Even in 2023 the destructive echoes of COVID-19 can still be felt in the American healthcare system. Hospitals, daycares, community centers, you name it, (and you remember) that everything was closed or short staffed. Thankfully, the comradery of all our local communities was able to fill in the gaps that official bodies could not. Identifying the problems in existing systems is the first step to making a better one.

The Situation: An already lacking social worker force has become more strained than ever because of the destruction of COVID-19. The impact of the pandemic can still be felt to this day.  In 2020, for example, New York City dealt with a wave of homelessness, filled medical institutions, and a lack of proper assistance.

 “Before the pandemic, the DOE employed only one full-time social worker for every 648 students attending public schools, a ratio more than twice as high as what is recommended by the National Association of Social Workers.”

With a strained system, the city was bound to disaster, but New York wasn’t the only place that had their limits tested. The whole world seemed like it was about to end when the morale and toilet paper was dwindling. Lockdowns became more strict and did not allow for facilities such as daycares and hospitals to be properly staffed, sanitized and maintained. All of this combined into an environment that hardly supported a social structure for societal development and health.

The Social Strain: COVID-19 is more than a physical illness. The epidemic caused an upheaval of many health care and social workers, leaving many out of work and some even on the street. Recent legislation to end the public health emergency for COVID in Mayonly shows a stance that has no concern for the communities that were damaged.

“Although the emergency declarations will remain in place until spring, the federal response to the pandemic has already been scaled back as funding has dried up. Congress has failed for months to pass a White House request for $22.5 billion in additional funding for the Covid response.”

Stressed and overworked healthcare staff can’t keep up with the high demand. “Deaths have dropped dramatically since the pandemic peak during winter 2021, but nearly 4,000 people are still succumbing to the virus every week.”

All of these factors add up to creating a system that is bound to fail its people and its standards.

The Solution: The lack of government aid has forced local citizens to take charge and make real change. It’s understandable that communities around the world are demoralized because of the mental health crisis and its apparent lack of support. But at the most recent State of the Union address, President Biden announced to increase funding towards teacher wages, school infrastructure and an attempt to ban assault weapons. This is an incredible step in the right direction, but this is not enough to help the current impoverished communities. In our opinion, to make real change is to take charge ourselves.

Lead4Life’s services and volunteer programs help local communities around the State but what can YOU do to help?  Well, we can all start by recognizing that March is Social Workers Month.  Help raise awareness to all of the social workers out there making a difference by using social media to tag, share and spread the word of your local organizations that are making a huge difference in our lives.

Volunteer with Lead4Life

The pandemic changed the social dynamic of our youth dramatically with huge consequences. An emphasis on staying home and social distancing bred higher levels of mental illness in our youth than any other generation. Making up for the losses in our system as a community is the best way to move forward.

Globally, one in seven 10-19-year-olds experiences a mental disorder, accounting for 13% of the global burden of disease in this age group.” –WHO

Human nature and community will overcome the challenges it’s thrown against. Recent change in legislation is a pleasant surprise after a period of worldly distress. Although COVID’s effects are still felt today, promising changes for the future are around the corner.

You can make change in your community with Lead4Life.

At Lead4Life, we strive to empower every participant in our programs so that they may find their purpose, achieve their goals, and become poised, productive members of their community. We advocate for those in need and assist each and every individual by providing compassionate education and valuable resources and tools so that they can make the very best decisions and develop important life, social, and competency skills.

Sources: https://hechingerreport.org/the-pandemic-robbed-thousands-of-new-york-city-children-of-parents-many-arent-getting-the-help-they-need/

https://www.cnbc.com/2023/01/30/biden-administration-plans-to-end-covid-public-health-emergency-on-may-11.html

https://www.k12dive.com/news/Biden-SOTU-education-policies/642289/

In the US, roughly 582,000 people are currently homeless. According to a HUD study published this year, this number represents a 2,000-person increase since 2020. During winter, it can be heartbreaking to see homeless individuals struggling in your community. Many people want to help the homeless, but they don’t know where to begin. Maybe you’ve served a meal or provided assistance to someone, but you’d like to get involved in a larger capacity.

It’s also worth noting that homelessness is more visible in some areas than others. 41% of people experiencing homelessness live in rural and suburban areas. In addition, 60% of homeless Americans find shelter in transitional housing programs and safe havens. You may not see homelessness in your area, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an issue. In your community, there are likely many who are experiencing homelessness and in need of help. The good news is, you can make a difference. Here are five realistic actions you can take to promote systemic change.

5 Ways to Help the Homeless in Your Community

1. Locate Homeless Shelters in Your Area

If you want to help the homeless in your community, the first thing you should do is locate shelters in your area. Seeking out homeless individuals and offering personal assistance isn’t always the best way to help. When you locate a shelter, you can find ways to support and strengthen these services in your community. You can find a comprehensive list of shelters in Maryland on the Homeless Shelters Directory website.

2. Donate and Volunteer Locally

Once as you’ve located local homeless shelters, you can assist them by donating directly. You could donate money or used clothes and other necessities. If possible, reach out to friends and family to help. Getting others involved is a great way to spread change in your community. You can also volunteer your time. Perhaps you have a skill that you could put to work, such as grassroots organizing or event planning. The majority of shelters would likely appreciate extra support.

3. Start a Fundraiser

Do you have a social media following or any type of online platform? If so, you’re already equipped to make a difference in your community. Using a site like GoFundMe, you can encourage your followers to donate. You could also encourage them to join you in participating in a volunteer event.

4. Support Local Politicians Who Fight Homelessness

Making significant changes on a systemic level often involves politics. Political leaders shape the policies that affect housing, funding and access to resources. Thinking about getting involved in politics can be overwhelming for most people, however. One great thing to do is research local candidates and understand their perspective on homelessness. What actions do they plan to take if elected? If you want to help the homeless on a larger scale, you can support politicians with the same priorities.

5. Practice Kindness When You Encounter Homeless Individuals

Volunteering, donating and being informed are all essential in the fight against homelessness. However, sometimes the simplest gestures can be the most impactful. Without even a smile or an eye contact from passersby, unhoused people often struggle to feel hopeful. Like every human being, they want to feel acknowledged and seen. Helping the homeless can be as simple as being kind. Take a moment to talk to those you come across and offer a few kind words. It takes thoughtful and persistent action to make progress, that much is true. But the importance of compassion on a personal level is equally important.

Do You Know Someone in Need of Assistance? Partner with Our Staff at Lead4Life, Inc. Today

At Lead4Life, we strive to empower every participant in our programs so that they may find their purpose, achieve their goals, and become poised, productive members of their community. We advocate for those in need and assist each and every individual by providing compassionate education and valuable resources like mental health tips so that they can make the very best decisions and develop important life, social, and competency skills. Visit our website or contact us at 240-499-8949 to learn more about helping the homeless in your area.

The Mentoring Initiative program acts as a resource for children, youth, and adults. Youth participants are met with support and guidance in order to be exposed to resources in the community and positive influences. Clinical mentoring offers individuals with the opportunity to meet with a skill-specific mentor. Parent mentoring services provides hands-on support to parents who need additional encouragement and assistance in order to address barriers they are experiencing. Read below to see how being a mentor has impacted their lives:

“Whether we know it or not, we all have been mentored in our life at one point or another. Being a mentor has impacted my life in several ways. It’s allowed me the opportunity to share knowledge, insight and offer sound advice. It has taught me to be more patient, humble, thankful and a good listener. When I invest my time and I see the results from my investment, it’s a rewarding feeling. The biggest impact is just realizing how much help is needed with mentoring our youth.” – Sherrod Stanard

“As a mentor I have come to realize the many different shades of mental struggles. Having a chance to work with such a diverse group I am continuing to learn new ways to process and assist others in times of need. It also brings about a sense of purpose, to be in position to listen and help those in unfortunate standing to smile and have hope.” – L Reed

“Being a mentor has impacted me to not only just see what I’ve been through, but to see what others have been through as well. Also, mentoring opened my eyes to a lot of things I never knew. I appreciate the opportunity to help others in need because things can get hard at times and sometimes all people need is someone to talk to.” – Cordell

“Being a mentor, with Lead4Life has had a great impact on my life. I’ve learned to deal with children from all walks of life at an early age. I honestly believe that God has given me a chance to help children. I lost my only child due to a car accident and it has had a huge impact on my life. I have always wanted to just help children in any way possible so that no parent goes through what I went through. I get to love on children even though they’re not mine. I’m very grateful to be a part of the children’s daily lives. They fill a very big void in my heart that they will never know is there. It feels good to know that children are counting on me to help them.” – Tara

“Being a mentor is one of the greatest things that I ever experienced in my life. It has helped me with my grandkids and help me learn how to deal with my daughter. Mentoring allows me to think about how I was brought up and how I can help other kids so they won’t make the same mistake I made in life. Some days I wonder why God did what he did for me to put me in this position to help someone else; I have been gifted. I was told many years ago if you go through life-giving and helping others, you have received the greatest gift of life! Being a mentor to me is the greatest thing I ever did in life; my soul is being fed.” – Lorenzo A

“Working with Lead4Life as a mentor has enlightened my awareness of a lot of the struggles that our displaced youth endure day in and day out. Originally, I thought the job would be a walk in the park because my perception was that of talking, helping, and guiding youth that was raised similar to the way I was. Not knowing that most of the youth have suffered a tremendous amount of trauma and that you may be the difference between them succeeding and failing. I realized that being a mentor requires a structured environment with goals and a lot of LOVE. You have to be the example of what you want the youth to be, and that isn’t always easy. The most important thing I learned from the Director….is to “Never Give Up” on them. With that being said my outlook on the youth has changed and made me more empathetic to their needs.” – Bryan C

“Being a mentor has given me an opportunity to be proud of myself for giving guidance, support, and love to mentees or persons who don’t really know what that feels like to be loved. It’s also rewarding to provide mentees with tools to help them become a better version of themselves.” – D’Mia Fitzhugh

A group of teenagers in Brooklyn, New York made headlines recently for starting something called the “Luddite Club.” They meet and hang out once a week, ditching their phones for reading, creative pastimes and conversation. Some members have opted for flip phones or gotten rid of their phones altogether. Avoiding social media is also one of their goals. As they mention in the article, these platforms are the opposite of “real life,” and making true connections is more important than ever.

It’s likely that these inspiring Luddite teens aren’t alone. Now that some young people are pushing back against social media, others may follow in their footsteps. It seems like a sign of hope for a generation struggling with severe mental health struggles. 

Why are Young People Pushing Back Against Social Media?

According to a 2019 survey, most kids today acquire their first phone by the time they’re 11-12 years old. Millennials and Gen Zers have grown up with this technology and witnessed its negative effects. They’ve watched their parents become consumed by it. They’ve watched their friends become obsessed with developing an online identity that garners likes. They’ve recognized how addictive and damaging it is. As a result, they’ve experienced worsening mental health and crippling loneliness.

Kids are coming to realize that in spending more time on their phones, they’re sacrificing the joys of real life. Among those joys are human connection, support, and love, as well as involvement in fulfilling activities. By pushing back against social media, Luddite teens report feeling more focused, alert and engaged with everyday life.

Why Teens are Forced to Lead the Way

You might be asking yourself why teens are being forced to take the first steps against social media. In a world where technology has become a necessity, teens haven’t had much of a say in the matter. Big tech companies have made these platforms as addictive as possible to ensure that users keep consuming content. Social media has become a part of youth culture, too, and some kids fear “missing out” by going dark.

As unfortunate as it is, we often have to be our own advocate. Technology isn’t going to disappear overnight. Pushing back against social media however, allow teens to experience real fulfillment. The happier the kids feel away from their screens, the more likely it is that they will enact widespread change. Then, maybe the adults will listen and learn from their experience as well. 

How to Join the Movement and Limit Your Screentime

We’re told that we need social media to connect and engage. We also need our phones to keep up with e-mails, get directions, stream music and request Uber rides. Some of us may need phones because our employers require it. In this situation, it can feel impossible to eliminate social media and limit screen time.

Here are 3 ways you can get started:

  1. Wean yourself off a little bit at a time. If going cold turkey works best for you, go for it! For most of us, though, smaller steps ensure better results. Start by eliminating screen time 1-2 hours before bed. If you rely on your phone to wake up in the morning, invest in an alarm clock to avoid using your phone early in the day.
  2. Start by deleting 1 social media app. Maybe your job requires you to have access to Facebook. If that’s the case, start by deleting Instagram. If you rely on Instagram to connect with distant relatives, start by deleting TikTok or Facebook. Whatever you do, try not to return to the app. Pushing back against social media requires some commitment. The first few weeks may be difficult, but eventually you’ll replace the habit with something else.
  3. Schedule activities outside of screen time. You should look forward to the things you do in your free time. That way, time spent on your phone will seem boring in comparison. Make a list of things you love and schedule some time for those things. And leave your phone at the door!

Our Staff at Lead4Life, Inc. Can Help

At Lead4Life, we strive to empower every participant in our programs so that they may find their purpose, achieve their goals, and become poised, productive members of their community. We advocate for those in need and assist each and every individual by providing compassionate education and valuable resources like mental health tips so that they can make the very best decisions and develop important life, social, and competency skills. Visit our website or contact us at 240-499-8949 to learn more about pushing back against social media.

Most of our New Year’s resolutions include things like eating healthier and incorporating more exercise into our daily routine. However, it’s likely you’ll also want to boost your mental health in 2023. About 50 million Americans experienced mental illness in 2022. The youth mental health crisis also made headlines last year. Alarm bells are ringing everywhere, leaving people with one major question at the start of 2023. What can we actually do to curb mental health struggles on a daily basis?

You’ve probably heard it all before: get plenty of sleep, be active, develop connections with others, journal, meditate. It’s entirely true that taking care of your body is the first step to boosting your mental health. Forming a routine that includes positive habits can also be helpful, and a support system can make all the difference in the world. However, implementing these things is often harder than it seems on paper. Moreover, they may not give you results you’ll see right away. To boost your mental health in 2023, it’s important to pinpoint simple, realistic changes you can make that work for you individually.

What works for one person, be it meditating or taking medication, might be counterintuitive for someone else. Similarly, those in underrepresented communities (neurodivergent individuals, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ-identifying individuals) may not see themselves in oversimplified suggestions. This year, we suggest giving these things a try: 

Change Up the Way You Define Self-Care

The word “self-care” is a popular term, and as such its meaning has been watered down over the years. As well-intentioned as the original concept is, many businesses have latched onto the idea and used it for marketing purposes. Remember that companies aim to sell products, and protecting the consumer’s mental health comes second if it’s prioritized at all. If treating yourself to retail therapy causes feelings of guilt or financial security after the fact, it isn’t long-term self-care.

Self-care is also narrowly associated with a few activities like meditation and yoga. These things certainly work for some, but when you think of self-care, consider what works for you. What helps you re-charge and ease your thoughts? Maybe you like to go to a quiet room and listen to music, work on something creative, have a long talk with a mentor, or take a walk with your dog. Maybe self-care means limiting screentime before bed or reducing habits like procrastination. Whatever you choose, you should feel refreshed or enriched in some way after. So, take notice and ask yourself: what things revive you when you’re feeling anxious or down? Think beyond self-gratifying habits that can leave you feeling hollow in the long run, such as going on a spending spree or drinking alcohol.

Write Yourself a Letter

When you’re having a bad day, it’s easy to forget that negative feelings dissipate in time. While many mental health struggles are a constant battle, every day still presents new opportunities. Maybe you go to bed one night feeling low. It’s raining outside, your partner recently broke up with you, and you’re feeling unsure about your future goals. The next day, the sun is out and you discover that a movie you wanted to see is in theaters. Maybe you witness an act of kindness that inspires you to do something nice for a friend. These things might sound insignificant, but they can alter your perspective.

On good days, write yourself a caring letter that you can open on a bad day. Remind yourself that, chances are, the next day won’t be as bad as the one before. The smallest things can change your mood and put you in a better place: list those things.

Commit to Searching for the Right Therapist

The best way to boost your mental health in 2023 is by taking it seriously. If you already have a supportive therapist, that’s great! Others often wrestle with the idea of finding a therapist. Maybe it’s something you’ve been thinking about for years, but misconceptions about therapy have held you back. Some might not have health insurance, which can make it more difficult (but not impossible) to find care. Perhaps you’ve tried therapy once, but it didn’t work for you and you’re afraid to try again. This year, commit to finding the right therapist and acknowledge that it may take time. Be patient with yourself and take the process one day at a time.

Our Staff at Lead4Life, Inc. Can Help You Boost Your Mental Health in 2023

At Lead4Life, we strive to empower every participant in our programs so that they may find their purpose, achieve their goals, and become poised, productive members of their community. We advocate for those in need and assist each and every individual by providing compassionate education and valuable resources like mental health tips so that they can make the very best decisions and develop important life, social, and competency skills. Visit our website or contact us at 240-499-8949 to boost your mental health in 2023.

During challenging times, it can be difficult to express our feelings and share them with others. Processing complex emotions isn’t a simple thing to do, and sometimes we require a language that moves beyond words. While art therapy wasn’t established until the 20th century, art is something human beings have practiced for centuries. It has been used to tell stories, record historical events and communicate ideas. Throughout history, art has also provided a way for us to manage grief, trauma, and hardship. Evidence suggests that artists like Vincent Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo, for example, used art to relieve psychological pain. However, you don’t need to be a famous artist to reap the benefits of art therapy.

Today, most of us are facing many stressors at one time. You might be looking for relief from stress at work, financial troubles, or the loss of a loved one after the pandemic. Perhaps you’re a cancer patient or a veteran struggling with PTSD. Medication and traditional methods of therapy are helpful, but some find success with supplementary tools.

The benefits of art therapy may appeal to you if you are looking for something new to try. The question is, is it effective? The short answer is yes. Research suggests that art therapy alleviates anxiety, depression, PTSD and other mental health conditions. It also helps individuals manage pain and reduce all kinds of suffering.

What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy treats mental health disorders and emotional distress through the use of creative expression. While working with a trained art therapist is an option, you can also try art therapy on your own at home. The type of media you work with is up to you, but common options include painting, drawing, collaging, sculpting, composing music, dancing, and writing. You can also participate in group art therapy, which is a great way to connect with others and work together towards a collective goal.

The act of making art gives people the opportunity to escape harmful thinking and work with their hands. At the same time, creating art helps us to unite mind, body, and spirit. Creation is rewarding; it allows us to make something that didn’t exist before. It’s also a highly enjoyable and relaxing pastime. This is why art therapy is such a positive, uplifting experience for participants.

How Can Art Therapy Improve Your Mental Health?

  • Relieve stress and let go of overwhelming emotions. Working on a piece of art allows you to get some distance from stressful feelings. When you are overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious, art therapy can bring a sense of calm to your life.
  • Uncover feelings you didn’t know you had. Once as your hands start moving, you might be surprised by what they produce. Practicing art can be spontaneous, and it allows subconscious feelings to roam free. You may learn more about yourself and find new meaning in life by trying art therapy.
  • Achieve a goal. With art therapy, you get to walk away with something tangible that you created. The feeling of accomplishment you get after creating something beautiful is incredibly fulfilling, whether it’s a painting, a completed journal, or a dance routine.

Who Can Benefit from Art Therapy?

Anyone can benefit from art therapy, and it doesn’t require artistic skill or previous experience. There are many people who say “I can’t draw,” or “I’m not artistic,” but art therapy isn’t about ability. Instead, it’s focused on art-making as a healing process. Using a creative outlet as a means of communicating your emotions is the goal of the practice. Additionally, people of all ages can take part in the experience.

Learn More about Our Therapy Programs at Lead4Life, Inc.

At Lead4Life, we strive to empower every participant in our programs so that they may find their purpose, achieve their goals, and become poised, productive members of their community. We advocate for those in need and assist each and every individual by providing compassionate education and valuable resources like mental health tips so that they can make the very best decisions and develop important life, social, and competency skills. Visit our website or contact us at 240-499-8949 for more information.

In October, ADHD Awareness Month is observed as a way to bring attention to one of the most common mental health conditions impacting children and adults. According to the ADHD Awareness Month website, the event aims to address misconceptions surrounding ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and highlight the experiences of those living with the disorder.

According to CDC data from 2016-2019, 9.8% of children aged 3-17 years have been diagnosed with ADHD. 4.4% of adults aged 18-44 have a current diagnosis of ADHD as well. That amounts to millions of adults and children nationwide. It is imperative that we understand this disorder and know the difference between the myths and the facts surrounding it. The more we know about this condition, the more we can destigmatize it and ensure more people receive the care they need.

4 Things You Didn’t Know about ADHD in Honor of ADHD Awareness Month

1. Parent Training is an Option for Families with ADHD Children

Many parents struggle to assist children who have been diagnosed with ADHD. This is because they don’t usually have the tools they need to be successful. In many cases, parents even fail to realize their child has a mental condition that requires treatment. While kids with ADHD need direct tools, medical treatment and therapy or coaching, parents also need resources so they can help their children thrive. The aim of parent training is to provide parents with the techniques and strategies they need to help their ADHD children lead a fulfilling life.

2. ADHD Can Run in Families

Individuals with ADHD tend to have a higher load of ADHD variants in their genes. The more variants both parents possess in their DNA, the more likely it is that their children will also have more. This means there is an increased chance that they’ll pass ADHD on to their children. However, it is important to note that ADHD is not only passed on genetically, and many parents do not transmit the condition to their kids.

3. It’s Incredibly Important to Receive Treatment for Adult ADHD

About 10 million adults have ADHD. Many don’t know it, so that number could be even higher. Unfortunately, adults with ADHD may dismiss their symptoms or attribute them to personal failures. They often struggle to maintain their jobs, complete daily tasks, and foster healthy, long-lasting relationships. For this reason, many adults with ADHD may also suffer from depression, additional disorders, or an addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Ultimately, being aware of ADHD is the first step to receiving treatment. This is why events like ADHD Awareness Month are so crucial. Adults need to be aware of the signs and symptoms so they can ascertain whether they need help.

Some adult ADHD symptoms include:

  • Difficulty focusing on tasks
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble managing time
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Unable to organize, plan and prioritize tasks
  • Getting frustrated easily
  • Difficulty dealing with stress

If you are wondering if you have ADHD, or you know an adult who is questioning their symptoms, get in touch with an expert. These challenges don’t have to be a part of your daily life. The majority of people who receive ADHD treatment learn strategies and methods to cope with the disorder and live healthy, fulfilling lives as a result.

Only a professional can provide you with an accurate diagnosis and ensure you receive the right treatment. However, the ADHD Awareness Month website offers an Adult ADHD Self Screener to help determine whether your symptoms may be ADHD-related.

4. ADHD Isn’t Only Caused by Genetic Factors

As we mentioned earlier, ADHD is genetically influenced, but there are other factors to consider. Today, there is still a lot of research being done to isolate the causes of ADHD, as it is a highly complex condition. In the end, the chief causes are unknown, but recent studies have provided some insight. Most researchers tend to agree that it is triggered by both genetic and environmental factors.

Some people are more at risk for ADHD than others, such as individuals who were born prematurely, those who have experienced brain damage or were exposed to environmental toxins, and people suffering from conditions like epilepsy. As the CDC states, some common theories such as eating too much sugar or watching TV are largely inaccurate. Data does not suggest that these behaviors are related to the development of ADHD.

Learn More about Programs Designed to Treat ADHD at Lead4Life, Inc.

At Lead4Life, we strive to empower every participant in our programs so that they may find their purpose, achieve their goals, and become poised, productive members of their community. We advocate for those in need and assist each and every individual by providing compassionate education and valuable resources like mental health tips so that they can make the very best decisions and develop important life, social, and competency skills. Visit our website or contact us at 240-499-8949 for more information about ADHD Awareness Month.

It’s natural to make mistakes when we’re young. In our youth, emotions run high, peer pressure is prevalent, and we’re learning that our actions have consequences. However, some mistakes have far-reaching consequences. In 2020, youth accounted for 1 in 14 arrests for violent crimes. Thankfully, this number is declining, but many young people still commit crimes that put their futures (and that of others) at risk.

Let’s say that some friends pressured you into stealing some items at a convenience store. Maybe you knew it was wrong, but you wanted to impress your friends or prove that you belonged in their group. Of course, you probably had to face some harsh consequences as a result. It’s likely that your parents were disappointed in your behavior at the least. If you were caught and charged with a crime, your snap decision might have come a much greater cost.

At Lead4Life, we believe first-time offenders deserve a second chance. Additionally, we make it our mission to help young people learn from their mistakes and build a positive future for themselves. That’s why we offer an exceptional victim awareness program for participants between the ages of 10 and 20.

What Exactly Are Victim Awareness Programs?

A victim awareness program is a service designed to provide first-time offenders of crime with resources, education and support. At Lead4Life, individuals who take part in our VA programs have access to a safe, judgement-free space that allows them to receive the help they need. Through victim awareness programs, participants also learn about the effect their crime had on others. By taking responsibility for their actions, they learn to move forward in a positive direction.

What Do They Accomplish?

  • Teaching accountability. Young offenders are taught to speak freely about their crime and its consequences. Through open conversations with a trusted specialist, individuals learn that blaming others doesn’t help. Even if your friends pressured you to steal something, for instance, you still made the decision to participate. In this situation, it’s important to face the consequences and accept your role in the crime.
  • Developing empathy. First-time offenders often don’t think about how their crime affected others. The threat of punishment is usually the first thing on someone’s mind.  Will they have to enter the juvenile justice system? Will this affect the rest of their life? Victim awareness programs teach first-time offenders to recalibrate their perspective. When they put themselves in the shoes of their victim(s), they learn to develop empathy and understanding. How did they make that person feel? How was the victim’s life affected?
  • Learning about the impacts of crime. Let’s go back to our group of friends who engaged in theft at a local convenience store. At the time, the young offenders were probably caught up in the moment. They may have even felt thrilled to do something that felt dangerous or forbidden. However, they probably weren’t thinking about the owner of the store, a struggling business owner who has four children to feed. They’ll not only have to pay for those stolen goods, but they may be fearful of future attacks. During victim awareness programs, offenders learn about the impact of their crimes and how harmful their actions were to others.
  • Making amends. Finally, victim awareness programs give offenders the chance to make amends with their community. Once as a first-time offender understands the effects of their crime, they often seek forgiveness. This might involve speaking with a victim if the other party is open to it. While offenders must still face the consequences, they can move forward knowing that there is always the possibility of a second chance. In many cases, victims are also appreciative when offenders apologize and attempt to right their wrongs.

Sign Up for Our Victim Awareness Program at Lead4Life, Inc.

At Lead4Life, we strive to empower every participant in our programs so that they may find their purpose, achieve their goals, and become poised, productive members of their community. We advocate for those in need and assist each and every individual by providing compassionate education and valuable resources like mental health tips so that they can make the very best decisions and develop important life, social, and competency skills. Visit our website or contact us at 240-499-8949 for more information about our victim awareness program.

We’ve all picked up our phones out of boredom, or perhaps to distract ourselves from loneliness and negative feelings. However, excessive screen time leads to a lack of sleep, neck pain, poor posture, and mental health problems. In addition to excessive screen time, “doomscrolling” can be extremely harmful due to the type of content being consumed.

What Exactly is Doomscrolling? How Does it Affect Mental Health?

Doomscrolling is defined as an obsessive compulsion to scroll through online social networks and news outlets for long periods of time. Additionally, this involves exposing yourself to an array of “doom and gloom” headlines or pessimistic content that impacts your state of mind. People already have burdens to contend with in their daily lives; work, school, financial struggles, and relationships are challenging enough to maneuver. Doomscrolling only exacerbates anxiety and feelings of despair.

In 2014, UCLA researchers found that participants who spent over six hours on their phones per day after the Boston Marathon bombings experienced acute stress symptoms. Today, more and more catastrophic events are paraded across our screens daily. As the saying goes, you are what you eat. Whether it’s the war in Ukraine, the climate crisis, political news, or negative online comments, consuming distressing content has consequences.

Doomscrolling can make users feel overstimulated, hopeless and fearful of the outside world. At the same time, you probably want to be informed when it comes to major events. How can you navigate the sea of information at your fingertips without harming your mental health?

How to Avoid Doomscrolling

  • Limit your screen time. The best way to avoid doomscrolling is by reducing the amount of time you spend on your phone. If possible, turn it off for a few hours, or set aside time at a specific point in the day for checking your phone. Don’t get into the habit of looking at your phone and refreshing headlines every five minutes. If you spend over 4-5 hours per day on your phone, it’s time to re-evaluate your routine. Doomscrolling is addictive, so if necessary, wean yourself off of your phone slowly rather than going cold turkey.
  • Give yourself other things to focus on. We usually check our phones out of boredom, or to complete one simple task. You might use your phone to check your e-mail, for example, but find yourself reading the news seconds later. If you have other things to focus on, doomscrolling won’t take up as much of your time. Take your dog for a walk, read a good book, create art, or simply have a conversation with a friend. Pick something that brings you joy. 
  • Avoid your devices before bed and at the start of your day. When you first wake up, journal or make yourself breakfast rather than starting the day with a bright screen. Similarly, at night, it’s important to put your phone aside and limit your stimulation levels. This will help you sleep better and wake up feeling more refreshed. There’s nothing wrong with staying informed or checking important information, but you don’t need to be glued to your phone constantly.

Partner with Lead4Life, Inc. Today to Learn More about Mental Health

At Lead4Life, we strive to empower every participant in our programs so that they may find their purpose, achieve their goals, and become poised, productive members of their community. We advocate for those in need and assist every individual by providing compassionate education and valuable resources like mental health tips so that they can make the very best decisions and develop important life, social, and competency skills. Visit our website for more information about mental health or contact us at 240-499-8949.

Many LGBTQ individuals have access to accepting communities, support systems and public representation today. However, there is still much work to be done, especially when it comes to issues affecting LGBTQ adults and youth. According to The Trevor Project, LGBTQ youth are over four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered making a suicide attempt during the past year. In early 2022, the U.S. Census Bureau indicated that LGBT adults 18 and older report twice the rate of mental health challenges compared to non-LGBT adults. These statistics are staggering, but they also encourage active awareness. When we know and understand the problems LGBTQ adults and youth face, we can work to solve them.

The Struggles LGBTQ Adults and Youth Face

Social Isolation and Rejection

Everyone wants to feel accepted by their loved ones and the community at large. We want to feel like we belong, and that we can be exactly who we are without shame. LGBTQ adults and youth often come out and share their sexual orientation/gender identity with others. This can be especially daunting if they’ve already experienced feelings of shame or rejection previously. Many peers accept and encourage their LGBTQ friends, letting them know that they’re supported and loved. Coming out in an unsupportive or hostile environment, however, can be dangerous. Even in our modern society, heterosexuality and binary experiences are viewed as “the norm,” whereas LGBTQ individuals are perceived as something “other.” Furthermore, Unfortunately, this can result in increased social isolation and rejection. This can lead to heightened mental health risks over time.

Discrimination

If you’re not a part of the LGBTQ community or another marginalized group, you probably have access to stable employment, reliable health care and acceptance in religious communities. LGBTQ adults and youth are often barred from certain experiences just for being themselves. In a survey conducted by CMI, 97% of gay and bi men and 99% of lesbians reported that discrimination was their top concern while traveling. 21% of trans travelers said they were nervous about invasive security checks and discrimination while traveling. Traveling is an everyday experience that many take for granted or don’t think twice about. It is not uncommon for LGBT adults and youth, on the other hand, to feel the burden of even the smallest daily tasks.

Harassment and Violence

LGBT adults and youth are often threatened physically due to their identity. A staggering 70% of LGBTQIA+ members have reported being sexually harassed at work. 66% were afraid to say anything or report the abuse. Having a constant fear of violence (whether it is sexual, physical or verbal) can lead to increased anxiety and feelings of hopelessness. In many cases, those who antagonize LGBTQ individuals are championed by their peers. Laughing at anti-LGBTQ jokes or remaining silent when someone is harassed only contributes to violence. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Supporting LGBT adults and youth involves refusing to participate in jokes like these and making your voice heard.

Partner with Lead4Life, Inc. Today to Learn More about The Struggles LGBTQ Adults and Youth Face

At Lead4Life, we strive to empower every participant in our programs so that they may find their purpose, achieve their goals, and become poised, productive members of their community. We advocate for those in need and assist every individual by providing compassionate education and valuable resources like mental health tips so that they can make the very best decisions and develop important life, social, and competency skills. Visit our website to learn more about the struggles of LGBTQ adults and youth or contact us at 240-499-8949.