Facing the 20th anniversary of the Columbine tragedy

This Saturday, April 20, marks the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School tragedy.  Many of us remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news. Maybe you weren’t even born yet, but if you grew up in Colorado, you grew up with the Columbine “legacy.” Local and national media has shifted into high gear with 20th anniversary coverage.  It brings those awful memories right back, doesn’t it?  The way we worried when our kids were out of our sight, worried for their safety.  Worried for our own safety.  It’s not at all unusual to feel anxious and sad 20 years after the event.

Here are some helpful tips to help you navigate through:

  • Give yourself permission to disconnect from media, including social media, to lessen your exposure to coverage about the event.
  • Encourage your children and teens to talk about their concerns and to express their feelings. Some children may be hesitant to initiate conversation, so you may want to ask what they’ve heard and how they feel about it.
  • If the looming anniversary is affecting your sleep, concentration, or social interactions, talk to someone you trust about how you feel. A friend, a work colleague, a member of your spiritual circle or a family member may be more than happy to listen.
  • Resiliency is the secret to navigating through hard times like this. Now is the time to fortify your resiliency with self-care. Indulge yourself with good and healthy food, enough sleep and any enjoyable social activities that bring you peace and happiness. Expose yourself to the beautiful Colorado landscapes and parks, music, art or a good book.  Self-care isn’t selfish indulgence, it’s an important protective factor for good mental health.
  • Monitor your alcohol, sugar and caffeine intake because they really do make you feel worse during stressful times.
  • Give yourself permission to cancel some of your obligations so you don’t feel so pressured by your “to-do list” right now.
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed and hopeless, we are here for you. Here’s the link to get started with supportive services at Community Reach Center: https://www.communityreachcenter.org/help-starts-here/. Also call Colorado Crisis Services 24/7 at 1-844-493-8255 or text

Remember that you’re not alone. Although Columbine was a national tragedy, it was Colorado’s family. The best thing we can do for ourselves and one another is to embrace the good and live our best lives.

Community Reach Center staff will provide free Psychological First Aid and Crisis Counseling for students, parents and community members 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at Community Reach Center’s Walk-In Crisis Center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., Suite 2, in Westminster, C0lorado 80031. Mental Health resources will also be provided. Anyone who feels they need support or someone to talk to is welcome.


Why people don’t seek treatment for depression

What prevents people from taking steps to obtain treatment for depression?

Sometimes the needed services are simply not available, so there is nowhere to turn. Even with available options, there are numerous other factors that prevent people from obtaining help – either to take the first step to meet with a practitioner or to pursue treatment once diagnosed.

An average of one in four Americans experience a mental illness every year, yet only about 41 percent seek mental health services.  In fact, the median time frame for seeking treatment is 10 years.

Some of the most common reasons people do not take the steps needed to obtain help for depression include:

  • Fear and shame: People recognize the negative stigma and discrimination of being associated with a mental illness. Fear of being labeled weak is part of the human condition, and it is natural to worry about impact on education, careers and life goals.
  • Lack of insight: When someone has clear signs of a mental illness but is convinced nothing is wrong, this is known as anosognosia.
  • Limited awareness: A person sometimes minimizes their issues and rationalizes that what is going on is “not that bad” or “everyone gets stressed.” Learning more about symptoms and conditions is advised for everyone wanting to better understand depression.
  • Feelings of inadequacy: Many people believe that they are inadequate or it would mean failure to admit that something is wrong. They believe they should be able to handle it.
  • Distrust: Some find it difficult to share personal details with a counselor, and may worry that information will not be kept confidential
  • Hopelessness: Sometimes there is a feeling that nothing will ever get better and nothing will help.
  • Unavailability: Some may not know how to find help, and in underserved areas this problem is more significant.
  • Practical barriers: A lack of reliable transportation or the ability to pay for services or appointments times that conflict with work or school schedules are significant.

Communications and programs are continuously working to make mental health treatments as accessible as possible. The continuing integration of primary care and mental health services is meant to streamline the processes involved in getting people to the help that they need. Visit the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council for nearby mental health centers, and for immediate concerns please call the Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-TALK (8255).

The challenge is clear. A study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine indicates that of those who are newly diagnosed, only about a third get treatment, and the statistic is even lower among minorities and older adults. Consequently, it is important to educate yourself about mental health providers nearest you.

We have a broad and diverse continuum of mental health services at Community Reach Center. To learn more about our services, visit communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday. We have outpatient and residential centers in the north side Denver metro area, including Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

A look at suicidal tendencies and how to help

The signs and symptoms of suicide risk are well documented, so it is important to take the time to know what to watch for and how to help. You could be the helpful friend or family member that aids and encourages someone to connect with needed professional services.

Common factors

People face different challenges at different times of their lives, and according to the Mental Health First Aid manual some common factors associated with someone being suicidal are:

  • Mental illness: People who are depressed are more likely to die by suicide. Depressive symptoms contribute to risk of suicide as the person may feel overwhelmed and helpless.
  • Suicide risk is increased by alcohol or drug use - and in some cases, a combination of both.
  • Certain age groups are more at-risk, typically adolescents and older adults.
  • Males kill themselves more often than females although females attempt suicide three times as often.
  • Lack of social support. For example, not having a spouse is a risk factor for males.
  • The fact that other family members or significant persons have taken their lives by suicide.

Of the suicide risk assessments related to: gender, age, chronic physical illness, mental illness, use of alcohol and other substances, less social support, previous attempt and organized plan, it so happens that previous attempt and having an organized plan are the most significant factors. Having a plan means discussing specifically how someone might take his or her life.

What to watch for

A variety or warning signs of suicide are evident. They include:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself
  • Seeking access to means
  • Talking, writing or posting on social media about death dying or suicide
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling worthless or a lack of purpose
  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities
  • Feeling trapped
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from family friends or society
  • Demonstrating rage and anger or seeking revenge
  • Appearing agitated
  • Having a dramatic change in mood

Please keep in mind that some of these warning signs alone may not be related to suicidal ideation but fall under the context of life’s general pressures or what teens sometimes experience in the process of growing up. The Mental Health First Aid courses outline how to help and provides several exercises to teach skills in reaching out. One key point is to let the person know you are concerned and willing to help. Secondly, if a person has a plan and is a high risk for suicide, it is most important to stay with that individual until professional help arrives.

Learning opportunities

Mental Health First Aid courses are provided through Community Reach Center. Please register at Community Reach Center. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) instructs people how to identify, understand and respond to others experiencing a behavioral health crisis. This 8-hour class teaches recognition of risk factors and warning signs and how to provide basic, appropriate interventions for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis.

ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) is a two-day workshop that prepares caregivers to provide suicide life-assisting, first-aid intervention. Anyone 16 years and older are welcome to attend. Also, safeTALK is a three-hour training program that prepares helpers to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first-aid resources. To register for ASIST, visit Community Reach Center.  For safeTalk, training, visit Living Works.

If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, we have a continuum of mental health services at Community Reach Center. To learn more about our services, visit communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Learn About the Role of Sleep in Mental Health

Man enjoying good sleepEvery year, researchers discover new links between sleep and health, and it's become apparent that sleep is something that everybody needs to take seriously. There are a number of health complications that can arise as a result of disturbed sleep, a lack of sleep, and a slew of other factors. At our mental health clinic, we emphasize that restful sleep is essential to good mental and emotional health. 


Physical and Mental Health Risks of Sleep Deprivation

Everyone experiences occasional sleeplessness. However, people who fail to get seven to nine hours of sleep on a regular basis and consequently have an ongoing “sleep deficit” are at a higher risk for a number of medical problems including:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack

Sleep difficulties can also cause or worsen mental and emotional health issues. This includes:

  • Decreased ability to think clearly
  • Memory problems
  • Decreased reaction time (which is especially problematic when driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery)
  • Increased symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Strained personal and professional relationships


Sleep and ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that is closely linked to sleep. While the relationship is not fully understood, most experts agree that there is a connection. The National Sleep Foundation quotes multiple studies in pointing out that in children in particular:

  • Children who have ADHD have higher rates of daytime sleepiness than children without ADHD
  • About 50 percent of children with ADHD exhibit signs of sleep-disordered breathing as compared to just 22 percent of children without the disease
  • Periodic leg movement syndrome and restless legs syndrome are common in kids with ADHD

Making matters worse is the fact that while adults tend to get lethargic when they don’t get enough sleep, children often compensate for feelings of daytime sleepiness by being more active. Consequently, sleep disorders and ADHD may both mask and magnify one another, making it more challenging to assess and treat either condition. However, treatment can be effective, and it is critical as both conditions can lead to other health problems.


10 Tips for Better Sleep

Whether sleep issues are causing you to have health concerns or simply impacting your quality of life, there are steps you can take to get more restful sleep. They include:

  1. Sticking to a regular sleep/wake schedule, even on weekends
  2. Avoiding long or irregular daytime naps
  3. Increasing exposure to sunlight or bright light during the day
  4. Reducing caffeine consumption later in the day
  5. Sleeping in a room that is comfortably cool, dark and quiet
  6. Avoiding late meals and minimizing water intake in the evening
  7. Reducing “screen time” as bedtime approaches
  8. Practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, visualization, taking a hot bath or shower, meditating or reading a book just before going to bed
  9. Getting regular exercise, but not in the evening
  10. Being evaluated for physical or mental health concerns that may be affecting your sleep


Helping Clients Understand and Improve Their Sleep

At Community Reach Center, we know how valuable it is to get restful sleep on a regular basis. Our counselors also understand that sleep, mental health and physical health are intertwined and can help you address the challenges you face. Learn more about our services at communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have mental health centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

What are “Evidence-Based” Practices?

Doctor helping patient with paperworkThe term “evidence-based practice” (EBP) is widely used in behavioral health settings today. In fact, it is used in many areas of healthcare and beyond. But, the people we serve at our mental health clinic will often ask, “What does it mean?”

Healthcare professionals first began referring to evidence-based medicine (EBM) in the context of medical research. In particular, randomized clinical trials were, and are, considered to be the best source of evidence on the efficacy of a particular drug or treatment. The concept then spread to other allied health and educational fields, and the more general label EBP was applied. And while “evidence-based” first referred to a process, it now is a descriptor for any treatment model that is supported by a reasonable amount of evidence.


From Initial Reluctance to Widespread Use

Initially, some behavioral health professionals were reluctant to adopt EBP as a standard of care in mental health for a few reasons. One was that unlike a clinical drug trial in which the results were fairly clear (i.e., a medication either killed the targeted cancer cell or it did not), the “results” of a behavioral treatment are harder to define. Is the patient experiencing fewer symptoms of depression this month as compared to last month? If so, how much fewer? Another point of resistance was that mental health professionals did not want to ignore the important role that their judgment plays in helping patients get well.

However, EBP is now widely accepted as an effective way to approach the diagnosis and treatment of behavioral health conditions. For example, the U.S. government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has established an Evidence-Based Practices Resource Center whose goal is “to provide communities, clinicians, policy-makers and others in the field with the information and tools they need to incorporate evidence-based practices into their communities or clinical settings.”  

Nonprofit mental health organizations like Mental Health America (MHA) are chiming in as well. MHA’s Position Statement 12: Evidence-Based Healthcare says that the organization is “dedicated to accelerating the application of scientific and practical knowledge to help in the recovery of people with mental health and substance use conditions.”


EBP and the “Three-Legged Stool”

Evidence-based practice is sometimes defined as a “three-legged stool.” The three key principles are:

  • Leveraging the best available evidence on whether or not a treatment works and why it works
  • Using clinical skills and judgment to assess a client’s condition and weigh the risks and benefits of potential treatments for them specifically
  • Considering the client’s values and preferences

Fortunately for behavioral health professionals at mental health clinics, web-based “clearinghouses” of information are continually becoming larger and more accessible. Consequently, the evidence needed to choose intervention approaches is more accurate, up-to-date and clearly articulated. As a result, clients are getting treatment plans that more effectively address their conditions and produce better outcomes.

We feature evidence-based practices at our Community Reach Center mental health clinics. Learn more about our services at communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Gain knowledge about eating disorders

The goal of National Eating Disorders Week, Feb. 25 to March 3, is to address myths and better understand eating disorders. Most people with an eating disorder are concerned about appearing overweight or physically unattractive. However, a person with an eating disorder can be underweight, normal or overweight.

Eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder and affect about 30 million people per year in the United States, according to the Mental Health First Aid curriculum. The median age for onset of eating disorders is between 18 and 20 years old. A high percentage of people with eating disorders have other mental health disorders, such as anxiety, mood and substance use disorders.

There are many warning signs that an eating disorder may be developing. A few of them are:

  • Extreme dieting behaviors, such as fasting, obsessively counting calories and avoiding some food groups
  • Evidence of binge eating
  • Evidence of vomiting or laxative use (making trips to the bathroom after eating)
  • Obsessive exercise patterns
  • Avoidance of eating meals
  • Behaviors focused on body shapes and weight (interest in weight loss websites, books and so forth)
  • Social withdrawal or avoidance of previously enjoyed activities

Some physical warning signs include weight fluctuations, sensitivity to cold most of the time, changes in menstruation and fainting.  Some psychological warning signs include preoccupation with food, sensitivity to comments or criticism, and extreme body dissatisfaction.

A few questions

The SCOFF Questionnaire developed in the United Kingdom in 1999 helps to detect eating disorders. For each “yes” answer, there is one point. A score of two or more indicates a likely eating disorder.

  • Do you make yourself sick (induce vomiting) because you feel uncomfortable full?
  • Do you worry that you have lost control over how much you eat?
  • Have you recently lost more that 12 pounds in a three-month period?
  • Do you think you are too fat, even though others say you are too thin?
  • Would you say that food dominates your life?

These are a few of the warning signs and factors to be aware of in your circle of friends and family. There are self-help books and websites to assist those with eating disorders, but we encourage professional help for the best results.

As part of the National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, look for activities to learn more. The Come as You Are campaign sponsored by NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) features interactive learning challenges and events on its website.

Be assured that good physical health and mental health go together at our metro Denver mental health centers. To learn more, visit communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton. Additionally, our website has a link to sign up for free Mental Health First Aid courses


Trauma-Informed Care: Why Our Crisis Center Uses This Approach

Talking with doctor about trauma

Merriam-Webster defines trauma as “a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from severe mental or emotional stress or physical injury.” This state can develop as a result of a wide range of stressors including abuse, witnessing violence, experiencing homelessness or being affected by a natural disaster. A large percentage of the people we see in our crisis center have had trauma-inducing experiences at some point in their life. The same is true for other providers of behavioral health services. This trauma often contributes to the development of mental illness and co-occurring conditions like chronic health issues, eating disorders and substance abuse, as well as contact with the criminal justice system.


Symptoms of Trauma

People who experience trauma may exhibit a number of symptoms. These signs can occur immediately after the experience or may not surface until a later time, and include:

  • Fear and anxiety
  • Self-blame or guilt
  • Withdrawal from people and activities
  • Loss of memories
  • Inability to relax
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood swings
  • Disbelief
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Insomnia
  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Feeling emotionally numb or unable to relate to others


What is Trauma-Informed Care? 

Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) is an approach in which an organization like our crisis center ensures that all staff members understand the impact that trauma can have on a person’s mental and emotional health. Team members also learn about triggers that can cause the person additional stress and how to avoid them and prevent new trauma.

Behavioral health organizations trained in delivering TIC exhibit certain characteristics, including that they: 

  • Respect the need of survivors to be well-informed about their treatment and hopeful about their recovery
  • Educate all staff members, from care providers to business staff and leadership, on the effects of trauma so that a culture of compassion is developed and maintained
  • Have a deep understanding of the many ways that trauma can manifest in a survivor (depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, etc.)
  • Recognize the importance of collaborating with survivors, their loved ones and other human services agencies to support recovery
  • Work continually to destigmatize mental illness


How to Respond to Trauma

If you have experienced trauma, there are certain steps you should take to address it and lessen its impact on your mental and emotional health. First, if the trauma-inducing issue is ongoing, you should attempt to remedy it if possible. Next, you should talk about the trauma with a trusted friend or loved one. Simply expressing your thoughts and feelings can be very helpful. It is also important that you take care of your physical health while working to overcome trauma, including avoiding the use of substances as a coping mechanism.

Finally, please take advantage of resources like Community Reach Center. Remember our Colorado Crisis Services line at 1-844-493-TALK (8255) for immediate needs. We have a 24-hour walk-in center in Westminster at 2551 W. 84th Ave. and there are several other centers in the Denver metro area. As a highly respected crisis center in the Denver metro area, we use Trauma-Informed Care to help people take a proactive approach to their mental health challenges. Learn more about our services at communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

February is American Heart Month. What is the Connection to Mental Health Services?

Mother and daughter holding handsFebruary is American Heart Month. The federally designated observation puts the focus on heart disease and stroke, which are the number one and number five killers of Americans respectively. In Colorado, it kicked off recently with the Annual Wear Red Day to draw attention to the importance of achieving and maintaining good heart health. The month also emphasizes the importance of mental health services, as heart health and mental health are more intertwined than many people may know.


The Heart Health/Mental Health Connection

Heart disease and mental health challenges involving depression and anxiety are often what are referred to as “co-occurring conditions.” This means that a person suffers both from cardiovascular issues and, for example, depression. The relationship between the physical and mental conditions is complex, with each having the potential to be a cause and a result of the other.

For instance, a person who has had a heart attack and as a result has limitations on physical activity may become depressed about the situation. Or, a person who suffers from depression may stop exercising and develop a generally unhealthy lifestyle, which causes their physical fitness, including their heart health, to deteriorate.

And, depression isn’t the only mental health challenge related to heart health. A person who has been diagnosed with heart disease may fear a heart attack or other cardiac events and as a result develop anxiety. That anxiety may play a role in raising blood pressure, which worsens the heart condition.


The Good News: Both Heart Disease and Mental Health Conditions are Treatable

Fortunately, people can take steps to improve both their heart health and their mental health. The first is to evaluate where you are today. Ideally your physician and a trained mental health professional will work with you on these assessments. However, you should also be aware of the symptoms.


Signs of heart disease will vary based on the specific condition, but may include:

  • Pain, tightness, pressure or discomfort in the chest
  • Pain in the neck, back, upper abdomen, jaw or throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain, weakness, numbness or cold feeling in the legs or arms
  • Racing or slow heartbeat, or fluttering in the chest
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness or fainting
  • Swelling in the hands, ankles or feet
  • Fatigue, especially if it occurs easily with exertion or activity

Symptoms of depression may include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness or irritability
  • No longer enjoying favorite activities
  • Feelings of hopelessness or guilt
  • Lack of energy or fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions or remembering facts
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Excessive appetite or no appetite
  • Difficulty managing everyday obligations

Signs of anxiety may include:

  • Persistent worried feeling
  • Inability to relax
  • Unexplained intense fear or panic
  • Rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, trembling, sweating or feeling faint
  • Avoidance of potentially anxiety-inducing situations
  • Uncontrollable and recurring worrisome thoughts


Whether you experience any of the above heart health or mental health symptoms with another condition or independently, it is important to talk with your doctor about them. Both heart disease and mental health conditions are treatable, and the sooner you get help, the better your outcome is likely to be.


Mental Health Services for Whole-Body Wellness

At Community Reach Center, our focus is on providing mental health services. We know that mental and emotional health are a key component of whole-body health, and we strive to help people reach their holistic wellness goals. To learn more, visit communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.


Gain awareness of physical and mental health challenges for seniors

Various advertisements for seniors – often involving sailing or hiking – celebrate that it is no small accomplishment to live long enough to become old. It’s so true, and worth a smile every time. With mounting milestones, we know that aging doesn’t get any easier due to evolving physical and mental health considerations. It is important to understand this late-life stage for yourself and your loved ones.

Growing numbers

Services for seniors have advanced through the decades and the needs will be greater than ever. Due to the aging baby boomers and increases in life expectancy, the senior population is dramatically increasing.

The number of adults aged 65 and older will almost double between 2005 and 2030 from 37 million to more than 70 million, accounting for a population increase of 12 to 20 percent. Consequently, if the prevalence of mental health disorders among older adults remains unchanged, the number of older adults with mental and substance use disorders will nearly double from about 8 million to about 14 million over the next two decades, as noted in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) curriculum.

MHFA is a public health education training that teaches participants how to recognize symptoms of mental health problems, how to provide initial help, and how to guide a person toward appropriate treatments and other supportive help.

Information from MHFA points out that most older adults go through their later years in good mental health while they experience circumstances that can elevate their risk for mental illness. Depression and anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health problems that develop, and one in four people 55 and older experience a mental health disorder that is not part of the normal aging process.

A concerning statistic is that fewer than 40 percent of older adults with mental or substance use disorders (SUD) get treatment. Further, those who receive treatment from primary care physicians were provided adequate care only 15 percent of the time.

Health conditions

In any event, it is important to advance your general knowledge about common health conditions that raise the risk for late-life mental health problems. They include: heart disease and recent heart attack, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), migraines, thyroid disease, stroke, brain injury, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, acute chronic infection, dementia, conditions reducing mobility and function, conditions that are painful, and use of multiple medications.

Life circumstances

In turn, common life circumstances raise the risk for late-life mental health and substance use problems. Those include: onset of pain and disability, sensory deficits (vision and hearing loss), loss of loved ones, retirement or job loss, financial difficulties, mobility and functional challenges, change in lifestyle or living arrangements, threats to independence and autonomy, loss of social supports, challenges to self-esteem, cognitive changes, fear or prolonged distress, sleep disturbances, decline in health status, uses of certain over-the-counter or prescription medications or multiple medication use, prior depressive episode or family history of depression, providing care to a dependent person, and extended or longstanding bereavement.

So many factors

As you read these lists, you may instantly recognize signs and symptoms in yourself or your relations. For older adults, it is also good to know that mental health problems often “co-exist” with other health problems, and, most of all, remember that people are never too old to recover and have better quality lives.

To get more information about our metro Denver mental health centers visit communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton. Additionally, our website has a link to sign up for free Mental Health First Aid courses.  

Learn About Family Counseling as National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week Approaches

Father hugging sonNational Drug and Alcohol Facts Week  is Jan. 22-27. This important observance is designed to give teens and their families helpful, accurate information on drug and alcohol use. Too often a teen’s attitude toward substance abuse is shaped by influences in movies, TV shows, music and video games that don’t accurately depict the toll that substance use can take on them, their friends and families.  

A wide variety of events and the distribution of science-based materials aims to bust the many myths about drug and alcohol use during National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week. Many parents find that the observance can create positive momentum toward intervening in a teen’s substance abuse through treatments like family counseling.


7 Tips for Talking With Teens About Drugs and Alcohol

At the core of National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week is the idea that teens who have accurate information about substance abuse and open lines of communication with their parents and other adults are empowered to make smart choices about their behavior. To make that vision a reality, parents must initiate a dialog with their adolescent children.

Below are seven key concepts to keep in mind as you take that first step:

1) Give your teen ample notice. Conversations about drug and alcohol use can be difficult. If a teen is caught off guard, a common reaction is to become defensive and uncommunicative. On the other hand, a teen who has some time to gather their thoughts is much more likely to be open and engaged in the conversation. 

2) Start talking with your children when they are young. Many children have their first experience with drugs or alcohol earlier than parents might think — before they are even teenagers in some cases. Ideally, you should open a dialog before they begin experimenting.

3) Don’t make accusations or demand information. Unless you know for certain that your teen is using drugs or alcohol, you should not accuse them of doing so. You also should not demand that they disclose information about their behavior or that of their peers. The goal of this conversation is to encourage openness going forward and to indicate your willingness to be a resource for your teen.

4) Avoid scare tactics. While there are many serious consequences of drug or alcohol abuse, you should not attempt to shock your teen into abstinence. Doing so may make them hesitant to have conversations with you in the future. 

5) Set expectations and discuss consequences. Be sure your teen is clear on your rules regarding substance abuse and what the consequences are for breaking those rules. Then, be sure to follow through if the need arises.

6) Give your teen a safe way out of difficult situations. Let your teen know that they can call or text you at any time of the day or night and you will come to get them, no questions asked. 

7) Consider professional help. If you think opening a dialog with your teen will be too difficult, it may be helpful to have a therapist participate in the conversation.


Helping Teens and Families Find Common Ground Through Family Counseling 

Community Reach Center provides a wide variety of mental and emotional health services to help teens and families come to an agreement on issues around drug and alcohol use. This includes individual counseling, family counseling and other treatments. To learn more, visit communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.