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  • Perceptions of Marijuana & Using Substances to Cope – Andrew Lyon, MPH, CPS, Director of Prevention

    Hey 21, on FM 97.3 WCBG. Middle of January, third Wednesday of the month, we catch up with the professionals at the McCall Behavioral Health Network. I guess we’ve had on a couple of times before joins us this time. He’s Andrew Lyon, he’s a director of prevention at McCall Behavioral Health Network. Andrew, welcome back to the show. Thank you for having me. Well we’ve got a big event here in Connecticut which kind of prompts our topic today. You know, starting 2023, cannabis is legal now. Recreational use of cannabis is legal in the state of Connecticut. It joins our neighboring states which are a little bit ahead of us. But this is becoming something that is more common. And for someone who grew up in the counterculture 70s when you know marijuana was definitely against the grain, this is a little bit of a weird paradigm shift for a lot of us. So let’s talk about this legalization and its impact on young people because it gives a sort of a tacit okinus of this substance for recreational use and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

    Yeah, absolutely. It’s a really interesting thing because cannabis exists in an interesting space in our culture and it’s important for us to know and remember that the adult use cannabis legalization is specifically for adult use. And what we’re seeing with a lot of students that we engage with is that this is causing a lot of confusion for youth because there’s this idea that well if adults are saying it’s safe enough to be legal or you know it’s ok to make it legal then therefore it must be safe, it must be ok for us to use. But we know that there’s a lot of research and data to show that. You know that there’s a lot of negative impacts that it has on youth on the developing grain and you know as it sort of leads into the development of substance use disorders and addiction and the role it plays on that. And so it’s important for us to really balance the messaging that we’re having around the adult use legalization versus it’s still important to make sure that we’re talking about it responsibly we’re protecting our youth and making sure that we’re acting responsibly when we are engaging with it.

    Well when you dig in behind it again you know a cause and effect you start to think ok so if this is something that is safe enough to use and if it’s being used to feel better then if I’m not feeling good or there’s something going on with my life is this something I should turn to to make me feel better and that’s exactly where the prevention comes in. Well yes yes again there’s a lot you know I wish I had all the time in the world to show you’re this but you know there are a few things that we want to think about where you know first off is the perception of harm. You know with legalization again this perception of harm when we legalize a substance tends to go down and when we see that particularly with youth use rates go up and particularly when it comes to something that is a viewed as a chemical tool to help address things like stress, anxiety, depression. You know cannabis is now being legalized for adults adult use it’s entering that space similar to alcohol where we know that there are concerns and problems with this perception that if I’m feeling stressed or anxious this is something that will make me feel better.

    And we’re still fighting that fight. Exactly. All these years later. Exactly. You know and what we really know is that these chemical tools are really just a temporary kind of solution to that to really sort of mask the feelings rather than address the root causes of that stress, that anxiety and the pain really behind it. And a lot of what we at the McCall behavioral health network want to sort of deal with is how can we provide healthier alternatives to addressing these, the pain, the anxiety, the stress, the things going on in people’s lives so they don’t feel the need to turn to something that is just going to mask it temporarily and really not be that long term solution. Well we’ve got a society that unfortunately puts two broaded picture that says the other thing. There are highly medicated society in so many ways, many for legit and documented medical needs but others too cope or deal with and there is plenty of that in our culture.

    So I guess it’s important that that messaging start early and also for parents out there too, it’s about the right example isn’t it? I mean you could do my job for me. I mean this is, I mean you’re hitting the nail on the head. This can be a really complicated conversation. It’s just what we know is that we’re less interested in the specific substance and more interested in that behavior, in learning healthy and safe ways to deal with those tough feelings, those emotions and it does start early. It starts from the very beginning. It starts with modeling healthy behaviors, having conversations early, setting rules at home around what your expectations are, what is okay, what isn’t, being open and honest and being genuine so that your kids can feel safe coming to you and having these conversations so they don’t feel the need to find that sort of help elsewhere. Right, that clutch elsewhere. Thank you.

    Our guest this time is Andrew Lyon. He’s a director of prevention from the McCall behavioral health network and we’re talking about substance use disorders and just kind of because of the latest step here in Connecticut to make adult use cannabis, recreational cannabis legal in Connecticut. To be fair too, our culture also tries to be better in our personal health. You look at New Year’s resolutions and like right up at near number one is I want to live a healthier life. So we have that aspiration. Let’s talk about the kind of tools that McCall can bring to bear to help that messaging for parents and directly to kids so that they get that imprinted in their brain, you know, living healthily early before the SUDs come knocking. Yeah, I mean our agency has a number of tools and programs that you know we can help integrate into with family units at schools and communities, you know, with individuals. And a lot of it again starts with really kind of understanding that it’s not necessarily the substance itself.

    It is the learned behavior and the pattern of relying on external and chemical means to cope with what’s going on in your life. And having that conversation and identifying resources, we have a number of resources. And when it comes to the adult use cannabis legalization, there are a number of resources throughout the state. You know, I want to take the opportunity to plug the Connecticut website,, where there are plenty of resources for parents and individuals to understand what the cannabis legalization bill means for adults, for parents, for youth and tips and ways to kind of address that. All right, great helpful tip there. So, yeah, and also at the root of it when we get into substance use disorder with our time running out here this morning, there’s always some kind of pain or trauma at the root of it and through communication, getting to find out what that is is key.

    Absolutely. And really, you know, whether it’s yourself or it’s a loved one that you see that you might be concerned about, if you see someone, you know, becoming more and more dependent on whatever substance it is, whether it’s cannabis, alcohol, or, you know, anything else. You know, it’s important to really be there for them and help push them towards, you know, getting help, be encouraging, be supportive because behind substance use disorders, behind addictions are pain and unmet needs in their lives. And it’s important for all of us to really be supportive and get them the help they need. And really, that’s what we strive to do every day at the McCall behavioral health network. Good way to finish it up, Andrew, line way appreciate your time today. Thanks so much for having me. Andrew is director of prevention with McCall behavioral health network and yes, with the legalization of cannabis, if you’re a parent and you’re worried about your kids and their perception, talk to them, get those lines of communication open and dig into that toolbox and use all the tools necessary to keep our kids safe.

    Coming up on 831, we’ll head to the newsroom. Good morning, John. Good morning, Dale. Thank you.

  • It is Okay Not to Feel Merry & Bright – Maria Coutant Skinner, LCSW, CEO

    822 on FM 97.3 WZBG. Really excellent timing with our monthly interview with the folks from the McCall Center Behavioral Health Network. Maria Couton Skinner, Executive Director there is our guest this morning. Good morning, Dale. Welcome to the program. Thanks for coming in. Pleasure. So, Christmas comes up on Sunday. You know, this is the hustle, bustle, merry, bright lights, crazy celebration, what have you, time of year. Not everybody is feeling that, you know? And for people out there who are challenged with that predominant emotion that we’re supposed to be feeling, that’s kind of our topic today.

    Right. Yeah. be feeling. That’s kind of our topic today. Right. Yeah. And I think human beings are so complicated. So you can have all kinds of complicated feelings. You could be looking forward to the holidays. You could be enjoying it. And you can also have these feelings of discomfort. So I was looking forward to having this conversation with you so we can kind of honor all of that. Right. You know, it is a complicated time because lots of people that are reminded maybe of loss this time of year, time because lots of people they’re reminded maybe of loss this time of year, relatives who are not around the holiday table anymore, maybe relationships that aren’t where they would like them to be, maybe economic challenges because they can’t put under the tree what they would like to for family and loved ones. So yeah, I mean for all of these reasons the holiday can be less than merry and I guess the underlying message here is you know what that’s okay. Right, exactly. So I message here is, you know what, that’s okay. Right, exactly. So I have a story to share with you. My birthday was on Friday, and I love my birthday, and so Greg and I, our older daughter Emma, lives in Boston. So we thought, okay, we’re gonna go meet up with Emma and her friends. We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time, driving into Boston, taking them out for dinner, really looking forward to that.

    Weather wasn’t great, driving was kind of bad, north end of Hartford on a The weather wasn’t great, driving was kind of bad. North end of Hartford on a Friday night, the week before Christmas, and also there was a Celtics game on. It meant that we were in that car a very long time, very late for the reservation, Emma had to keep moving it. Greg was driving as we were moving through the north end of Hartford, which as you know is narrow streets, tons of traffic right there where the Celtics were playing. streets, tons of traffic right there where the Celtics were playing and it was maddening and it was this feeling I was getting more and more and more stressed. Anxious. And there was one parking area that was charging 50 bucks and Greg was like I’m not paying 50 bucks so we had to keep driving around finally I said I kind of lost it I was like I need to get out of this bleeping car I And I kind of lost it.

    I was like, I need to get out of this bleeping car. I can’t say what I said in WZBG. I was like, let’s just pay the $50 and get out of this car. So we pulled in and poor Greg was like, whoa. So we go, we have dinner, we have a wonderful night, come back driving. But I wasn’t, leading up to my birthday and even the day after, I wasn’t feeling right. up to my birthday and even the day after, I wasn’t feeling right. And it didn’t make sense because so many wonderful things, blessings beyond compare, had been going on. Like, kids are healthy, Greg’s good, you know, like…

    Life is good. What’s going on? Yeah. So I had to take some time. And Saturday, and for me, when I go for a run, that’s when I can like really do the when I go for a run, that’s when I can like really do the work of scanning my body, figuring out what’s going on. And I realized, so we do this exercise. I’ve been, you know, a therapist studying trauma for like 30 years. You would think that I wouldn’t have an episode where I have a temper tantrum about a traffic jam, but we’re human, right? So I could feel it in my heart. And on I could feel it in my heart.

    And on my birthday, I miss my mom. It doesn’t matter how old you are. I’m 54 now. And my mom’s been gone 10 years. And it wasn’t a conscious thought. I had to do the work to find, to scan my body, and find where that pain was. And then I had to do that. So I outlined the steps so we could talk about it. And I hope that that’s then helpful to other people. steps so we could talk about it and I hope that that’s then helpful to other people.

    I think that’s important and I hope as we get older we’re better at getting to the cause and I’ll just briefly say that sometimes when I find myself cranky and anti-social and snappish it’s like alright dig down what’s bugging you. That’s right. And I can get at it faster than I used to be able to. Because you’ve practiced. Because I’ve practiced and I’m 61. I’ve had a few years at it. able to. Because you’ve practiced. Because I’ve practiced and I’m 61. I’ve had a few years at it. So please, outline the steps toward that for people who also are facing the kind of surprise mood that you just outlined. I like that you just named some of the things.

    Are you snappish or do you feel like you want to fast forward through the holidays? Do you feel like you just want to not do it? Skip Christmas. Or are there little pockets where Skip Christmas. Yeah, or I mean, where are their little pockets where you’re like, you know, irritable or sad or whatever. That’s our body telling us a story and it’s important that we pay attention to it because our culture tells us to stuff it or, or… Drown it. Exactly. Right.

    Numb it. Yep. And so we’re talking about doing the opposite because we want to expand our window of tolerance. And that’s the whole thing. Right. Expand our window of tolerance and that’s the whole thing right so in that car when I was feeling Crabby yep, that was a time for me to try to practice this to expand my window of tolerance So first we want to recognize it then Before we escape you know either reach for a glass of wine or get crabby at our partner We want to ground ourselves We want to ground ourselves, taking some deep breaths.

    There’s tricks that you can do. You find three things that you can visualize. What are you hearing right now? Can you land in your body tactically? What are you smelling? What are you feeling? Find where it is. So for me, it was in my heart. And then you want to sit with it. Trust that you’re sturdy enough to sit with it and honor it.

    dirty enough to sit with it and honor it. And then, and this is hard for a lot of people, give yourself grace and compassion. Instead of beating yourself up, because that doesn’t help anybody, extend yourself grace and compassion. And if you can, find a witness, somebody who you trust, who you can share it with, and you can process it through. And that’s the healthy thing. And that’s the healthy thing. And then the other really wonderful outcome of this is that then we can extend grace and compassion to others much more readily when we’re able to do that for ourselves.

    Yep. Good advice. And I know a lot of people have the same kind of emotions, have the same kind of scenarios that you outlined, that you lash out something uncharacteristic or something that you feel is out of place given this time of year. or something that you feel is out of place given this time of year, what is at the root of it? Exactly. Give yourself time to figure it out, to process it, so then you can then get back to that state of grace and share it with others.

    And it takes practice. It does take practice. We’re making this sound incredibly simple. It’s not, but it is an exercise. It is. You know, and it’s one of those things that hopefully will help people enjoy the holidays It’s one of those things that hopefully will help people enjoy the holidays to the best that they’re able to, whatever their scenario may be. I sure hope so, because life has a lot of joy in store for us, and we want to be able to access that. But that’s not the whole story. The full measure of the human experience has all of those emotions, and we have to be prepared prepared and willing to honor each part of it.

    And it’s not easy and it’s a daily exercise, made more challenging by the crazy schedule we’re under right now, but appreciate the words of wisdom, Maria, thank you. My pleasure. Maria Skinner, our guest this time. Executive Director at the folks from McCall Behavioral Health Network, I still want to say McCall Center for, you know, the old title, but McCall Behavioral Health Network. We’re all works in progress.

    All works in progress to everyone and the wonderful behavioral health network. All works in progress to everyone and the wonderful work that you guys do. Best of this holiday season and continued success in 2023 because we sure need you around. Thank you, Dale. Thank you. With that we’ll head back to the newsroom and get your bottom hour update. Here’s Jeff. Thank you, Dale. 17 degrees with a clear sky at 830. Good morning.

  • The Myth Around Hitting Rock Bottom – Joy Pendola, LMFT LADC, Chief Clinical Officer

    Third Wednesday of the month on FM 97.3 WZBG, we always get a conversation in with the folks at the McCall Behavioral Health Network. This time we’re going to be speaking with Joy Pandola. She’s chief clinical officer there. Good morning. Welcome to the show. Thanks, Dale. Nice to be with you. Glad to have you on the show. Glad to have you on the show.

    And I guess you’ve been with McCall for a few years now, and your affiliation and association goes back years before that. Yes, yes. Maria and I co-chaired the Litchfield County Opiate Task Force when it was first started almost 10 years ago now. You know, it’s interesting. The topic we’re talking about today, about how someone who is having a problem with substance use disorder, about how they don’t have to get to so-called rock bottom before they can begin finding that way up. have to get to so-called rock bottom before they can begin finding that way up.

    And it’s coincidental that that is our topic today because someone close to me has a relative in that situation. And I use that very term. And that was something that was kind of locked in. Oh, they haven’t hit rock bottom yet. But that’s a misnomer, isn’t it? It is. And you know, it’s very, very common to look at someone needing to hit that breaking point, right? look at someone needing to hit that breaking point, right, that rock bottom to go into treatment.

    I think it’s a false narrative that’s been perpetuated a lot, particularly in the media. I mean, when you look at reality TV shows, when you look at movies, the way they depict somebody with addictions is typically that they lose virtually everything. They lose their health. They lose their relationships. They lose their finances. virtually everything. They lose their health, they lose their relationships, they lose their finances before they see the light, so to speak, and decide it’s time. Most people, in fact, enter treatment well before those circumstances happen, and there’s a lot of problematic things related to that whole myth. First of all, it has this, you know, sense of despair before you First of all, it has this, you know, sense of despair before you can enter treatment.

    And that has to run its course, right? And that makes loved ones and family members feel really powerless over, you know, having the ability to impact, you know, this in any way and watch their loved ones suffer. That’s absolutely not the case, and I’ll talk a little bit later about what loved ones and family members actually have a tremendous impact on somebody’s decision to enter treatment. loved ones and family members actually have a tremendous impact on somebody’s decision to enter treatment. And you know the idea that you know it has to run its course, you know addictions are progressive. So you know you get more into those behavioral patterns. You have higher consequences.

    There may be long-term chronic health conditions or you know impact on relationships. In fact addictions can be very well treated much earlier on In fact, addictions can be very well treated much earlier on and have really positive outcomes. And like I said, you know, the idea of loved ones feeling powerless, that is also, you know, kind of watching somebody suffer is just not necessary. And you know, people go into treatment, like I said, for a lot of reasons. It’s not even the primary reason people go into treatment, as a matter of fact, that they have to hit rock bottom. go into treatment, as a matter of fact, that they have to hit rock bottom.

    I’ve had a lot of conversations with folks from McCollin. You keyed on a couple of important things. One is that communication, how key that is to helping that person find that way forward. And like you said, it doesn’t have to be at rock bottom before that actually occurs. And the other thing about addiction is different people get to that place where they’re ready to accept treatment and make those changes than others. where they’re ready to accept treatment and make those changes than others. This is a highly individualized disorder and the treatment is highly individualized as well. So all of these things are in play and there isn’t that, like you said, that reset point, that default point at rock bottom before we begin to find our way forward.

    No, as a matter of fact, the number one reason why people go into treatment is they have one adverse reaction or experience with a substance. into treatment is they have one adverse reaction or experience with a substance. That could get, you know, that could be something from getting really sick after you know a night of partying to, you know, losing a job. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It could be just one thing. That’s most of the time. The second most important reason people go into treatment is if they become parents. So it’s actually because they’ve reprioritized and want to make that So it’s actually because they’ve reprioritized and want to make that decision going forward. One thing that also I think is not common to consider is you don’t have to have all the answers.

    You don’t even have to be sure that you want to make a change to go into treatment. There are many stages of changes. When you think of any big life change that you make, you don’t all of a sudden, yes, to make, you don’t all of a sudden, yes, I’m going to do it and I’m 100% committed to this decision and move forward. There’s a lot of back and forth, right? There’s a lot of pros and cons. That’s a perfect time to come to McCall and meet with a clinician who can identify, you know, what are your motivations? What goals do you actually have?

    And the steps and skill building that you need to get there. So one of the top five reasons actually people going into treatment is, or into recovery, is treatment. So somebody told them to go. They didn’t necessarily make that decision on their own. And a mandate could come from anywhere. It could come from a significant other. It could come from the legal system. It could come from work. It could come from someone.

    A lot of people don’t make the decision to change until they’re actually in treatment and start identifying really what the value is to that. until they’re actually in treatment and start identifying really what the value is to that. So that’s an important thing too. It’s scary to make that decision where you’ve relied on a coping strategy for so long. So I think loved ones and people who are struggling with substances, it’s important things to understand is that you could come in ready or not. that you could come in ready or not. And you don’t have to come in with, like you said, you don’t have to come in with a rock solid plan.

    This is exactly the way forward and you’re gonna begin that now. That this is something that takes place gradually. Because like any good plan, you gotta plan your work and then work your plan. Right. For loved ones who have someone who is battling this, just some ways in which, again, taking away that defeatist attitude of, well, they’re not at rock bottom yet, there’s nothing I can do.

    which again taking away that defeatist attitude of well they’re not at rock bottom yet there’s nothing I can do. When you know you’ve got someone who is in the throes of a substance use disorder ways in which they can help toward a positive outcome. And I get asked all the time by loved ones and family members what what they can do and what I tell them is please be open, open, honest, direct, and compassionate with that loved one about how their substance use is impacting them. That is the most powerful thing that you can do, is let them know that with loving kindness what the impact has and what your concern is. I read, and this is a perfect example of this, I read a remembrance for the actress Angela I read a remembrance for the actress Angela Lansbury.

    She died last month. And there was a quote from the playwright Terrence McNally, how in 1980 his career completely changed when he was at a birthday party for Stephen Sondheim. And he had just spilled a drink on Lauren Bacall. And in the corner, Angela… A lot of name dropping here. Yeah, yeah. This was in the article. This was in the article. And Angela Ansberry was sitting in the corner and she kind of waved him over.

    And he said, she said in the most loving, kind way this, Terrence, I don’t know you very well at all, but it really bothers me that every time I see you, you’re drunk. And he said the next day, he went to his first AA meeting and within a year, he was in treatment and had stopped drinking. his first AA meeting and within a year he was in treatment and had stopped drinking. And she was an acquaintance, but he revered her and had such a love for her and value for her that that was the difference.

    So you never know. Never undervalue your impact. Absolutely. Joy Pendola is our guest this time, Chief Clinical Officer with the McCall Behavioral Health Network. with the McCall Behavioral Health Network. We are out of time, but if you had any final closing thoughts, I want to give you a chance to share those now. Like I said, you don’t have to be fully committed or ready to go into treatment. If a loved one is struggling, tell them how you feel and support them as best you can.

    And it is never too soon, and it’s never too late. Excellent. Joy, thank you for being our guest. Thank you. Excellent. Joy, thank you for being our guest. Thank you. Once a month we have a visit with the folks from the McCall Behavioral Health Network here on FM 97.3 WZBG. Joy Pendola, our guest this time. At 8.31 it’s back to the newsroom.

  • Problem Gambling Disorder – Carissa DAmico, BS ICGC-1, Counselor

    822 on FM 97.3 WZBG. And the third Wednesday of the month, we pay a visit to the folks at the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Help, Inc. This time, Counselor Carissa D’Amico is our guest. Carissa, good morning. Good morning, Gail. Thanks so much for having me. Glad to have you on the show. Glad you could join us. We’re going to talk about problem gambling disorder this morning with Carissa.

    We’re going to talk about problem gambling disorder this morning with Carissa. Just as a way of opening things up here, Carissa, how’s gambling changed since COVID-19 and the legalization of sports betting here, which became legal about a year ago? Yeah, so exactly one year ago today, sports betting became legalized in Connecticut. And between COVID and the legalization of sports betting, we’ve seen kind of a change in the face of gambling. So over COVID-19, casino gambling decreased quite a bit. And with the legalization of sports betting, we’re seeing an increase in online betting. And this has also changed the demographic. So a wider demographic is reached, especially for women, who used to use a lot of slot machines historically.

    for women who used to use a lot of slot machines historically and now they’re moving over to sports betting and online betting. So Connecticut is seen is now ranked ninth in overall sports betting even surpassing Colorado that has a much bigger population, approximately 2.2 million more people than Connecticut. Wow, that’s a lot for a small state. You know we think of gambling as Wow, that’s a lot for a small state. You know, we think of gambling as being in a casino, but let’s flesh that out. It’s much broader than that, isn’t it? Yeah, so gambling can include scratch-off tickets, bingo, raffles, even office pools, and then of course we have sports betting and gaming, And gaming, which was under the gambling umbrella but has become such a bigger issue, especially over COVID, that we’ve kind of now separated the two.

    But gaming can lead to gambling later in life. And I know, especially with COVID-19, gaming has been more prevalent than before. Now, I understand as a parent, you’ve got some worry of your own of this. As a parent, you’ve got some worry of your own of this. You’ve experienced this kind of anxiety on this issue. Oh, absolutely. So in my own life, my son, over COVID-19, I would give him money for his video games to purchase these loot boxes. And I thought, hey, he can’t socialize with kids, so he can go on this game and at least socialize with some other kids.

    and at least socialize with some other kids. And then as I continued with my training in gambling and my continuing education, we’re starting to see that it mimics gambling very much. The same areas of the brain are affected. It lets off the same kind of dopamine when they see what’s in these loot boxes or what they want. So it’s definitely a concern, and we are seeing that later in life it leads to other gambling issues. and we are seeing that later in life it leads to other gambling issues. Okay, so yeah, it is a kind of a leading edge of addiction. Our guest this morning is Carissa D’Amico. She’s a counselor with the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Health, Inc.

    We’re talking about problem gambling disorder. So, you know, lots of people game, but how do you know when you’ve got a problem, Carissa? Yeah, so gambling and gaming look different for everyone. and gaming look different for everyone. So I’ve seen some people who owe money to the casinos, tens of thousands of dollars to casinos. I’ve seen people get in legal trouble because of this. And then there’s other people who have just spent some extra income. Maybe they don’t want to tell their spouse, hey, I spent that extra money on scratch-offs.

    Or maybe they just notice, hey, I’m spending too much money, this money could go elsewhere. Maybe they just notice, hey, I’m spending too much money. This money could go elsewhere. So it’s very different for everyone. It can – so some of the red flags to look for is needing to gamble with more money to get that same feeling of excitement. Having difficulty cutting back, seeing problems with your relationships, trying to win back win-back losses and very important is gambling to escape feelings, even feelings like boredom or stress.

    You know, the interesting thing here, Carissa, is that the symptoms you’re describing here are very much a mirror image of the same kinds of addictive behaviors that trouble a lot of people. And maybe you don’t think of gambling as being something that has a lot of the same correlation, but clearly it does. something that has a lot of the same correlation, but clearly it does. So with that, what kind of tools can McCall bring to bear to help out? Yeah, so we can help anyone who thinks they have maybe a bit of a problem relationship with gambling, or maybe gambling has just started to become a bit negative. So we can help the individual who might be having a problem.

    We can help the families who say, hey, I think someone has a problem and it’s affecting me We can help the families who say, hey, I think someone has a problem and it’s affecting me and my feeling. So we really serve a broad community of people. And we can provide counseling. We can just provide education so you can see if maybe you have a problem or someone has a problem. I guess this time, Carissa and D’Amico, we’re talking about problem gambling disorder. Carissa, our time grows a little bit short. I wanted to give you a chance to just sum up anything we may have left out on this topic that we can share right now and any closing thoughts and, of course, that important contact information.

    If there’s someone out there who’s hearing this and thinking to themselves, oh my gosh, you’re talking about me. Yeah, so if you have a problem, don’t wait. It’s a lot more common than people think. It doesn’t need to be a secret. And so if you or a loved one would like any support, you can call McCall Renato Outpatient Service at 203-754-0322. McCall Behavioral Health Network, so, or on Facebook or Instagram at mccall.bhn. Well, I hope people will take advantage of the services that are available before problem gambling disorder just really makes more of a problem in their lives.

    Carissa, we appreciate your time this morning. Thanks for being our guest, and best to you and, of course, the folks at McCall Center of Behavioral Health. Thank you, sir. Thanks so much. Thank you. course folks at McCall Center Behavioral Health. Thank you, sir. Thanks so much. Thank you. You have a great day. You as well. Take care. Carissa D’Amico, counselor with the McCall Center. Our guest this time here on FM 97.3 WZBG. And again, you can give a call to McCall Center 860-496-2100 and their new website address That’s

    Back to the newsroom with Jeff, next.

  • 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.

  • Overdose Awareness & Harm Reduction – Lauren Pristo, MPH, Director of Community Engagement, Litchfield County Opiate Task Force

    It’s 821 on FM 97.3 WCBG. Once a month we catch up with the folks from McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Health Inc. And they’re part of, of course, a network of different groups that are battling the addiction epidemic that is still just raging across this country. This time, talking with Lauren Pristo, she’s the Director of Community Engagement with the Litchfield County Opioid Task Force. And I was surprised, Lauren, that it’s now four years you’ve been in that position, how time flies.

    Oh, I know, it’s been such a great and heartbreaking, but impactful experience. Yeah, yeah, there’s a lot that you guys are trying to do every day, and to speak to the heartbreaking part of it four years later there’s no sign of this fight going away is there? No, unfortunately both across Connecticut and nationally year-over-year we’re seeing overdose rates go up and up in Connecticut in 2021 we lost more than 1,500 people to overdose and nationally over a hundred thousand we’re seeing rates go up amongst teens and not because teens are experimenting more, they’re actually experimenting less.

    But the drug supply is so dangerous now. There’s fentanyl, there’s synthetic opioids being added to just about every drug you can get on the street. Everything from pressed pills made to look like a pharmaceutical to the heroin to cocaine. It’s very dangerous out there. So you can’t really afford to experiment because something that you think was a garden variety opioid that perhaps you took in the past can kill you because of what it’s injected with now.

    Right, yep, now even things like Xanax that are purchased on the street, those might contain fentanyl or another synthetic opioid that could kill somebody. Wow, so I want to get back to one statistic. Nationally, a hundred thousand deaths? A hundred thousand deaths. Devastating, isn’t it? That is just incredible. So we do have a little bit of a brighter spot here in Litchfield County, right? Our rates are slightly better? Yeah, in Litchfield County, we were the only county to go down. So we’re fortunate to see a decrease, but you know, I want to be cautiously optimistic that we’ve seen this decrease now for two years, but we’re still losing a lot of our neighbors and we’re still seeing a high rate of non-fatal overdoses.

    But part of that decrease could be due to the increase of naloxone availability in the community and access to things like treatment and other resources. What does naloxone do, for those who may not know? Naloxone, sometimes referred to as Narcan, is opioid reversal medication or an overdose reversal medication. So somebody who is experiencing an overdose, it goes and blocks the receptors to help reverse that overdose. How important has this been in saving lives? It’s absolutely instrumental. None of, I shouldn’t say none of, but many, many folks who are alive today are alive thanks to naloxone. There’s actually a story I would like to share about that. Sure. There was this profound moment, I was just speaking with Maria, our CEO about this.

    There was this moment that really struck both of us where in one of our Litchfield County Opioid Task Force meetings, we were talking about naloxone and how important it is and how important it is for people to have it on hand and have multiple doses and the opportunity to have multiple reversals because there’s often a sentiment where people are like, you know, maybe stop reversing people after the third time, fourth time and this conversation was going on and one gentleman raises his hand and he says, if it wasn’t for multiple reversals with naloxone, I would not be here today. And this is somebody who is doing amazing work, life-saving work.

    And then after that, around the room, hand after hand went up of folks who you would never suspect saying, yes, it was five times, six times, three times that it took. You know, that many times that they were so close to death that if naloxone wasn’t available, they wouldn’t be here doing this amazing work that they’re doing today. So it’s a misnomer to think that kind of a one and done. All right, we saved your life with naloxone. That was your shot. You know, don’t blow it. Don’t let it happen a second time. It may happen a second, third, fourth, fifth time.

    Right. And maybe that fifth, sixth, seventh time is when that reversal for them, that moving toward life again begins. Exactly, and to think about how amazing the potential for human life is, and all the great work that wouldn’t have been done if they weren’t here with us. So that’s one of the most important resources because that is a medicinal application that works and saves lives.

    Immediate access to treatment, we gotta be able to have that available and partnered with that, I guess, support for families. Exactly. And if people want immediate access to care, McCall has a mobile wellness van that’s out in the community where folks can show up. They just need to walk up and say, I’m ready for treatment. And the folks on that van can connect them with medication. They can get them set up with a therapist and go from there. And then we also have supports for families because families are often the folks that are supporting someone who uses drugs and it’s a it’s a tough role and so having that support we have support groups we have coaches who can help the family get through that. Our guest this morning Lauren Pristo she’s director of community engagement with McCall Center Behavioral Health and Hill Bank and known of course for her role with Litchfield County Opioid Task Force, there’s going to be a vigil to mark some, or to raise some awareness about overdose.

    And I think when you’re, you know, COVID is still part of our lives. We’re battling inflation, you know, there’s a drought going on. There’s a lot of distractions, but this fight isn’t going away and it seems to be getting worse, right? Right, and with those devastating increases, it’s so important that we remember the lives that we’ve lost to overdose. And hopefully folks can come down at Copark to our vigil.

    It’s August 31st, 6 to 8. We have a resource fair with all those resources available for folks, followed by a candlelit vigil where we read the names and remember the people we’ve lost. And information on the website and on the Facebook page as well. Where can people find that for those looking? Yep, absolutely. It’s on the McCall page. It’s also on the task force page, so It’s on our Facebook, so please, please come. Lauren, thanks for being our guest today, and again, that upcoming overdose awareness vigil is happening October 31st, August 31st. I missed a month there. And what time is that again? Six to eight. Six to eight o’clock. Lauren, thanks for being our guest and thank you for all the work you do, you folks at the LCOTF and also McCall and Help, Inc. as well.

    Yes, thank you so much. Thanks for being our guest and have a great day. Getting back to the newsroom with Jeff, we go there in just about 90 seconds.

  • PTSD – Healing from Trauma – Maria Coutant Skinner, LCSW CEO

    Hey 22 on FM 97.3 W ZBG. As we get going here this morning, we want to welcome from the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Health Inc. CEO Maria Crutant Skinner joins us this morning. Always a pleasure to have you on the show, Maria. Good morning, Taylor. Really nice to be with you. Glad to have you with us this morning. Busy time going on for you guys. What’s going on with helping and that get together and broadening your reach and the folks in which you can serve in Western Connecticut. So some very good news. We’re glad to follow that this morning. We’re going to do something this morning where we kind of take a turn that’s not usually applied to the fight against substance or the fight against addiction. PTSD, which is something that we usually attribute to those who have experienced traumatic, you know, armed services in the military, you know, seen battle, that kind of things. We usually associate PTSD with that. But this time we’re going to look at it as it relates to folks who are in that fight. So let’s define it at first and broaden that definition of PTSD. Yeah. So I think if you’re a human being, you have experienced trauma. And we look at that there’s obviously varying degrees of trauma. Sometimes we look at it as like a capital T trauma or a lowercase T trauma to kind of distinguish. We also think of, I think a lot of people are familiar with sort of the difference between an active omission versus an active co-mission. So there are things that we experience just by virtue of being a human being. It could be growing up maybe you had a parent who struggled with depression.

    And so it was, you know, you were some of your needs were not met. And that was not intentional. It wasn’t cruel. But there was trauma associated with that. Many of us have been in a fender bender accident. That’s a low T trauma. But those examples are some things that we can recognize that for a brief period of time in that that fender bender accident, we can relate to somebody who maybe has experienced a capital T trauma. So for example, you could be in that fender bender and be nervous to be driving. You could replay the accident over and over and over. You can have some trouble sleeping. But what we can usually do is metabolize that all the way through and have that processed. And that’s how we’re designed. But for many of us, the traumas can be stuck. Maybe you’re in a relationship where you don’t feel completely safe. You’re okay until the person walks through the door and then you can feel in your body that your tense things can be okay through dinner. But maybe doing the dishes, this person is triggered and they get angry and now you’re on edge and you’re doing everything possible to keep yourself and the people around you. Maybe your children safe. Yeah, living with that kind of situation. So these are things that people experience the day to day and we look for ways to cope with that. So there’s a strong connection between trauma and coping mechanisms as well as manifestation of mental health symptoms. So a coping mechanism could be drinking or using drugs or it could be the manifestation like anxiety. So these are a lot of the things that we talk about in the behavioral health field. As we’ve had professionals from your group come in and talk to us, one of the things we really dig into is trying to get to the root of that small tea trauma. Yeah. Because lots of times we bury that stuff. That’s right. We deny it. We downplay it. We shrug it off or we think we shrug it off. Yeah. And it takes a while to get to the root of that. Let’s talk about that process. I feel so right deal because none of us want to think that we’re victims of our circumstances. Sure. And there’s actual neurobiological reasons why we do that. We sometimes worry that we’ll be overwhelmed. And so we say I’m just going to stuff that. Oh my god, you don’t want to open that candle worms. Like people get really worried about that. But actually what we don’t acknowledge will haunt us. And it comes out sideways a lot of times. So if you recognize that you have an overreaction to what could be a small situation, it doesn’t match. So a really common example is you’re in traffic and you get really mad because somebody cuts you off. And it doesn’t match that situation. There’s something unresolved and stuck. Yeah. That’s in there that needs to be processed. And those examples are really minor and really common. And also part of being human. But there always our body tells us a story every single time that that there’s healing work to be done. And the healing work is possible. Let’s get to how we we get to that healing. If you’re just joining us are guests this morning from the McCulls Center for Behavioral Health and help Inc. Maria Kutant Skinner executive director there. We’re talking about PTSD and how that relates to folks who are in the fight with addiction. And in that substance vicious circle that they’re trying to escape from. So getting to the root of it. I know you have several different modalities in which you try to reach that place where people can recognize that trauma small T or large T and begin to then work through it. Yeah. So we do and I want to get to that and it’s so important. I also want to tell you a story that’s because I think I relate to the world in story. So sometimes to really have an illustration of what this looks like is helpful. So we had a fire at our inpatient facility in Watterberry on Sunday. Everybody is okay. Physically. And what we noticed is that this was this was a very scary situation. Nobody was upstairs in the dorm where the fire was started. It was electrical. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. It was wiring from air conditioning running during heat wave in a building that’s very old and also well built. So thank goodness the Watterberry fire department got there quickly and put the fire out. But people that windows were blowing out and exploding and the building very quickly filled up with smoke and people were getting out to people who were in a different dorm left via fire escape and some of the people in the front of the building who were witnessing the dorm being engulfed in flames and the windows blowing out were terrified that their friends were still inside.

    So I think we can all imagine ourselves in that situation standing in front of a building. Fire flames coming out and you’re terrified that you have people inside of you care about. Terrifying. That situation was processed differently based on temperament of the person who witnessed it. Where they were standing and what they saw, their past experiences and how well-resourced they were in the moment and also critically what happened afterwards. So we were able to bring everybody in together. We have staff really skilled who are very compassionate who know these people and they were able to help and the guys all, all men, facility, all male facility. Their peers supported one another. They said we’re all okay. We’re here. They stayed together for many hours afterwards through the night and comforted one another. All of those subsequent steps meant that for the long term they will be okay. We continue to process that with them. It has brought up some of the stuff that they’ve experienced even in their childhood that they’re now talking about with their therapists. So we have all kinds of modalities. Some are talk therapy but a lot of it is actually figuring out where in the body those experiences are stuck and how we can help folks metabolize and heal. So that event really was emblematic of the longer practice of what you employ at McCulls Center. It’s a good way to finish as we do get short on time here but I’d really love to be visiting this topic because like you said I think we’ve all got some small tea events, some large tea events. And everybody could use a little insight in how to get past that or how to work through it. So I’d like to do this again.

    I appreciate that. We do have, you know, we’re part of the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation Northwest Gives and especially with the fire that we just had if anyone is inspired to help us do that healing work. And we have some really big challenges ahead of us in the next six to seven months as we have to now rebuild our inpatient building. This is an opportunity for people to help us do that work. And I guess also want to mention that if you are identifying with any of these or you have a loved one who’s identifying with any of those experiences where they have some healing work that needs to be done, we are here and we have skilled people able to receive you. You do not have to be struggling with an addiction. It could be anxiety, it could be depression. Any of the trauma symptoms that we talked about, we have staff ready to help you heal. Maria, thanks for being our guest this morning. Thank you so much, Dale. The website is McCall center CT dot org and enjoy this beautiful summer weather and we’re glad everybody down to the water. But facility got out safe. Thank you so much. With that we head back to the newsroom. Get your bottom hour update. Hey Jeff. Hello, Dale. Thank you.

  • Pride Month – How To Be an Ally LGBTQIA Community – Katrin Moskowitz, DNP, PMHNP, Psychiatric/Family Nurse Practitioner

    Gorgeous Wednesday morning on FM 97.3 WZBG and Wednesday is the third one of the month we get a visit with the folks from the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Health Inc. Our message, if you’ve been hearing our messages that McCall runs during the month, the message this month is an outreach and an embracement of the LBTT QIA community. We’re going to be on that track a little bit this morning with our guests. We’d like to welcome Dr. Katrin Moskowitz. She’s psychiatric family nurse practitioner with McCall. Katrin, welcome to the show. Good morning. Thank you for having me. Thanks for joining us on the program. One thing we talk about a lot with McCall is the whole idea of care being holistic and embracing the whole person. Let’s start off with that and part of that involves understanding who they are at their core.

    That’s the essence of what we’re talking about this morning. Absolutely. I think that when individuals come to us for care, one of their big worries is that we’re not taking into account where they’re coming from, what their past has been, and what their future is looking like. We really take a lot of time at McCall’s to be able to explore that with our clients. And understanding that each of those layers actually impacts their mental health. And so if we’re not addressing those layers, then really we’re not taking care of the patient on that holistic and that whole level. Isn’t that kind of universal? You hear about the phrase, I finally feel like I’m being seen for who you really are. And when you’re seen and then accepted, opens all kinds of doors. Absolutely. And it should be universal. And we should be doing this in all aspects of our lives.

    But I think there’s a lot of things that happen in regards to stigma and internal biases that we have that keeps us from being able to open ourselves to that understanding. But I think if we think about ourselves on our core level, we want people to know us for who we are from the inside out. And we want to be able to feel comfortable with who we’re encountering to be able to express what that might be. Isn’t this really at its core dialoguing? Now, you know, I’ve been around for a long minute. I remember growing up and in the broader community, I had no knowledge. And we didn’t talk about it. And for some people, it’s hard to start that conversation and to get past those unconscious biases that you’re not even calling conscious for a reason. So let’s talk about icebreakers and conversation starters. I think within healthcare, we’ve done a really great job in starting to screen our patients as soon as they walk in the door.

    So from paperwork that you fill out, which now asks for your, you know, pronouns and for your gender identity to actually be able to identify that or have patients be able to identify that. But absolutely, the second layer of that is the person that’s reading and accepting that information to understand what to do with that. And I think McCalls is a really great job in being able to provide those educational experiences for their staff to be able to say, okay, I have this information now. How do I start that conversation in a way that is compassionate, unbiased in order for that client to again continue to want to explore that level? So I think that’s what you need to do. And if you don’t know, then figure out or be able to explore those resources that is going to be able to give you that information in the correct manner. There’s definitely a lot of information out there that we can explore. But it isn’t necessarily the right information. And if you don’t know, then, you know, really be open-minded, open-hearted to be able to discover where that information might lie out there.

    Really that open-mindedness, I think, is where you begin. If you can start with that and then try to gain the right information to start a conversation, you know, admittedly, a lot of folks in the public sphere may not maybe afraid to initiate the conversation because they’re afraid right out of the gate that they’re going to offend. And some of those biases, those unconscious biases, it’s going to come out. And then it’s like, all right, where do I go from here? Because now it’s all kinds of awkward. Yeah. I think you should pre-game the conversation. You know, be honest with the person that you’re talking to. You know, if they want to start that conversation to be able to say, you know what, I don’t know much about what you are talking about. But I’m willing to listen. I’m willing to learn.

    That is mainly how I got into being able to support the community. I didn’t have a lot of knowledge, but I had individuals that were coming to me asking for help. And I said, all right, I’m willing to help, but I need to learn. And I’m willing to learn with you as long as you’re willing to, you know, accept that I may not know at all. And throughout that, I’ve learned so much. And it isn’t based knowledge that I might have had, but that I’ve been able to pick up along the way, either through the support of employers like McCaws is able to go to different conferences and be able to expand my knowledge base. Or again, just to talk to my patients and say, you know, what are your biggest concerns in regards to this? How can I support you? And if I can’t support you, how best can we get you connected with those community supports? When we talk about folks that are under care at McCall, you know, the common denominator is that they are battling some kind of substance by and large.

    Let’s talk about the connection between those demons that they’re fighting and folks who are part of the LGBTQIA community and how much more preponderance there might be that they might have trouble because of, again, the things that we’re talking about being seen being understood in the wider community. Yeah, and it all goes back to stigma. Yeah. You know, many years ago, if someone talked about, you know, their gender identity or things like that, it was not readily accepted. And so a lot of our individuals then self-medicated themselves to be able to take care of those mental health symptoms that were that connection to not being able to be their true selves out there in the community. And so oftentimes when we take that substance away, then we’re left with those mental health symptoms. And so, again, layer by layer, we then have to determine where do these mental health symptoms come from.

    And a lot of times it is either undiagnosed, untreated, anxiety depression or trauma and triggers like nonacceptance being stigmatized, not being able to live their true self. And so once you start to take away those layers and open up that conversation, we can actually start to take care of the root cause versus just sticking band-aids on problems, which is that, you know, that’s amazing. And to see people come out of their shells and to have that conversation and just feel like that there are themselves, that is the development and that is a transformation that we’re looking to accomplish that, McCalls. So in helping folks that, again, like you said, coming out of their shell, being able to break through and get to that place so that they feel comfortable, they feel that sense of trust so that you can, again, begin to get to the core of the problem because until you get there, like you said, it’s just band-aids, you’ve got to find the root and tear that out. Absolutely, absolutely. And I think that’s what they appreciate.

    You know, you had talked before about being seen, but I think the other thing is about being heard. You know, we can sit there and listen, but until we truly hear our patients and really start to understand where they’re coming from, that is where that trust and where that communication starts to be able to build. If you’re just joining us, our guest this morning is Dr. Katrin Moskowitz and she is Psychiatric Family Nurse Practitioner with McCalls Center for Behavioral Health. Incredibly, your time is already up. It goes very quickly. Closing thought, just for the general public out there, again, is we, you know, recognize and look at that broader community, the folks in the LBGTQIA community, just a closing thought for, and give people, you know, something, leave them with something as we, as we end our interview this morning. Absolutely. I would just say have the courage to be your own authentic self and surround yourself with that support and that community that is going to be able to allow you to be that person for yourself.

    Dr. Moskowitz, appreciate having you on the show. Thank you. Appreciate your time. All the best to all the folks at the McCalls Center and at Help Enk, we have these interviews every third Wednesday and we’d love to have you back sometime. Thank you. Thanks so much. Back to the newsroom. We’ll be right back.

  • Mental Health Awarness Month & Adolescents – Darian Graells, Region 10 Coalition Coordinator & Tobacco Treatment Specialist

    A 23 in FM 97.3 WZBG and as usual on the third Wednesday of the month we get to catch up with folks from the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Health Bank. This time we want to welcome a new guest, it’s Darian Grails and she’s a prevention facilitator at McCall in Health Bank. Good morning Darian. Good morning, Dan. I’m very happy to be here today. Thank you for having me. Glad to have you. We’re going to take up a topic that’s really been getting a lot of national attention lately. It’s adolescent mental health. A lot of that coming off of the effects of COVID which we’re still trying to measure. Now this was already an important topic before COVID but talk about bold type and big font on this topic right now. So as your prevention facilitator and tell me what you’re grappling with right now in your practice with McCall when it comes to adolescent mental health, I guess we’ve got a huge supply and demand thing going here, don’t we?

    Yes, so there definitely is a huge supply and demand thing going on. We’re just starting schools are starting to open up again and the youth are back in their school settings which I think is a blessing in disguise because a lot of them were feeling really isolated and kind of hopeless from being at home for such extended periods of time. Going in there and kind of we McCall offers like a wide vast of programs that are designated towards adolescents and one of those programs is Insight which is a psychosocial program that kind of was designed to provide intervention and early intervention and prevention to at youth at risk youth and that setting is kind of just an open space where these youth can talk freely about topics that they may not feel the most comfortable talking to any other adult about. So we kind of give them a little sense of agency because they have the ability to discuss things openly and really use their peers as a crutch to kind of offer suggestions and ideas on how to approach so many different situations from trying to quit vaping to advice and help through a breakup.

    These youth have really almost became more connected since COVID. I’m sure technology has helped in that and also hurt in that as we know social media can be helpful and also hurtful especially to our youth with the amount of cyberbullying that’s taking place. But what I’ve noticed from just providing that free space for these youth to speak, they are talking about issues that are deep, they’re talking about how they spend their free time and how to occupy their minds when they’re struggling and one student identified that they feel a lack of control in their life, everything is dictated for them. So when this student presented a particular issue, we kind of used that information that he told us to help guide him and how to approach a conversation with his father that may have not been the most comfortable or the most easy conversation to have. We helped him have those supports to enter the conversation a little bit more confidently than he would have previously. That’s one of the things about adolescence is lots of times you get that communication gap between adolescents and their parents.

    It’s easy for a lot of adolescents to think their parents don’t understand what they’re going through, what they’re feeling and also that they’re going to either try to fix it which that’s not what they want. They want empathy and they want an open ear or they’re going to pass judgment on it which neither one is what they are looking for. So insight, the program, how do we draw these kids out? Do we get them in it? Is this a group setting thing? Will you just try to get them to open up? Yes, it is a group setting. A lot of the students were identified by the school as being at risk and then there’s also a large population of students that just come for support. They just come to be around their peers and get advice or hear what they have to say or share what’s on their mind and that is really heartwarming because they don’t have to be there.

    So, making the choice, it’s after school hours. I understand after school they want to go home and get comfy but these kids volunteer their extra time, their free time to attend this group and receive support which is really heartwarming. Doesn’t it show just how desperate they are to try to make those connections and get this stuff out? Yes, they are just desperate at this point. I feel like for any type of connection from being isolated for so long and having to rely on technology to kind of hold their friendships together, now they kind of have to learn how to reintegrate themselves into the social setting of school because it’s key to development. You learn a lot of different skills just in your adolescent years and those skills are learned from just observing environments, interacting with people of their age, interacting with teachers. There’s a lot of social components that come out of attending school for these kids. If you’re just joining us, Darian Grails is a prevention facilitator with McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Helping.

    We’re talking about adolescent mental health which really took a hit with COVID restrictions and it’s a bit ironic how we’ve got a generation of kids that have grown up with electronics and in front of a screen but COVID has pointed out the one-dimensional aspect of those screens and how hungry and ingrained it is in us for real human connection. You add to that that when they do get out and they’re in a place where there’s human connection, there’s a mass cover in the mouth so they can’t gauge again that interaction that you get from somebody’s full face. So the whole thing really kind of piled on, didn’t it? Yes. On top of family stressors or whatever may have been going on in their family life, it just did continue to just pile up for these youth and then with a lack of support from just lack of resources available, lack of knowledge of these resources and just providers are kind of tapped out right now. There’s not enough adolescent mental health providers for the demand right now and that’s another struggle that we’re dealing with.

    So in the meantime, just trying to offer parents and caregivers support to kind of deescalate situations and like have open conversations with your youth to kind of keep that space free and allow them to approach you with topics that may be pressing that they may feel uncomfortable discussing with just anybody else. Most of adults are like youths number one kind of motivators sometimes so just making sure that you’re available to have that conversation and try your hardest to be open and non-judgmental which I’m sure it could be difficult to do but just converse with these youth. They’re smart. They have a really good idea of where they want to be and where they’re going. Maybe makes mistakes so just remember that and try to keep that open environment. I think that that’s really important in getting these youth to talk about these topics that are kind of stigmatized or just uncomfortable generally to speak about. We have to leave it there Darian. I knew our interview time was going to go too quickly and that’s why I said I’d love to have about three times a time we are allotted.

    So I would love to have you back and talk about this topic again get a little bit deeper into it. Darian Grills is our guest this time prevention facilitator for the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Health Bank. Good luck with your job with your mission because you’ve got a pretty full plate right now so thank you for your time this morning. Thank you. All the best to the crew back at McCall and for joining us once again this time with our interview. We’re doing the third Wednesday of each month. At 8.31 we go a little bit late to the newsroom. Hey Jeff.

  • Adventure-based Counseling – Melanie Vaverchak, Residential Counselor

    822 on FM 97.3 WZBG. Our friends at the McCall Center and Help Inc. very cleverly decided to position our monthly interview right around the time of Give Local, Greater Waterbury and the Litchfield Hills, which was really a master stroke. We want to introduce as our guest this time Melanie Vavrchak. this time, Melanie Vavracek. She’s a residential counselor at McCall Center and helping. Also joining us, and she’s going to chime in in a few minutes, about Give Local, Marissa Middlestad, who’s director of development and marketing at McCall and Help. Good morning, Melanie. Welcome to the show. Thank you for having me. Glad to have you on. We’re going to talk about something different, and for me, this gets me excited because I’m an outdoor guy anyway. We’re going to talk about adventure-based counseling.

    We’re going to talk about adventure-based counseling. So this is something not all that new, but it’s a relatively growing concept at McCall. Let’s talk about what this is. So incorporating adventure-based counseling into substance abuse recovery planning, if you will, it has a number of benefits. Obviously, there are the physical and emotional and cognitive benefits of simply engaging in the outdoors, but these experiences give individuals in recovery a unique opportunity to step out of their comfort zone, to develop a sense of accomplishment, to sort of build to sort of build self-esteem and self-efficacy, if you will, in these supported adventure experiences that include things like, but are certainly not limited to, hiking, rock climbing, and even white water rafting.

    We hear about these sorts of adventures being good for people in general. that only seems natural that folks who are getting into recovery would also get those benefits extended to them in a big way. Oh for sure, you know, unfortunately along with substance use comes a lot of isolation so it doesn’t necessarily come as naturally for people in recovery as it does to us you know outdoor nerds you know so I had this You know, so I had this opportunity this past year to participate in three different adventure recovery outings with some of our clients.

    And I got to be honest, it was, it was transformational, you know, for all involved. And what was so cool about it was it, it didn’t matter what their background was or their it didn’t matter what their background was or their level of experience or you know in a lot of cases their initial hesitation you know if you will. Some people get a little bit iffy around nature. Oh yeah and you tell somebody who doesn’t go outside that they’re going whitewater rafting it’s terrifying for sure but it didn’t it didn’t really matter you know because everybody that was involved in these experiences it didn’t really matter, you know, because everybody that was involved in these experiences, it’s sort of this living tangible metaphor for accomplishing something, right?

    They’re walking away from these experiences with, you know, this sense of mastery, you know, with this renewed confidence they didn’t have before. they really are, most importantly probably, right, making that connection with something greater than themselves. You know, we talk about isolation, you know, and substance use, connecting to, you know, a higher power of some sort. You hear that a lot. Connecting with something greater than yourselves, especially in the outdoors, is really powerful.

    And not only are they doing that, but most importantly, they’re getting psyched to go back outside. but most importantly, they’re getting psyched to go back outside. Well, we all want to get out and enjoy recess, especially when the weather is nice and everybody wants to get out and play. Much of what you folks do at McCall and help about group therapy has to do with that camaraderie, that sense that we’re all in it together.

    And that, of course, starts at the low end of things where you’ve got people who are battling addiction and they have that in common. But let’s talk about the camaraderie got people who are battling addiction and they have that in common. Let’s talk about the camaraderie when they get out and they embrace nature and the accomplishments you just talked about, that self of mastery as it were. Well you know, there’s nothing scarier than finding out you have to participate in a group project. I think everybody has trauma related to that in school.

    Been there, yeah. Yeah, oh no, it’s the worst, right? Yeah, oh no, it’s the worst, right? So think of this as an opportunity to participate in a group project, if you will, but you’re not sort of living inside your head about it, right? You’re not overthinking it. What’s so cool is that in terms of recovery, the outdoors is, it’s a resource that’s accessible to everyone. It’s literally right outside. accessible to everyone. It’s literally right outside. Right? So we talk about access, you know, at McCall.

    We want to make the very best services accessible to our clients. You know, that’s why we never turn anybody away away based on their inability to pay. We want to make the very best services accessible and available and this sort of accessibility and equity, this is not only our passion, it’s our top priority. Melanie Vavacek is residential counselor at McCall Center and Help Inc. Melanie Vavacek is residential counselor at McCall Center and HELP, Inc. It’s actually a perfect segue. I’m going to give Marissa a moment at the mic here. Marissa Middlestad, Director of Development and Marketing at McCall and HELP. Because this is Give Local, Greater Waterbury, and the Litchfield Hills. People hearing this interview are getting a great taste of some of the offerings that McCall uses in this approach with its clients.

    I’m going to give you a chance now to basically make your appeal to folks who are considering on their donations at Give Local today. to basically make your appeal to folks who are considering on their donations and give local today. Yeah, thanks, Dale. Melanie did a great job explaining why your donations are so important. You know, accessibility to top of the line care is really what we are all about. Like she said, we never turn anyone away for their inability to pay.

    And these therapies have typically been reserved for those with means. And recovery and nature are really for everyone. And that’s what we want to provide with means. And recovery and nature are really for everyone and that’s what we want to provide to some of the most vulnerable people in our community. We want to help them, give them the best. So if you can today, you go to and search for HELP Inc. or McCall. We would love your donations. We’re so grateful to all of our donors. You can also go to our at McCall Center CT or at Help CT and find the links to donate there. We really really thank you for all of your support. And we’re going to keep the links up on our website as well on our on our Facebook page as well for McCall Center and helping. I do want to finish up with Melanie though. You obviously have a lot of passion for this kind of therapy, adventure-based counseling. Give me your takeaway as to why you think this is such a critical tool that McCall brings as to why you think this is such a critical tool that McCall brings to the fore in helping people battle addiction?

    You know, that’s a great question. I think, you know, the answer is a simple one. When we talk about equity and recovery, right, everybody is coming with access to different resources outside of our programming. The outdoors is accessible to everyone. If we can create that bridge is accessible to everyone, if we can create that bridge between somebody’s individual recovery program, if you will, and the outdoors, we are, regardless of their situation outside of treatment, we are providing them with this essential tool to serve as the foundation for everything that follows, right? If they can access the outdoors as their go-to tool Right? If they can access the outdoors as their go-to tool when they leave us, no pun intended, it’s only uphill from there. Right. And as you always said, it’s always right outside too. It’s right there. So that tool is always right there.

    You know, it’s something to build on. Keep building. Keep climbing, you know. Melanie, a pleasure having you on the show. It’s great to be here. Good luck with the venture-based counseling. Another tool in the toolbox that McCall Center Another tool in the toolbox that McCall Center and Help, Inc. brings to the fight. Marissa, thanks for joining us as well. And we hope folks have learned a lot of important stuff about McCall and Help and that they’ll help you guys out at Give Local, Greater Waterbury, and the Litchfield Hills. And, of course, And you can always learn more at McCall Center with their own website, too. Thank you, ladies.

    All right, that having been said, let’s head to the newsroom and get caught up with Jeff. Good morning.

  • Breaking the Stigma for Men in Recovery – John Fecteau, LCSW, Clinical Supervisor

    Coming up on 822 at FM 97.3 WZBG, check the calendar. Third Wednesday of the month, we catch up with the folks from the Recall Center for Behavioral Health and Health Inc. based in Taranton. This morning we want to welcome John Fecto, who’s a clinical supervisor for McCall. Welcome to the program. Thanks, John. Thanks for having me. Thanks for joining us. We’re a little bit about how we approach treatment for men who may be battling addiction or have some issues. Because the skies are a little different sometimes in the way we process problems. So I guess that would require a little bit of a unique approach or maybe just a modified approach to getting at the root and finding solutions. Right. We intend to restrict emotion a lot more, we’re socialized to be sort of man up, really problem-solving, focused.

    We talk about our problems in metaphor. Right. And we ask for help much less frequently than women do in general. And it’s the way we’re socialized. And that can lead to a number of different problems from men are more three times more likely to overdose. They’re more likely to start using substances, especially alcohol at earlier ages and at larger amounts. And this not asking for help is also a huge problem because we’re also three and a half times more likely to die by suicide. Right. And a lot about suicide these days because the rates are really frightening. Women are more likely to talk about suicide. There’s your cry for help. Men are more likely to complete it.

    Generally speaking, yes. And so some of what we try to do is our outpatient services are intensive outpatient outpatient services. We offer a variety of groups and individual. We have gender specific programming because a lot of times men are more apt to be comfortable talking in a gender specific environment and a men’s group, for instance, because you can tackle this issue head on. And also when people come in, we don’t expect them to be at the stage of change where they’re going to be jumping for joy to be in treatment. So we recognize all these socialization issues when they come in. And we really take a stage of change approach with them. Realizing that in the beginning, people will often be defensive, sometimes even angry. And you have to get past all that. But the interesting thing is once people manage to get past that and realize that asking for help can yield some pretty big rewards, the better you are at talking about emotions and managing them, the more effective you are at managing emotional situations and stressful situations that tend to lead to substance abuse in the first place.

    And so one of the things we also try to focus on with people, especially if they have that sense that I have to take care of this myself, is if you want more independence in your life, asking for help actually gets you to that point. Well, those guys are, we try to be problem solvers. Women, and I don’t mean to stereotype or characterize, but women like to, when they’re ready to talk about a problem, they will tease it apart, they will analyze it. Guys are like, I know my problem is X, I know the solution is Y, and I’m going to do it, stay out of my way. But without getting to the root cause, without teasing it apart and finding the root of it, you’re going to find yourself back there eventually, right? Oh, yes, definitely. Definitely. You know, I think that’s a real reality. And I think, by and large, like we said before, men typically have a really hard time even identifying the emotion to begin with, let alone talking about it.

    And a lot of that is the way we’re socialized. And that’s changing over time, but it’s still a pretty deep-seated thing in our society. Is it, do different guys have their breakthrough moment different ways? I mean, you’ve been at this a while, right? So I think you can probably see when you’re starting to break through by a lot of body language and stuff. And like for everybody, does it very person to person? And you’ve got to kind of tailor your approach, right? Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think like I mentioned before, a stage of change approaches something that we really try to take, because it’s individualized. Everyone is different. Yeah. You know, we offer a lot of services as far as medication management.

    Sometimes people need help with depression and early stages of recovery and so on, as well as other mental health conditions. We also offer medicated assisted treatment to give people a little bit more of a leg up. So a lot of what we do is we really look for that moment where we give the support, we give the information, we try to process through identifying these emotions and being able to talk about them. But you’re right, you do see this moment where people sort of body language starts to change a little bit, they tend to open up a little bit more. And one of the things I personally have seen quite a bit is people seem to reach this sort of turning point. And once they turn that, this light goes on. And I think that’s the message that is important for men to understand that there is hope in that. If you put this sort of scary effort in up front, there’ll be a point where you turn that corner and this light goes on and there’s a huge change.

    I mean, I’ve seen night and day change in people before where all of a sudden they’re able to cope with stressors that they were never able to cope with before without being higher drunk. That they’re able to, you know, be much more effective in relationships. Very much more effective at work. You know, this sense of control over your life and it is something that really just sort of turns on. You know, it’s really interesting to see that light go on and it happens. It happens quite often if people make that first step and start to engage in treatment. Now, what is that first step quite often? Lots of folks who are battling addiction, they’ve got to get to that bottom. They’ve got to find that bottom before they make that first step, which is the actual reaching out and saying, I need help. Right. Well, you know, that bottom is something that people talk about a lot, but basically it’s the point at which the consequences outweigh the rewards of that realization and that realization.

    We try to make it as easy as possible. I mean, if you call, just calling our main number, that 8604962100, we’ll just guide you from there. And you know, find the right program for you, find the right level of care for you. And we try to make access to treatment really easy. You know, it’s a phone call. And then at that point, we start the ball rolling with them and try to guide you through that. And people aren’t expected to come in the door, you know, gung ho and you know, super excited about treatment. And we realize that. It’s a tough call to make. But if people make that first call, we try to make it as easy as possible from there and really work with you to be comfortable and start to make some of this progress that everyone can make.

    John, in fact, there was clinical supervisor for the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and help ink. We’re talking about men seeking treatment, some ways in which we try to reach through and work towards some solutions. We’ve got about a minute just to really sum up. Isn’t it amazing how fast this time goes? It goes very quickly. I want to give you a chance just as a final takeaway if there’s a guy out there, a man out there who’s been battling some issues and is finally ready to take that first step. Just leave him with a closing thought. Well, a closing thought really is that it’s possible. And I think a lot of times people are so feel like they’re so in deep that they know something has to change, but they just don’t know how it’s going to happen, how it’s going to start. And even though your brain is telling you sometimes that there’s no hope that, you know, this is just the way things are, take that extra step.

    And because there will be a point if you put the work in, there will be a point at which you stop and say, wow, you know, my life is so much better than it was before. And it really just took making that initial call and just starting the process. And then we help guide you through from there. John, a pleasure having you on the show. Thank you. Thanks so much. All the best to you and everybody got McCall and help ink and we’ll see you guys next time. Thank you very much. Thank you.

  • How to Build Health Habits for Families – Maria Coutant Skinner, LCSW, CEO

    A 22 morning live show at WZBG going to the live line this morning as we speak with executive director from the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Health Inc. Maria Croutonskin. A good morning, Maria. Good morning, Dale. How are you? I’m well. Thanks for joining us on the live line this morning. Our topic this morning, we’re going to talk about children’s mental health and building resilience because that of course will prevent substance abuse to go a long way toward it. I guess the good question is and there’s been a lot of reporting on this. How are our children doing these days? Well, thank you so much for being here. To my mind, there’s not much that’s more important than talking about this topic and I appreciate being able to talk about it with you, Dale. So, I think it’s been well documented.

    We’re really worried about kids these days. I think everything from the tragic overdose of the seventh grader in Hartford to juvenile crime to increase rates of anxiety and depression. We appropriately are concerned. There’s a lot of high-aturity crisis happening, but we’re also seeing this kind of generally kids are unsettled, they’re feeling that they have a lot that they’re dealing with on their plate and they don’t necessarily always have the language and the pathways to be able to express it appropriately and safely and adults in their lives don’t always feel like we have the right tools to be able to respond to them. So, important to have this conversation. I would agree and I think a lot of it you can lay at the feet of COVID. It’s caused a lot of social isolation and I think we tend to underestimate the power of human contact and interaction toward our mental well-being and all of that has really been assaulted now for the past two years. It’s so true and we see that.

    We do surveys of young people and their families and we’re noticing and this is, we have specific data for our area but we also have data for our state and certainly across the nation and the trends speak volumes. We saw youth feeling more lonely and disconnected and more anxious actually even before COVID hit and then in many ways those things were amplified. Certainly, more reliance on screens and technology and just by virtue of the fact of needing to stay safe, more disconnection, more fear, more anxiety collectively, adults obviously are connected to each of the kids who we’re thinking about and talking about. So our mental health and our well-being certainly impacts how our kids are doing. So these are all things. These are markers. These are things we’re paying attention to. But, and you know, we look at things like substance use and some of the other behaviors as those are symptoms. Those are telling us a story about what kids are dealing with and we just have to scratch the surface of that and figure out what’s driving it.

    Behind every behavior there’s a need and there’s lots of unmet needs that kids are experiencing right now. So there are things that we can do as the adults in their lives. Now when we start to break that down then, I mean how do we, we talked about how sometimes parents don’t know how to communicate what their kids might be feeling and draw them out. What’s the best way to start to make that connection so that you can get to the root cause of why they might be tumbling towards some kind of substance abuse? Sure. So I think there’s a few things. I’m going to just kind of give you three phrases and then I’ll give some more explanation for those. So high expectations, high structure, high nurture. So I think when people hear high expectations they think of like every kid needs to go to Yale.

    That’s not what I mean at all. I think sitting down just as an adult and writing what you value in your family what’s important to you, what’s central to what matters. And then taking those as family values and having discussions in big and small ways about what your expectations are about how to move through the world, about how to treat other people, about how you spend your time, how you spend your money, ways that you relate to one another, all of those things get communicated based on your value system. So us as adults getting clear on what matters to us is really key to be able to do that in an intentional way. And having high expectations isn’t about like necessarily high grades and that kind of stuff. It’s this. Because I’ve been a social worker for I don’t know, hundred years right? And working with kids and with families for a long time, there’s a lot of things that we as parents do that’s driven by love and protection and oftentimes fear.

    And when we feel afraid we’re not necessarily at our best. I don’t know, like if I think about the time when I was at my best versus when I was at my worst, my kids are now twenty four and twenty two. It’s when I was acting out of that fearful place that I was not the best mom. And I would love to be able to rewind and do things differently when I was acting out of fear. Yeah. And so if we’re acting out of love, then we know we’re going to make better decisions. And love is calming and it’s thoughtful, it’s nurturing, but it also doesn’t mean having no expectations. So I’ll give you an example. If we know that our kid is struggling with something, maybe it’s hard for them to get through the school day, maybe it’s hard for them to stick out being on a certain team or something like that. The temptation is to say, oh, it’s okay.

    You don’t have to do that. Now, the whole idea of having high expectations is if you’re building in those other things, that nurturing environment, you say to your kid, you have, I’m going to be there with you, but you have the tools and you have the strength to be able to make it through this uncomfortable moment. And when you put these moments together and together, then I know that you can do hard things. And those experiences build on one another. And that’s where resilience comes in. Yep, very good point. Kids who’ve got to believe in themselves and that starts with mom and dad believing in them. So, yep. And when we over protect, when we do that helicopter thing, we actually do a disservice to our kids.

    We used to say to our kids when they would get into a bind to say, we told them, you’re a smart kid, figure it out. And they did. Yep. And it doesn’t mean they’re alone in it. Right. You’re right there. You’re not going to get with them, but every time that we rescue, we make their world a little bit smaller. And we convince them that they’re not capable. And those are things, you know, we’re talking about big things. We’re talking about child mental health. We’re talking about substance use. But these are all things, building resilient kids, building in the skills and tools. Those are the things that could need to be able to navigate the world, to cope with tough big feelings, to be able to refuse when they’re tempted to, you know, experiment with drugs and alcohol.

    And use other coping skills, but they don’t feel like they have to smoke or drink when they’re feeling stress or anxious or lonely. Got to make the kids feel like they’ve got the strength, but also that you’ve got their back right along the way, huh? Perfect. Exactly. Yep. Yep. It’s a gigantic challenge, Marie, and I want to give you a chance to, I don’t know, kind of nutshell it as we run out of time on our interview here. We could go on for quite a while about this topic because it is also important. But some thoughts we can leave, moms and dads who are facing this challenge and kids out there too, who are having a rough goal right now. Yeah. Thank you.

    I think that the really, like a true show of strength is saying, I need some help here. And so if you’re wondering, you know, could my kid benefit from counseling? I’ve never met a kid who couldn’t. I’ve never met a family who couldn’t benefit. For sure. And so, you know, having, it could be just a few sessions, it could be longer and get into some of the deeper stuff. Parents and kids can be the drivers of what that looks like and what they want to address. But don’t feel like you have to go this alone. Don’t feel like, oh, it’s a phase. It’ll pass. Those, all of those things are opportunities to have an intervention any earlier. You can do that. And if there’s only one thing that people remember from this whole interview, it’s this. The earlier you can have a positive intervention, the better off the trajectory of that life will be.

    And it’s easy to access. It can be telehealth. It can be in person. It can be family, it can be kid. But you know, we’re there. And you know, we have the ability to be able to put those tools in the hands of parents and kids. Well, I hope they grab those tools and use them to their best benefit for family mental health. Because, you know, there’s that saying about us parents where only gets happy as our saddest child, right? Right. So, it’s definitely. All right. Maria, I sure appreciate your time today.

    You’ve given us a lot to think about. And yes, we’re not all in the same boat, but we’re all in the same storm, aren’t we? Exactly. Yeah. Thank you, Dale. Thanks for your time today. We appreciate it, Maria. Pleasure. All the best. Maria Crouton Skinner is the executive director from McCall Center for Behavioral Health. And you can always learn more at And we kind of went into the news department’s newscast here a little bit long. Sorry about that, Jeff. But, a little bit late, we had to use her.