By Sarah Laury, MSW, LCSW – May 30, 2024 –

The month of June is Pride month, dedicated to celebrating and recognizing members of the LGBTQIA+ community as well as supporters and allies. Pride is celebrated during the month of June in honor of the Stonewall Uprising, which took place in New York City on June 28th, 1969.

According to GLADD, an organization focused on LGBTQ advocacy and cultural change, Pride month provides “an opportunity for the community to come together, take stock, and recognize the advances and setbacks made in the past year. It is also a chance for the community to come together and celebrate in a festive, affirming atmosphere.” 

There are many ways you can celebrate Pride month in Southern Indiana.  Here are some of the events scheduled:

June 1st:    River City Pride Parade and Festival, Evansville

June 8th:   Warrick County Pride Festival

June 9th:   Pride Pickleball at Wesselman Park Courts, Evansville

June 14th: Resource Fair and Music Fest and Haynie’s Corner Pride Night, Evansville

June 15th: Pride in the Park at Garvin Park, Evansville

June 23rd: Pride Night at the Evansville Otters, Bosse Field

June 29th: Princeton Pride Festival

June 29th: Dubois County Pride

More information and a full calendar of events can be found at

Below are some resources specific to LGBTQIA+ youth:

University of Evansville Pride Camp – June 23rd-June 28th : According to the University of Evansville website, kids in grades 8-12 can “spend a week living on campus at the University of Evansville for this first-of-its-kind summer camp! Build lifelong friends with incredible activities throughout the week while learning about social justice and activism. Hear powerful stories of LGBTQ+ history and heroes – and learn how to write your own story your way.”  More information can be found on their website:

Greater Evansville Youth is a youth group for LGBTQIA+ students and allies. According to their website, “Greater Evansville Youth creates a positive safe space for youth to build community with each other, learn how to advocate for themselves, and to express their individuality and personal identity.”  Groups meet weekly, and more information can be found on their website:  

The Rainbow Jacket Project is a free clothing resource for trans, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming people.  According to their website, “The Rainbow Jacket Project strives to create a safe, supportive environment for trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals. We offer free clothing and accessories to help affirm people’s gender identities, regardless of age or socioeconomic status.”

The Trevor Project is a nonprofit suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization that offers support and information for LGBTQIA+ young people 24/7, all year round.

By Amanda Haney, MSW, LSW – May 29, 2024 –

How does screen time affect your child’s sleep patterns?

Sleep is important to growing and developing brains. According to the CDC, toddlers need 11-14 hours of sleep, preschool-aged kids need 10-13 hours, school-aged kids needs 9-12 hours, teens need 8-10 hours, and adults need at minimum seven hours per 24-hour time period.

Sleep is an important indication of overall physical and mental health. Several things can get in the way of a healthy sleep schedule, but in recent years screen time has been high on the list for school-aged children.

Our sleep cycle (circadian rhythm) mostly takes its cue from sunlight. Our brains register when we need sleep based on when it becomes dark. When our circadian rhythm is out-of-sync, it can lead to insomnia. According to, smartphones, tablets, computers, television screens, and some e-readers give off short-wavelength blue light that is very similar to sunlight. The blue light from these devices not only makes individuals more alert but also prevents the production of melatonin in the user’s body.

Not getting the proper amount of sleep can cause school-aged children to struggle at home and at school. This can cause poor school performance, poor attitude, decrease in mental health, and conflicts in relationships. It can also play a part in students having the inability to self-regulate, which causes more issues that are disciplinary.

According to Afy Okoye on the website, “Not getting sleep puts teens in a kind of haze. That can have negative effects on the way they think, react and learn. It also has an impact on their ability to control their emotions and get along with adults. Not getting sleep can cause traffic accidents and accidental injuries, and it also results in teens acting impulsively and recklessly.”

The average teen uses electronics more than seven hours a day, according to Dr. Michael Breus ( They use electronics for school, as well as personal devices such as tablets, cell phones and even televisions. When teens and school-aged children spend more time on their devices, it leads to them getting fewer hours of sleep each night.

Here are some tips to help students improve their sleep schedules and ensure they get more hours of sleep each night:

1. Set boundaries for screen time. Have a conversation with your child and let them know your limits.

2. Stop device usage at least an hour before bed. Have a set bedtime to make this easier.

3. Remove electronics from the bedroom.

4. Wear blue light-blocking glasses.

5. Set a schedule and time limit for daily usage.

6. Practice good sleeping habits. Lead by example. Show your children how you follow these rules to improve your own sleep habits.

7. Give options of activities that students can do in place of using devices, such as reading a book, coloring, journaling, or spending time with family.

Sleep plays a major role in our children’s physical and emotional health. Too much screen time influences the amount and quality level of sleep. Setting screen time limits for our children can help them improve their sleep health and overall well-being.

By Haley Droste, MSW, LCSW – May 22, 2024 –

Everyone knows someone with a “glass half-empty” attitude about life. It seems like a dark cloud just follows them around, and it can be exhausting to spend too much time with them.

We also know people who are just the opposite; they always see the “silver lining” and fill the people around them with hope. Being positive or negative is not just a personality trait; it’s a way of thinking. Our brain is a muscle that can always learn new tricks. Training your brain to be more positive has many benefits – not just for the people around you – but also for you!

Even the most positive people have negative things happening in their lives. Being positive does not mean bad things won’t happen; it means you will be better equipped and more resilient when faced with adversity.

According to the Mayo Clinic, thinking positive is good for more than just your mental health. It also has physical health benefits, such as increased life span, decreased depression, and better coping skills during times of stress, which impacts cardiovascular health.

Knowing that thinking positive is good for you is one thing, but changing your way of thinking is something else completely. The first thing to do is just notice when you feel yourself sinking into negative thoughts. Noticing the behavior is the first step to correcting it. If you feel yourself consistently blaming others for things that go wrong, catastrophizing events, or expecting perfection from yourself or those around you, you could be following a negative line of thinking. Once you notice yourself doing these things, calling yourself out on the thought process (or asking someone to help you notice them) is the first step.

Practicing positive self-talk can be beneficial for this change as well. We tend to be our own worst critic. You can improve your self-talk by identifying your own strengths. Focusing on individual strengths can be a challenge if the practice is not familiar to you, but it is also very rewarding when your brain starts to learn how to focus on the positive. Try using daily positive affirmations to help rewire the thoughts you have about yourself.

The company you keep can also be a factor when it comes to your outlook on life. Surrounding yourself with people who think positively allows you to be more comfortable thinking this way as well. You also want to be sure that the people around you are supportive of you and your goals. Being with people who put down your ideas or view things in a more negative light can have an impact on your thought process and your self-esteem.

The power of positive thinking is limitless. There are many areas of our lives that can improve by consistently and purposefully focusing on the good around us. Practice leads to progress. The more you start integrating these skills into your day-to-day, the easier it will be to have a more positive attitude and reap the benefits of positive thinking.

By Sophia Blaha, MSW, LCSW, and Hailee Wolfe – May 15, 2024

The perfect summer camp experience can provide children with an opportunity to explore new friendships, engage in new activities, and gain new insights. For children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), summer camp can also be a valuable source of self-assurance. Campers often feel more confident venturing out of their comfort zones when they are part of a supportive group of kids and adults. However, we can’t always count on everything to go according to plan during camp.

Unfortunately, each year there are stories from parents whose ADHD children were asked to leave camp for various reasons. Maybe parents were unaware that the camp was unprepared to support their child until it was too late. When a camp lacks an understanding of ADHD, there’s a chance campers may experience unfavorable outcomes. Oftentimes, these children are not required to participate in activities, and although they don’t usually cause trouble, they may wind up feeling isolated or sitting by themselves.

If you’re curious whether a summer camp will serve your kids’ needs and interests, it might be beneficial to favor programs that involve physical activity, which can benefit the body and mind. As someone who has experience working in a summer camp setting, I have seen some children with ADHD thrive in this setting but have also seen some who have struggled.

Below are some questions that might be important to ask before enrolling your child in a summer camp:

1.  What is the structure of the camp schedule for my child’s age group?
How much time do campers have to participate in free play or activities of their choosing? Some children with impulse control problems do not do well in unstructured camps, and “free time” is when they have the hardest time.

2. Are campers required to participate in activities or can they choose to sit out?
The ideal answer would be that they are strongly encouraged and supported to participate in all activities but are not forced. Additionally, parents should be notified if their child is sitting out of activities more often than not.

3. If my child needs some time to “decompress,” where would they do that?
Children with ADHD benefit when they develop self-soothing and calming strategies, which prove invaluable in moments of emotional dysregulation at school and home. Camps may have a special accommodation form where you can include some self-soothing strategies that may help your child. A camp should encourage its campers to develop these regulatory skills while ensuring they aren’t left out or forgotten.

4. What is the staff-to-camper ratio?
A summer camp’s staff-to-camper ratio is an important factor to take into account. If this is your child’s first time attending camp, you might want to ensure they will have adequate supervision and attention from staff members who have experience working with children with ADHD.

5. How much time is spent on screen-based activities?
If your child likes a lot of screen time, less is better here. This will enhance their interactions with other children at camp.

6. What can I do to help my child succeed at camp?
Camp staff should know your child’s strengths and how to support them if they are struggling. A good camp staff will appreciate parent transparency, proactive strategy ideas, and opportunities for collaboration. Things that are not helpful include holding off on your child’s ADHD diagnosis or scheduling a “medication vacation” to coincide with camp. Summer camp demands high levels of attention, emotional regulation, and impulse control from children. If your child is taking ADHD medication during the school year, it might be a good idea to have them continue taking it during camp. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about what they recommend.

How the camp director responds to these questions should provide you with information about whether the camp is a good fit for your child. Additional resources on this topic can also be found at the website

By Chelsea Rasch, MSW, LCSW – May 8, 2024 –

America’s youth are in the throes of a mental health crisis. Professionals continue to observe a rise in mental health-related struggles in school-aged children since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.

According to the Center for Disease and Control (CDC), 67 percent of US high school students reported that schoolwork was more difficult; 55 percent experienced emotional abuse in the home; 11 percent experienced physical abuse; and 24 percent reported they did not have enough food to eat during the pandemic.

All of these issues can have a detrimental effect on mental health. Another study conducted by Pew Research Center (2022) found that four in ten US parents have reported being “extremely” or “very” worried about children struggling with anxiety or depression.

To respond to these mental health implications in our school-aged youth, we are seeing a bigger push for mental health services both in and out of the school environment. Children are being referred at alarming frequency for outside therapeutic services and are being seen by psychiatrists/primary care physicians for medication management. Inside schools, we are seeing a bigger push for school behavior interventionists, as well as more counselors and school-based social workers and/or psychologists to combat these mental health-related struggles.

All of these interdisciplinary professionals, schools, and families are working together towards one common goal: to strengthen resiliency skills and supports within our schools and communities to foster successful student outcomes. Resiliency skills refer to our ability to face and adapt to challenges and overcome them.

Many parents have come forward with one common question: How can I help my child build these resiliency skills at home?

  1. Discuss resiliency and coping skills with your children. When we practice and build our skills in self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship building and decision-making, we are better equipped to navigate stressors, anxieties, and challenges. We can solve problems and work together at a higher level—in the classroom, at work and at home. Talk with your child about strategies that help them deal with difficult emotions. Do they practice deep breathing, listening to music? Or do they become argumentative and dysregulated? Identifying your child’s coping and resiliency patterns can give you a foundation to build upon.

  2. Model the behavior you wish to see. Children learn by watching their parents. One way to foster resiliency skills in children is to model these healthy behaviors at home. Dealing with difficult feelings/situations in an appropriate way and including children in these conversations can help build these skills. It’s important to stay calm and realistic. Children sense when we are worried and anxious, and our emotions can directly affect the emotions of our children. Remember, no one is perfect; it is not realistic to expect yourself to respond the right way every time. Practice keeping yourself regulated so you can model emotional regulation for your child.

  3. Remember the importance of self-care. Children are often sensitive to the stress of their caregivers. To cultivate their resiliency skills, we must ensure we are taking care of our own mental, social, and emotional wellness. Building in time (even if it’s only 15 minutes per day) for our own wellness practices – journaling, walking, meditating, exercising – can not only help model appropriate self-care, but also mitigate our own stress levels. Much like putting on your own oxygen mask before putting on a child’s, take care of yourself so you’re able to show up for others. If this is difficult for you, start out with a small goal and build on it. For example, listen to your favorite music for a “mindfulness moment” or go on a short walk at the beginning or end of the day.
  4. Connect with school/community professionals. Research and connect with professionals in your community to discuss how to optimize your child’s resiliency skills and success. Reach out to community providers, agencies, or local non-profits for additional education and activities. Connecting your child with a local club (YMCA, Boy Scouts, etc.) can be a great way to build resiliency skills and connect them with other children. Reach out to your child’s Youth First Mental Health Professional or school counselor to discuss additional ways to support your child.

  5. Practice, practice, practice! Regularly practicing healthy coping skills in response to stress is imperative, just as it is for any other skill like reading, math, or dribbling a basketball. In the same way we practice those skills, we have to practice identifying, expressing, and managing our emotions. By continually doing so, we build a toolkit we can readily draw upon to navigate stressors or de-escalate conflicts.

By Heather Miller, LCSW – May 3, 2024 –

Food. Fuel. Utilities. Clothing. Medical bills. Vehicle maintenance. The cost of everything has increased substantially, leaving many Hoosiers wondering how to stay afloat.

The struggle to meet basic needs is overwhelming for many. According to the Department of Agriculture, almost 7 million families noted missing meals during 2022 due to need. Pew Research Center found that 52 percent of lower-income families reported not having the funds for food or rent/mortgage payments.  According to US News, nearly 40 percent of Americans struggle to provide necessities, with 23 percent experiencing food insecurity in the last year.

The impact goes beyond the need for additional funds. Struggling to meet basic needs is likely to increase familial stress. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy notes that financial distress can lead to academic, behavioral, and mental health concerns. Anxiety and depression may surface or increase when a person is experiencing financial distress.

There are resources to help. By utilizing such resources, families and children are more likely to be productive at work and school and experience decreased stress and greater happiness.

Being aware of options for help is important with so many persons in need; yet many individuals may not know how to find help. Researching individual resources can be time consuming. Indiana offers databases to help families looking for assistance.

One of these databases is located at the website  Information about childcare assistance; the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program; and energy assistance are just a few of the links available from this database.

Other resources are available by dialing 2-1-1. Data shows that 2-1-1 provided over 18 million resources in 2022. Dialing 2-1-1 offers access to a navigator that will help connect individuals with resources. Resources may also be explored at  After selecting the resource desired and entering a zip code, agencies and programs dedicated to that need appear. Most have information about how to access the resource as well as when it is available.

Many assistance programs depend on volunteers and donations to continue to provide for those in need. If meeting basic needs is not a concern for your family, consider helping others in need by organizing a clothing drive, raising funds, or donating time as a family.

According to Feeding America, adolescents who volunteer report better grades, better self-esteem, and even reduced substance use. Setting an example of volunteering as a family will help instill the importance of helping others in younger generations. This is beneficial to society as a whole.

Youth First Mental Health Professionals can also assist families with accessing resources. Please reach out to your school’s Youth First Mental Health Professional for more information.  If you are unsure if your school is served by Youth First or need contact information, please visit this website: