Adolescent Mental Health Trends & Support – Laura Cummings, LCSW, CCDP-D, Adolescent Clinical Supervisor


FM 97.3 WZBG, third Wednesday of the month. We get a visit with the folks from the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Help, Inc. Our timing is good on this one because kids have just gone back to school. Our guest this time is Laura Cummings. She’s clinical supervisor for the adolescent treatment programs at McCollin Health Inc. This is a new position, isn’t it? It is, yes. I’m happy to be here. Thank you. So they’re broadening these services, and as school is starting back up again, this comes at a very critical time, doesn’t it?

It does, yes. A lot of families are very anxious about school starting back up again, as well as the children. Right. Well, you know, we had COVID, of course, which had children learning from home and we’re still adding up, I think, the lack of a better term, damage that that was for kids and adolescents with anxiety. Talk about some of those issues and some of those problems that we’ve seen. Yeah, so the CDC Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Survey found that 37% of students experienced regular mental health struggles during the pandemic. One other statistic, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared a national emergency in children’s mental health in October 2021.

They found an increase in anxiety, depression, suicidal behaviors, eating disorders, and substance abuse. Yeah, there’s a lot going on there. It seems ironic that, you know, we’ve got a population of young people that have grown up on electronic devices and screens, but we have learned the value of face-to-face human contact when that is lost. Yes, and so many of those young people missed years of that. They were at home learning, and they were kept away from family and friends, as well as the losses they experienced. Young people had people in their family pass away, people that they knew, people were afraid of going out and getting sick. Right. Yes. So as parents take on this, I mean there’s a semi return to normalcy now, but there’s also, like we said, we’ve got to we’ve got to come to grips with those issues that we’ve just outlined and there are some tools in which we can start to use to do that. The good news is I do think the adults are paying attention. For example, we’re here talking about this right now on the radio.

I think schools, legislators, parents, all the adults that work with the young people are all looking for different ways to try to help them, as well as the young people themselves. This time of life with adolescents and their parents is not always the most communicative time. This is when it can be a challenge, but this is the time when we need to engage the most right I agree yes parents often ask us What’s the most important way for them to help their child? What’s the most important thing for them to know I think I would give two pieces of advice The first thing is we as parents have to make sure that we deal with our own stuff first So how do you know if that’s something that you need to do. I think if you have an emotional reaction that doesn’t match the situation that you’re dealing with, you want to ask yourself why. Are you being reminded of something unresolved from your own youth, or is there some issue that you need to work through? Because until you kind of do that work, it’s going to keep resurfacing and getting in the way of your relationship with your child.

The second thing is keep talking to your youth. I think, you know, young people’s job is to try to push away from their parents and start to forge their own identities. But as their parent, that can be painful. So I think you need to know that that’s something they’re supposed to be doing and continue to be there for them. Continue talking. Continue having that conversation. Ask questions even when they push away and stay involved. What makes it kind of difficult too, especially when you’ve got that communication divide, is you’ve got to be careful not to push too hard too, because then their natural resistance is going to be to push the other way.

So you’ve really got to go into this with kind of a soft understanding touch, don’t you? That’s very true, yes. Yes. So you can start to let them set some of those boundaries as well. As long as it’s not a safety issue, I think just let them know that you’re there, you’re available, and you want to know. And just keep the conversation lines open. Parents don’t always have all the answers, so how do they maybe know when counseling can help and what might be available toward that route? Well, I think if you’re wondering could my child benefit from counseling, the answer is probably yes. You as a parent know your child best, so if there’s part of you that’s thinking that, there’s probably a good reason. At McCall, we do have multiple levels of services.

And a lot of people connect us with addiction, but there doesn’t have to be addiction involved either. We can also treat depression, anxiety, vaping, mental health issues. What we do when a family calls us, we do a comprehensive intake, and then we would determine which level of care your child needs. Important stuff because parents quite often don’t know really how deep the problem might be. They know they can only get to a certain level in it and then, you know, it’s like, okay, we’ve got to call in the professionals and see if they can help us with this. We started talking about the counseling thing and I smiled because my son underwent some counseling back when he was in high school and had some issues and stuff.

And one of my big takeaways was, he was talking to the counselor, and when we would ask what they discussed, he’d say, that’s between me and the counselor. And it was a wake-up call that sometimes they need that objective outside person that they can then share whatever’s going on. Sometimes ask who outside mom and dad. Yeah, it can be a safe place where they are starting to develop their own, that adult identity that we talked about.

So they’re starting to, you know, learn what their own morals are and where they want to go as an adult. And that is really, really key. And in your profession too, by the way, if you’re just joining us, Laura Cummings is clinical supervisor for the adolescent treatment programs at McCall Center and Health, Inc. So much of what we know about McCall and the way in which they treat people who are dealing with issues is, most often it’s personalized.

There’s no, you know, rote way to deal with something. You’ve really got to take everything on an individual basis, don’t you? Yep. We create personalized treatment plans with each youth and family. So the youth and families’ feedback is key there. They make their own goals. It’s appropriate, it’s attainable, and it’s what’s important to them. It’s their own goals. Just one last comment from you please Laura. Laura Cummings, our clinical supervisor for adolescent treatment. Parents out there listening, maybe joining the interview late, just leave them with a piece of advice if they think that their child might be suffering and what they can do about it.

I think that they can just again keep the lines of communication open. Ask your child. That’s the most important thing and see what they say and just really let them know that they’re safe with you, you’re there for them, you love them, and you’re going to do whatever you can to try to help them. Great to have you on the show today. I hope we get a chance to revisit this topic and hopefully our young people who are dealing with a lot right now, hopefully they’re going to get on a more positive path going forward. Laura, thanks for being here. Thank you. Thank you for having me. Laura Cummings, our guest this time. Clinical supervisor for adolescent treatment at the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Health, Inc. At 8.30, we’re going to head back to the newsroom. Hey, Jeff.