide an exciting and accessible medium for kids to express themselves artistically. With a wide range of digital tools and software available, children can unleash their creativity through vibrant colors, imaginative compositions, and intricate details. This form of self-expression allows them to communicate their thoughts and emotions visually, enabling a deeper understanding of their inner world. Digital art also encourages experimentation and the freedom to undo and redo, empowering children to explore and refine their ideas without fear of mistakes.

Video Editing as a Creative Outlet

Video editing opens up a world of storytelling possibilities for kids. By piecing together clips, adding effects, and incorporating music, children can create their narratives, documentaries, or artistic pieces. Video editing allows them to explore their storytelling abilities and perspective, giving them a sense of authorship over their creations. Whether they capture real-life events or conjure up fantastical scenarios, video editing provides a means for kids to share their ideas and perspectives with others, fostering a sense of connection and communication through visual storytelling.

Music and Sound Creativity

Digital Music Tools for Kids

From user-friendly apps to virtual instruments, children can explore the world of music composition and production in exciting ways. These digital music tools often offer pre-made loops, easy-to-use interfaces, and interactive tutorials that allow kids to experiment with melodies, rhythms, and harmonies. Engaging with digital music tools empowers children to create their musical pieces, fostering a sense of accomplishment and creativity. You can try Virtual Drumming or Song Smith app.

Benefits of Music for Kids’ Emotional Wellbeing

Music holds a profound impact on children’s emotional well-being. Engaging in music and sound creativity can be a cathartic outlet for emotions, enabling kids to express themselves in ways they might not be able to with words alone. Whether playing an instrument, composing music, or using digital sound effects, children experience a range of emotions, from joy and excitement to introspection and comfort. Music has the power to evoke powerful emotions and memories, offering solace during challenging times and enhancing positive emotions during happier moments.

Interactive Storytelling and Writing

Digital Platforms for Storytelling

Interactive digital platforms now offer immersive and engaging storytelling experiences that go beyond traditional books. These platforms incorporate elements like animations, sound effects, and interactive choices, allowing children to actively participate in the narrative. Through e-books, interactive apps, and online storytelling communities, kids can explore a vast array of stories tailored to their interests, sparking their creativity and curiosity.

Fostering Imagination and Empathy through Stories

As they embark on virtual adventures and make decisions that shape the storyline, children are encouraged to think critically, solve problems, and envision new possibilities. Moreover, exposure to diverse characters and perspectives in stories helps kids develop empathy and understanding of others’ experiences. By immersing themselves in these interactive narratives, children can develop emotional intelligence, empathy, and a profound appreciation for the power of storytelling in connecting hearts and minds.

Overcoming Challenges and Concerns

Addressing Cyberbullying and Online Safety

Parents and educators should educate kids about the importance of responsible online behavior and how to recognize and report cyberbullying incidents. Creating an open and supportive environment where children feel comfortable sharing their online experiences can help identify and address any issues promptly. Implementing parental controls and monitoring tools can also provide an added layer of protection, ensuring kids’ safety while exploring the digital world.

Balancing Screen Time with Offline Activities

While digital creativity offers numerous benefits, excessive screen time can lead to various challenges, such as sleep disturbances and reduced physical activity. Encouraging kids to participate in offline activities, such as sports, reading, or spending time with family and friends, helps foster a well-rounded lifestyle. Setting clear boundaries and designating tech-free periods can promote healthier screen habits and ensure that digital creativity complements, rather than substitutes, other valuable aspects of their lives.


Digital creativity offers children a myriad of benefits, from providing expressive outlets for emotional release through digital art and video editing to fostering self-esteem and confidence. Engaging in music and sound creativity allows children to connect with their emotions and experience the therapeutic effects of creative expression. While navigating the digital landscape, addressing concerns like cyberbullying and balancing screen time is crucial for ensuring a safe and well-rounded experience.

Youth Voices in Youth Mental Health Advocacy

Youth Voices in Youth Mental Health Advocacy

By Guest Blogger Chloe Cohen

As the need for mental health services for youth becomes increasingly necessary, with 21.8% of children diagnosed with one or more of the common mental health conditions, it’s vital to highlight the voices of those being affected: the children. Recent studies and institutionalized changes surrounding the mental wellbeing of children can be largely attributed to the speaking out of young people and normalization of seeking help.

It can be questioned why diagnosis statistics are at a steady incline. It remains true that it may be virtually impossible to pinpoint the exact causal pathway to one rooted issue as mental disorders are largely multifactorial. Despite this, it is important to listen to the children impacted in order to make advancements in our systems and resources.

Combating the Stigma: How Generation Z Views Mental Health

In a study focused on the generational differences in mental health, Deloitte found that in terms of holistic health priorities, the leading concern for Generation Z is mental health with physical health following in second. This is a drastic difference to the older generations who majorly don’t consider mental illness to be a “health” problem – Mental Health America found that only 38% of adults 65 and older believe depression to be a health issue. The stigma surrounding mental health has been a prominent setback towards advancements in treatment for years. Generation Z, myself included in this demographic, has taken this matter into our own hands in consistently spreading awareness and further, advocating for the need for accessible treatment and resources.

Despite more frequent mental health conversations, the gap between prevalence and treatment is still vast so it’s crucial to listen to the youth’s recommendations on what they believe will combat these struggles.

So, What Should Be Done?

New York State has taken notice of the youth’s call to action and began to dig deeper at what can be done for these issues. Governor Hochul invested a striking $1 billion in youth mental health studies to address the CDC instated mental health crisis among youth. The premise of the study was to collect feedback from children all over NYS with a focus on what types of programs and advice youth could envision de-escalating the crisis.

According to the June 2023 published Youth Mental Health Listening Tour Report, here are some key youth recommendations from the study:

● Involving young people in decision making/ mental health program design

● Hiring diverse health professionals that can relate to a variety of students

● Increase amount of youth led programs

● Educate adults on how to support young people, listen without judgment, and establish clear lines of confidentiality

● Invest in social and recreational activities to promote mental wellness

It’s the duty of the professionals and NYS to hear these results and put them into action. Now, where does The Guidance Center fall into this?

The Guidance Center is Here to Help

North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center emphasizes compassion and innovative treatments for children from birth to 24 years old. Our staff across all three locations contains a wide range of diverse individuals with an array of experiences in order to optimize the relatability and relationships between therapist and client, as is an important factor in mental health care according to the report. Additionally, The Guidance Center provides a number of programs and services to support the youth in the way that they need to be supported. Each client is comprehensively evaluated, tailored to an individual treatment plan that may include any combination of individual, family, and group therapy, and if needed, medication management.

As an intern in The Guidance Center, I have had the privilege of learning about our programs and closely working with the staff that make it all happen. I can say with confidence that The Guidance Center not only provides services that accommodate these youth recommendations, but the staff as a whole is truly dedicated to ensuring the mental wellbeing of our youth. Outside of therapy, The Guidance Center offers programs such as the Wilderness Respite Program that hosts children from any mental health facility to come together and participate in adventurous activities as a gateway to mastery of social skills and youth empowerment. The Guidance Center also offers programs such as the LGBTQ+ & Latina Girls Project that bring together clients who may be in need of extra support from those who have similar experiences.

Our staff is specially trained for working with children and their families with no limits or restrictions to provide our clients with the care they need. A major setback to children receiving services is financial limitations. At The Guidance Center, we are dedicated to reaching everybody who needs us. As said by Executive Director/CEO, Kathy Rivera, “We turn no one away for any inability to pay… We are committed to equity in mental health regardless of what your ZIP code is, what your bank account looks like. Everyone deserves to have access to care.” The Guidance Center is a place where youth heal and thrive accessibly and affordably as we stay up to date with changing times and individually molded treatment plans.

If you or your child is in need of support, know that we are here to help! Call us at (516) 626-1971 to learn more about our services or make an appointment today.

How Technology Can Help Kids Understand a Parent’s Addiction

How Technology Can Help Kids Understand a Parent’s Addiction


Guest Blog By Emily Graham

About 1 in 11 children in the US live with a parent who has a substance addiction problem, reports the National Library of Medicine. This is a worrying statistic – such kids tend to have turbulent lives and many mental health challenges. The addicted parent may demonstrate an extreme spectrum of behavior to the child, ranging from healthy caring to outright abuse, leaving the child feeling confused, anxious, angry, traumatized, and unstable.

Understanding that the erratic behavior is a result of the parent’s substance addiction can help the child come to terms with the situation. It gives them insight into the “why”, that it’s not their fault, and helps them gain more mental peace. Furthermore, if the child is of suitable age, it can help the child practically assist the parent.

Technology can be an invaluable asset in giving the child insight into addiction (and related behavior). Below, North Shore Child & Family Guidance Centerexplains how.

Access to educational resources

First and foremost, technology provides children with easy access to helpful educational resources covering addiction. The child can conveniently read articles, watch videos, and check other resources from their smartphones or computers. Much of this material is explained simply, in a way even young kids would understand. Moreover, children can have pressing questions answered directly by experts. The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation offers free educational resources for kids.

Support counseling 

A parent’s addiction can be hard for the child to witness. Sometimes, if the parent is abusive, it affects them directly. With technology like video conferencing and Chatbots, kids can quickly connect to qualified therapists and other trained mental health professionals. Said experts can help the child make sense of their parent’s behavior and provide emotional and mental support. If you’re a child or young adult looking for such support, reach out to North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center.

Virtual participation in support groups

Support groups provide multiple benefits – an avenue to express your feelings, access to helpful information, access to people in similar situations, increased self-understanding, and anxiety relief. Children can’t always join support groups in the real world, for various reasons. With technology, kids can join virtual support groups (including forums, social media groups, chat groups, and more).

Communicating with parents struggling with addiction 

Sometimes the parent struggling with addiction may not be physically present for the child. In such cases, messaging and video conferencing apps allow theparent to communicate with the child remotely. Instead of having the other parent (or a stranger) explain the reasons for the absence, the struggling parent could do so in person, which is better for everyone involved.

Second or third-hand experience 

Understanding addiction is easier if you witness the effects personally or hear stories from people who are struggling with a substance abuse disorder. There are several apps out there – like AA Big Book and Sober Grid – that provide kids with second or third-hand experiences from people suffering from addiction or their loved ones. The AA Big Book app, for example, is full of personal stories, prayers, and how-to guides revolving around addiction.

Role reversal: Helping the addicted parent 

Sometimes, the child looks after the parent instead of the other way around. This role reversal is, unfortunately, frequent in families where one or both parents suffers from an addiction. Technology can provide the child access to helpful resources on addiction treatment and recovery, not to mention get direct assistance from qualified experts for their parents. For instance, technology can raise awareness of and provides access to addiction recovery facilities that can help beat addiction.


Understanding the problem is an important first step in managing it. When the child understands the parent’s addiction – including the causes and symptoms – they know not to take it personally. It can help them gain more mental peace and inner stability. In many, it can help the child assist the parent in recovering. Technology can both facilitate said understanding and act as useful support when the child wants to help the parent recover.

Teach Your Teens the Dangers of Driving Impaired, Anton Media February 10, 2023

Teach Your Teens the Dangers of Driving Impaired, Anton Media February 10, 2023

By Dr. Nellie-Taylor Walthrust

Getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage that teenagers have been celebrating since the early days of automobiles. Driving makes teens feel more independent than ever before, and it can also provide a break for parents, who spend a great deal of their time carting their kids back and forth from practices and other activities.

But the celebration of this newfound freedom necessitates a crucial conversation and the drawing of a line in the sand: Let them know that driving while using alcohol, marijuana or any other substances is forbidden, and start having these conversations when they are young.

With marijuana use now legal for people 21 years of age and older, your kids may be of the mindset that it’s not a big deal. That’s far from the truth. It’s illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol and weed or other drugs. According to the NY State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, driving under the influence of marijuana subjects you to the same penalties as driving under the influence of alcohol.

And there’s good reason: Marijuana impacts areas of the brain that control perception, balance, coordination, memory and judgment. It can slow reaction times, decrease attention and make it difficult to follow the road and stay in your lane.

We know you don’t want your kids to use marijuana or alcohol, period. But the reality is that many of them do. Having the conversation about safety and driving will not make them any more likely to experiment – in fact, it might have the opposite effect.

Here are some sobering statistics:

  • 23% of teens admit they have driven under the influence of alcohol, prescription drugs or marijuana.
  • Teen drivers 16-19 have a fatal crash rate almost three times as high as drivers ages 20 and older.
  • The percent of crash deaths involving cannabis more than doubled from 9% in 2000 to 21.5% in 2018.
  • 24% of teens reported that within the previous month, they had been a passenger in a car with a driver who had been drinking alcohol or using drugs.

As a parent, what can you do to minimize the risks?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests creating a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement that clearly sets expectations and limits. Sit with your teen and write down the hazards of driving while impaired and the consequences for breaking the rules. Put it on your refrigerator and update it as your teen gains experience and more driving privileges. (Visit cdc.gov for a sample agreement.)

If your teen plans to go to a party, make sure you talk to the parents where the festivities are being held. Ask if there will be supervision and if alcohol is being served—and if your teens are under 21, the answer should be a resounding no.

Despite taking all precautions, your teens may find themselves in a situation where they are being pressured to drink or use drugs. Tell them that you will be willing and able to get them at any time during the night—and that if they or their friends have been drinking or using drugs, they should contact you for a ride.

As parents, we must do all we can to educate our kids about the dangers of driving while impaired, but we also need to face the reality that even “good” kids can start heading down a dangerous path. Keep the lines of communication open, and if you suspect there may be a problem, consider contacting a professional who is trained in alcohol and substance use.

Bottom line: Let your teen know that driving requires their full attention, so marijuana, alcohol or any kind of substances are not allowed – and that means no texting, too!


Dr. Nellie Taylor-Walthrust is the Director of at North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center’s Leeds Place, which operates an Adolescent Outpatient Chemical Dependency Treatment Program. Substance use services include counseling youths who are alcohol and drug abusers, children who live in families with a parent who is suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction and youths who have co-occurring chemical dependency and mental health problems. Prevention services are offered to local school districts. Call (516) 626-1971 to learn more.


Photo credit (for the driving photo): Adobe Stock, By Habitante Stock

Fighting Against Fatigue for Parents of Special Needs Kids

Fighting Against Fatigue for Parents of Special Needs Kids

By Guest Blogger Emily Graham

As the parent of a child with special needs, I often find myself feeling exhausted. It can be a lot of work to meet my child’s unique needs, and there are often barely enough hours in the day to get everything done. What’s more, I often feel like I’m operating on constant high alert, always ready to deal with whatever challenges my child may face.

As a result, fatigue is a common problem for parents like me. And it’s not just physical fatigue – I often find myself feeling emotionally and mentally drained as well. It can be hard to keep up with everything, and it’s easy to feel like I’m not doing enough. But I try to remind myself that I’m doing the best I can, and that’s all anyone can ask for. Raising a child with special needs is a unique challenge, but it’s also a rewarding one.

And even on the toughest days, I know that it’s all worth it.

What’s more, I know I’m not alone here. According to research, over 3 million children in the U.S. have a disability of some kind. These kids face many challenges — and so do their parents. Parenting a child with special needs is often a full-time job, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the daily responsibilities. It’s no surprise, then, that many special needs parents often experience parental fatigue. Though parental fatigue can feel inescapable, this article will help you find ways to mitigate the problem.

Address Any Potential Health Struggles

If you’re not sure whether you are experiencing parental fatigue, there are a few red flags you can look for. Have you been losing sleep? Do you feel like you’re failing as a parent? Have you been struggling with depression or other mental health issues? If you answered yes to these questions, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with parental fatigue.

The latter of these symptoms — mental health struggles — is a particularly concerning issue. If you are depressed, it’s important to seek help from a psychiatric professional. You may receive a prescription for antidepressants. The medication chosen will depend on your symptoms, whether you are on any other medication, and whether you have pre-existing conditions. Although antidepressants aren’t always the right treatment, your provider can help you monitor potential side effects and gauge whether the medication is effective.

Seeking treatment for your mental and physical health is an important part of lowering your fatigue levels. You can improve both by making improvements to your lifestyle, too. Adopting a diet that’s rich in nutrients and low in processed foods has been shown to reduce the inflammation that’s associated with depression. It will also likely improve your energy levels and physical health. 

Make Time for Self-Care Activities

Taking care of your physical and mental health is important, but it’s also the bare minimum. In order to effectively combat fatigue, you should truly invest in yourself — and this means creating a self-care regimen. It’s important to find a balance between parenting and self-care, though. Overindulging in self-care can leave your family feeling neglected.

One of the best forms of self-care is pursuing a personal goal. If you’ve always dreamed of going back to school, for example, there are options you can explore. Say you’re interested in learning skills to open your own business. There are various business degrees available through online universities that can help you achieve these goals. What’s more, with multiple start times and the ability to learn from home on your own schedule, you won’t have to worry about making time to attend a traditional in-person class.

Don’t Succumb to Burnout from Parenting

There are so many responsibilities to juggle when you’re a parent to a child with special needs. If you’re dealing with depression, though, it’s imperative not to ignore the problem. Similarly, if you have dreams of going back to school, you shouldn’t put them on the back burner. Ignoring your own needs will only worsen parental fatigue. Find a way to enjoy life and be the best parent you can be — that’s all you can do!

Bio: Emily Graham is the creator of Mighty Moms. She believes being a mom is one of the hardest jobs around and wanted to create a support system for moms from all walks of life. On her site, she offers a wide range of info tailored for busy moms — from how to reduce stress to creative ways to spend time together as a family.

YOU Can Make a Difference!

YOU Can Make a Difference!

North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center is so grateful to those who donate to our mission of bringing hope and healing to kids and families struggling with mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety and suicidal thinking. Without your generosity, we couldn’t provide these lifesaving services.

There are so many ways to give, in ways both large and small. Some of our donors choose to put us in their estate plans, like our dear friends highlighted on our Legacy Wall of Respect at our Roslyn Heights headquarters. Others have made substantial gifts to support our Douglas S. Feldman Suicide Prevention Project, and they are honored with beautiful brass name plaques on our Butterfly Wall.

Others contribute through a Qualified Charitable Distribution, also commonly known as an IRA Charitable Rollover gift.

Many of our supporters buy tickets and/or sponsorships to our special fundraisers held throughout the year, including our Spring Luncheon, which will be held on April 27th, our Jonathan Krevat Memorial Golf & Tennis Classic on June 5th and our spectacular Annual Gala on September 28th.

Financial support also comes to us in the form of corporate matching gifts and/or workplace giving opportunities.  Check to see if your company can match your gift.

In addition, monthly donations through our $10 on the 10th program, memorial gifts and gifts in honor of a loved one are always appreciated.

But financial contributions aren’t the only way to support our work. Options include joining one of our event committees, volunteering at our Children’s Center at Nassau County Family Court or connecting us with your company.

Whatever way you give back, please know that your generosity means the world to us – and to the children and families we are so privileged to serve.

We’re here for them because YOU are here for us. Thank you for your generosity!

If you wish to learn more about how to make a gift of any kind, please contact Lauren McGowan, Director of Development, at 516-626-1971, ext. 320 or email her at lmcgowan@northshorechildguidance.org

Post-Holiday Blues

Post-Holiday Blues

By Guest Blogger Aieshah Ashfer

As we all start to get used to the rhythm of the new year by embracing new beginnings, we may begin to feel as if we are in an unwanted emotional slump. Going back to work, school and the rigid routines we’ve formed for ourselves after a period of rest and relaxation isn’t easy. This is especially the case when bouncing back from the holiday season. The letdown we feel after the holidays can be described as the “post-holiday blues.”

What are post-holiday blues?

Post-holiday blues share many of the same characteristic symptoms of an anxiety or mood disorder: insomnia, low energy, irritability, difficulty concentrating and anxiousness. The abrupt withdrawal of stress hormones after a major event –  in this case, the holidays – can greatly impact our biological and psychological well-being. Even if your holidays weren’t as merry as they could have been, the brain heavily exaggerates the realities of day-to-day life, making the return to the mundane seem profoundly more anxiety-inducing and saddening than it actually is.

What causes post-holiday blues?

The exact cause of these feelings will vary from person to person, but often they are triggered by unrealistic expectations of what the holiday season should be like. Post-holiday blues are often the result of failing to put boundaries on demands and then feeling sad about the outcome.

How do I cope with post-holiday blues?

There are several ways to cope if you feel down after the holidays. One way to do this is through a small gratitude practice. List the things you are thankful for and make that a daily practice combined with meditation; that simple act can really reframe the way that you manage your day and manage some of these stressors. Exercise can also help you deal with feelings of sadness after the holidays. Physical activity reduces stress and stimulates the production of feel-good chemicals, also known as endorphins. So can volunteering and giving back to your local community. It can also help to seek out humor, such as watching funny movies or TV shows, because laughter releases endorphins. Finding a trusted person to talk to about your feelings, such as a friend or a therapist, is especially beneficial. It can be harder to manage sadness or guilt if you keep them bottled up, but talking through those feelings can help to validate them.

Dealing with post-holiday blues isn’t easy. It is normal to feel these emotions after a big anticipated event like the holidays, but knowing that there are numerous healthy ways to cope with this letdown makes it much easier to get through it.

Interview With a High School Social Worker

Interview With a High School Social Worker

By Guest Blogger Aieshah Ashfer

Aieshah: Can you tell me what you do daily as a High School Social Worker?

Mrs. Sheets: Every day is different. I typically have each period of the day scheduled by students who want to come in for a group session or an individual session. The framework that I use is dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and I also utilize the strengths perspective. I use DBT to help students understand and accept their difficult feelings, and learn skills to manage them. CBT is used to connect thoughts, behaviors, and emotions together. I use the strengths of each student and treat them with unconditional positive regard in our sessions. Overall, I try to destigmatize reaching out for help and I try to make the environment seem comfortable and warm for students to be able to reach out.

Aieshah: You are around students all the time. What are the main stressors in high school? Any specific ones this time of year?

Mrs. Sheets: At our school, I think there is a lot of pressure to be successful. That’s the number one stressor that I see here. I think students internalize that pressure and then what comes out is anxiety and depression, fear of failure, and perfectionism. At times I also see students neglecting their sleep, social relationships, and passions; these are all the things that make us human. I think sometimes we focus so much on being intelligent and successful, that we forget the other things that balance us out. I also feel students can’t talk to people in their lives for support and I think sometimes they feel what they’re going through is not valid. At this time of year, midterms seem to highlight students’ pressure on themselves and their need to succeed as well as the neglect of their health. These are the biggest stressors.

Aieshah: What are some ways to properly cope with the stress of finals and midterms?

Mrs. Sheets: When it comes to big tests like midterms, finals and even SATs, I feel that preparation is key. The best way to take these on is to make a schedule to study regularly weeks before. I see a lot of students at times will procrastinate and cram all their studying for the last day, and I think that builds even more pressure. Even studying for five minutes a day is better than not studying at all and cramming. Let yourself balance your activities so that you’re not sacrificing sleep and social interaction. Everything should be within balance, especially during these testing seasons. Since midterms also come after the holidays I think we’re left with a lot of mixed emotions; around the holidays can be one of the most depressing times of the year. Self-care is tuning into that and recognizing that this time of the year is stressful, and doing something that helps you; this can be listening to music or spending time talking to your friends. Have a little thing to look forward to each day, like meditating or exercise.

Aieshah: Is there a quick meditation technique you would recommend for stressed-out students?

Mrs. Sheets: I think you mentioning “quick” is very important. Students often say they can’t take the time out to meditate during the day. This is where our technology comes in and is so valuable to us. If you just go on YouTube to find a one-minute meditation tutorial, you’re able to take a short break and relax. I tell students who don’t want to compromise any time that they can meditate while they’re doing any task– for example, brushing their teeth. Put on a one-minute meditation video so you’re able to take a break. Even a small meditation break is an important one.

Aieshah: What are some resolutions students should keep to avoid academic stress and burnout for the new year?

Mrs. Sheets: I think a resolution students should set is to focus on progress, not perfection. This can be done through positive self-talk; it sounds unrealistic at times but can really bring us up from negative places. Even when it comes to homework, instead of saying “I have to do this,” start to say “I want to do this because I want to earn a positive grade.” Keeping a neutral mindset after setbacks as well can really help you in the future. But being able to talk to yourself positively is extremely important and will help you to more easily accomplish tasks. Positive self-talk and progress over perfection should be the things we bring into 2023.

Free Support Group for Grandparents of Autistic Kids

Free Support Group for Grandparents of Autistic Kids

When a child faces a mental health challenge, the entire family is impacted. But while people may sympathize with parents and siblings, they often forget that grandparents also struggle with feelings of sadness and helplessness.

That’s why North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center (the Guidance Center) runs a free support group just for grandparents whose grandchildren are on the autism spectrum: GASAK, for Grandparent Advocates Supporting Autistic Kids.

GASAK’s mission is to support, inform and advocate for grandparents with autistic grandchildren. At meetings held on the last Thursday of each month, GASAK participants network and share information on issues critical to families impacted by autism. New members are welcome to join at any time.

While the program isn’t new, it recently returned to in-person meetings at the Guidance Center’s Marks Family Right from the Start 0-3+ Center in Manhasset after being virtual since the start of the pandemic.

While there are many programs for parents of autistic children, few if any address the specific issues that come up for grandparents, said Dr. Sue Cohen, Director of Clinical Services at Right from the Start. “Sometimes the parents are overwhelmed dealing with their children’s needs,” she said. “At GASAK meetings, grandparents can share their own concerns with their peers.”

One GASAK member said, “A lot of times your friends can’t relate to what you’re going through, but when you walk into the GASAK group, you feel comfortable instantly. Nobody judges you.”

The program occasionally features guest speakers, including education lawyers, social workers, special education advocates and others. “When a grandparent leaves a meeting,” said Cohen, “they walk away with information that can make a huge difference in the lives of their children and grandchildren.”

But the camaraderie members experience is perhaps the most important benefit of the group. Case in point: one grandmother who has two autistic grandsons who were nonverbal until they were three years old. When one of them said “Mom” for the first time, the GASAK group celebrated her good news. “There is such compassion among members,” she said. “And by sharing our worries as well as our joyful moments, we give new members hope.”

In addition, the Guidance Center provides a variety of therapeutic services for children on the autism spectrum, as well as their parents and other family members. They also provide testing for preschool-age children to young adults.

To learn more about the GASAK group and all the Guidance Center’s services, contact Cohen at 516-484-3174 or email scohen@northshorechildguidance.org.

About Us:

As the preeminent not-for-profit children’s mental health agency on Long Island, North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center is dedicated to restoring and strengthening the emotional well-being of children (from birth – age 24) and their families. Our highly trained staff of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, vocational rehabilitation counselors and other mental health professionals lead the way in diagnosis, treatment, prevention, training, parent education, research and advocacy. The Guidance Center helps children and families address issues such as depression and anxiety; developmental delays; bullying; teen pregnancy; sexual abuse; teen drug and alcohol abuse; and family crises stemming from illness, death, trauma and divorce. For nearly 70 years, the Guidance Center has been a place of hope and healing, providing innovative and compassionate treatment to all who enter our doors, regardless of their ability to pay. For more information about the Guidance Center, visit www.northshorechildguidance.org or call (516) 626-1971.

8 New Year’s Resolutions for Parents

8 New Year’s Resolutions for Parents

By Kathy Rivera

This column appeared in January 11, 2023 issue of Anton Media newspapers

All of us have experienced unprecedented challenges in the last three years, resulting in heightened levels of anxiety and stress. So much is out of our control, and that can feel overwhelming. But there are steps you can take to safeguard your wellbeing and that of your family.

As you welcome in 2023, take the opportunity to put into place some of these eight resolutions to start the New Year off right.

  1. Tune in and turn off: Sure, your kids need to be told to put the phones away at the dinner table and when they’re doing homework. But they’re not the only ones who overuse the tech gadgets. When you are with your kids, be fully present. The years really do fly by.
  1. Be a role model: Believe it or not, your children and teens look to you as their example of how to act in the world. For your sake and theirs, eat healthfully and exercise, spend more time outdoors, and be sure to…
  1. Put self-care in your list of priorities: As parents, we sometimes think our job is to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of our children. But if you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll have nothing left to give them. Take the time to engage in activities that make you feel happy, confident and healthy.
  1. Don’t compare yourself to other parents or your kids to other kids: Facebook and other social media platforms make it look like every parent has the perfect child—the honor student, star athlete, community volunteer, etc. But these are just self-selected pieces of information and don’t paint a true picture. Every parent faces challenges, and no one is perfect.
  1. Don’t take the bait: Kids push our buttons, there’s no doubt about it. But when you respond to your tot’s tantrum with a tantrum of your own, it doesn’t help the situation and only creates more chaos. When they are acting up, take a deep breath and remember that the goal is to respond thoughtfully, not react impulsively. One way to hone this skill is to…
  1. Practice meditation. Numerous studies show that even a few minutes a day of meditation will help reduce your stress. Not sure how? Google “how to meditate” and you’ll find lots of helpful tips and videos. You can also google “meditation on Long Island” to find a group. And invite your kids to try it out, too! Let them know supercool celebrities and athletes like Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, Lizzo, Derek Jeter and LeBron James are big meditators.
  1. Listen closely and talk less: When our children come to us with problems, it’s our natural inclination to try to fix things for them. But the reality is, often what they need is just to be heard. Make a promise to yourself that you will listen to your kids and not jump in right away to solve the problem. To open the lines of communication, simply ask, How are you feeling?
  1. Pay attention and give praise: The way you communicate with your child not only teaches them how to communicate with others, it shapes their emotional development and how they build relationships later in life. Giving your child positive attention for good behavior can boost their self-esteem, improve your relationship and help your child understand the behaviors you like and want to see more often.

Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year!


Bio: Kathy Rivera, LCSW, the Executive Director/CEO of North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, Long Island’s leading non-profit children’s mental health organization. To get help for your child or to support the Guidance Center’s lifesaving work, call (516) 626-1971 or visit www.northshorechildguidance.org.

Staff’s Wishes for the New Year

Staff’s Wishes for the New Year

As we welcome 2023, we are grateful for the dedicated employees who make North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center such a valuable resource to our community. We are also thankful for all of you who support our work!
Each year, we ask our staff members what their hopes and dreams are for the year to come. Here are some of their responses.

“The New Year brings in new opportunities and new adventures. Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and prosperous new year. May the tears you cried in 2022 water the seeds you’re planting in 2023.” – Kathy Rivera, LCSW, Executive Director/CEO

Photo: Kathy (left) with colleagues Joan and Nicole at our holiday party

“My hope for the New Year is for more kindness shared around the world. My wish for the New Year is for health and happiness for my family, my friends and my wonderful colleagues. My dream for the New Year is to help people in need of support/ guidance.” – Francesca Carbone, LMSW

Photo: Francesca

“I will be spending New Year’s Eve en route to Antarctica and my hope is for a safe crossing over the Drake passage!  I feel grateful for the opportunity to experience my 7th continent and am looking forward to more great travel adventures with my family in the future.” – Lauren McGowan, Director of Development

Photo: Dash McGowan

“My hope for the New Year is to continue to grow and learn.” – Diana Kutulos, LMSW

Photo: Buzz Kutulos

“My hope for the New Year is that everyone is healthy and cherishes time with their friends and families. To wake up each day and try to find peace within themselves and to spread that to those they encounter. I hope people find new friends, new hobbies, new passions that add joy into their lives. Happy New Year!” – Kate Braumuller, Research Coordinator

Photo: Kate and her grandmother celebrating the holidays

“My wish is for more happiness and peace in 2023.” – Nicole Oberheim, Development Manager

Photo: Andreas, Markus and Kiersten Oberheim

“Embracing the ‘gratitude train’ is something I want to work more on in the New Year.”

– Diane Stranieri, MS, RN

“My wishes for 2023 are good health, happiness and for the world to be a better place for EVERYONE! “ – Pascale Nerestant, Westbury Outreach Worker

Photo: Pascale

“My hopes/wishes/dreams for the new year are for myself and my family to remain healthy and to be at peace. I strive to continue being my best self.” – Dollicia M. Torres, Front Desk Coordinator

Photo: Dollicia

“My wish for the coming year is that all of the people that I care about, friends and family, find their peace, have things that bring them joy, and heal.  I hope that I can create a space for that to take place, a soft place to land when in stormy seas.  I want the best for everyone.  May we all always have a light in the dark.” – Marisa Padgett, LCSW

Photo: Rocket Padgett

“One of my hopes is that all shelter animals find loving homes. Rescue pets are the best!” – Jenna Kern-Rugile, Director of Communications

Photo: Jenna and Lucy

“My hopes for the New Year are for us all to have as much peace as possible!

– Gillian Uhl, LMSW

“May 2023 be filled with happiness and peace for all. Happy New Year!”  – Julia Bassin, LCSW

Photo caption: Piper and Lorelai Bassin

“My dream for the New Year is to start a podcast based around mental health. I want to spread awareness and be a voice for people who might not have the courage to do so. I want people to know how serious it is and how it could affect people and their families. My hope for the New Year is ending gun violence; a close family friend of mine lost a significant other due to gun violence and it’s just unacceptable. – Laisha Rivera, Support staff/front desk

Caption: Laisha

“May the New Year enhance appreciation for one’s blessings, incite deeper reflections, and pique one’s willingness to navigate intrepidly in opposition of life’s uncertainties”. -Lydiane Interdonato, MS, Community and Home-Based Services/Case Manager

Photo: Lydiane

“To lose enough weight so that ALL my clothes fit with enough room to breathe. To get closer to my higher power. Peace on Earth. Improve environmental woes all over the world. Guidance Center patients find hope and peace. Continue to build strength in the team meeting system.” – Ruthellen Trimmer, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Specialist

Photo: Ruthellen

Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor

Newsday, January 4, 2023

Thank you for highlighting the crisis in access to mental health services among our youth as rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal thinking are at all-time highs in your cover story of December 27, 2022.

While the pandemic has exacerbated the struggles of children and teens, the difficulty in finding timely and affordable quality mental health care isn’t new. In 2017, North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center conducted extensive research, spotlighted in our Project Access report, shining a light on the longstanding problem and advocating for strategies to effect change.

Throughout our 70-year history, we have been providing mental health services to the children and families of Nassau County within just days of receiving their call, and no one is ever turned away for inability to pay. Kids in crisis can’t wait weeks or months for help.

Kathy Rivera
Executive Director/CEO
North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center
Roslyn Heights, NY

How to Keep Your Teen Safe on New Year’s Eve

How to Keep Your Teen Safe on New Year’s Eve

By Dr. Nellie-Taylor Walthrust, this story was published in Anton Media.

Many parents worry throughout the year about their teens’ exposure to alcohol and drugs, but the concern is magnified when talk of New Year’s Eve parties enters the conversation.

While you don’t want to spoil their opportunity to ring in the New Year with their friends, especially after nearly three years of pandemic disruption, the thought of them being at parties where alcohol and possibly drugs are being used is justifiably concerning.

The biggest risk that kids face on New Year’s Eve – or any day of the year, for that matter – is being involved in a car accident. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, with eight teens ages 13 to 19 dying every day from motor vehicle crash injuries.

Additional statistics point out the risks:

  • 23% of teens admit they have driven under the influence of alcohol, prescription drugs or marijuana.
  • Teen drivers 16-19 have a fatal crash rate almost three times as high as drivers ages 20 and older.
  • 60% of all teen deaths from car accidents involve alcohol.
  • 24% of teens reported that within the previous month, they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol or using drugs.

As a parent, what can you do to minimize the risks?

If your teens plan to go to a party, make sure you talk to the parents where the festivities are being held. Your teen might be horrified at this prospect, but you have every right to discuss your expectations with the hosts. Ask if alcohol is being served (and if your teens are under 21, the answer should be a resounding no). Ask if the parents will be home at all times during the party. If they won’t, don’t be afraid to tell your teens they aren’t allowed to go.

Once you are assured that parents will be there to supervise and the party is alcohol-free, nail down the details. That means finding out who is driving them and taking them home (the safest choice is for you to take on that role). Set a reasonable curfew based on their age. Young teens don’t need to be out past midnight, and even older kids can call it quits shortly after the clock strikes 12.

Establish a plan to check in several times during the night. Make it clear ahead of time that if you call or text and get no answer, you will be heading over to get them.

Not comfortable with the level of supervision at the party? Help your teens create alternative plans. The best way to know your kids are safe and in a supervised environment is to host the gathering at your home. Give them free reign in choosing decorations, food, music and other entertainment ideas, but make it clear that alcohol and drugs are forbidden.

Despite taking all precautions, the reality is that your teens may find themselves in a situation where they are being pressured to drink or use drugs. Tell them that you will be willing and able to get them at any time during the night—and that if they or their friends have been drinking, the most important thing is for them to contact you for a ride.

As parents, we must do all we can to educate our kids about the dangers of underage drinking, but we also need to face the reality that even “good” kids can start heading down a dangerous path. Keep the lines of communication open, and if you suspect there may be a problem, consider contacting a professional who is trained in alcohol and substance use.

Dr. Nellie Taylor-Walthrust is the Director of at North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center’s Leeds Place, which operates an Adolescent Outpatient Chemical Dependency Treatment Program. Substance use services include counseling youths who are alcohol and drug abusers, children who live in families with a parent who is suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction and youths who have co-occurring chemical dependency and mental health problems. Prevention services are offered to local school districts. Call (516) 626-1971 to find out more.

Talking About Weight with Your Kids

Talking About Weight with Your Kids


By Dr. Sue Cohen, November 23, 2022

The holidays are here, and it’s not uncommon for people of all ages, including children, to pack on extra pounds. The sugary treats and heavy meals are abundant, and many kids tend to be less active during the colder weather.

But regardless of the season, it’s always a good time to talk to your kids about healthy eating—especially with many adults and children alike having put on weight from stress eating and inactivity due to the pandemic.

Sadly, being significantly overweight is common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s. Today, nearly 1 in 5 school age U.S. children and young people (6 to 19 years) is considered obese. When you factor in those who are considered overweight but not yet obese, the figure rises to 31%.

Why the dramatic increase? Behavior and habits are the most likely factors, with technology playing a big role. Many families have become sedentary, with TV, computers and videogames as the culprits. And it’s not just the kids; parents, too, are often modeling these behaviors.

Of course, shaming a child for being overweight is never appropriate. From a very early age, parents should nurture a positive body image with their kids, focusing on their bodies as the miracles they are!  But if your child’s or teen’s weight has become a health concern, you can address it in a loving, non-critical way.

Approach the issue as a family topic rather than focusing on an individual child. The message should be that we all need to eat more healthy foods like fruit, vegetables and lean proteins and less fatty, fried or sugary foods so we feel better and have more energy. You don’t want to make your child feel badly about themselves, so focusing on healthy eating and activity rather than appearance is extremely important.

Here are some guidelines when broaching the subject of weight with your children, as per recommendations from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Foster open dialogue. Encourage your kids to share their thoughts and feelings about body image. When children discuss feelings about weight, be sure to listen and acknowledge that the feelings are real. Explain that people come in all different shapes and sizes, and you love your child no matter what.

Don’t make negative comments. Judging your own body or your child’s can result in lasting detrimental effects to your child’s body image and relationship with food. Set a good example for children in the way you talk about your own body as well as others.

Take action. Children learn fast, and they learn best by example. Teach children habits that will help keep them healthy for life. Make it easy for kids to eat smart and move often. Look for ways to spend fun, active time together.

Avoid the blame game. Never yell, scream, bribe, threaten or punish children about weight, food or physical activity. If you turn these issues into parent-child battlegrounds, the results can be harmful. Shame, blame and anger are setups for failure.

Talk with your healthcare provider. If a health professional mentions a concern about your child’s weight, speak with the professional privately. Discuss specific concerns and ask for suggestions on making positive changes in your family’s eating habits and activity levels.

Seek advice. Look for a registered dietitian with a specialty in pediatric weight management. Many hospitals and clinics have comprehensive programs with education and activities for both kids and adult family members. Some of these options may be covered by your health insurance plan.

An important final note: If you are among the Long Islanders whose financial issues make it difficult to access healthy, fresh foods, don’t despair. Community Solidarity shares nutritious food to those in need, with 50% of that being fresh produce. To find out more, visit communitysolidarity.org.

Dr. Sue Cohen is the Director of Director of Clinical Services at Right from the Start at North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, the leading children’s mental health agency on Long Island. Learn more at www.northshorechildguidance.org.

Is a Pet Good for my Child’s Mental Health

Is a Pet Good for my Child’s Mental Health


Ask the Guidance Center Experts, December 6, 2022

In this monthly column, therapists from North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center answer your questions on issues related to parenting, mental health and children’s well-being. To submit a question, email communications@northshorechildguidance.org.

Question: My son is begging my wife and me to get him a dog for the holidays. We both grew up having dogs in our homes and found it to be very rewarding. But we also know that it’s a lot of work and takes a big commitment to care for a pet – especially a dog! We are inclined to say yes, especially since the pandemic left him feeling pretty low, and we hope this will lift his spirits. Plus, he promises he’ll take on the bulk of the responsibility. What do you think we should do?
— Pet Parenting Puzzle

Dear Anxious Parents: You are wise to take this decision very seriously. Dogs, as well as other pets, do require a lot of care, and if you are lucky, they will be part of your family for many years to come.

You’re also right in realizing that pets can offer many mental health benefits for kids. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, developing loving feelings about pets can contribute to a child’s self-confidence. Positive relationships with pets can aid in the development of trusting relationships with others. And a good relationship with a pet can help in developing non-verbal communication, compassion and empathy.

Some other benefits: Having pets leads to an increase in physical activity; reduces stress; provides companionship and social support; and fosters a connection with the natural world.

Pets provide unconditional love, which is important for every child, but especially helpful for kids who are having difficulties with depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. In fact, research indicates that children with pets tend to have higher levels of self-worth compared to those who don’t have animals. They can also help children with issues such as shyness and autism with their social skills.

All kids, whether or not they have mental health challenges, benefit from their relationships with animals, but if you are considering bringing a pet into your family, here are some factors to consider:

  1. Kids will promise the moon and stars to get a pet, but as the adult, you are likely to be the one who does most of the caretaking, so make sure you are ready for the responsibility.
  2. Take finances into consideration. Caring for pets can be an expensive proposition, with estimates running from $500 to well over $1,000 each year.
  3. Do you have little ones in the house? Children under three or four need to be supervised with pets at all times, since they may be impulsive and risk harming the pet or themselves.
  4. When choosing a pet, do your research. The pet should be a good match for your lifestyle. For example, if you live in an apartment, you might want to avoid getting a highly active dog. But if you have a fenced-in yard and enjoy tossing the ball around, an energetic pup may be the right fit.
  5. Are you out of the house for a large part of the day? Pets require care and love, so if you and your family aren’t home most of the time, a dog or even a cat might not be the right pet for you.
  6. Do your kids have asthma or other allergies? Despite the hype, there really are no allergy-free cats or dogs—but there are some breeds that are less allergenic than others. Ask your vet for suggestions.

Adopting from a shelter is a great way to save the life of an animal.  If you decide that you want a specific breed or your heart is set on the type of dog you had as a kid, consider a rescue or shelter pet. Either way, always make sure you speak with the shelter or breeder about the individual history and personality of your prospective pet. Everything is not always apparent when a fury creature is first introduced at a visit.

Whatever you decide, we wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday!

North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, Long Island’s leading children’s mental health organization, is seeing clients both remotely via telehealth platforms and in person, depending on the clients’ needs. No one is ever turned away for inability to pay. To make an appointment, call 516-626-1971 or email intake@northshorechildguidance.org.

Kids Like Elaina Thank You for Your Generosity!

Kids Like Elaina Thank You for Your Generosity!

At North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, our promise is to see children from birth through age 24. In the last year, we have served an increasing number of young children who have experienced enormous trauma due to the pandemic.

Thankfully, we have a dedicated team of therapists who are specially trained to work with our youngest clients, employing creative approaches that help little ones move from hurting to healing.

We wanted to share with you a beautiful letter and drawing we received from one of those youngsters, a girl named Elaina.

We’ll let her words and images tell the story.


All of us at the Guidance Center are so grateful to all of you who support our work. Because we never turn anyone away for inability to pay, we count on your generosity to help us give children like Elaina the help they need to bring joy back into their young lives.

Thank you for caring for kids!

A Day (and Season) of Giving!

A Day (and Season) of Giving!

Congratulations! You’ve survived the whirlwind of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Phew! First, take some time to enjoy the outdoors with your family, maybe jumping in some piles of leaves with your little one!

But after that, remember that today is the day to do something to make you feel good while doing good for others!

Today is Giving Tuesday, when people across the globe join together to make the world a better place.

On this special day, please support the mental health of the children and families in your community by donating as generously as possible to North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center.

But don’t stop there!

From Thursday Dec. 1 through Saturday Dec. 3, shop at Americana Manhasset’s Champions for Charity® and designate North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center as your charity of choice! 25% of your designated full-price, pre-tax purchases will be donated back to us! Select stores at Wheatley Plaza also take part. Simply register for your Champion Number (It’s free) at championsforcharity.org and present it at the time of each purchase.

Finally, don’t forget to shop year-round through AmazonSmile at no extra cost to you. Just click on North Shore Child & Family Guidance Association here to register us as your charity of choice.

Thank you!


Why Support the Guidance Center?

Below are some comments from some of our most dedicated donors about why they spend their philanthropic dollars to support the Guidance Center’s mission.

Rosemarie and Mitchell Klipper

Rosemarie and Mitchell Klipper

The connection between Board Member Rosemarie Klipper and the Guidance Center has been a strong one for many years, as she and her husband Mitchell are always giving of their time, financial resources and creative ideas. “As you give to others, you’re helping yourself as well,” says Rosemarie. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to make a difference in peoples’ lives. I encourage everyone to get involved by giving to such a wonderful organization as the Guidance Center.”


Andrea and Michael Leeds

Andrea and Michael Leeds

Board Member Andrea Leeds and her husband Michael are longtime devoted supporters who continually amaze us with their dedication to our work. “The Guidance Center’s programs continue to grow to meet the needs of children dealing with difficult personal issues like depression, anxiety, bullying and so many others,” says Andrea. “The mission is more important now than ever during the COVID crisis, with illness, death and trauma having a devastating impact on the children and families in our community.”

National Grid volunteers work on our Nature Nurser

National Grid

“We know mental health is so important to all in our community, and it’s key to have places like the Guidance Center to help families and children on Long Island,” says National Grid’s Kathy Wisnewski. “National Grid is dedicated to investing in our youth, and we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to support the mental health of the next generation of leaders.”

Daniel Donnelly

Dan Donnelly

Dan Donnelly says that the work the Guidance Center does for children on Long Island is what motivates him to be such a dedicated supporter.  But he also credits his admiration for the staff. “The people you have working here are such caring souls,” he says. “Life is about people and connecting. The relationships that I have with the Guidance Center staff and support team are one of the reasons why I stay involved.”

Jane and Marty Schwartz

Jane Schwartz

Our former Board President Jane Schwartz has been a dedicated friend and supporter of the Guidance Center for more than five decades. “The Guidance Center “provides a wonderful service to the Long Island community, with caring, dedicated staff members and a Board of Directors that are so devoted to helping all children and families, including those who cannot afford to pay for services.”

Some Thoughts on Gratitude

Some Thoughts on Gratitude

November is National Gratitude Month, and we asked our staff members to tell us what they are grateful for.

North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center is grateful for all of you who support our work during this holiday season and throughout the year. Your generosity is the reason we have been able to bring hope and healing to the children and families of Long Island for nearly 70 years.

Thank you, and have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m grateful for being able to partake in my passion of traveling to different countries again and embracing their beauty. – Kathy Rivera, Executive Director/CEO

I am grateful for many things, one being my family. When I was younger, I was diagnosed with HPV and was told I might never be able to have kids. Today I am happily married and a mother of three beautiful children. I am forever grateful to God for giving the beautiful gift of being a mother; they are my strength and fill my life with so much joy every day. I am also grateful for my husband who is an extraordinary partner and amazing father to our children. And last but not least, I am grateful for both my mother and mother-in-law who are still with us and get to see their grandkids grow.  – Joselyn Alberto, Assistant to the Director of Outpatient Operations, Regulatory Compliance & Quality Assurance Officer

I am grateful for nature and overall, the fall season. November is actually my favorite month for many reasons. Some of them being trees (I take many, many pictures of them), spending time with family on thanksgiving, and it’s also my birthday month! – Evelyn Turcios, Bilingual Social Worker

I’m grateful for my family! – Holly Abro, Therapist

I’m grateful for my loving husband who is supportive, helpful, and loves me for who I am. I’m also grateful for my fur baby, Spike. Spike suffered through a severe case of Pancreatitis several months ago and we didn’t know if he was going to survive. I am so grateful for God giving me more time with my fur baby Spike. I am more appreciative of Spike than ever before after almost losing him. Spike is emotionally supportive for me and loves me more than he loves himself! He’s my best friend –  he’s family! – Lucille Buscemi, Peer Recovery Specialist 

I am grateful for my family, friends and supportive work colleagues. – Dr. Sue Cohen, Director of Early Childhood & Psychological Services

I am grateful for all the wonderful and talented people who make working here at the Guidance Center such a privilege! – Lauren McGowan, Director of Development

I am grateful to be a daughter/caregiver to this lovely lady who is 84 years old and blind. Doesn’t she look lovely? -Dr. Nellie Taylor-Walthrust, Director of the Leeds Place

My 10-year-old puppy, Lucy, who greets me with such joy each day, gives me reason to be grateful every day of the year. – Jenna Kern-Rugile, Director of Development

I am grateful for my relationship with God, my boys, home, job, dancing hobby and health! – Monica Doyley, Head Teacher, Children’s Center at Nassau County Family Court

I’m grateful for my siblings. – Stacy Brief, Therapist
Donor Profile: National Grid

Donor Profile: National Grid

While financial donations are crucial to making our work at the Guidance Center possible, there are several other ways to contribute to our lifesaving mission.

Case in point: our wonderful community partners at National Grid, an electricity, natural gas and clean energy delivery company serving more than 20 million people across New York and Massachusetts.

Kathy Wisnewski

Kathy Wisnewski, Long Island Regional Director, Community Customer Management, says that National Grid has a long and proud history of volunteerism. “We’ve always been dedicated to having an impact on the communities where we live and work,” she says.

Project C

Though National Grid’s volunteer efforts at nonprofits, parks, businesses and other locations have been going on for many years, the utility officially launched what it calls “Project C” in 2021.

According to Wisnewski, Project C is designed to go beyond the utility’s work in the energy sector and to inspire positive change, create positive impact in our neighborhoods and strengthen communities for years to come.

In addition to volunteerism, Project C focuses on four key priorities: clean energy and sustainability; workforce development; neighborhood investment and community engagement; and environmental justice and social equity.

A dedicated group of National Grid employees (pictured here with Guidance Center staff) did an amazing job sprucing up our Nature Nursery.

Inspiring Future Leaders

The Guidance Center’s partnership with National Grid began in February 2019, when we hosted a Career Day at Nassau B.O.C.E.S. High School in Wantagh.

Juan Santiago, National Grid Customer and Community Manager, won over the students, sharing that he wasn’t that interested in academics as a youth but found his way with a little faith and hard work. “Just because someone doesn’t take a traditional route doesn’t mean they are any less motivated,” he told the audience. “There are many paths to success, and if you put your hearts and minds into it, you can do anything!”

Our next collaboration took place that March, when National Grid employees Sarah Kahrs and Paula Gendreau generously donated their time and expertise to coach students in a Mock Interview Day at Nassau B.O.C.E.S.

“This event was an incredible experience,” says Kahrs. “It was so exciting to be able to take an active role in helping these young adults prepare for their future.”

Gendreau adds, “I was impressed by all the positive energy! I was fortunate to meet some great candidates, and it was my pleasure to be part of a wonderful day.”

As spring 2019 arrived, we welcomed seven National Grid employees to our Leeds Place in Westbury, where they spent the day planting and painting our signpost, giving the building a fresh, friendly look.

Fran DiLeonardo, Director, IT Customer Service Management at National Grid, enthusiastically put his all into the project. “It was another great day making a difference in the community that we live and work in,” says DiLeonardo. “It’s always rewarding to put the time aside and make it happen; that’s why we keep coming back!”

Volunteers Bring the Energy

The Guidance Center was chosen for Project C this year by National Grid’s Alexandra Paoli, who was the onsite leader for the Day of Service at our Nature Nursery at the Marks Family Right from the Start 0-3+ Center (see cover story). She had learned of our mission through her mother, Michele Paoli, who has been with the utility for 25 years. The mother-daughter team, along with nine other National Grid volunteers, worked cheerfully and with gusto during the day-long beautification project.

“My mother knew about the great work of the Guidance Center,” says Alexandra. “When she suggested it be one of the sites of our statewide volunteer initiative, it was a natural choice.”

Making a Difference

Wisnewski credits National Grid’s staff for their devotion to the neighborhoods in which they live, work and raise their families. “Many of our employees have their own relationships with organizations in the community. Year-round, they do such remarkable things and make a real difference.”

National Grid plans to be back at the Guidance Center in 2023 for the next Project C Day of Service. “We know mental health is so important to all in our community, and it’s key to have places like the Guidance Center to help families and children on Long Island,” says Wisnewski. “National Grid is dedicated to investing in our youth, and we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to support the mental health of the next generation of leaders.”

We are so grateful to our friends at National Grid, and we’d love to partner with your company! Contact Lauren McGowan at 516-626-1971, ext. 320, to discover ways to help.

Main Photo: Our Leeds Place benefited from the wonderful volunteer efforts from National Grid.

Stress-Busting Tips for the Holidays

Stress-Busting Tips for the Holidays

By Guest Blogger Colleen Stewart

There are pros and cons to the holiday season. It can provide a great opportunity to strengthen family bonds, reconnect with old friends, create new memories and enjoy delicious foods that only come around once a year. However, it can also be a source of intense emotional and financial stress.

Whatever experience you attach to the holiday season, there are ways to keep yourself calm and collected during the busyness of it all so that you can make the most of your time with loved ones. Here are some tips for de-stressing during the holiday season that will help keep you and your family happy and healthy.

Change your scenery

One great way to manage your stress during the holidays is to plan a getaway. U.S. News notes that a simple weekend excursion can bring big mental benefits, like reduced anxiety and stress. You don’t have to leave the city or state to have a rejuvenating vacation, either; it can be a simple trip across town. The important thing is that you give yourself a change of scenery, even if it’s just for a couple of days.

No matter where you live, you can find the perfect spot for a getaway. There are ample attractions and places to stay — even if you have to drive or fly. While a Disney trip may not seem like the most stress-free and budget-friendly way to remain calm, sites like Mouse Life Today can make putting together this sort of trip a lot easier and more affordable.

Take a breather

Another thing that can help with your stress levels is to take moments throughout each day to breathe and meditate. There are several breathing exercises that are simple and quick, and they can make a big difference in helping you stay relaxed. Also, practicing mindful meditation for a few minutes here and there can go a long way in helping you cope with stressful situations. If you struggle with making it a priority, Develop Good Habits suggests adding an app to your phone that will guide you through it and set reminders so you don’t forget.

Power up with a power nap

Long naps during the day can mess up your sleep habits. But short naps won’t do that—and they’re awesome! Taking a nap for 15 to 20 minutes in the middle of your day can make you more alert and improve your cognitive function and memory. In addition, it can also boost your mood and help you be more productive. For children, naps are a key to wellness. Check out this article for a guide to how much time is recommended,

Improve your bedtime routine

Speaking of sleep, you need plenty of it at night—seven to nine hours for adults, and more for kids, depending on their age. Otherwise, your mind and body won’t be prepared to function at full capacity each day, and you’ll be more prone to stress and anxiety.

If you find it difficult to get the sleep you need, change things up. Come up with a solid bedtime routine that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep, whether it’s taking a warm bath, listening to classical music, reading a paperback and/or doing relaxing yoga poses.

Add me-time to your morning

Along with taking a short daytime naps and getting a good night’s rest, consider waking up a little earlier than normal through the holiday season. It doesn’t have to be drastic; 30 minutes may be all you need to set positive intentions for the day. You could relax with a cup of coffee, write in a journal, read inspirational literature and/or anything else that helps you to collect your thoughts and get the day started off right.

Don’t try to do it all alone

The holidays are a busy time for most people, and sometimes there’s more stress than joy involved, particularly for those who don’t delegate well. It’s imperative that you do not take on every single holiday-related task on your own. Recruit your kids to help you with tasks you can offload, like helping to clean the house, walking the dog, etc. If you don’t already have one, now is a good time to implement an allowance system for your kids. You will feel better by having some help with holiday tasks, and your children will benefit from learning responsibility and the sense of satisfaction that comes from working to fulfill goals.

Make this holiday season the least stressful one yet. Go on a weekend getaway, practice breathing exercises and mindful meditation and take short daytime naps. Also, adopt a bedtime routine that helps you get the sleep you need, and allow yourself time to start off strong each morning. You may find that these simple tips have a profound effect on the well-being of you and your family amid the holiday bustle!

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.

Help Your Child Deal with Rejection

Help Your Child Deal with Rejection

By Guest Blogger Andrea Gibbs

No one gets through life without experiencing one of the most difficult emotions to handle: rejection. It’s difficult watching our kids go through hard times and feeling like there’s little we can do to help them. But when it comes to rejection, it’s crucial that parents step in.

To be rejected by someone is one of the most uncomfortable feelings on earth.

Rejection can have long-lasting effects on young, developing minds. It can strongly affect a child’s self-esteem and can be linked to serious mental health issues.

Being rejected by a parent is especially difficult for a child. Parental rejection can happen in a variety of ways. Some parents simply don’t have time for their children; some are physically absent; some are distracted; and in the worst case, some are abusive.

Kids, as we all know, can be cruel, and when a child is excluded from a group of peers, it is very painful. This can be particularly difficult for children who are already experiencing mental health issues. Peer rejection can also cause stress and anxiety in children, leading to more serious problems as they age.

Children who experience peer rejection may have difficulty forming relationships with others later in life. These children tend to continue to feel rejected into adulthood.

Life event rejection occurs when a child experiences a major life-changing event, such as losing a loved one or a home. For example, if a child loses their pet, must move to another state or loses a grandparent or parent, they are likely to experience depression and anxiety.

They may also become more introverted and avoidant because they are afraid to get close to others to prevent another loss.

How Rejection Manifests

You may notice some of the following behaviors in your child when they experience rejection:

  • Shame and guilt

They may feel shame and be unable to admit their mistakes because they are afraid of being rejected or rejected by others. They may even feel guilty for all the negative things that have happened to them, which can lead to suicidal thoughts.

  • Somatic complaints

Children with low self-esteem may complain about stomachaches, headaches or other physical symptoms. They may think they are getting sick – or actually become ill – when they feel nervous or stressed.

  • Lack of confidence

Children who lack confidence struggle to believe in themselves and their ability to succeed. They tend to fear failure, so they give up on things before they even try, which leads them to fail in the end anyway. They are unsure of what they can do and may feel it’s not worth the effort.

A child who experiences rejection often focuses more on what others think of them than their own needs and wants. This can lead to self-harm, drug addiction, eating disorders and other dangerous behaviors.

Reduced self-care can also lead to high levels of anxiety. A child may feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of taking care of themselves, which leads to feeling too stressed to think rationally.

They may feel they are not worthy of having friends or being around other children. They may even begin to feel angry and upset because they do not have enough people who accept them as they are. This causes anger issues such as temper outbursts or aggression at others and toward themselves.

How to Help a Child Cope with Rejection

If your child is experiencing rejection, you can help them cope in the following ways:

  1. Encourage your child to be their authentic self

It is essential to encourage your child to be their own person. This will help them feel more confident in who they are, which will help them avoid feeling bad when they face negativity and criticism from others.

  1. Expectations

Make sure your child knows what you want from them and their role in your relationship. Give them responsibilities and tasks to complete that involve others in their life, such as attending a family function or volunteering at holiday time. This well also help build their self-esteem.

  1. Model Behavior

Your child will model their behavior after yours. If you are being kind and compassionate toward others, then they will learn to treat others the same way. If you are inconsiderate and rude to others, they will be selfish and disrespectful to others.

  1. Set Limits

Children need boundaries. Set limits on how they spend their time (especially when it comes to technology usage) and who they spend it with. This will help them follow your rules, as well as respect your opinions and wishes.

  1. Consider getting professional help

If your child is struggling with rejection, or you are having trouble helping them accept themselves, it may be time to seek out professional services from a therapist. Reach out to North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center at 516-626-1971.


Andrea Gibbs is the head of content management at SpringHive Web Design Company. This digital agency provides creative web design, social media marketing, email marketing and search engine optimization services to small businesses and entrepreneurs. She is also a blog contributor at Baby Steps Preschool, writing story time themes, parenting tips and seasonal activities to entertain children.


Ask the Guidance Center Experts: Taking the Scare out of Halloween, September 28, 2022

Ask the Guidance Center Experts: Taking the Scare out of Halloween, September 28, 2022


In this monthly column, therapists from North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center answer your questions on issues related to parenting, mental health and children’s well-being. To submit a question, email communications@northshorechildguidance.org.

Question: Now that life has gotten back to some semblance of normal, my kids (ages 4, 9 and 11) are eager to go trick-or-treating this year. I’m thrilled for them, but the problem is that my little one is absolutely terrified of scary costumes.

As much as he wants to enjoy Halloween activities like his big brother and sister, he’s so frightened that I’m not sure we can take him out. He’s even said he doesn’t want to go to school that day. Any suggestions?
–Costume Conundrum

Dear Costume Conundrum: Halloween is one of the most exciting holidays of the year for youngsters. Candy, dressing up, parties at school—what’s not to love?
But your little one isn’t alone in his fear. For children around three to five years of age, and sometimes even older, the ghoulish costumes and yard displays can be overwhelming and very scary. But be assured, that’s a natural part of their development.

Luckily, most preschools and even elementary schools advise parents to avoid the scary kinds of costumes, so the schools themselves are typically safe zones. But once your son heads out to trick-or-treat, he’s likely to confront some frightening sights.
Of course, you know your son, so you’re the best judge of how scared he is likely to be. But as with all parenting issues, preparing ahead of time and anticipating any problems is the wisest strategy. Some tips:

  • Let your son express his fears and reassure him in a calm voice that it’s OK to have those feelings.
  • Play a game where your child scares you, and then laugh about it.
  • Show him costumes online, so he’ll have an idea of what to expect.
  • Do some crafts at home that create ghosts and other Halloween décor. Explain that any scary lawn displays are made of fabric and paint, just like the crafts you made together.
  • Some children don’t like something like a mask covering their faces (even though they’ve had to deal with a different kind of mask for some time), so you might want to avoid costumes with masks.
  • If he is frightened by costume masks on other people, put one on yourself and take it off to show him that you are still there!
  • If your older kids are wearing potentially scary costumes, let your young one watch as they put on their makeup or masks, so he can gradually see how his big brother and sister transformed into the witch or warlock—and that it’s still them under the disguise.
  • Make a visit to your local library and ask the librarian for books that help children see that Halloween is full of pretend things—some scary and lots of them just plain fun! One great choice: The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything.

If your son loves his costume but when Halloween arrives, his mood changes and he refuses to wear it, try a compromise. Let him bring the costume to school instead of putting it on before he goes, or have him just wear part of the outfit. It’s definitely not something worth having a power struggle over, so if he refuses to wear it, let it go. It’s a perfect case of knowing when to pick your battles.

North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, Long Island’s leading children’s mental health agency, is seeing clients both remotely via telehealth platforms and in person, depending on the clients’ needs. To make an appointment, call 516-626-1971 or email intake@northshorechildguidance.org.

National Grid Helps Beautify Guidance Center Site

National Grid Helps Beautify Guidance Center Site

Volunteers Spruce Up Our Nature Nursery.

Young children learn important lessons through nature, and nothing beats hands-on experiences. That’s why we were so grateful when 11 employees from National Grid came to our Marks Family Right from the Start 0-3+ Center as part of their volunteer day of service, called Project C.

The volunteers spent the entire day planting, painting, repairing and whole-heartedly doing whatever needed to be done to spruce up the Nature Nursery at the Right from the Start Center, which had been left largely unattended during the pandemic.

“We are so grateful to all the National Grid volunteers for working so hard and with such great spirits to beautify our Nature Nursery and surrounding areas,” said Dr. Sue Cohen, Director of the Right from the Start Center, where the Guidance Center serves its youngest clients and their families. “The Nancy Marks Nature Nursery continues to provide our young children and their parents with an opportunity to enjoy their natural environment using exploratory, hands-on stations and activities, such as musical instruments, water, paints and graduated steps. Having a creative outdoor space to use during therapy and group sessions allows our therapists to engage children in a different way. The youngsters who have experienced this area love all that is has to offer and look forward to regularly returning.”

National Grid’s Alexandra Paoli, who was in charge of the project at the Guidance Center site, worked side by side with her mother, Michele Paoli, who has worked at the utility for 25 years. “Thousands of National Grid employees volunteer on this ‘Day of Service,’ which takes place at locations all across Long Island, upstate New York and New York City,” said Alexandra, a recent graduate of Penn State University and Associate Analyst, Community Customer Engagement. “My mother knew about the great work done at the Guidance Center, so when she suggested it be one of the sites of our statewide volunteer initiative, it was a natural choice.”

Therese Sullivan, National Grid’s Director of Operations Enablement, has participated in both Project C Day of Service events. “I was glad to volunteer for the Guidance Center because mental health is so important, especially helping children at an early age,” she said. “It is a great resource for families, and I’m proud that our company supports these efforts.”

If your company would like to discuss opportunities to volunteer at the Guidance Center or support our mission in other ways, contact Lauren McGowan at LMcGowan@northshorechildguidance.org or call her at (516) 626-1971, ext. 320.

Photo: A dedicated group of National Grid employees (pictured here with North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center staff) did an amazing job volunteering at the nonprofit’s Nature Nursery.

About North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center:
As the preeminent not-for-profit children’s mental health agency on Long Island, North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center is dedicated to restoring and strengthening the emotional well-being of children (from birth – age 24) and their families. Our highly trained staff of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, vocational rehabilitation counselors and other mental health professionals lead the way in diagnosis, treatment, prevention, training, parent education, research and advocacy. The Guidance Center helps children and families address issues such as depression and anxiety; developmental delays; bullying; teen pregnancy; sexual abuse; teen drug and alcohol abuse; and family crises stemming from illness, death, trauma and divorce. For nearly 70 years, the Guidance Center has been a place of hope and healing, providing innovative and compassionate treatment to all who enter our doors, regardless of their ability to pay. For more information about the Guidance Center, visit www.northshorechildguidance.org or call (516) 626-1971.

About National Grid: National Grid (NYSE: NGG) is an electricity, natural gas, and clean energy delivery company serving more than 20 million people through our networks in New York and Massachusetts. National Grid is focused on building a path to a more affordable, reliable clean energy future through our fossil-free vision. National Grid is transforming our electricity and natural gas networks with smarter, cleaner, and more resilient energy solutions to meet the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

For more information, please visit our website, follow us on Twitter, watch us on YouTube, like us on Facebook and find our photos on Instagram

Wilderness Program Transforms Lives

Wilderness Program Transforms Lives

The weather may be starting to turn chilly, but it’s always a great time to enjoy the outdoors—and it’s also important for a youth’s development to keep their connection to our natural world.

With teens so immersed in texting and video games and other tech-focused pursuits, they often lose both the connection to each other and to the world around them. That’s why North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center designed our Wilderness Respite Program, which provides a unique opportunity for at-risk adolescents to participate in hikes and other nature activities that foster individual growth, leadership skills, self-esteem and friendships while also promoting environmental stewardship.

Teens who take part in the program often have issues such as depression, anxiety and ADHD. Many also lack the social skills that enable them to bond with their peers.

One of our clients who has made an incredible transformation as a result of the Wilderness Respite Program is James, who first came to the Guidance Center more than two years ago, James had no one to call friend. Even before the pandemic, James was isolated and lonely. His ADHD and anxiety made his behavior off-putting to others his age.

His parents were heartbroken; they were desperate to have their child feel welcomed and supported by his peers. While he got good grades, he viewed himself as a failure. School was just another place he felt like an outsider.

After starting individual and family therapy with one of our expert mental health experts, James joined the Wilderness Respite Program, which is made possible through the support of our generous donors.

During the hikes, James bonded with other teens in the program. They understood James, because many of them had the same challenges themselves. On trips to places such as Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve and Harriman State Park, teens learn how to be independent, as well as how to work together. It’s an incredibly affirming experience for kids who rarely get praise in school or other social situations.

James is no longer a sad and lonely teen with no friends to call his own.  And he no longer feels like a “loser,” which is how he referred to himself when he first entered treatment.

Here is how the parent of another of our Wilderness Respite Program teens put it in a letter to the Guidance Center:

“My son started in the Wilderness Program about two years ago. I believe the program is the best thing he’s ever had. The Wilderness Program brings kids away from all the media; they go to nature, looking at natural scenery instead of a TV or computer screen. Talking with their peers, they do real human interactions while hiking. Sometimes it’s a long hike or challenging terrain, or even cold or hot or windy weather. It trains young people in endurance skills. The leaders of the trip are kind and always encourage the young people to keep going while they’re having fun.

This program has so many benefits for kids like my son, who has problems with social skills, making friends and anxiety. But every time he comes back from hiking, even though he’s tired and his feet hurt, he feels fulfilled and excited about everything he saw during his hike. It’s a great program!”

We are grateful to all of you who support our work and make the Wilderness Respite Program, along with our many other innovative initiatives, a reality.

Please reach into your hearts today and give as generously as you can.

Thank you for caring!

Finding Healing in Mother Nature

Finding Healing in Mother Nature

It was a trendy topic a few years ago, but it’s still a great idea!

The topic? Forest bathing, a method of self-care that goes far beyond its literal meaning of taking a bath in a forest. Forest bathing focuses on becoming one with your environment and the nature that is around you.

Here’s how Time Magazine put it:

“We all know how good being in nature can make us feel. We have known it for centuries. The sounds of the forest, the scent of the trees, the sunlight playing through the leaves, the fresh, clean air — these things give us a sense of comfort. They ease our stress and worry, help us to relax and to think more clearly. Being in nature can restore our mood, give us back our energy and vitality, refresh and rejuvenate us.”

Whether you call it forest bathing, hiking or simply a walk in the woods, spending time in nature is a great idea for the mental health and well-being of you and your kids alike. You don’t need to go far to immerse yourself in nature – find a local park or hiking trail in or around your community to get started. Plan wisely and be sure to pack comfortable shoes, sun protection and water. Being outdoors has many benefits, such as clearing your mind, reducing stress and reducing your blood pressure. It’s also a great excuse for your family to bond and to get off their electronics.

As useful as forest bathing is for personal and familial purposes, it is also deeply beneficial as a mental health intervention. North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center offers a program to at-risk youth which utilizes the theories that underlie forest bathing to help adolescents cope with stressors in their lives in our Wilderness Respite Program, which provides participants with a gateway to the mastery of social skills and youth empowerment through hikes and other outdoor activities.

As one of the parents of a Wilderness Program participant put it, “Therapeutically speaking, this program teaches my son the tools to handle his negative combative thinking through hiking in various land and weather conditions. During each hike my son participates in, I have observed positive changes in his attitude and behavior which last for several days. His thinking appears clearer, his mood swings lessen. This program has definitely increased his self-esteem. The benefits of this program are endless.”

To learn more about all the Guidance Center’s programs, contact us at 516-626-1971. Our trained clinicians can help you navigate any struggles that you may be experiencing.