Anxiety and 7 Ways to Help Your Struggling College Kid

As excited freshman or experienced sophomores, juniors and seniors settle in for another Fall semester around the country, I wanted to put together a quick list of 7 things parents can do to hep their college kid suffering from anxiety. It’s scary to put so much freedom and responsibility into the hands of your son or daughter when you know worry and fear is always lurking around social, academic or career decisions. Before I discuss what to do about anxiety, I think it’s important to review some details about anxiety.

Everyone feels uneasy or anxious occasionally like when we are running late for a meeting or got caught doing something we’re not supposed to. It’s a normal.

Anxiety disorders are different than regular, situational anxiousness. They are a group of mental illnesses that are characterized by intensity, duration, origin and how they impact life domains like work/school, relationships, and health.

For people who have an anxiety disorder, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming, and can be disabling. With the correct treatment, most can overcome the anxiety disorder and lead a fulfilling life.

Types of Disorders

Anxiety disorder is a broad category that includes:

  • Panic Disorder. Feeling overwhelming sense of terror or dread that seemingly strikes randomly. During a panic attack, the person may sweat, have chest pain, and feel unusually strong or irregular heartbeats. Sometimes they may feel like they’re choking or having a heart attack.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder. Also known as Social Phobia, this is when someone feels overwhelming worry or judgement while in social situations. They may obsess over others judgment or being embarrassed or ridiculed.
  • Specific Phobias. This is when someone has a very specific fear of something such as spiders, heights or flying. The fear goes beyond what’s appropriate based on actual risk and may cause them to avoid regular situations.
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This is what I see most when working with college students. They describe having excessive, unrealistic worry and tension with little or no reason.

Risks

Early signs of anxiety are super subtle and include distractability, avoidance and sleeplessness. Students with anxiety disorders often report to me that semesters generally start fine but as papers, tests and social pressures mount, their anxiety builds to the point where they start consider drastic changes like dropping out of school. Untreated anxiety can lead to depression, severe drug use and in some instance, suicide. Anxiety and depression seem to be best friends, often presenting together in college students I’ve worked with. 

What to Do

Though anxiety disorders can make someone feel hopeless, there are very effective treatments and interventions we can implement to get their life back on track. Here are the 7 I think are most important for parents to be aware of if they need help with their college kid.

1. Counseling

Right out of the gate, the first thing parents should do is link their child with a) campus health services (often called Counseling and Psychological Services or CAPS) and b) a therapist or counseling like me specializing in college student anxiety in the community close to campus. Ideally, find a therapist/counselor that uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). Waiting until the first big meltdown could be too late. Loads of freshman fail to share their struggles with their parents until Thanksgiving and Christmas which, by then, is too late in their minds and they end up not returning for their Spring semester. Invest the time on the front end.

2. Scheduling

Anxiety is fed by fear. Fear is often the by-product of lack of predictability about social events, academic outcomes, and career failures. One solution is increasing predictability. I accomplish this with students by teaching them to download the semester schedule onto their phone calendars before the semester starts. Next, after they’ve received their syllabi, I coach them to put in every single date for every single assignment/test possible. This also includes social events and any non-academic stuff they know about. This may sound like it could be overwhelming, but I’d rather have them feel a bit overwhelmed when looking at the calendars rather than anxious about remember when that next big thing is due.

3. Resources

Not the most used suggestion but one we have to put here – make sure your son or daughter has a list or access to resources that can help them reduce stressors or mitigate things when they’re already starting to spiral down. These resources could include the academic supports found at nearly every university or within the community. Universities have a vested interest in making sure your son or daughter doesn’t bail at semester’s end. Another form of ‘resource’ is the on-call list. Create a formal or informal list of people they can call/text when they are starting to feel overwhelmed. I am on-call for all of my clients and often receive texts from students the night before big tests asking for help in quiet their brains down. I call them or text back strategies and remind them to call if they want to talk through things in more detail. Just knowing there is a safety net and team of support can have a dramatic reduction effect on anxiety.

4. Medication

I am super conservative with medication use and recommendations for students I work with at Indiana University. But, with that said, we also recognize that some folks simply need a bit more support than what counseling and academic support can provide alone. If your college does not have a psychiatrist on staff, we highly recommend finding one in the local community. We rarely encourage use of primary care physicians or nurse practitioners for medication management since they are not specifically trained to diagnose and medically treat those suffering from anxiety. You also want your college kid to work with someone who genuinely understands the risk of some medications that have the potential for addiction. Good kids get hooked on meds the same as bad kids. It’s also important to avoid illegal or non-prescribed drugs (like the roommate’s Xanax).

5. Meditation

I recommend to nearly every client to start participating in weekly yoga, meditation or mindfullness classes. This is an evidence-based approach with only positive side-effects. Plus, every college offers these in their wellness programs for free so encourage your kid to take advantage and put it into the calendar. Meditation, counseling and medication are an incredibly complimentary approach to combating anxiety.

6. Sleep

Not easy when kids have more freedom than ever away from home but we nonetheless push parents to encourage sleep. Not binge sleeping but a healthy 8 hours per night. The ideal for anxiety reduction is a steady sleep pattern so that bedtime and wake time are pretty standard every day. Staying up late on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, sleeping in till 1:00pm and then dragging out of bed Monday morning for an 8:50am class is terrible for anxiety.  Sleep meds only make things worse and really should only be taken with the psychiatrists oversight.

7. Exercise

Encourage your kid to sign up for the intramural leagues, especially for sports where there is little standing around time. Distraction and flow experience are essential in helping him or her focus on non-academic activities. It’s also a great way for them to be social without needing a drink in their hand.

Ok folks. Hope this helps you figure out the best way to help that college kid who may be struggling as you’re getting through the fear of letting go. It’s an exciting time and, with the right strategies in the beginning, can be the start to a fantastic semester.

Why Entrepreneurs Kill Themselves

First of all, a disclosure: I’m a therapist. I work with individuals and families. I meet with people in their homes and offices. Many of my clients from around the country are entrepreneurs. Many are high income earners. A few are on the post-exit side, financially comfortable but bored as hell. I’m also an entrepreneur. I consider my behavioral health agency a business with a product. I consider my patients as customers and treat them as such. I’m not sure which came first, entrepreneurship or being a therapist. Both have existed since I can remember (though not always tied together). When I hear about another entrepreneur’s suicide (referring to Austen Heinz), I cringe. I react as an entrepreneur and I react as a therapist who knows how to stop this. I also beat my head against the wall trying to figure out how to get those hurting to connect with those, like me, that can help. 

Entrepreneurs are a unique bunch. They (…we?) have large egos, low self-esteem (when no one is looking), we work stupid hours, are running from fear, elated when the needle moves slightly in our favor, we are hard to live with, have unrealistic expectations, are judgmental of others (more so of ourselves). There’s a ton of research that affirms this (borrowed from FeldThoughts):

Of the 242 entrepreneurs surveyed, 49% reported having a mental-health condition. Depression was the No. 1 reported condition among them and was present in 30% of all entrepreneurs, followed by ADHD (29%) and anxiety problems (27%). That’s a much higher percentage than the US population at large, where only about 7% identify as depressed.

What’s Helpful? Posting the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) might make some bloggers or journalists feel like they are contributing to the solution. A few folks reading articles might actually call and some might find some solace. But for most entrepreneurs, it’s way more complicated. I’d also like to dispel another myth that most, if not only, tech entrepreneurs struggling with launching a product and desperately reaching to become the next unicorn, are the ones hurting. Not true. You do not need millions of dollars from a VC to have anxiety, depression, imposter syndrome, fears that at any moment it will all come crashing down and your ego will get sucked down with it. Pain comes from only a few places. The major one I’ve seen as a therapist for years is the gap between our expectations and our reality.  

 

What’s the Problem?

 

Therapists don’t advertise. They don’t connect to the outside world. When was the last time you read coverage of a therapist’s thoughts in Business Insider, Forbes or Inc.com? You don’t because we don’t think about communicating to the outside world. We hide in our comfy offices waiting for nice people with insurance (…or those few souls left that private pay) to trip over our profiles on antiquated therapist database websites. 

Therapists are not well-trained. We have minimum continuing education requirements, most of which are required to be on ethics (Don’t have sex with patients!). Even when we are trained to handle suicide intervention, only a handful of us are available 24/7 unless they work for behavioral health company that requires on-call responsibilities. I’ve been ‘on-call’ my entire professional life. At first it sucked. I felt tethered to my cell phone. But as I matured and as I started and ran my own agency, I understood that being available for those in pain is part of my business. It’s not only me being a good person, it’s a good business model and excellent customer service. 

No One Talks Prevention. Let’s get real. In the world of entrepreneurship, whether you are in tech, making widgets, or busting it out with an Etsy project, there are no systematic behavioral health solutions that cut across industries. Closest thing is Employee Assistance Plans (EAPs), but those are for large companies and tend to be low quality perks. There are a handful of VCs that provide informal emotional support to companies. There are some incubators that do the same. But overall, there is little formal or informal discussion about behavioral health prevention, intervention and resiliency. 

 

Solutions 

 

Yes, there are very real things we can do beyond just herding cattle towards the anemic volunteer force at the Suicide Prevention Hotline. 

1. StartUp: We need someone (maybe I’ll do it…) to start a biz which is the QuickBooks equivalent for mental health. Small/medium size business pays small monthly fee for ongoing support with behavioral health issues. Bizarre? I can think of a ton of services I first thought were stupid that soon became popular and financially successful. Either a platform or solution that cuts across industries, is inexpensive, super user friendly and deeply effective at preventing AND intervening with mental health and substance abuse problems. I imagine it being like a cool version of EAPs, but focused on startups and freelancers hoping to break through. 

2. Conferences: We need therapists to get invited to startup conferences and talk about how to reduce anxiety, depression and feeling like an imposter. Therapists also need to reach out to conference organizers and offer to speak. It’s great marketing for the therapist, it’s great value for participants and creates an opportunity for some cross-pollination between industries. 

3. Go to Therapy!: All entrepreneurs that have a history of depression, anxiety, substance use or other significant mental health issue should go and simply connect with a therapist while they are starting a business. Don’t give the bullshit line about not having the money. If you have enough money for an iPhone 6, you can find the money for a few sessions with a therapist.

4. Find a Qualified Therapist: Find a therapist with entrepreneurs and high achievement folks. You will know them when you first ask about their background. Their blogs will have entrepreneurial language. They will also be able to talk about depression, impostor syndrome, anxiety and money problems – all symptoms of the startup/growth world. Don’t count on finding this info on your basic therapist databases like Psychology Today or Good Therapy.

5. Kill Sacred Cows: You are not going to be a billionaire. Your startup will not change human history. Stop taking yourself so seriously and take a break. Learn to stop work at a certain time each day. Stop lying to yourself, families and friends that you are ‘killing it’ with amazing app or product. Get some sleep, eat some healthy food and get your ass moving for some exercise in the Sun (bright thing in sky from 6am-7pm). You get zero bonus points for how much you (and your family) have sacrificed. Chill out. 

Got your own experiences with entrepreneurship and how it affected your life or family? Email me and I’ll put together a ‘Part II’ of this post on entrepreneurship and behavioral health.  

5 Signs of Suicide Risk in College Students

FACT: 15% of graduate and 18% of undergrads have seriously considered attempting suicide

FACT: 15% of graduate and 18% of undergrads have seriously considered attempting suicide

There is nothing more exciting than dropping of your college freshman in late August as the cool nights of Autumn return. But not all students carry with them the same energy and positive outlook for the Fall. Some are carrying some heavy baggage from High School or even younger while others don’t start to develop any major issues until they first get to college (and their first taste of freedom from parents). What parents don’t know is that you likely know your college friends (or at least a side of them) better than their own parents do, and you may be able to tell that something is wrong way before anyone else. This quick list is as much for parents as it is for you students out there. 

The following signs might indicate a student is considering suicide:

  1. A good student who’s behavior suddenly changes – they start ignoring assignments and missing classes which are likely signs of depression or drug and alcohol abuse, which can affect their health and happiness and put them at risk of suicide. And yes, good students and good kids use drugs. Seriously. 
  2. Anyone who doesn’t have friends or who suddenly rejects their friends may be at risk. A friend who suddenly rejects you, claiming, “You just don’t get it,” may be having emotional problems.
  3. College students may be physically or emotionally abused by a member of their family or their girlfriend or boyfriend – or suffering from abuse that occurred long ago but triggered by the new college environment. Abusive relationships can make a college student feel like crap about themselves. Signs that a person may be in an abusive relationship include unexplained bruises or other injuries that he or she refuses to discuss. 
  4. This is a common one – Significant changes in a someone’s weight, eating or sleeping patterns, and/or social interaction style may indicate that something is wrong. Eating disorders are super common at college. Lot’s of perceived competition, anxiety and stress that translates into really unhealthy views of one’s self. 
  5. Coming Out? College students may suffer from depression or have thoughts of suicide if they have a difficult time adjusting to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students have higher suicide attempt rates than their heterosexual peers.

We understand regret and their could certainly be a real consequence of getting help for someone who seems to be really hurting. They might get pissed at you for not minding your own business. But think of it this way – is the regret of possibly losing a friend better or worse than the potential of knowing you could have saved your friend’s life but did nothing? Tough choice but that’s part of the burden of mental illness. 

How to Lose a Fortune: The Stroh Family Tale

I posted the article below to highlight a typical evolution within family wealth. It’s part cautionary tale and part voyeuristic experience for those of us that will never be billionaires. It’s a tale of rise and greed and fall. The important lesson here is that the tale of this once prominent family doesn’t end just because the money did. Lives are changed and rebuilt. 

The once proud and lucrative Stroh brewery in Detriot.

The once proud and lucrative Stroh brewery in Detriot.

The original version of this article is from 7/8/2014 on www.forbes.com and was written by Kerry A. Dolan who specializes in writing about the world’s wealthiest people and philanthropy. 

AS WITH MANY OF AMERICA’S GREAT FORTUNES, the Stroh family’s story starts with an immigrant: Bernhard Stroh, who arrived in Detroit from Germany in 1850 with $150 and a coveted family recipe for beer. He sold his brews door-to-door in a wheelbarrow. By 1890 his sons, Julius and Bernhard Jr., were shipping beer around the Great Lakes. Julius got the family through Prohibition by switching the brewery to ice cream and malt syrup production. And in the 1980s Stroh’s surged, emerging as one of America’s fastest-growing companies and the country’s third-largest brewing empire, behind only public behemoths Anheuser-Busch and Miller. The Stroh family owned it all, a fortune that FORBES then calculated was worth at least $700 million. Just by matching the S&P 500, the family would currently be worth about $9 billion.

Yet today the Strohs, as a family business or even a collective financial entity, have ceased to exist. The company has been sold for parts. The trust funds have doled out their last pennies to shareholders. While there was enough cash flowing for enough years that the fifth generation Strohs still seem pretty comfortable, the family looks destined to go shirtsleeves-to-shirtsleeves in six.

“We made the decision to go national without having the budget,” sighs Greg Stroh, a fifth generation family member and former Stroh Brewery employee. “It was like going to a gunfight with a knife. We didn’t have a chance.” His analysis comes tinged with inevitability. It wasn’t. A handful of family-owned regional brewers such as Yuengling and Schell’s continue to thrive, while others, like Olympia and Hamm’s, sold out. And the Strohs’ largest rivals during the 1980s and 1990s, the Coors, who also aspired to turn their no-frills, regional suds into a national powerhouse, remain in the top 100 on the FORBES America’s Richest Families list.

The Strohs chose a different path, a saga that serves as a powerful reminder: Hard as it is to build a family business designed to last in perpetuity, it’s shockingly easy for any successor to tank it.

FOR ITS FIRST CENTURY the Stroh beer business, based in Detroit, grew by following the basics: respect your customers; respect your employees. The former meant catering to Midwest working-class tastes at working-class prices (the family watered down Bernhard Stroh’s precious recipe, after hops and wheat shortages in World War II left Americans accustomed to weaker brews). The latter by treating every employee like an honorary member of the clan. John Stroh, who oversaw a dramatic sales surge in the Eisenhower years, “was known for walking the brewery and knew everyone’s first name,” his grandnephew Greg remembers. “Employees would run through walls for the family.” As if to connect the customers and the business, the Stroh signature was emblazoned on every bottle, topped by a family crest with a lion. Sales surged in lockstep with postwar Detroit, from 500,000 barrels in 1950 to 2.7 million barrels in 1956.

The Stroh Family Management - Not as clever or frugal as they needed to be.

The Stroh Family Management – Not as clever or frugal as they needed to be.

The mammoth changes came in the early 1980s. John Stroh had moved into the chairman’s role in 1967 and handed control of the brewery to his nephew, Peter, who became CEO in 1980. Like John, he had a plan to grow, but not incrementally: He would do it by acquisition. In 1981 Stroh bought New York-based brewer F&M Schaefer, which, like Stroh, was founded by a German immigrant in the mid-1800s and also offered low-priced suds to its regional fans (famous marketing line: “The one beer to have when you’re having more than one”). The next year, in what family members describe as “the minnow swallowing the whale,” Peter Stroh bet the family business, borrowing $500 million (the book value of the Stroh business was $100 million at the time) to buy Joseph Schlitz Brewing of Milwaukee.

Suddenly Stroh was the third-largest brewer in the U.S., with seven plants and a national footprint. On paper there was synergy. FORBES valued the company at $700 million in 1988, listing the Strohs with one of the largest family fortunes in the U.S. at the time, shared by 30 relatives.

But Peter Stroh’s grand vision of a thriving U.S.-wide brewer failed to materialize. It largely missed the boat on the biggest industry trend in a generation: light beer. And Stroh’s core product–cheap, watery, full-calorie beer–was a commodity. But saddled with debt, Stroh couldn’t afford to match the ad spending of its bigger rivals, Anheuser-Busch and Miller. Unable to spur demand through marketing, Stroh turned to price, introducing a 15-pack for the price of 12 cans and a 30-pack for the price of a case of 24. While the latter had legs, it wasn’t enough to outrun the shrinking margins.

Meanwhile, an ambitious family from Colorado began moving into the Stroh markets. “It became a competition between Stroh and Coors,” says Scott Rozek, a former director-level employee who spent 12 years at Stroh. “At that time there were four big breweries in a three-brewery industry–there was really only room for three.” By the end of the 1980s Coors overtook Stroh as the country’s third-largest brewer.

In August 1989 the Stroh Brewery Co. was in retreat. The company that had treated employees like family laid off 300 people, one-fifth of its white-collar workforce. “I had to let go four of the five people in the marketing research department. It was heartbreaking,” remembers Ed Benfield, former director of market research at Stroh.

The next month Peter Stroh, who died in 2002, agreed to sell the family business to Coors for $425 million. But Coors got cold feet and pulled out of the deal a few months later. “It had something to do with due diligence, and Bill Coors,” says Benjamin Steinman, longtime editor of newsletter Beer Marketer’s Insights. “There were lots of stories.”

Desperate, Peter Stroh brought in renowned adman Hal Riney to give the Stroh’s brand a more upscale look and position. The cherished Stroh signature gave way to block print, prices were raised, and the 15- and 30-packs were nixed. It could not have been a worse decision. But since the product hadn’t changed, customers could do the math: Sales of Stroh’s-brand beer fell more than 40% in one year, “the biggest drop in sales in the history of beer,” says Benfield.

Market share for Stroh’s, as well as for its acquired brands like Schaefer, Schlitz and Old Milwaukee, fell from 13% in 1983 to 7.6% in 1991. Even CEO Peter Stroh admitted the troubles. “We’ve been through a very difficult period,” he told FORBES in 1992. “We tried to do too much.”

And yet it tried to do more. In 1996 Stroh repeated his mistake, borrowing yet more money for the $300 million acquisition of struggling brewer G. Heileman. The purchase fell flat. Heileman had breweries in cities like Seattle and Portland, where Stroh didn’t, but it lacked a big stable of strong brands. One industry analyst remembers the deal described as “two sick chickens–they were both declining.”

It got worse. Peter Stroh had tried to diversify the business, with investments in biotech and Detroit real estate. Both were far from the family’s core competencies and lost them millions more. By 1998 cousin John Stroh III had taken charge at Stroh Cos., the brewery parent. And while the company had turned to contract brewing for others, including Sam Adams, as a way to make up for plummeting sales, Stroh took a mortal hit in 1998 when it lost a contract with Pabst.

By 1999 there was internal concern about whether they could even make their interest payments on the debt incurred, says one former executive. And so Bernhard Stroh’s legacy was sold for scraps: Miller Brewing, owned at the time by Philip Morris, bought Stroh’s Henry Weinhard’s and Mickeys brands, while Pabst bought the rest of the brands owned by Stroh’s as well as its brewery near Allentown, Pa., for a price several sources peg at around $350 million–about $250 million of which was used to pay down debt incurred with the Heileman purchase. Some of the remaining $100 million or so was transferred to a fund to pay employee pension liabilities, which Stroh had retained in the sale. The rest went into a fund for the family that dribbled out checks until 2008, when it was completely tapped.

FOR GENERATIONS, GROWING UP STROH meant a life of comfort. “My life with my father felt like being inside a gilded bubble,” says Frances Stroh, whose father, Eric, quit the company after a fight with his brother Peter in 1985. An artist at heart, Eric spent millions buying hundreds of antiques–guns, cameras, guitars–to fill the big house that Frances grew up in. Saving, Frances says, was not a priority.

And why would it have been when the checks rolled in? In the 1980s the seven members of the fourth generation got $800,000 a year. (There were another 20 or so shareholders from the third and fifth generations as well, who received differing amounts.) That enabled several Stroh families to live in stately homes on gated Provencal Road in the tony Detroit suburb of Grosse Point Farms, with maids, cooks, country club memberships, boarding school tuition and no need for 9-to-5 jobs. “A lot of people were living off the family business,” says Greg Stroh, who’s now 47.

As with too many families with more money than direction, drugs and alcohol followed. Frances Stroh was kicked out of boarding school at Taft after she was caught drinking. Her three brothers also got kicked out of different prep schools. In an excerpt from a memoir about the family that Frances is writing, she describes one incident during her college years when she was snorting cocaine with her brothers while the rest of the family was downstairs having Christmas dinner at their Grosse Point Farms home.

One of her brothers, Charlie, narrowly avoided going to prison for dealing cocaine in college in the early 1980s. His parents forced him to join the Marines, and good behavior in the service was the key to evading a prison sentence. Yet the demon of addiction reappeared two decades later, in 2003, when he fell to his death from a tenth-floor hotel balcony in Texas, as the sheets he tied together to form a rope failed to hold. He was 43. One report quoted police saying he called the front desk at the hotel “to report a bank robbery and other nonsensical things.”

There have been other tragedies throughout the years. Nick Stroh, a fourth-generation member of the family and a freelance journalist in Africa, was bludgeoned to death by Ugandan troops in 1971 after he investigated reports of an army massacre. Peter’s brother Gari Stroh Jr., who ran the Stroh Ice Cream division, became a quadriplegic after a fall from a horse on his farm in 1982. And so on.

All of which served to make 1989–the year of the failed sale to Coors–something of a shock to the family. For the first time the company couldn’t come up with dividend payments. “My generation probably grew up with the illusion that things were going to be pretty good,” says Greg Stroh. “We had to make adjustments.”

Eric Stroh was hit particularly hard. His first wife had to briefly loan him money to help him make ends meet. In 2009, a few months after the checks stopped for good, the overweight and diabetic Eric collapsed, alone, after letting a leg wound go untreated–most of his estate went into trusts to pay liabilities to his two former wives (the second one had gone to high school with Frances).

Frances and her two surviving brothers each inherited $400,000 from a trust. She also inherited her dad’s collections of antique cameras, guns and guitars–some of which turned out to be fakes, and others, fittingly, worth pennies on the dollar of what her father had paid for them.

To learn more about how to insulate your family from the unintended consequences of wealth, contact Fonthill Counseling for a fee consultation. 

Time to Start Thinking about Cyberbullying Again

Cyberbullying: The Fist of Technology

By Mary Hannah Ellis

Most of you probably remember your school bully at each level of your education – the tall fifth grader who liked to knock over kindergartners on the playground, or the burly, egotistical jock who made everyone else feel inferior with his brash jokes. However, a student could mostly avoid these school bullies by staying out of their way. Today, technology has enabled a new, ubiquitous form of bullying called “cyberbullying.” Cyberbullying involves a minor’s harassment, tormenting, humiliation, embarrassment, threatening, or otherwise targeting of another minor via technology.

Cyberbullying occurs through a variety of media, including social networking sites, text messages, online chat services, and email messages, to name a few. Facebook and twitter are some of the most active sites for cyberbullying

Do you suspect that your child or teen is a cyberbully or a victim of cyberbullying? Here are some warning signs to consider:

Your child or teen may be engaging in cyberbullying if he/she:

• Constantly uses the computer, even at all hours of the night

• Is secretive about his/her activities on the computer

• Appears nervous when using the computer or cell phone

• Quickly stops using the computer or switches screens when someone approaches

• Becomes excessively angry when cell phone or computer privileges are revoked

• Uses multiple accounts on different websites

Your child or teen may be a victim of cyberbullying if he/she:

• Unexpectedly stops using the computer or cell phone

• Avoids talking about what he/she is doing on the computer or cell phone

• Appears nervous upon receiving a text message, chat message, or email message

• Appears angry, depressed, upset, or frustrated after using the computer or cell phone

• Withdraws from interacting with usual friends

• Seems uneasy about going to school or going out in public

Children and teens who are victims of cyberbullying are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, have lower self-esteem, skip school, experience physical bullying, have poor academic performance, and have more physical health problems. Interestingly enough, cyberbullies themselves are also more likely to be bullied in real life and to have low self-esteem. There is also a significant risk of suicidal ideation associated with cyberbullying. With very little warning, a victimized kid could snap and hurt themselves or others. Without a doubt, cyberbullies and victims of cyberbullying could benefit from counseling or psychological intervention.

Contact us to find out how we can help.