Latest Post

The Top Ingredients to Look For in Menopausal Skin-Care Probiotics: Solving Poor Digestive Health How to Do Double Leg Lift in Pilates? Tips, Technique, Correct Form, Benefits and Common Mistakes Top 5 Emerging Skincare Markets in 2022: Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa – Market Summary, Competitive Analysis and Forecast to 2025 – Kelvin Harrison Jr. Is Growing with the Flow

For children suffering from bullying, a welcoming space that offers a sense of belonging and reduces social isolation made worse by a multi-year pandemic is integral.

Staff at Turning Point in Kokomo aim to do just that, offering services and peer groups for students dealing with mental health issues, which include bullying and suicidal ideations.

Turning Point’s Reach Youth Program works with children ages 12 to 17. There are recovery groups that help kids develop coping skills and address anxieties. Other groups partner with mental health service organizations and help kids with substance abuse, focusing on underlying issues (Think: Why are they using?)

Dawn Harvey, youth recovery services lead, said LGTBQ students experience the most bullying.

“It’s important to give those kids a space, an opportunity to be their true authentic selves,” she said.

That is the goal of peer groups. Comprised of no more than 10 children at a time, the groups aim to help kids work through their issues in a safe space with likeminded people. Turning Point also has mentors who come alongside kids and help them achieve their goals.

“Just knowing they have a space gives them a place to breathe,” Harvey said.

Being different—in any way—can be difficult, especially as a young child.

Molly Marburger, a youth peer coach, recalled a fifth grader who was bullied to the point they wanted to take pills to end their life.

“It really is a big deal, especially at (the) elementary (level) because they’re so young, and if you like something different, you’re bullied for it,” she said.

There was nearly a 73% increase in reported suicides in 2020 among Indiana youth 19 and younger in 2020, compared to 2019, according to the Indiana Youth Institute.

The Suicide Prevention Coalition of Howard County works with Turning Point. Ashlee Shoaff, local coordinator for Turning Point, said the group is working on setting up QPR programming, thanks to a grant. QPR stands for question, persuade and refer.

In the simplest of terms, QPR helps individuals navigate tough conversations with someone who is suicidal. People trained in QPR learn how to recognize signs of suicide and how to help persuade and refer someone to help.

“I feel like our community tries really hard to work on the prevention end of issues,” Shoaff said.

Harvey and Marburger said social media has exacerbated bullying and anxiety in children. Comments can be vicious. Likes and attention created from a social media post can give children a feeling of self-worth, but it becomes sinister when the likes and attention don’t come.

“Social media is huge, and it’s not the healthy fun thing they think it is,” Harvey said.

Social media is complicated, especially for kids. Harassment and feelings of self-worth tied to post engagement are harmful, but those same exact social media sites have helped a younger generation become more accepting of mental health issues.

More kids understand “it’s OK to not be OK” according to Kenny Cahill, a youth peer coach at Turning Point.

“That’s been a message that’s been out on social media for awhile,” Harvey added.

Staff at Turning Point observes this during peer groups where students are supportive of one another; for example, they correct one another if they use the wrong pronouns.

“I think they’re really understanding of themselves and with each other,” Harvey said. “They react with empathy instead of judgment.”

While social media has been a positive for growing awareness about mental health issues, Harvey said they see a lot of kids who self-diagnose based on what they see online. It highlights the need for media literacy, she added.

“It (social media) is hard to navigate as someone who works with kids,” Harvey said. “I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a parent.”

Turning Point is resource center that operates under a system of care method, where organizations offering different mental health services work together to help people get the care they need. The structure is meant to facilitate communication and make it easier to direct people to the care they need.

For example, Organization A might not offer mental health services for a suicidal person, but Organization B might. Under a systems of care structure, A is able to easily direct a person to B compared to if all groups worked independently of each other.

Shoaff said the goal is a “warm handoff” when one organization directs a person to another.

Turning Point also works with other organizations to identify gaps in services.

Shoaff said one of the biggest needs is more immediate access to care. Someone having a mental health crisis can’t wait three months to get in to see a counselor.

Transportation is another, especially for kids. Turning Point wants to make it easier to get kids to positive youth events, those meetups that provide a sense of belonging.

“We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and tackle these issues head-on,” Shoaff said.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: