The Safe Community Coalition has hosted critical presentations on anxiety, stress, teen depression, resilience, dating abuse, drug and alcohol prevention, safe technology use, positive discipline, and parenting. We work with a Youth Advisory Council in middle schools, and hold a variety of school- and community-based events.

The SCC’s community meetings and programs focus on youth mental wellness, coping mechanisms, and current issues of concern that are raised by members of the community. We are able to do all of this by partnering with mental health practitioners, law enforcement, faith organizations, parents, students, and administration from our local schools.

In conjunction with our annual speaker event, we organize book talks in schools prior to the event featuring the speaker’s works. We have brought national bestselling authors and experts such as Lynn Lyons, Madeline Levine, Brad Sachs, Julie Lythcott-Haims, and Catherine Steiner-Adair. Our speakers have discussed topics such as resiliency, grit, the perils of over-parenting, and disconnecting from technology to connect with one another.

The SCC offers resources for those programs and speakers we have worked with and partnered with in the past. Due to the constraints on our volunteers involved in reviewing additional resources and the inherent conflicts of interest, we cannot advertise additional programs. The inclusion of links from external sites does not imply endorsement or support of any of the linked information, services, products, or providers. The SCC makes no effort to verify, or to exert any editorial control or influence over, information on pages outside of the “mcleanscc.org” domain.

FAIRFAX COUNTY-SPECIFIC RESOURCES

The FCPS Parent Resource Center (PRC) provides a number of resources year-round for parents, caregivers, school staff, and others around a variety of topics, including academic support, mental health and wellness, parenting, distance learning, and special education. These go well beyond the pandemic, but are especially helpful in this time. It offers the following:
  • A library of hardcopy books to check out or have delivered to your school, including books for children on these issues
  • Online resources from FCPS and the community on a wide variety of topics to help families and educators support student success
  • Free and confidential consultations, which are helpful for parents who need to identify whom in their school or FCPS to contact for assistance
  • Free live webinars, most are recorded and posted on the PRC YouTube channel
  • A News You Choose newsletter just for the Parent Resource Center
  • A Tutor List with names of current FCPS teachers who want to tutor after their contracted school day
Contact the PRC (703-204-3941) for the tutor list and any other questions.

Fairfax Prevention Coalition (FPC) is a partnership of parents, youth, schools, healthcare providers, government agencies, law enforcement, faith-based organizations, media, nonprofits, businesses, policymakers and volunteers, working together, to combat substance misuse in our community. The vision of the FPC is for a healthy and safe community free of substance misuse.  The mission is to empower the community to understand, prevent, and reduce substance misuse.

The Fairfax Prevention Coalition collaborates with community partners in its endeavors to reduce substance abuse in the community. Each community sector can provide valuable support and feedback that can help the coalition implement more effective and relevant strategies. FPC follows the model of the Communities Coalition Anti-Drug of America (CADCA) to include as many potential partners as possible. Strong representation from all community sectors can harness our community’s power to create change and ensure sustained action.

FPC provides numerous resources for mental health, emergency services, recovery groups, family support, and many more.

The Fairfax County Youth Survey is a comprehensive, anonymous and voluntary survey given each year to students in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 that examines behaviors, experiences and other factors that influence the health and well-being of Fairfax County’s youth. The results provide a snapshot of the county’s youth and serve as a barometer of the community’s effectiveness in fostering healthy choices in young people. The Youth Survey is a collaboration between Fairfax County Government and Fairfax County Public Schools.

2019-2020 Findings Report

Click printable Crisis Resource Card. The card includes phone and text numbers for resources around mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, eating disorders, poison control, sober rides, and others.

COVID-19, REMOTE LEARNING, RETURN TO SCHOOL

The COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a new disease, all the changes we have made to keep ourselves and our families healthy, and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Seeing a growing need among their patients and clients, members of the SCC’s Mental Health Committee approached the Board with a vision of casual discussions to educate and support our community during this very challenging time. And with an inability to provide our normal documentary film screenings and bringing in nationally-recognized speakers, this seemed like the best way to implement the SCC’s mission this year.

These videos, the basis for our “Managing the Moments” 2020-2021 theme, are meant to begin a discussion of mental health issues, educate us all on how to promote healthy coping strategies, and encourage us to keep our well-being in the forefront of how we navigate through life’s upheavals. Each video features mental health providers discussing important topics in mental health relevant to the pandemic, stressors of learning and working from home, and concerns of the future. (Though indeed these topics are relevant to all of our lives most of the time!) While not all are directed to all ages, all are appropriate for all ages. Most videos are accompanied by printable tip sheets or presentation slides to help us retain or share the messages. Click the icons to watch each video on our YouTube channel and access the tip sheets associated with them.

Note: The contents of this site are for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing found on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional psychological, psychiatric or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or mental disorder. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site. Reliance on any information provided by Safe Community Coalition or by any person or professional appearing on our website is solely at your own risk. The Safe Community Coalition is not liable for any advice or information provided on the site, all of which is provided on an “as-is” basis. No warranties, either express or implied, are made on the information we provide.

A Brighter 2021: Ending the School Year Strong, featuring Ana Homayoun

With just a few weeks remaining of the school year, helping students finish the school year strong while also laying the groundwork for how to thrive this spring and summer is a top concern for local parents and caregivers. To reach a wide audience with strategies that could help, the Safe Community Coalition hosted our annual spring speaker virtually in a webinar presented by international author and educator Ana Homayoun entitled “A Brighter 2021: Ending the School Year Strong” on Tuesday, April 13.

“As we near the end of the school year, the level of grief and exhaustion from the past year is coming out more and more,” said Homayoun. “We’ve been running a marathon since last March and now that we’re nearing the finish line, the wheels come off and there’s a sense of exhaustion.”

As an author, educator and school strategist, Homayoun noted the challenges she’s seeing in the remote learning environment, including managing distractions and staying focused; planning out time to complete work; keeping track of where individual teachers assign work and would like the work to be submitted (and when the work is due); social-emotional disconnect from classmates; and navigating various learning platforms by class with different teachers using different portals with non-uniform expectations.

As kids transition from online to a hybrid or in-person learning environment, another set of challenges emerge. To help, Homayoun recommends having a system for organizing notes, homework, and quizzes that can be used in both remote and in-person models; identifying strategies for how to check school portals for upcoming assignments and missing work daily; using paper planners to visualize work blocks and due dates; and ensuring kids know how to communicate effectively with teachers.

Here are the six recommendations Homayoun offered to finish the year strong academically, socially, emotionally and physically:

Key Takeaways from Setting the Tone: Habits for a Smooth Virtual Learning Experience

Key Concepts:

  • Focus on what we can control: Your physical space, your attitude, your health.
  • Build our emotional tool kits: What you need to stay focused and positive.
  • Remember stability points that keep us grounded:  Nature walks, texting with friends, etc.
  • Acknowledge losses in our lives and don’t gloss over them: It’s OK to mourn the loss of sports, clubs, social outings, etc.

What Ana asks her students:

  1. What’s something you have time for now that you didn’t’ when you were busy with lots of activities?
  2. How can you be of service to your family and your community?
  3. What do you need for your mental health?

Kids need these things this year:

  1. Autonomy: some sense of control (where they set up studying, how they are going to structure their exercise, etc.)
  2. Competence: they need a sense that they are capable of making decisions and of trying new things.
  3. Belonging: they need to feel they are part of a group.
  4. Connection: they need to feel connected to that group.

How to keep students engaged? We as parents need to help them reframe the problem. Instead of dictating how you would do something or get something done, ask them open ended questions and let them answer without interruption. Offer a sense of grace instead of frustration. Think of this year as a blank slate and let go of expectations of what the year is “supposed” to be like. Be flexible with planning and have a plan A, B, and C.

Setting up space to learn is key. Kids need some sense of control over this. Getting them outside their bedrooms might be key. Reassess if what you are doing now isn’t working. Collaborate with them to create a learning space. Help them identify outside supporters like friends to help them study. And outsource if you need to by reaching out to older kids in your neighborhood or even grandparents and family members. Help them identify things they want to master or learn this year instead of just “getting through it.”

How to manage the easily distracted student? Get up early enough to get at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise before school begins. Encourage them to get up every 30 minutes to move around (maybe use a kitchen timer or phone timer). Keep fluids like fresh water handy. Use a paper planner instead of just online planners. Create checklists of projects and encourage the physical checking off of completed items and work that is turned in. Create binders for each subject or use one big binder with dividers. Graduating seniors should keep one binder for each college to which they are applying. Teach kids how to use electronic folders to organize school work and emails.

Admit you don’t know all the answers and keep exploring with your student!

Click HERE for a printable sheet.

Members of our Mental Health Advisory Committee are concerned about the toll that the stress of distance learning, social isolation, economic concerns, the inability to plan for the near future have taken on adults and kids. They’ve created videos on a variety of topics:

  • Finding A Counselor: Tips and Advice
  • Grounding Techniques to Help Cope with Uncertainty
  • How To Meet Kids’ Three Basic Needs: Competence, Connection, and Autonomy
  • Healthy Coping Strategies During Uncertain Times
  • Staying Positive
  • 5 Tips to Engage Your Children More Successfully During This Corona Virus Time

Note: The contents of this site are for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing found on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional psychological, psychiatric or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or mental disorder. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site. Reliance on any information provided by Safe Community Coalition or by any person or professional appearing on our website is solely at your own risk. The Safe Community Coalition is not liable for any advice or information provided on the site, all of which is provided on an “as-is” basis. No warranties, either express or implied, are made on the information we provide.

TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIAL MEDIA WELLNESS

More than 2 billion people have smartphones today. And we check our phones on average an incredible 150 times every day. Technology makes our lives easier in so many ways ― but what is the cost of our dependence, and our children’s reliance, on screens?

As part of a yearlong focus on social media wellness, the Safe Community Coalition, in conjunction with the PTSAs of Langley High School and McLean High School, hosted two screenings of the compelling new IndieFlix Original documentary “LIKE” at Langley and McLean High Schools. Nearly 400 students and parents attended! Check out these tips we learned! Langley High also showed the film to freshman and sophomores and McLean showed it to freshmen. Ask them about it!

“LIKE” reveals the true effects of technology on the brain and uncovers the impact social media can have on our lives. The film’s mission is to educate, inform and inspire people to effectively self-regulate their screen time. The film features interviews with experts including Max Stossel, Head of Education & Content at Center for Humane Technology; Leah Pearlman,Co-Creator of the Facebook “Like” button; Dr. Jerry BubrickSenior Psychologist at Child Mind Institute; Professor Jevin West, DataLab, iSchool, University of Washington; John Borthwick, CEO of Betaworks; and Professor Katie Davis, author of The App Generation.

After the film, Dr. Clifford Sussman, a DC-based psychiatrist and expert on helping people achieve a more balanced relationship with digital technology, led a Q&A.

If your child is active on any kind of social media, you need these resources. Find out more about the film at www.thelikemovie.com, including options for additional screenings.

Dr. Steiner-Adair examines ways in which the wonders of technology and media also change how children learn and grow, and shows parents and educators how to reap the benefits of tech while reducing the risks it poses at every stage of child development.

Visit Dr. Steiner-Adair’s site: http://catherinesteineradair.com/

MENTAL HEALTH

Lynn Lyons spoke to us in April 2019 on “Reducing Anxiety: Strategies to Interrupt the Worry Cycle.” Lynn’s visit was the highlight of the SCC’s yearlong focus on anxiety in families.

Five key takeaways from the evening are summarized below–

  1. Anxiety feeds off two things: certainty and comfort. The type of anxiety or root cause doesn’t matter. When you learn how anxiety works in the brain and body and take a few steps back, you can see that worry follows a fairly consistent pattern — you can see the traps and the exits.
  2. Despite our best intentions, parents often unwittingly plant the seeds of worry.  We want our child’s worry to go away, so we reassure and make arrangements for things to run smoothly. Yet the more we try to accommodate and provide certainty, the more we inadvertently reinforce the fear and avoidance. Reassurance is a bottomless pit. By embracing new strategies you can alter the pattern.
  3. Anxiety has a genetic component, with anxious parents up to seven times more likely to have an anxious child. There’s no anxiety gene, so how parents model behaviors around anxiety– taking the time to notice our own tendencies to worry and how we manage stress — sets the tone.
  4. The goal is not to prevent worries; it is to keep anxious fears from dominating families. To do that, change your reaction to it —
    • Expect it.  Use “of course” a lot. “Of course you are going to be nervous about…How are you going to respond when worry shows up?”
    • Externalize it. For younger children, name the anxiety. If “Fred” or “Stella” shows up, talk to it. “Look, Stella. I can’t deal with you today. I want to go to my friend’s party and I don’t want you around making me worry.”
    • Experiment. Choose action over avoidance. By seeking out discomfort and uncertainty you can lessen the effects of the body’s fight-or-flight alarms and lay down new track in the brain.
  5. Action, not avoidance, is the key to success in helping children and teens push through their fears, worries, and phobias to ultimately become more resilient, independent, and happy.

Details can be found in Lynn’s slides as well as on her website. The discussion on April 1st was based on her groundbreaking book, “Anxious Kids Anxious Parents: 7 Ways to Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous and Independent Children.” And scroll through pics from the event below!

Angst is a 56-minute film and virtual reality experience that explores anxiety, its causes, effects and what we can do about it. The filmmakers’ goal is to have a global conversation and raise awareness around anxiety. Angst features candid interviews with kids and young adults who suffer, or have suffered, from anxiety and what they’ve learned about it.  The film includes discussions with mental health experts about the causes of anxiety and its sociological effects, as well as help, resources and tools. It also has a special interview with Olympian and mental health advocate Michael Phelps to raise awareness about anxiety, to share the stories of those who it impacts, and to help find solutions.

What did you think of “Angst”? We are thrilled with such a great turnout last night! Let’s continue the conversation! McLean area elementary teacher and mom Maria Pike shared this:
Tonight I had the pleasure of attending a screening of “Angst” put on by the Safe Community Coalition…Here are some of the big takeaways for me from the film and panel conversation:
  1. Anxiety disorders are treatable.
  2. Neuroplasticity of the brain is real. You can change the way you think about something.
  3. NAME IT TO TAME IT! Openly discuss exactly what you are feeling in order to bring down your anxiety.
  4. Parent modeling is SO important!! Tell your children when you are feeling anxiety/shame/fear and let them know that you are human too! Discuss ways that you manage your own anxiety.
  5. Exercise (!!!) and sleep (!!!!!) are so important for teenagers to help manage their angst.
Thanks, Maria! And thank you to Peggy Fox for moderating our panel. And thanks to our panelists McLean therapists Jennifer Weaver and Dr. Adrian Brown, McLean HS School Psychologist Beth Werfel and School Social Worker Marly Jerome-Featherson, and Kent Gardens ES School Psychologist Kayla Callister! Thank you to McLean High School and the PTSA for co-hosting with us! We’re hearing that other high schools will be showing it and hope that we have helped pave the way a bit.

Featuring the heartbreaking stories of students across the country who have been pushed to the brink by over-scheduling, over-testing and the relentless pressure to achieve, “Race to Nowhere” points to a silent epidemic in our schools. Through the testimony of educators, parents and education experts, it reveals an education system in which cheating has become commonplace; students have become disengaged; stress-related illness, depression and burnout are rampant; and young people arrive at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired.

Visit Race to Nowhere’s site: http://www.racetonowhere.com/.

Parenting Mission Statement: While we all hope that our children will do well in school, we hope with even greater fervor that they will do well in life. Our job is to help them know and appreciate themselves deeply, to be resilient in the face of adversity, to approach the world with zest, to find work that is satisfying, friends and spouses who are loving and loyal, and to hold a deep belief that they have something meaningful to contribute to the world.

Visit Madeline’s site: http://madelinelevine.com/.

http://www.activeminds.org/ Active Minds empowers students to change the perception about mental health on college campuses.

(The inclusion of links from this site does not imply endorsement or support of any of the linked information, services, products, or providers. The SCC makes no effort to verify, or to exert any editorial control or influence over, information on pages outside of the “mcleanscc.org” domain.)

Mental Health Resources, June 2014, our list from Teen to Teen Summit

Minding Your Mind’s (MYM) primary objective is to provide mental health education to adolescents, teens and young adults, their parents, teachers and school administrators. Our goal is to reduce the stigma and destructive behaviors often associated with mental health issues. Treatment is available, yet only 3 out of 10 individuals needing help actually seek help. Minding Your Mind Programs move away from crisis based response to prevention through education.

Visit Minding Your Mind’s site: http://mindingyourmind.org/.

Mental Health Resources: 24/7 Emergency Numbers

  • Life Threatening, 911
  • CrisisLink Regional Hotline, 703-527-4077, CrisisLink is a hotline for individuals in crisis or family/friends seeking guidance for how to help a loved one
  • CrisisText, Text NEEDHELP to 85511
  • Dominion Hospital Emergency, 703-536-2000
  • Inova Emergency, 703-289-7560
  • Mobile Crisis Unit, 1-844-627-4747
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK, 1-800-SUICIDE
  • Merrifield Center Emergency, 703-573-5679, TTY dial 711. The Merrifield Center, of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board, offers a range of clinical programming. Emergency Services, staffed 24 hours per day, seven days per week, works with people in psychiatric crisis who need immediate attention.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE (elicit and prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco, vaping)

Drugs of Abuse, A DEA Resource Guide, is designed to be a reliable resource on the most commonly abused and misused drugs in the United States. This comprehensive guide provides important information about the harms and consequences of drug use by describing a drug’s effects on the body and mind, overdose potential, origin, legal status, and other key facts. (PDF version)

Drugs of Abuse also offers a list of additional drug education and prevention resources, including the DEA websites:

Click for the National Institute on Drug Abuse for vaping information.

Visit Break the Vape for information about the January 23, 2020 session we helped promote.

Review the FCPS Parent Vaping Education program.

PARENTING

Wendy Mogel visited McLean in 2018 to talk with us about communicating with our kids. Dr. Mogel’s mission is the protection and promotion of self-reliance, resilience, accountability and exuberance in children. She is the author of two parenting classics, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and The Blessing of a B-Minus, that have guided thousands of parents through the joys and trials of child rearing.  In her newest book Voice Lessons for Parents: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Listen, released in April 2018, Dr. Mogel shows parents how to cultivate the art of conversation with their kids–from infancy to adulthood–and demonstrates how a shift in tone, tempo, and body language can open up avenues of communication, even in the age of digital distraction.

Visit Dr. Mogel’s site here: http://www.wendymogel.com/ or watch some videos or read reviews.

In How to Raise an Adult, Julie Lythcott-Haims draws on research, on conversations with admissions officers, educators, and employers, and on her own insights as a mother and as a student dean to highlight the ways in which overparenting harms children, their stressed-out parents, and society at large. While empathizing with the parental hopes and, especially, fears that lead to overhelping, Lythcott-Haims offers practical alternative strategies that underline the importance of allowing children to make their own mistakes and develop the resilience, resourcefulness, and inner determination necessary for success.

Visit Julie’s site here: https://www.julielythcotthaims.com/how-to-raise-an-adult/.

http://www.challengesuccess.org/ At Challenge Success, we believe that our society has become too focused on grades, test scores, and performance, leaving little time for kids to develop the necessary skills to become resilient, ethical, and motivated learners. We provide families and schools with the practical, research-based tools they need to create a more balanced and academically fulfilling life for kids. After all, success is measured over the course of a lifetime, not at the end of a semester.

Dr. Sachs offers hands-on exercises that guide parents to a greater understanding of how they can be good enough, rather than perfect, parents, and how they can attain a healthier dynamic within the family. Learn to: understand the family dynamics that either impede or nurture self-sufficiency and resiliency; foster a higher degree of academic, professional, and fiscal responsibility; and effectively encourage young adults to establish realistic goals and create a meaningful vision for their future and how to achieve them.

Visit Dr. Sach’s website here: http://www.drbradsachs.com/.

The FCPS Parent Resource Center (PRC) provides a number of resources year-round for parents, caregivers, school staff, and others around a variety of topics, including academic support, mental health and wellness, parenting, distance learning, and special education. These go well beyond the pandemic, but are especially helpful in this time. It offers the following:
  • A library of hardcopy books to check out or have delivered to your school, including books for children on these issues
  • Online resources from FCPS and the community on a wide variety of topics to help families and educators support student success
  • Free and confidential consultations, which are helpful for parents who need to identify whom in their school or FCPS to contact for assistance
  • Free live webinars, most are recorded and posted on the PRC YouTube channel
  • A News You Choose newsletter just for the Parent Resource Center
  • A Tutor List with names of current FCPS teachers who want to tutor after their contracted school day
Contact the PRC (703-204-3941) for the tutor list and any other questions.
https://www.fcps.edu/resources/student-safety-and-wellness: From mental health resources, to bullying prevention and food and nutrition services, FCPS is committed to supporting more than just a child’s education.
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