Guidance Center Program Addresses Suicide Prevention

Guidance Center Program Addresses Suicide Prevention

 

Roslyn Heights, NY, October 24, 2022 — Two years ago, North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, Long Island’s premiere children’s mental health agency, launched one of its most important programs ever: the Douglas S. Feldman Suicide Prevention Project, named in honor of the son of Ellen Feldman and Donald Feldman.

On October 19, 2022, the Guidance Center welcomed the Feldmans, their son Matthew and other guests to its Roslyn Heights headquarters for the unveiling of the Butterfly Wall, which features brass butterfly plaques recognizing donors to this lifesaving initiative.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24, with more teenagers and young adults dying from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and lung disease combined.

With the Douglas S. Feldman Suicide Prevention Project, the Guidance Center addresses high-risk cases with a thorough evaluation for suicide risk; multiple weekly sessions of individual, group and family therapy; and a culturally sensitive treatment plan that focuses on safety strategies, healthy coping skills and relapse prevention. Evaluation with a psychiatrist regarding the possible use of medication is also provided, along with in-home treatment and referrals to programs and services that will support parents’ efforts to protect their children.

“Suicide among young people is truly an epidemic,” said Elissa Smilowitz, Director of Emergency, Triage & Suicide Prevention Services at the Guidance Center. “The Feldman’s generous gift has allowed us to make a real difference in the lives of so many young people.”

Ellen Feldman says the Douglas S. Feldman Suicide Prevention Project has been instrumental in the journey her family has been on since the loss of her beloved son.

“Very soon after Doug died, Donald and I knew we wanted to do something that would prevent this tragedy from happening to other families,” she said. “I grew up in this community and raised my children here, so having the Guidance Center as the beneficiary of our donation to help young people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts made perfect sense.”

“I’m so proud of the work being done by the Guidance Center,” she added. “They are truly saving lives, and I can’t imagine a better way to honor our son.”

If you know a young person who may be at risk for suicide, contact the Guidance Center at 516-626-1971. The organization promises to see high-risk cases within 24 to 48 hours. For immediate help in a crisis, call 988, the new suicide hotline. To learn more about supporting the Douglas S. Feldman Suicide Prevention Project, contact Lauren McGowan at 516-626-1971, ext. 320.

Photo Caption: Daniel Oliver, Rosemarie Klipper, Rita Castagna, Donald Feldman, Matthew Feldman, Ellen Feldman, Kathy Rivera and Jennifer Rush

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.

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.

Guidance Center Sunset Soiree Raises Quarter Million, September 19, 2022

Guidance Center Sunset Soiree Raises Quarter Million, September 19, 2022

 

As promised, the sunset was a stunner at North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center’s Sunset Soirée at the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club, held on Sept. 8. The event raised nearly a quarter million dollars to support the Guidance Center, Long Island’s premiere nonprofit children’s mental health organization.

The guests were thrilled at the smooth sounds of Grammy-winning saxophonist Kenny G, whose appearance at the Sunset Soirée was a birthday gift to longtime Guidance Center Board Member Andrea Leeds from her husband Michael and the rest of her family, all of whom were in attendance to celebrate the magical evening.
“It was an amazing experience to have our first in-person gala in three years graced by the incredible talents of Kenny G,“ said Andrea Leeds. Andrea and Michael Leeds, along with Nancy and Lew Lane, were proud to serve together as this year‘s co-chairs. “Everyone in the room, from my two young grandsons to the Guidance Center’s longtime supporters, were moved by the smooth, soulful sounds. “I’m so grateful to Kenny G for making the Sunset Soirée a spectacular night that will long be remembered.“

Former Guidance Center client Samantha Sutfin-Gray shared the story of her severe bout with postpartum depression, which impacts one in seven women.

“I can’t even imagine where I would be or how far my suffering would have taken me if I hadn’t sought treatment,“ she told the audience. “The Guidance Center helped me to see that there was a light at the end of a very dark tunnel, and they were with me every step of the way. For that, my family and I are eternally grateful.“
Guidance Center Executive Director/CEO Kathy Rivera told the guests, “In the year I have been at the helm of this wonderful organization, I’ve been so proud of the dedication of our team, from our frontline mental health care staff to our front-desk staff and everyone in between. The reason we have been able to bring hope and healing to the community for nearly 70 years is thanks to them, and to all of you who support our mission.”

Rivera also thanked the night’s emcee, Stacey Sager of Channel 7 Eyewitness News, and the sponsors of the Sunset Soirée: the Leeds Family; Maureen and John Ferrari; the Ike, Molly & Steven Elias Foundation; WABC-TV; Jane and Martin Schwartz; the Jack & Dorothy Kupferberg Foundation; Americana Manhasset; Klipper Family Foundation; Marilyn and Russell Albanese: and Cerity Partners.

National Grid Helps Beautify North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center Site, September 27, 2022

National Grid Helps Beautify North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center Site, September 27, 2022

 

On Sept. 16, North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center was thrilled to welcome 11 employees from National Grid to its Marks Family Right from the Start 0-3+ Center as part of the utility’s 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.

Kenny G to Perform at Guidance Center Gala, August 12, 2022, Blank Slate Media

Kenny G to Perform at Guidance Center Gala, August 12, 2022, Blank Slate Media

 

North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center (the Guidance Center) is thrilled to announce that Grammy-winning musician Kenny G will be the guest performer at the organization’s Sunset Soirée, a fundraiser that will be held on Sept. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the beautiful Manhasset Bay Yacht Club in Port Washington.

Saxophonist Kenny G recorded the best-selling instrumental album of all time in the Diamond-selling, 12-times-Platinum 1992 “Breathless.” His latest release, “New Standards,” his 19th studio album, could well be used to describe his four-decade body of work, a vision of jazz that helped launch both a musical genre and radio format.

“New Standards” continues the musical path that has seen Kenny G sell 75 million albums around the world.

In addition to a live performance by Kenny G, the Sunset Soirée will feature elegant cocktails and dining, beautiful sunset views and fabulous silent auction prizes. All proceeds will benefit the Guidance Center, Long Island’s premiere children’s mental health nonprofit organization.

“After having to postpone our in-person event for the past two years due to the pandemic, we are so excited to be welcoming back our devoted supporters for what promises to be a spectacular evening,” said Kathy Rivera, executive director of the Guidance Center. “For nearly 70 years, the Guidance Center has been committed to providing essential mental health services to the children and families in our community, regardless of their ability to pay. And those services are needed more than ever during these very difficult times, when depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges are at epidemic proportions among our youth.”

The co-chairs for this year’s event are longtime Guidance Center supporters Nancy and Lew Lane and Andrea and Michael Leeds. The Mistress of Ceremonies will be Stacey Sager of Channel 7 Eyewitness News.

All proceeds will benefit the Guidance Center. To learn more about becoming a sponsor or an underwriter or purchasing tickets, please visit www.northshorechildguidance.org/sunsetsoiree, call (516) 626-1971, ext. 309 or email mespichan@northshorechildguidance.org.

Ask the Guidance Center Experts

Ask the Guidance Center Experts

Kindergarten Preparation, Published in Blank Slate Media, August 15, 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: We have twins, a girl and boy, and both are entering kindergarten in September. This is a first for our family, and we’re not sure if we are doing enough to prepare them, especially since their pre-school experience was limited due to the pandemic. Any advice?
–Anxious Parents

Dear Anxious Parents: You’re not alone in having concerns about your children adjusting to the new routine of “big kid” school. Even before the pandemic, parents often felt anxiety about the transition to kindergarten, but since many families chose to keep their children home while COVID-19 was in full swing, those worries may be magnified right now.

Since many youngsters have been taught to keep their distance from strangers in order to avoid getting sick, they may be more wary of being with new people. You can help reassure them that you, their teachers and others are working together to keep everyone safe and healthy. While COVID-19 has shown itself to be somewhat unpredictable, we are in a far better place than we were a few years ago with preventative measures and treatment, and that information can be imparted to ease your child’s anxiety.

Starting in a new school can be scary under any circumstances, but there are steps you can take to help. If your school allows it, plan to bring your child to their classroom to meet their teacher before the school year begins. Also take them to see the gym, the playground, cafeteria, library, nurse’s office and other locations. Even if the teacher won’t be available, familiarizing your child with the school and the routine will go far in reducing their fears.

Be careful not to put your own fears onto your child. A lot of parents reflect on their own first-day jitters, and they assume their child feels the same way. While a certain level of school anxiety is entirely normal in children, they are also likely to feel excited, so remember to focus on the positive aspects of school, such as making new friends, having lots of time to play and learning fun new things.

Below are some more suggestions to make the transition as smooth as possible:

  • Some schools help set up late summer playground events for incoming kindergartners. If they do, take advantage of the opportunity for your child to meet some new friends.
  • Talk about what they are going to learn; make a game of “playing school” by introducing some of the activities that go on in a typical school day.
  • Bring them with you when you shop for school supplies. Choosing their own folders, pencils, crayons and the like will make the experience feel special.
  • Get your child on a regular bedtime schedule before school begins so they are accustomed to getting up at the same time they’ll need to awaken for school.
  • Sit together and make a morning game plan—what are some breakfast ideas, which outfits will they want to wear their first week, and how they will be getting to school. If you can, do some practice runs (or walks) to the bus stop, if they’ll be taking one.
  • Teach your child their basic contact information, including the correct spelling of their name, their address and their phone number. Also help them practice writing their own names.
  • Make sure they know how to take their shoes on and off, and also how to zip up their backpacks.

When you give your youngsters a chance to talk about all their emotions and react calmly to whatever they say, it reassures them that everything will be fine. But if your child appears to be highly anxious and expresses reluctance to go to school after the first week or so, consider contacting a mental health professional. The pandemic has impacted children’s emotional well-being in numerous ways, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

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.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guidance Center Hosts 25th Annual Krevat Cup, June 9, 2022, Blank Slate Media

Guidance Center Hosts 25th Annual Krevat Cup, June 9, 2022, Blank Slate Media

 

North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, the preeminent not-for-profit children’s mental health agency on Long Island, celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Jonathan Krevat Memorial Golf & Tennis Classic on June 6, at one of Nassau County’s finest courses at the elegant Engineers Country Club in Roslyn Heights.

The event raised $150,000 to support the Guidance Center’s work to bring hope and healing to children and families dealing with mental health or substance use challenges. More than $25,000 in additional funds were raised for the Guidance Center’s Douglas S. Feldman Suicide Prevention Project, another life-saving initiative that launched in September 2020.

This year, the event honored Jeff Krevat, a longtime supporter of the Guidance Center and founder of the Krevat Cup, which is named in honor of his brother.

“The mission of the Guidance Center is more important than ever before, with children and teens suffering from serious mental health challenges,” said Krevat, a former board member. “I am grateful to my friends and family for coming out to honor my brother’s legacy and support an organization that makes a real difference for the kids in our community.”

This year’s guest speaker was Rachel Priest, a mental health professional who was a Guidance Center client in her teen years. She told the audience, “The life-affirming care I received from the Guidance Center saved my life. I was able to accomplish wonderful things over the years both socially and academically” because of the dedication, skills and compassion of her Guidance Center therapists. “Knowing that the care I received over 20 years ago is still available and expanding lets me know that the Guidance Center is still changing lives every day.”

Once again, the co-chairs for this year’s Krevat Cup were Board Members Michael Mondiello, Dan Oliver, Michael Schnepper and Troy Slade. In addition, Dan Donnelly served as the event’s emcee and auctioneer extraordinaire.

“It’s all about the kids,” said Donnelly, a longtime supporter of the Guidance Center, as well as a previous Krevat Cup honoree and a close friend of Jeff Krevat’s. “I consider it a privilege to be here today to help raise money to support the incredible work that truly makes a difference in the lives of children and their families.”

The Guidance Center is grateful to the Krevat Cup’s sponsors: Susan and Jeff Krevat, Americana Manhasset, Aon Reinsurance Solutions, Dan Donnelly, PSEG Long Island, Bahnik Foundation, Susan and Peter Braverman, Klipper Family Foundation, City National Rochdale, The Levine Group Inc., Newmark and Rivkin Radler LLP.

Guidance Center Names New Associate Director, June 13, 2022, Blank Slate Media

Guidance Center Names New Associate Director, June 13, 2022, Blank Slate Media

 

North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center has announced that Jennifer Rush has joined the organization as associate executive director.

Rush will be reporting to Executive Director/CEO Kathy Rivera.

Rush began her career at the Foundation for Childhood Development in New York as a research assistant, where she explored case studies of how systems support children to reach their full potential.

She has a diverse operations background in medical, educational and community-based services, including hospital and substance abuse settings at Northern Berkshire Healthcare and the Brattleboro Retreat.

Most recently, Rush was the Vice President of Residential and Clinical Services at Berkshire County Arc in Pittsfield, Mass., where she oversaw all residential services, including the autism outreach services program and the brain injury services program.

“With more than 28 years of leadership experience in nonprofit, residential and health care settings, Jennifer has extensive experience working with adults, children and families in mental health and substance use,” said Kathy Rivera. “Her impressive level of knowledge, skill and expertise sets the stage for continued growth and expansion of the Guidance Center and will help strengthen our services across the agency.”

“I am excited to have returned to New York to work at the Guidance Center and find ways to further support the agency’s goal of bringing hope and healing to children and families,” said Rush. “I am also eager to support the Guidance Center’s incredibly dedicated employees who provide their clients with compassionate, high-quality services that truly save lives.”

Rush, who holds a B.A. from Barnard College and a Master of Health Care Administration from Seton Hall University, moved from the Berkshires region of Massachusetts to Long Island’s North Shore in May 2022.

“My two college-age children and our golden retriever are all making the transition,” she said, “and in a very short time, we are all already feeling at home.”

To contact Jennifer Rush, email jrush@northshorechildguidance.org or call 516-626-1971, ext. 333.

Ask the Guidance Center Experts

Ask the Guidance Center Experts

This story will be published in Blank Slate Media newspapers in April 2022

Helping Your Child Through Divorce

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: After much discussion, including couples therapy, my husband and I have decided to divorce. We both know it’s the right thing to do, but we’re very worried about how our kids (we have two girls and a boy, 5, 8 and 10) are going to handle it. Can you offer some advice on how we can best support them during this difficult time? 

— Splitting Up

Dear Splitting Up: 

The rise in divorce rates in the pandemic period show that you and your husband are far from alone: In 2021, the COVID-19 crisis triggered a nearly 21% increase in divorce filings compared with the previous year.

Whenever there is a separation or divorce, there is no way around the fact that your children will be impacted in profound ways.

And, while divorce doesn’t have the same stigma it did years ago, it still is a difficult event in a young person’s life.

The dissolution of their parents’ marriage can create enormous stress for youngsters. Divorce can be devastating to the children’s feelings of safety, causing fear of abandonment and fear of losing a parent’s love. The result: Anxiety, depression and low self-esteem are common.

Guilt is often another problem, as many children blame themselves for the divorce, believing that it is somehow their fault and that if they had just been “good,” the separation never would have happened. 

In addition, many parents make the mistake of talking negatively about their ex-spouse in front of their children. This upsets them because they see their parents as their caretakers, and they need to feel safe and supported by both of them. 

When parents put their kids in the middle of their battles, the children struggle with issues of loyalty. Even if they are very caring parents, they may do things inadvertently that cause distress to their child, such as asking the child to talk with the ex-spouse about a change in weekend plans instead of dealing with the adult directly.

Here are some tips on how to help your children deal with divorce:

  • Be supportive, reassuring your kids that both of you will always love them and be there for them. 
  • Encourage them to speak to you openly about all their feelings, and validate that those feelings are normal and completely acceptable.
  • Learn how to co-parent the children so there is no confusion on discipline. Rules about bedtime, homework and the like should remain consistent.
  • Never talk negatively about the other parent in front of the children.
  • If possible, show a united front by attending events like back-to-school nights, games and other activities together.
  • Let their teachers know about your separation so they are on the lookout for any troubling behaviors from your children.
  • Foster the relationships your children have with your ex’s family so they don’t feel the loss of those attachments.
  • Consider placing your child in a therapeutic group so they don’t feel like they are alone in their experience. Many schools have programs like “Banana Splits” offered by school-based social workers.
  • Be sure to get support for yourself through this process through friends, family members and professional therapy, if needed.

Remember, the post-divorce relationship with your ex-spouse is perhaps the most important factor in how well your children handle the matter, so do your best to get along for their sake. Knowing that they are loved no matter what by both of you is the most important message. During the pandemic, North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center is seeing clients both in person and remotely via a telehealth platform. To make an appointment, call (516) 626-1971 or email intake@northshorechildguidance.org

Ask the Guidance Center Experts

Ask the Guidance Center Experts

Published in Blank Slate Media, February 25, 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: I have two daughters, 9 and 13 years old. While my youngest tends to approach life with a laid-back attitude, my older one has always been prone to anxiety. Even before the pandemic, she was having panic attacks, but they’ve gotten much worse in the past two years. I had hoped that the return to school and other “normal” activities would help, but it’s gotten so bad that she is avoiding social situations and spending most of her time in her room. How can I help her get over her anxiety?

–Parent Puzzled by Panic

Dear Parent Puzzled by Panic: Anxiety is a normal part of life, for both kids and adults. It would be difficult to find a child who, at some point, didn’t worry about monsters in the closet, or feel apprehensive on the first day of school. Moreover, the last two years have heightened feelings of anxiety for everyone, with the losses, fears and other difficult emotions that have arisen from the pandemic.

In most cases, children’s anxieties are eased with reassurance, love and comfort from an adult in their lives. But for some young people, anxiety is a constant companion. It is part of their everyday lives, and it can seriously impair their functioning. It can lead to debilitating panic attacks, which are characterized by symptoms such as shortness of breath, shaking, dizziness, heart racing and intense fear.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly a third of adolescents have an anxiety disorder, with about 8% suffering from severe impairment that leads to poor performance in school or missing school altogether; avoiding social situations; isolating; and/or using alcohol or drugs to mask the pain. They often feel alone and ashamed, and their anxiety can contribute to other conditions such as depression and eating disorders.

Studies show that during the COVID-19 pandemic, depression and anxiety in kids and teens doubled compared to pre-pandemic levels. One in 4 youth have significantly higher depression symptoms, while 1 in 5 are experiencing clinically elevated anxiety symptoms.

Although the cause of anxiety and panic attacks is varied, it can include a trauma, a divorce or death in the family or a physical illness. Plus, some people may be biologically predisposed to anxiety and panic attacks.

Here are some suggestions on how to help:

  • Encourage your daughter to speak openly about her feelings. She needs to know that she isn’t at fault when she experiences symptoms of anxiety or panic.
  • Assure her that, although she may feel she is crazy or is going to die, she is not in any danger.
  • If she associates a certain place (such as school) with a panic attack, she may start avoiding that situation. Gentle, gradual exposure is essential, since continued avoidance only strengthens the pattern.
  • News and social media can impact children much more than adults, causing them to feel unsafe in their environment, so it’s wise to monitor what your children are watching on TV and on social media.
  • Make sure she eats healthy meals, gets enough sleep and exercises. Being physically healthy can lessen the effects of anxiety and panic.

Some other important steps to take include getting an evaluation from a medical professional to rule out any physical ailments that may contribute to anxiety. 

The good news is that panic and anxiety disorders are very responsive to treatment, so contact a mental health agency or professional. Tell your daughter that seeing a therapist is a perfectly normal thing to do, and that many kids who experience anxiety are helped through therapy.

During the pandemic, North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center 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

Ask the Guidance Center Experts

Ask the Guidance Center Experts

In the September 2021 column that ran in Blank Slate Media, our staff responds to parents’ concerns that their son may be suicidal.

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: We are terribly concerned about our 16-year-old son. Although he is back in school, he has little interest in his classes, and it’s difficult to get him to go to school most days. He’s decided not to try out for the basketball team, which used to be his favorite thing in the world. He’s also stopped reaching out to his friends and become very isolated. When we’ve asked him about all of this, his answer is usually a shrug of the shoulders and some version of “What’s the point, anyhow?” We are incredibly worried and not sure what to do.Feeling Helpless

Dear Feeling Helpless: There may be no scarier words for a parent to hear from their child than “Some days I just don’t want to go on any longer,” or a similar sentiment. The reality is that children and teens are under more stress than ever, with suicidal thinking and suicide attempts on the rise – plus, the isolation and fear surrounding the pandemic has created a dramatic increase in severe depression and anxiety.

The facts are that suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24, and more teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects and other diseases combined.

While the problem isn’t new, the pandemic has exacerbated it. Kids’ normal routines were upended in so many ways. They lost milestones like proms, graduations, family gatherings, sports, afterschool clubs and other activities that are important for their development. Even though many of those events have resumed, they are still living with the uncertainty that everything could change at a moment’s notice. 

Here are some of the warning signs that your child or teen may be at risk of suicide: 

  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Mood swings
  • Engaging in risky or self-destructive behavior
  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol
  • School refusal
  • Being depressed and crying often
  • Giving away possessions
  • Posting suicidal thoughts on the Internet
  • Talking about death and not being around anymore
  • Cutting themselves
  • Aggressiveness or irritability

Your first step should be talking honestly with your son about how he is feeling and communicate your concern in a loving, non-judgmental way.

Ask him directly if he has thoughts of suicide. The idea that talking about suicide will make your child more likely to act upon it is a myth. In fact, the opposite is true. 

Let him know there is no shame in feeling depressed or sad and that he is not alone, especially given the unprecedented period we are experiencing. 

Also ask him if he has a plan for suicide, since someone who has made a plan is at a higher risk and requires urgent attention. If the answer is yes, monitor him closely and seek immediate mental health services, either through the emergency room or an urgent mental health care facility. One option is Nassau County’s Mobile Crisis Intervention Team, 516-227-TALK.

It is very important that you consult a mental health professional for an assessment. Reassure your son that getting help is not a sign of weakness, but rather shows strength, and that despite his current state of mind, feelings don’t last forever. Allow him to give feedback on what he thinks might be helpful in his treatment.

Nassau County residents can contact us at North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, which serves young people from birth through age 24. 
We promise to see urgent cases within 24 to 48 hours. If, however, you fear that he is in imminent danger, bring him to the emergency room for an immediate evaluation. 

North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center’s Douglas S. Feldman Suicide Prevention Project is designed to address high-risk cases with a thorough evaluation for suicide risk, therapy and a comprehensive treatment planTo schedule an appointment, call us at (516) 626-1971 or email intake@northshorechildguidance.org.

Unitarian Universalist Congregation Awards Half Million in Grants, Blank Slate Media, July 8, 2021

Unitarian Universalist Congregation Awards Half Million in Grants, Blank Slate Media, July 8, 2021

Half a million dollars will be distributed by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock to combat food insecurity, homelessness and educational disadvantages exacerbated by COVID-19.

The funding, in addition to $170,000 distributed last year, will go directly to 19 Long Island organizations in the form of unrestricted grants. Recipient organizations include Island Harvest, Sunnyside Community Services and others addressing a range of social needs.

Jana North, who was recently appointed president of the congregation, said she was glad to provide aid to address pandemic emergencies.

“When COVID hit, there was a very strong sense within the congregation that they wanted to try to support local organizations that were going to get hit very hard,” North said. “What we really needed to do was give a substantial amount.”

The most recent round of emergency funding was voted on by the congregation to meet immediate needs. This stands apart from the Veatch program, which awards millions of dollars a year.

“We wanted the money quickly, we wanted the money to go locally, and we wanted it to go to organizations that were doing things right now,” North said. “That brought it out of the sphere that we usually give through the Veatch program.”

In the early days of the pandemic, the congregation was awarding smaller groups of grants near $50,000. Now, the total amount of aid given by the church is closing in on $700,000.

The most recent half million in grants were awarded to organizations selected by a task force, which narrowed down a list from approximately 60 to just under 20. Those groups have set goals aligned with the congregation’s values, according to North.

The other groups that received grants were the Central American Refugee Center, Central Nassau Guidance and Counseling, Choice for All, Elmcor Youth & Adult Activities, Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, Housing Help, La Jornada, Littig House Community Center, Long Island Crisis Center, Manhasset-Great Neck Economic Opportunity Council, NAMI Queens/Nassau, New Ground, North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center, OLA of Eastern LI, Queens Together, SEPA Mujer and St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church in Great Neck.

“These organizations are pretty well known to us and have been for years,” North said. “The grantees seem to be very pleased to get it and I was glad that we could do it.”

“We have a very active social justice group within the congregation,” North said of the Shelter Rock congregation, which is one of over 1,000 across the country.

“Since this happened, we’re sure aware of what happens when something like this affects so many nonprofits that are already teetering on the edge locally,” North said. “I do think it has made us very aware of the need and I think we’d like to be part of that answer.”

Ask the Guidance Center Experts, Blank Slate Media, July 2021

Ask the Guidance Center Experts, Blank Slate Media, July 2021

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

Question: Our grandson’s pediatrician recently suggested his parents get him screened for autism. We’re so worried and not sure where to turn. Help!

  • Panicked Grandparents

Dear Panicked Grandparents: There are a wide range of autism spectrum disorders, also known as ASD, and many people with the condition live very happy lives. Your first step: Get educated.

Most babies start to show an interest in the world and the people around them at a very young age. By their first birthday, typical toddlers look people in the eye, copy words, play games like peek-a-boo and engage in clapping, waving hello and good-bye and other simple behaviors.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with ASD—which is a complex developmental disability that manifests in many different ways and to many different degrees—may struggle with social, emotional and communication skills.

Children or adults with ASD might…

  • show no interest in objects (for example, not point at an airplane flying over)
  • avoid eye contact
  • prefer not to be held or cuddled
  • appear to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds
  • repeat or echo words or phrases said to them
  • have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions
  • have trouble adapting to changes in routine.

Other signs include a child not responding to his or her name when called; repeating actions over and over; and having highly restricted interests.

Early intervention is important, but even with older children, treatment can result in real improvements. At North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, we provide thorough testing and, depending on the results, will create a customized therapeutic treatment plan, which often includes social skills groups and play therapy.

Support groups for caregivers are also very helpful. In addition to parent support groups, we have a program called GASAK, which stands for Grandparent Advocates Supporting Autistic Kids.

Also, our staff includes family advocates who often get involved in the cases, helping clients get appropriate services from their schools and other providers.

The bottom line: It’s important to determine the child’s needs and come up with a good educational and therapeutic plan. Although people with ASD may face challenges, a diagnosis doesn’t mean your grandchild won’t experience feelings of love, bonding and joy. The child is still the same loving child they were before the diagnosis. It’s a condition they have, but it doesn’t have to define their life.

Question: Now that it’s safe to be with their friends, how can I convince my kids to put their phones and tech devices down?

  • Sick on the Screens

Dear Sick of the Screens: During the height of the pandemic, many families made allowances for extra time on screens and now face resistance to reestablishing more strict limits.

No parent wants technology to rule the roost, especially if it’s making your children isolated. Remember, you have the power!

  • Set aside specific times at home when no one (parents included) uses technology. Cell phones, computers, iPads—all must be off. Tech-free time can be spent reading, talking, playing games, cooking, making art… anything creative or social will do.
  • Establish a clear schedule. When it comes to gaming, many parents may allow 30 minutes a day during the school week and two hours a day on the weekends.
  • When possible, keep all technology in a common space like the living room — not in a child’s bedroom. Avoid allowing your kid to disappear for hours behind a closed door.
  • Utilize online services that filter out inappropriate or violent material. These services can also limit Internet access by scheduling times that the Internet is available and times when it is not.

The way you use tech devices influences your ability to effectively guide your children. Although your example is not the sole factor, keep in mind that as distant as some kids become from adults as they are moving through their teen years, they continue to observe you—more closely than you know.

During the pandemic, North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center is seeing clients remotely via telehealth platforms or, when deemed necessary, in person. To make an appointment, call (516) 626-1971 or email intake@northshorechildguidance.org.

North Shore Child Guidance Center Outing is Back, Blank Slate Media, May 14, 2021

North Shore Child Guidance Center Outing is Back, Blank Slate Media, May 14, 2021

North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center has announced that its Jonathan Krevat Memorial Golf & Tennis Classic is back this year at a spectacular new location, Nassau Country Club in Glen Cove! The event, which will be held on June 14th, raises money for the Guidance Center, Long Island’s premiere children’s mental health organization.

“Our work bringing hope and healing to kids and families is more important than ever,” said Michael Mondiello, one of the event’s co-chairs and a Guidance Center board member. “The pandemic has created enormous stress and anxiety, and we are here to help address the crisis in children’s mental health.”

Co-chair Michael Schnepper concurred, stating, “The past year has been difficult for adults, but in some ways it’s been even harder for young people. Their entire normal routines with school, friends and extracurricular activities were upended, and the impact is going to continue long after COVID-19 is behind us. That’s why this fundraiser is such a crucial event.”

The Krevat Cup is one of the Guidance Center’s most anticipated events of the year, providing a full day of activities. “Golf may be the main feature, but tennis is my game,” said Troy Slade, co-chair and board member. “And we’re adding pickleball to the event for the first time ever, so that’s going to provide even more opportunity for friendly competition.”

While all current health and safety protocols will be in place to protect the safety of guests and staff, most of the event will be held outdoors, making it a perfect opportunity to enjoy great games while benefiting an important cause. “The golf course is among Long Island’s best,” said board member Dan Oliver, this year’s newest Krevat Cup co-chair. “It’s going to be a terrific day, including a delicious breakfast, lunch and cocktail hour. I hope many community members will join us to support the life-saving work of the Guidance Center.”

The event will also feature an exclusive silent auction, which is open to everyone, regardless of whether they buy tickets for the day. Bidding begins on June 1st.

For those interested in participating, becoming a sponsor or placing a journal ad, it’s not too late! Contact Nicole Oberheim, Noberheim@northshorechildguidance.org, (516) 626-1971, ext. 337

Guidance Center Hosts Shopping Benefit in Roslyn Village, Blank Slate Media, April 21, 2021

Guidance Center Hosts Shopping Benefit in Roslyn Village, Blank Slate Media, April 21, 2021

On Tuesday, May 4, you can do good while shopping for some of the finest goods around as North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center hosts “Care for Kids: Spring Shopping Spree.”

Many of Roslyn Village’s best stores will be donating a portion of the day’s proceeds to the Guidance Center, Long Island’s premiere children’s mental health nonprofit organization.

As of April 21, the stores participating in the event are: Jill Scherer Ltd., Katherine TessShag New York and Transitions, but the Guidance Center expects the list to grow significantly leading up to the May 4th event.

Leslie Cohen, owner of Transitions, has been a Guidance Center supporter for several years.

“The organization is easy to get behind and support, especially this year, with so many children being affected by the pandemic,” said Cohen. “Having a safe place to help the children cope is wonderful.”

She added that the Spring Shopping Spree will be “a feel-good day!”

According to Ann Corn, owner of Shag New York, nothing is more important than the health of our children. “Mental health issues do not discriminate by race or financial backgrounds,” she said. “Shag is especially proud to be part of this fantastic fundraising day for the Guidance Center. We are honored to be involved with this amazing organization.”

Alexis Siegel, a member of the Guidance Center’s Board of Directors, expressed the agency’s gratitude for the generosity of participating Roslyn store owners. “We are all so lucky to live in an area where our businesses and community members are so philanthropic,” said Siegel. “They understand the importance of supporting our work to bring hope and healing to kids and families who are struggling with issues such as depression and anxiety during these incredibly challenging times.”

Shoppers can visit the Guidance Center booth outside of Shag to take part in a raffle that will include many exclusive items.

For more information about the event, contact the Guidance Center at (516) 626-1971, ext. 320.

Full Circle from Mischief to Good Trouble, by Andrew Malekoff, Blank Slate, April 19, 2021

Full Circle from Mischief to Good Trouble, by Andrew Malekoff, Blank Slate, April 19, 2021

Last week an article appeared about me in this newspaper entitled, “Guidance Center CEO announces retirement.” The average age of retirement in the US is 61. When I retire in two months I will have surpassed the average by nine years.

Among the articles I have been reading about retirement are those that offer cautionary notes and tips. For example, I learned that I should not expect retirement to feel like an endless vacation, I should structure my time and I should not neglect my appearance.

The last one will be difficult after working from home during the year of the pandemic. Although I think I’ll add a third pair of pants to the rotation and buy a couple of new sweatshirts.

With respect to structuring my time, although I am retiring after 45 years with the same organization, I have also held a part-time job for 31 years as a journal editor, which I will continue. I also plan to continue writing this column for as long as my imagination will take me and publisher Steve Blank will have me.

I never imagined retirement as an endless vacation, although living in Long Beach has always had a vacation feel to it, being within walking distance of the boardwalk and ocean. Driving home from Roslyn Heights to Long Beach on the Meadowbrook and Loop Parkway since the late 1970s offered me the benefit of landing in a resort every single day.

Despite addressing my impending retirement in a lighthearted manner here, I am well aware that there are risks and losses associated with this major life transition that cannot be simply brushed aside.

I’ll be losing daily contact with my dear workplace friends, some of whom I’ve known for decades. A benefit of my job has been an excellent health insurance plan. As a cancer survivor that has been vital.

Naturally, I will apply for the health insurance I will need in retirement, but I already know that it won’t be quite as good as what I have had for years and that the out-of-pocket costs for certain prescription medications are prohibitive.

As a social worker, I have always been an advocate. I can already see that if I choose to in retirement, there will be no shortage of causes to take on if I wish to continue to employ my advocacy skills.

One of the more mundane operations in preparation for my retirement has been cleaning out my office at work and making some room for my books and other items at home. In making space at home, I came across a box that contained some of my old report cards.

My first-grade teacher Gertrude Finkel wrote: “Andrew tends to go to extremes lately. He is either the best boy in the class, or he creates mischief.” A few years later my Hebrew school teacher wrote: “Andy has some disruptive influence on his neighbors.”

William Wordsworth wrote that “the child is the father to the man” in his 1802 poem “My Heart Leaps Up.” To the extent that this applies to one’s later years, I’m not sure that I want to create mischief in retirement, although it does sound like it could be fun.

Upon re-reading my teachers’ comments, I have come to believe that my disruptive behavior was a precursor, a primitive sign if you will, of what the late civil rights activist, Congressman John Lewis referred to as “getting into good trouble.” I think I can do that, whether or not I neglect my appearance in retirement.

Guidance Center Hosts Spring Lunch-In, March 30, 2021, Blank Slate

Guidance Center Hosts Spring Lunch-In, March 30, 2021, Blank Slate

When North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center decided to cancel its in-person Spring Luncheon fundraiser this year to keep its supporters safe during the pandemic, the organization came up with a creative alternative: the first-of-its-kind Spring Lunch-In, a virtual event held on March 24 that featured fabulous recipes and table design tips from some of our area’s most philanthropic businesses.

George and Gillis Poll, restaurateurs extraordinaire and owners of Bryant & Cooper Steakhouse, showcased three of their most popular recipes, giving viewers step-by-step instructions in the kitchen of the iconic Roslyn restaurant. They also gave a behind-the-scenes tour of their world-class Bryant & Cooper Butcher Shop & Retail Market, which is adjacent to the restaurant and open to the public.

Speaking to the mission of the Guidance Center, George Poll said, “The work they do to help children and families struggling with mental health is significant. My brother Gillis, my wife Kristen and I are proud to be part of the Center’s continuing great work.”

The event, held over Zoom, also featured talented designer Susan Micelotta of White + One, who gave attendees tips on how to create a beautiful outdoor table setting for spring that is sure to impress. All the products shown are available at the Port Washington store.

“I was proud to be a part of the Spring Lunch-In,” said Micelotta. “Children are our future, and we need to make a better world for them to live in by supporting and giving all that we can to organizations such as the Guidance Center.”

Guidance Center Board Member Alexis Siegel, who joined the Poll brothers and Micelotta as the event’s gracious hostess, was thrilled at the Spring Lunch-In’s success. “We’re so grateful to George, Gillis and Susan for their dedication to our work,” said Siegel, who co-chaired the event with Jan Ashley and Amy Cantor “The pandemic has created a real mental health crisis, with children, teens and their families experiencing high levels of anxiety and depression. I’m proud to be part of an organization that addresses these needs with compassion and expertise.”

Guidance Center Board Member and Spring Lunch-In committee member Jo-Ellen Hazan, who joined Siegel at the lunch and was instrumental in planning the event, said, “The Guidance Center is blessed to have so many wonderful community members who support our mission. Their dedication makes our work possible.”

The Guidance Center is looking forward to returning to Glen Head Country Club for next year’s Spring Luncheon, an in-person fundraiser on April 28th, 2022. The highly anticipated event will feature card games, Mahjong and a delicious buffet.

All proceeds for the Spring Lunch-In support the Guidance Center’s work to bring hope and healing to the children and families in our local communities. To learn more, visit www.northshorechildguidance.org or call (516) 626-1971.

Guidance Center CEO Announces Retirement, Blank Slate, April 14, 20201

Guidance Center CEO Announces Retirement, Blank Slate, April 14, 20201

After 45 years of dedicated service, Andrew Malekoff has announced his retirement from North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, Long Island’s premiere children’s mental health agency.

Malekoff, who joined the Guidance Center as an intern in 1977, has been the organization’s Executive Director/CEO for 15 years. He has a distinguished record of leadership and innovation, creating many of the agency’s most successful programs.

Malekoff provided administrative leadership in the development of the Guidance Center’s substance use treatment and prevention program, which made it the first organization on Long Island to be awarded an Outpatient Chemical Dependency for Youth License to treat adolescents.

As a leading voice in advocating for parity, Malekoff has testified in Albany calling for timely and affordable access to mental health and substance use care. His dedication led to a partnership with Long Island University on a research study called Project Access, which revealed massive inequities and roadblocks inherent in accessing mental health care.

The study has been cited as an important tool in advocating for essential systemic change.

Malekoff is a prolific and highly respected author whose articles have appeared in local and national outlets. He is a renowned expert in group therapy and wrote the definitive book on the subject: “Group Work with Adolescents: Principles and Practice,” which has been published internationally.

In partnership with Nassau B.O.C.E.S., Malekoff developed the Guidance Center’s Intensive Support Program (ISP), a school-based mental health program serving children from ages 5 to 21 years of age from all 56 Nassau districts. The program, now in its 25th year, provides students who are experiencing serious emotional problems an alternative to institutional or more restrictive settings.

During his tenure as executive director/CEO, Malekoff spearheaded the Guidance Center’s efforts in childhood mental health research in partnership with major research institutions including the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University, NYU Child Study Center and Northwell Health.

“Under Andy’s tenure, the Guidance Center has been there for families on Long Island during many crises, including the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Sandy and the pandemic,” said Paul Vitale, Board President. “His leadership has been steady, strong and innovative.”

Nancy Lane, former board resident who has worked with Malekoff for three decades, said, “Over his many years at the Guidance Center, Andy has provided compassionate, expert care to children and families experiencing issues such as depression, anxiety, bullying and other serious challenges.

His advocacy work and dedication to ending the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness is unmatched. While I have no doubts that the agency will continue to thrive, Andy will be sorely missed.”

Full Circle from Mischief to Good Trouble, by Andrew Malekoff, Blank Slate, April 19, 2021

Andrew Malekoff Honored for Lifetime of Service by NY State Senate, March 31, 2021

Senate Resolution No. 556
 
BY: Senator KAPLAN
 
        HONORING  Andrew Malekoff upon the occasion of his
        retirement after 45 years of  distinguished  service
        to North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center
 
  WHEREAS,  The  unity  of  our  State  and  Nation  is built upon the
compassion of individuals, such as Andrew Malekoff who uphold the values
of community life and who, through their great  actions,  epitomize  the
best of humanity; and
 
  WHEREAS,  This  Legislative  Body  is  justly  proud to honor Andrew
Malekoff  upon  the  occasion  of  his  retirement  after  45  years  of
distinguished  service  to North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center;
and
 
  WHEREAS, For the more than four decades,  Andrew  Malekoff  rendered
faithful,  conscientious  and  valuable service to North Shore Child and
Family Guidance Center; and
 
  WHEREAS, North Shore  Child  and  Family  Guidance  Center  is  Long
Island's  premiere  children's  mental health agency; it is a rare thing
for a person to devote their entire career to one organization  and  one
mission; Andrew Malekoff is one such individual; and
 
  WHEREAS, Andrew Malekoff, joined the Guidance Center as an intern in
1977;  as  a  clinician,  he  gave  his  all  to  every client, offering
compassion, creativity and wise counsel; and
 
  WHEREAS, In 2007, Andrew Malekoff became Executive  Director/CEO  of
the   North  Shore  Child  and  Family  Guidance  Center,  continuing  a
distinguished record  of  leadership  and  innovation;  furthermore,  he
created  many  of  the  agency's most successful programs, always facing
challenges with strength and grace; and
 
  WHEREAS, While many agencies were bought up  by  huge  conglomerates
and  became factory-like in their approach, Andrew Malekoff's dedication
prevented the Guidance Center from ever veering from  their  mission  to
provide  community-based  mental  health  care to all that entered their
doors; and
 
  WHEREAS,  Andrew  Malekoff  was  instrumental  in   organizing   the
development  of  the  Guidance  Center's  substance  use  treatment  and
prevention program, which made it the first organization on Long  Island
to  be  awarded  an  Outpatient Chemical Dependency for Youth License to
treat adolescents; and
 
  WHEREAS, In his official acts, Andrew Malekoff  was  governed  by  a
keen  sense  of duty and always showed a unique grasp of human problems;
in an extraordinary career which traversed more  than  four  decades  he
served  with  loyalty,  honor  and  distinction, earning the admiration,
esteem and affection of his colleagues; and
 
  WHEREAS, Rare indeed  is  the  impressive  dedication  shown  by  an
individual for the benefit of others which Andrew Malekoff has displayed
throughout his life; and
 
  WHEREAS,  It  has always been the objective of this Legislative Body
to  honor  and  support  those  individuals  who  have  displayed  their
commitment  to the betterment of their communities, and it is the intent
of this Legislative Body to inscribe upon its records, this  tribute  to
Andrew  Malekoff,  that  future  generations may know and appreciate his
admirable character, his many benevolent  deeds,  and  the  respect  and
esteem in which he is held by his peers; now, therefore, be it
 
  RESOLVED,  That  this Legislative Body pause in its deliberations to
honor Andrew Malekoff upon the occasion of his retirement after 45 years
of distinguished service  to  North  Shore  Child  and  Family  Guidance
Center,  and  to  wish  him  well in all his future endeavors; and be it
further
 
  RESOLVED, That a copy of this  Resolution,  suitably  engrossed,  be
transmitted to Andrew Malekoff.
The Back Road: The Recurring Nightmare of Anti-Asian Bias. By Andrew Malekoff, Published in Blank Slate Media/The Island Now, March 15, 2021

The Back Road: The Recurring Nightmare of Anti-Asian Bias. By Andrew Malekoff, Published in Blank Slate Media/The Island Now, March 15, 2021

Note: The Guidance Center received permission from Andrew Malekoff to post this commentary which he authored independently.

“We have seen this terrible nightmare before.”

So said Chinese-American activist Helen Zia during a forum on anti-Asian racism hosted by the Washington Post on March 8th. What she was referring to is the disturbing uptick in verbal and physical assault against Asian-Americans of all ages ever since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zia and historian Erika Lee, reviewed some of the historical markers in this recurrent nightmare, beginning with the establishment of Japanese internment camps from 1942 to 1945, in reaction to Japan’s 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into WWII. The interning of Japanese-Americans has long been considered one of the most dreadful violations of American civil rights in the 20th century.

Some 70 years earlier on October 24, 1871, in what some have labelled the largest mass lynching in American history, up to 20 innocent Chinese immigrants were beaten, murdered and hanged by an enraged mob after a police officer and rancher had been killed, supposedly as the result of a conflict between two rival Chinese gangs.

Ten assailants were prosecuted and eight were convicted of manslaughter. The convictions were later overturned on appeal due to technicalities.

Eleven years following the Chinese Massacre of 1871, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 became law. It was aimed at curtailing the influx of Chinese immigrant laborers into the United States.

This marks the only time in American history that a specific law was passed that prohibited all members of a particular ethnic or national group from settling in the United States.

One hundred years later, in 1982, Vincent Chin, a Chinese-American draftsman was beaten to death in Detroit by two white men – a Chrysler plant supervisor and a laid-off autoworker.

Asian-Americans of all backgrounds became prime targets, as automakers from Japan who were producing more fuel-efficient cars were blamed for layoffs at “The Big Three” – Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. Chin’s murderers got off on probation.

Looking back, “people knew from personal experience that we were lumped together,” said Helen Zia. “But in terms of identifying as pan-Asian, the key thing was that a man was killed because they thought he looked like a different ethnicity.”

In her latest book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents Pulitzer-prize winning author Isabel Wilkerson cites anthropologists Audrey and Brian Smedley who explain, “We think we ‘see’ race when we encounter certain physical difference among people such as skin color, eye shape and hair texture.

What we actually ‘see’ are the learned social meanings, the stereotypes that have been linked to those physical features by the ideology of race and the historical legacy it has left us.” Indeed, most of the attacks against people of Asian descent in American are not against Chinese but anyone who looks East Asian.

Fast forward to 2021. The public health crisis we have been facing for a full year now has put a bullseye squarely on all people of Asian descent living in the U.S. According to reports by the Anti-Defamation League, “Go back to China” has become a familiar taunt against anyone who looks to be Asian and thought to be a source of contagion and disease.

Historically, immigrant communities have been singled out in times of public health crises. Their passage to the U.S. has been given pejorative labels such as plague and invasion, objectifying them as if they are riddled with infection or akin to swarms of insects carrying disease.

Here we are in the opening decades of the 21st century and the nightmare is back with a vengeance. In recent months it was brought to my attention that a 5-year-old Asian-American child was on the receiving end of a coronavirus-driven tirade while playing in a park in Nassau County. The verbal assault left him shaken and stunned that someone would yell such things at him.

On February 10th, USA Today reported that “in one week in February, a 91-year-old man in Oakland Chinatown was brutally assaulted, a Thai man was attacked and killed in San Francisco and a Vietnamese woman was assaulted and robbed of $1,000 in San Jose.”

Law enforcement can and should help, but nothing less than empathy will ultimately make the difference – “radical empathy” as Isabel Wilkerson advised, “the kindred connection from a place of deep knowing that opens your spirit to the pain of another as they perceive it.”

We all – all of us, bear the moral responsibility to stand up, as opposed to sitting by silently when we witness this terrible nightmare come to life.

The lingering malaise of COVID-19: Need for mental health services has grown, Newsday

The lingering malaise of COVID-19: Need for mental health services has grown, Newsday

By Lisa L. Colangelo and David Reich-Hale, October 4, 2020

Six months after New Yorkers first hunkered down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the initial shock may have eased but the stress and anxiety have lingered, according to mental health experts.

The demand for counseling and therapy has increased as Long Islanders wait to see if schools can remain open, brace for flu season or even anticipate a possible second wave of COVID-19.

“There’s this sense that everyone’s waiting for the other shoe to drop,” said Dr. William Sanderson, a psychologist and director of the Anxiety & Depression Clinic at Hofstra University. “We aren’t really sure as we go into fall, are we going to be back where we were in March and April?”

In June 2020 on average, 36.5% of adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. Between January 2019 and June 2019, 11% of adults reported those symptoms.

Health care providers are using a mix of telehealth and in-person visits to facilitate support groups, individual therapy and family therapy for people grappling with fear, anxiety, depression and other challenges stemming from the pandemic.


 Dr. Adam Gonzalez, the director of Behavioral Health
“A silver lining of the COVID pandemic is that it pushed mental health, full-force, into telehealth.” Dr. Adam Gonzalez, the director of Behavioral Health at Stony Brook Medicine


“A silver lining of the COVID pandemic is that it pushed mental health, full-force, into telehealth,” said Dr. Adam Gonzalez, the director of Behavioral Health at Stony Brook Medicine. “We saw a decrease in cancellations and no shows because of telehealth.”

At NYU Winthrop, demand for mental health services skyrocketed.

The pandemic “has a ripple effect on almost every layer of society,” said Dr. Aaron Pinkhasov, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Winthrop Hospital, which has seen a 40% increase in demand for mental health services.

The ferocity of the news cycle has added to the stress, with reports of clusters of new casesemerging in New York and even the president and first lady testing positive in recent days.

No age group has been spared, Pinkhasov said. The lack of social contact has been especially difficult for young children as well as senior citizens. Then there is the pressure on adults caring for their children and aging parents, in many cases while working from home.

“Right now, more than ever, it’s important to expand mental health services and also educate primary care physicians, pediatricians, geriatric doctors and make them aware of the problem,” Pinkhasov said.

‘A chronic malaise’

During the height of the pandemic, the daily toll of infections, hospitalizations and deaths was grim and overwhelming. In April, over 700 New Yorkers died in one day.

But the percentage of new COVID-19 cases has hovered around a relatively low 1% for many weeks. The spread of the virus was slowed by the economic shutdown and individuals wearing masks, sheltering in place and avoiding crowds. The success came at a price.


Dr. William Sanderson, psychologist and director of the
“It cost us emotionally because a lot of it had to do with withdrawal and reductions in our lifestyle … now people are dealing with more of a chronic malaise.” Dr. William Sanderson, psychologist and director of the Anxiety & Depression Clinic at Hofstra University


“It cost us emotionally because a lot of it had to do with withdrawal and reductions in our lifestyle,” Sanderson said. “The shock is over and now people are dealing with more of a chronic malaise.”

Health care workers on the front lines fought hard to help patients, while dealing with their own stress, said Dr. Curtis Reisinger, a psychologist and director of Northwell’s Employee and Family Assistance Program, which offers confidential counseling services.

“We saw an eightfold increase in the number of people who called us after COVID,” Reisinger said. “We are still up 20% from what normal levels were.”


Dr. Curtis Reisinger, a psychologist and director of
“We saw an eightfold increase in the number of people who called us after COVID.” Dr. Curtis Reisinger, psychologist and director of Northwell’s Employee and Family Assistance Program


He said that increase has come, in part, because people who might have been uncomfortable asking for assistance, realize how helpful talking to a therapist could be.

“The access is also that much better, because of telehealth,” Reisinger said. 

Twenty-year-old Kelly Christ of Manhasset is hoping her struggles with anxiety will help others feel more comfortable to reach out for help. The Fordham University senior wrote blog posts and ran social media for the North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center this summer in an effort to help destigmatize the need to seek treatment.

“It was really good to have a person to talk to,” said Christ. “It made me feel like I wasn’t all alone, because sometimes if you’re talking to family and friends, you feel guilty.”

Others have seen existing mental health conditions aggravated.

John Lindstrom, 48, of Hicksville said his “depression has gone up a great deal” during the crisis.

Lindstrom, diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2007, said he has only recently started to reconnect with family and friends after feeling severely isolated in his basement apartment during the height of pandemic — too fearful to venture out to a 7-Eleven store.

While he has continued telehealth, he misses the camaraderie at the Central Nassau Guidance and Counseling Services in Hicksville where he spent time several days a week.

Back-to-school worries

The excitement of children returning to school has been replaced with anxiety for parents and children, experts say.

“We are seeing a lot of school-aged children dealing with the aftermath of quarantine isolation and having to get used to a whole new world,” said Dr. Janet Kahn-Scolaro, administrative director of Behavioral Health, at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital. “There is a fear of the disease, not just for them but for their parents.”

Kahn-Scolaro said parents should be educated on how to help children process what they are seeing and hearing about the pandemic.

“Little kids hear a whole lot of stuff,” she said. “They never process it the way adults think they do.”

Regina Barros-Rivera, associate executive director at Roslyn Heights-based North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center, a not-for-profit children’s mental health agency, said children are missing beloved rituals such as birthday parties, picnics and the routine of going back and forth from school.

“I find parents who can offer structure can have more success,” she said. “Perhaps it’s a corner of a room that becomes their classroom. Create as much of a routine as possible.”

Winter days ahead

The warm summer months have given quarantine-weary Long Islanders a chance to get outside and safely visit with friends and family. But the long, lazy beach days are giving way to a brisk fall and earlier sunsets.


Dr. David Flomenhaft, Director of Behavioral Health Services
“As the weather turns colder a lot of us are fearful of what that means in terms of continuing to socialize.” Dr. David Flomenhaft, director of the outpatient Behavioral Health Services at Mercy Medical Center

Click to watch the video


“As the weather turns colder a lot of us are fearful of what that means in terms of continuing to socialize,” said Dr. David Flomenhaft, director of the outpatient Behavioral Health Services at Mercy Medical Center, which has seen a 20% increase in referrals over the last six months.

Flomenhaft said people should maintain routines, get exercise and avoid staying up late watching TV — even if they are working from home.

He is hopeful many can adapt: “We believe that people can grow and improve having survived difficult times.”

With David Olson

SOME PLACES FOR SUPPORT

SOURCE: Newsday Research.

“Take a Stand, Make Waves for Kids,” by Andrew Malekoff, Blank Slate Media, April 30, 2019

“Take a Stand, Make Waves for Kids,” by Andrew Malekoff, Blank Slate Media, April 30, 2019

selective focus photo of ocean waves

It wasn’t necessary for the slaughter of innocents at Sandy Hook elementary school on Dec. 14, 2012 to validate that there is evil in the world. But what it did is affirm that if the massacre of 6- and 7-year-old children is not off limits, then nothing is.

This perception has been so routinely validated since that fateful day there is the real possibility that we are becoming numb to mass shootings in America.

Psychic numbing is a psychological condition that leads one to feeling indifferent to horrific events. The quote attributed to Joseph Stalin, “One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic,” is an illustration of that state.

The sabbath day synagogue attack in Poway, Calif., is just the latest mass shooting in America and the second synagogue shooting in only six months following the Tree of Life slaughter in Pittsburgh.

After some time passes, Poway will become another tombstone in our collective psyche, alongside all the others that have occurred in churches, mosques, public schools, colleges, shopping malls, nightclubs, business offices, concert halls and more.

Shortly after the shootings, mental health experts, clergy and educators offer tips, wisdom and spiritual support to speechless parents about how to soothe their children. Their advice always is: Be available emotionally, be compassionate, limit media exposure, reassure safety, offer distractions to prevent obsessive worry, watch for angry outbursts and depression and, if symptoms persist, seek professional help.

I imagine if parents were to speak from their guts instead of their heads and hearts, they would likely tell their children: “It’s a cruel world, evil is everywhere, toughen up, watch your back, and don’t trust anyone.”

In 2019 alone, through the end of March and before Poway, there have been 70 mass shootings, 90 dead and 249 wounded across the country. These statistics can be found in any number of publications that have taken on the task of tracking mass shootings in the United States. They include USA Today, Mother Jones, Vox and the Washington Post.

When I was a child, I was an avid collector of baseball cards. I knew all the stats of my favorite players. I checked the box scores in the papers each morning after a game. Those were the numbers that consumed my childhood. Now it’s mass shootings. How many? How many dead? How many wounded? What team is the shooter on? Is he a lone wolf?

It is sad to say but I am no longer shocked. I know Poway won’t be the last nor will the next be the last.

In an interview with Bill Moyers one year after 9/11, psychiatrist Robert J. Lifton said, “I think we all have a double life. On the one hand, we know we can be annihilated and everybody around us by terrorism, by the incredible weaponry this world now has. And yet in another part of our mind we simply go through our routine. And, we do what we do in life, and we try to do it as well as we can.”

Lifton has a most unique perspective having studied the aftermath of the Hiroshima bomb, the Nazi doctors, and the cult that released gas into the Tokyo subway, among many other horrible things people do to one another.

What he seems to be saying is that on the one hand we’re free to live our day-to-day lives, but on the other hand, we are never unmindful of these events. And, so we have a choice to make. We can let these events pass us by as a train in the night or get involved in something that really matters.

Students, like those from from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., have been models for transcending inertia and taking social action, at choosing hope over despair.

As one such student from Iowa said in an interview on PBS: “Change will not come on its own. We have to make it for ourselves. The adults have proven that they are unwilling to move beyond thoughts and prayers. We must force them into action.”

Take a stand.

Make waves.

Andrew Malekoff is the executive director of North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, which provides comprehensive mental health services for children from birth through 24 and their families. To find out more, visit www.northshorechildguidance.org.