Finding your flock; how to avoid getting mixed in with the wrong crowds

It’s a proverb you have probably heard once or twice in your life, “birds of a feather flock together.” It means those who have the same interests or like the same things will usually be found together. Everybody has their own flock whether they’re extroverted and enjoy going out on Friday nights for karaoke or staying in and reading a book. At one point in your life, you have probably felt pressure to do something a certain way or felt the need to try to fit in with a group of people. With the rise of social media, kids and teens may feel or experience this pressure even more than those who were the same age about 10 years ago.

As parents, your main job is to protect your kids. You want to help them be their best selves and sometimes who they spend their free time with plays a role in that. No parent wishes for their child to get mixed up in the wrong crowd. If a child feels like their parents or guardians are strict when it comes to who they hang out with – there’s probably a reason for that. Family Link Therapist Jazmin Jerome has several pieces of advice for kids who find themselves constantly being told to avoid a certain group of people.

Be You

Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.” As cliché as it may sound, it’s true. Being unique is what makes someone stand out. Jerome says if you have to change who you are to fit in with a certain crowd that is a sign of possibly getting involved with the wrong crowd. If a group cannot accept you for who you are then there shouldn’t be much of an incentive to try to fit in with that particular group who doesn’t accept you as you are.

Communicate Your Needs

According to Jerome, Often times kids and even adults are drawn to find that they are missing.

“Find someone you can trust and talk to about what is missing in your life so that you don’t have to feel drawn to the wrong crowd.”

Jerome also suggests trying to stick to your values. That means honoring your parents’ or guardian’s wishes and never forgetting how you were raised.

Youth Crisis Center’s Family Link Program

 

The Youth Crisis Center was founded in 1974 as Florida’s first run-away program and has grown to be one of the largest and best-known providers of services for youth and families. Nationally recognized as setting a standard in youth services, YCC has been ranked as one of the top five programs in the United States by the Youth Policy Institute in Washington DC. Throughout the past 45 years, YCC has helped thousands of youth and their families overcome adversity and build stronger relationships. 

 

YCC’s Family Link program provides professional and compassionate short-term, outpatient counseling services to families with children ages 6-17 who are experiencing concerns that could disrupt the health and stability of the family. These services are available at no cost to residents of Baker, Clay, Duval, St. Johns and Nassau counties through appointments at the child’s school or other community locations. Click to learn more about Family Link and the 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family. All Family Link counseling sessions are confidential. To learn more about services, please call (904) 725-6662.

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5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family

How to show your child affection if you struggle with it

There’s no universal way of showing love. People show love and affection in different ways. Plenty of people express their feelings through hugs and kisses, but that kind of physical affection could be difficult for some. Others may struggle with giving and receiving compliments. The same goes for families. While adults may be used to showing a type of affection their child may not be as receiving of that type of affection. The parent could have also been like that as a child and now struggles with showing affection now that they have their kids of their own.

Be Present 

Lonnie Erskine, a Mental Health Counselor Intern and Family Link Therapist with the Youth Crisis Center says being present is a must. Important conversations while at the table or just sitting around can fall through the cracks if everyone or just one person is on the phone.   

“Children just want to know that you’re present.”

Erksine recommends asking your child about their day and starting a conversation with them. She wants you to ask your kids how they’re doing and also give them positive affirmation. According to Erksine, this can be very beneficial to the parent-child relationship as it shows the kid you are their biggest cheerleader.

Saying ‘I love you’

Those three little words can hold so much weight. Erskine says it’s important to constantly remind your kids how much you love them. If you struggle to find the right words to show your loved one how much you care, you could benefit from learning about the “5 Love Languages.”

Youth Crisis Center’s Family Link Program

YCC’s Family Link program provides professional and compassionate short-term, outpatient counseling services to families with children ages 6-17 who are experiencing concerns that could disrupt the health and stability of the family. These services are available at no cost to residents of Baker, Clay, Duval, St. Johns and Nassau counties through appointments at the child’s school or other community locations. Click to learn more about Family Link and the 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family. All Family Link counseling sessions are confidential. To learn more about services, please call (904) 725-6662.

 

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5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family

What is self-esteem and how can you boost it?

According to the Oxford dictionary, self-esteem is a noun that means a feeling of being happy with your character and abilities. When Family Link Therapist LaRhonda Britton thinks of the word self-esteem, the word confidence comes to mind. Many others would probably associate confidence with self-esteem because according to the Oxford dictionary, confidence means the feeling that you can trust, believe in and be sure about the abilities or good qualities of somebody or something. While some people are pretty comfortable with themselves and have the confidence that allows them to do so – others may not. That feeling of not being happy with yourself could lead to having low self-esteem.

 

What causes low self-esteem?

 

Based on the definition given by the Oxford dictionary, not feeling happy with who you are and your abilities are low self-esteem. Britton says many things can lead to someone having low self-esteem. She says inconsistent encouragement along with support from family, friends, and other authority figures could contribute as well. She also says the media could also play a role. Britton points to society-perfectionism that prevents someone from never being satisfied with their uniqueness and natural beauty.

 

With the rise of social media, picture-based platforms can also play a huge role in how someone feels about themselves which ultimately can affect their mental health. A study in the United Kingdom done by the Royal Society for Public Health and the Young Health Movement, ranked Instagram worst for young people’s mental health as it examined the positive and negative effects social media has on one’s health. The study listed 14 health and well-being related issues like anxiety, depression, and self-expression as it recommended ideas to help promote the positive aspects of social media.

 

How to boost self-esteem

 

When it comes to how to build your self-esteem, Britton recommends starting to build up who you are. She says this could be key especially for youth struggling with their self-esteem.

 

“Learning what they like, what their dislikes are, and understanding relationships.”

When it comes to understanding relationships, Britton says this is helpful to see what kind of family-based you have or the friends you keep. She adds this also helps with the process of picking better friends if someone finds out that relationship does not add to their overall well-being.

Positive affirmations are a big plus according to Britton. She recommends keeping a journal where you can write down five positive things about yourself and say them consistently. She says by doing that over and over could also help to raise someone’s self-esteem.

 

Youth Crisis Center’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Program

 

The Youth Crisis Center was founded in 1974 as Florida’s first run-away program and has grown to be one of the largest and best-known providers of services for youth and families. Nationally recognized as setting a standard in youth services, YCC has been ranked as one of the top five programs in the United States by the Youth Policy Institute in Washington DC. Throughout the past 45 years, YCC has helped thousands of youth and their families overcome adversity and build stronger relationships. 

 

One of the several programs, YCC offers is Outpatient Behavioral Health. This program provides comprehensive mental health and psychiatric care to kids as young as three and their families. Parents may also receive individual and family counseling regardless if their child is a client at YCC.

 

Youth Crisis Center’s Family Link Program

YCC’s Family Link program provides professional and compassionate short-term, outpatient counseling services to families with children ages 6-17 who are experiencing concerns that could disrupt the health and stability of the family. These services are available at no cost to residents of Baker, Clay, Duval, St. Johns and Nassau counties through appointments at the child’s school or other community locations. Click to learn more about Family Link and the 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family. All Family Link counseling sessions are confidential. To learn more about services, please call (904) 725-6662.

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5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family

The role mindfulness can play in your mental health

The role mindfulness can play in your mental health

 

According to Headspace, mindfulness is the quality of being present and fully engaged with whatever is happening at the moment. Mindfulness can play a role in one’s mental health especially if someone is trying to make healthy changes in their life.

 

Becoming mindful to make healthy changes to your mental health is a lifestyle change like any other type of change would be. Marie Greco, a Family Link Therapist with the Youth Crisis Center says there are several ways to practice mindfulness. She says an issue some people run into is that they stay fixated on the past and ruminate about failures or what should have or shouldn’t have been.

 

Focus on Here and Now

 

Greco says it’s best for someone to focus on what they’re feeling in the moment rather than harping on something in the past.

 

“I think a lot of people get caught up on the thoughts they should have done or shouldn’t have done.”

 

Greco recommends once you acknowledge you have a bad thought or feeling anxious, to just try to let it go. She says even if someone is having a bad thought that does not make them a bad person or means that particular thought will became their reality. She suggests to try your best to not compare yourself to others.

 

Mindful Exercises

 

Greco says there are several ways to practice mindfulness as you work to achieve the goal of making healthy changes in your life. She recommends changes like healthy eating and grounding techniques. Grounding techniques can be helpful for those looking to be more present. Someone can try reciting a mantra or a positive affirmation to try and navigate their way out of their negative thoughts.

 

Journaling can also be used as technique. Whether it’s specifically for mindfulness or just to keep a daily log of your life.

 

Youth Crisis Center’s Family Link Program

 

YCC’s Family Link program provides professional and compassionate short-term, outpatient counseling services to families with children ages 6-17 who are experiencing concerns that could disrupt the health and stability of the family. These services are available at no cost to residents of Baker, Clay, Duval, St. Johns and Nassau counties through appointments at the child’s school or other community locations. Click to learn more about Family Link and the 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family. All Family Link counseling sessions are confidential. To learn more about services, please call (904) 725-6662.

 

 

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5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family

Helping Your Child Set and Reach Their Goals in 2020

“New Year, New Me,” is a phrase often repeated around this time of the year. Some people associate the beginning of the year with getting a fresh start or a new chapter in their lives. Some people even will try to set goals for the new year or resolutions. Whether you believe in setting goals in January or June, it can be hard to stick to them especially if you get your child involved. There are various ways to track goals such as a personal journal, a calendar, a vision board, or something someone can see every day that will remind them to stay motivated.

Liz Overpeck, a therapist at Youth Crisis Center’s Family Link Program believes building motivation is the first step to helping your child set and reach their goals. She recommends encouraging “what if” scenarios with your child.

       “Ask them what it would be like to do a certain thing or how would something change how they feel about themselves or live.”

       This step helps the thinking process for your child. By doing this, your child is thinking about what positive changes they are willing to make in their lives whether it’s a social, personal, or educational goal. Having a goal that relates to the child’s life will keep them interested and will hopefully help them hold themselves accountable for accomplishing their goals. Parents can also use this step to help their children come up with goals if they are struggling.

       The second step is to make sure your child is being specific with their goals. Overpeck says being specific helps measure success when it comes to the goal.

       “Instead of saying ‘I want better grades,’ they could say they would like a B+ in Math.”

        According to the SMART criteria, a person looking to create a goal should try to be as specific as possible. This involves asking themselves why they want to achieve this certain goal, the importance of the goal, and who is involved with creating the goal.

       Overpeck also suggests making sure your child’s goal is timely. This helps set an end-date. This also helps with being specific. Have your child try to put a date on when to reach their goal by. Overpeck says by doing this, you can create check-in points and deadlines.

       The final step suggested by Overpeck is to collaborate on a reward. Having a reward could help your child with motivation. Overpeck recommends working together on a reward that is proportionate to the effort put into achieving the goal.

 

Youth Crisis Center’s Family Link Program

YCC’s Family Link program provides professional and compassionate short-term, outpatient counseling services to families with children ages 6-17 who are experiencing concerns that could disrupt the health and stability of the family. These services are available at no cost to residents of Baker, Clay, Duval, St. Johns and Nassau counties through appointments at the child’s school or other community locations. Click to learn more about Family Link and the 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family. All Family Link counseling sessions are confidential. To learn more about services, please call (904) 725-6662.

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5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family

Expectations, Routines, and Acts of Kindness: How to get your kids ready for the holidays

There could be a new kind of excitement in the air for kids when they get to be included in the holiday festivities with their families, for the first time. These festivities can vary from dinner parties, social outings, or travel – it all depends on the family. These festivities can be a positive experience but it could also disrupt your child’s routines.

Sadie Schultheis, an Outpatient Therapist with the Youth Crisis Center recommends three topics for parents to consider when it comes to getting your child ready for the holidays.

Expectations: 

“The expectations placed upon children during this holiday season are often fairly unreasonable,” Schultheis says as she suggested going over table manners before holiday dinners. It is also recommended that parents try to understand that in some cases, their child’s ability to sit still is limited as well as their attention span.

Schultheis suggests bringing coloring books, card games, dolls/action figures to keep your child busy and to promote desired behaviors. It is also recommended that you talk with your kids about bedtimes to prepare for late-night parties and to serve as a reminder that kids still need plenty of hours to sleep. 

Routines: 

It’s no secret that the holiday season can be busier than normal for families. For children who experience anxiety, routines make them feel safe. This can go back to expectations but in a different sense. Rather than setting expectations on manners and how to act at the table, parents can explain to their kids what to expect and how it will affect their daily routine. According to Schultheis, having a routine can help reduce added stress due to additional family gatherings, holiday parties, and travel.

Acts of Kindness: 

The holiday season means a lot of different things to different people, but it is often associated with bringing families together from near and far. Schultheis says around this time of the year it is important to remind your child that this is also a time for giving and not only receiving. She recommends encouraging your kids to go through their toy boxes and donate the ones they no longer play with. There are also a handful of soup kitchens or animal shelters looking for donations and/or volunteers. Another activity Schultheis recommends is having the kids participate in caroling or sending holiday cards to servicemen and women.

YCC’s Family Link Program 

The Youth Crisis Center was founded in 1974 as Florida’s first run-away program and has grown to be one of the largest and best-known providers of services for youth and families. Nationally recognized as setting a standard in youth services, YCC has been ranked as one of the top five programs in the United States by the Youth Policy Institute in Washington DC. Throughout the past 45 years, YCC has helped thousands of youth and their families overcome adversity and build stronger relationships. 

One program, in particular, YCC’s Family Link, provides professional and compassionate short-term, outpatient counseling services to families with children ages 6-17 who are experiencing concerns that could disrupt the health and stability of the family.

To learn more about Family Link services, click here or call (904) 725-6662. All Family Link counseling sessions are confidential.

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5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family

Is My Child Just Experiencing The Holiday Blues Or Is It Something More?

Throughout childhood and adolescence, it’s normal for your child to experience a wide range of emotions. However, if the negative feelings last longer than a normal “bad mood” and begin to impact your child’s ability to function normally, they could be experiencing depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.9 million children ages 3-17 years old have been diagnosed with depression. Having additional disorders is most common in children with depression; about 3 in 4 children diagnosed with depression also have anxiety.

Holiday Blues

Just like adults, children can also exhibit signs of stress or depression around the holidays. On one hand, children are like sponges and it could just be them absorbing the stress and anxiety from those around them. On the other hand, however, some children are directly affected by the holiday stressors themselves. Here are common stressors many children face around the holidays:

  • The child may feel anxious about attending a different daycare or childcare during the holiday break because it’s different from their normal routine.
  • If parents are unable to afford presents this year, the child may feel sad and experience social anxiety when they go back to school and the other kids are showing off their new toys and clothes.
  • The child could be deeply affected by the loss of a loved one earlier in the year, and this may be their first holiday without them.
  • If they don’t typically see their extended family, they may feel anxious about socializing with people they don’t know or don’t get along with.

5 Warning Signs For Childhood Depression

Mental disorders in children can have a significant impact on the way they learn, behave, or handle their emotions, which causes distress and a multitude of problems they have to deal with regularly. Sometimes it can be difficult for parents to determine if their child’s behaviors or emotions are just a regular part of growing up or if it’s something more.

Here are 5 distinct warning signs that could indicate depression:

  • Isolation or withdrawal from family and friends
  • Lack of interest or motivation with school, sports, or other activities
  • Irritable behavior or everchanging moods (extreme highs to extreme lows)
  • Low self-esteem or feelings of hopelessness (thoughts of suicide in extreme situations)
  • Constant fatigue, aches, or sick feeling

Let Them Know They Are Not Alone

Whether your child is open about their feelings to you or more closed off, it’s important to know they are not alone in experiencing these emotions. Baltimore Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst has been open about the anxiety and depression he’s faced throughout his adolescence into early adulthood and recently visited the Youth Crisis Center to share his story with the children there to let them know they are not alone. Hurst was a phenomenal baseball player, but one day, he began experiencing the “yips” a condition that would cause hands to sweat and tremor uncontrollably, and he lost the ability to pitch due to his depression and anxiety. Hurst received the help he needed and found a new passion for football and was later drafted into the NFL.

“I still battle with depression and anxiety today. It’s part of the makeup of who I am,” said Hurst. “I want to tell my story. I want it to be out there. I don’t care if it makes me vulnerable. I want people to be able to relate to it so they can change the course of their life.”

How You Can Help

If you think your child or family could benefit from speaking with a counselor, the Youth Crisis Center provides short term crisis care, mental health counseling, skills-based group training, and transitional living services program for children, teens, young adults, and their families in need. To learn more about the programs we offer, click here or call (904) 725-6662.

If you would like to get involved, join us on February 24th for the first Hayden Hurst Family Foundation Golf Tournament benefitting the Youth Crisis Center. Click here to learn more.  

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Teens On The Run – How To Spot Runaway Risks and How To Prevent Them

Every year, between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away, according to the National Runaway Safeline. There is a multitude of reasons why youth run away, whether they feel unsafe in their home, are in a constant battle with their family, feel shunned due to their sexual orientation, are experiencing mental health issues, or have a history of truancy or residential instability. 

 

5 Indicators Your Child Could Run Away

 

Parents know that as their children grow older, they will attempt to assert their independence, but some may struggle with finding that freedom more than others. Their child could act out in extreme ways, such as abusing drugs or alcohol, committing crimes, skipping school, and running away from home. 

 

A decision to run away can be triggered by several factors, so parents need to pay close attention to changes in their child’s behavior and be on the lookout for some key indicators that their child is thinking about running away:

 

  • Threatening or talking about running away
  • Changes in their usual mood or behavior (withdrawing from family and friends, becoming extremely irritable, or engaging in self-harm) 
  • Increase in rule-breaking or reckless behavior (coming home late or not at all, drug abuse, truancy, stealing)
  • Developing new relationships outside their typical network, including high-risk peer groups and gangs, that cause them to act out
  • Saving their money for no apparent reason or keeping their belongings packed away

 

Prevention Begins With The Family

 

Most children run away due to problems with their families. The child may leave home because of a heated argument or abuse, they did something they’re ashamed of and are afraid to tell their parents, or maybe they don’t want to adhere to their parents’ rules anymore. However, there are also other, more emotional reasons, that cause a child to run away, such as feeling neglected because of a newborn sibling, death in the family, or a family financial crisis. 

 

Children who are thinking about running away may also not have adequate problem-solving skills or the right adults in their life to help them work through the issue. The child may feel that running away is the only choice to get away from or solve their problem. Whatever the problem may be, it’s important for parents to make sure their child knows there are other ways to deal with their problems besides running away. 

 

“Families who fear that their teen has run away, or is planning to run away, should reach out for help,” stresses Youth Crisis Center’ mental health counselor Lonnie Erskine. “If you fear your child is thinking of running away, reach out to them and talk to them. Give your child comfort, time to be angry, allow them their space to find some quiet time, listen to music so they can center themselves. Remember communication is the first key, followed by compassion and love.”

 

YCC Family Link Program 

The Youth Crisis Center was founded in 1974 as Florida’s first run-away program and has grown to be one of the largest and best-known providers of services for youth and families. Nationally recognized as setting a standard in youth services, YCC has been ranked as one of the top five programs in the United States by the Youth Policy Institute in Washington DC. Throughout the past 45 years, YCC has helped thousands of youth and their families overcome adversity and build stronger relationships. 

 

One program, in particular, YCC’s Family Link, provides professional and compassionate short-term, outpatient counseling services to families with children ages 6-17 who are experiencing concerns that could disrupt the health and stability of the family, leading the child to run away. 

 

“Providing intervention and prevention are the keys to success for families and youth in the community,” explains Erskine. “I have had the opportunity to help youth in our community that has run away, or thought of running away, face their fear of anger, depression, and anxiety of school, and become better equipped with coping skills and strategies to face issues head-on.” 

 

To learn more about Family Link services, click here or call (904) 725-6662. All Family Link counseling sessions are confidential.

 

 

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5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family

Collaboration Supporting the LGBTQ+ Community

In a national study on youth homelessness, it was discovered that LGBTQ+ youth are 120% more likely to become homeless than their heterosexual peers. The prejudice and bigotry that many LGBTQ+ youth face can come from their family, friends or people in their community. The rejection that they receive can lead them to develop anxiety, fall into depression, and – as the statistics show – end up on the streets. All across the country, youth who identify as LGBTQ+ are being stigmatized, discriminated against, and targeted for violent acts every day.  

60% of Homeless Youth in Jacksonville Identify as LGBTQ+

Youth that identify as LGBTQ+ make up 40% of the population of homeless youth in the United States. However, Jacksonville’s rate is higher than the national average, at 60%. A national assessment found that LGBTQ+ youth face greater hardships when they are homeless compared to non-LGBTQ+ youth. They experience higher rates of assault, trauma, the exchange of sex for basic needs, and early death. The rate of early death for LGBTQ+ youth is twice the rate of death for other youth. In some cases LGBTQ+ youth avoid shelters altogether, either because of the limited space or because of their gender identity, which shelters use to regulate the separation of accommodations.

Youth Crisis Center Provides a Beacon of Hope for Homeless LGBTQ+ Youth

The Youth Crisis Center, in collaboration with JASMYN and Changing Homelessness, is working to give LGBTQ+ youth of Jacksonville a safe place to help with their transition into the world. The House of Hope is an emergency homeless shelter specifically for LGBTQ+ youth ages 18-24 who are being stigmatized, discriminated against or are targets of violence. Through a generous gift of $100,000 from The Chartrand Family Fund, YCC is able to begin restorations to its former residential shelter.

Additionally, community supporters raised another $95,500, which was matched by the Delores Barr Weaver Fund matching grant challenge for a total of $191,000. These funds will go toward the first year operational budget of $243,200. We invite you to contribute to help close the gap on the last $52,200 needed to open the House of Hope! This desperately needed emergency LGBTQ+ homeless shelter is set to open this year.

“The YCC House of Hope will be a beacon to young people who have had the crushing experience of alienation from family support,” explained Delores Barr Weaver. “We need to embrace them so that they may gain the footing they need to be productive, good citizens in our community.”

The House of Hope Will Transform Lives

YCC’s House of Hope will be the first LGBTQ+-specific emergency homeless shelter for youth in the Jacksonville area. The shelter will include nine bedrooms, a full kitchen, dining hall, private counseling room, life skills training space, sanctuary garden, and communal gathering spaces. Opportunities are now available to adopt a room in the House of Hope. During their stay, staff will help the youth focus on life skills training, mental health counseling, receiving access to medical care, a connection for stable housing, academic monitoring and support, and career development training.

“The collaboration between these three organizations has the potential to leverage and sustain a broad range of solutions that help homeless youth find stable housing and LGBTQ+-responsive services,” said JASMYN executive director Cindy Watson.

You’re Not Alone

There are millions of stories of youth across the country that come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. Each story has a different outcome, but ultimately, it helps other LGBTQ+ youth know they are not alone. YCC will provide services not only to the youth who seek shelter at the House of Hope but also to their families. Research shows that most LGBTQ+ youth don’t become homeless in the immediate aftermath of coming out, but as a result of family instability and frayed relationships that happen over time. YCC hopes June’s LGBTQ+ Pride Month will provide an additional opportunity to bring attention to the House of Hope as supporters campaign for equal rights, celebrate gender identity, sexual orientation, and connect with others in the LGBTQ+ community.

The goal of the House of Hope is to provide LGBTQ+ youth with everything they need to truly be themselves and live a happy life without the worries of rejection or bullying. They will be provided with a safe place to stay where their physical, emotional and mental well-being needs are cared for. Click to learn more about Youth Crisis Center, or to donate in support of the new House of Hope emergency homeless shelter. Tours of YCC and the House of Hope are open to the public; please call (904) 446-4966 to schedule.

If you or a youth in your family would like to talk to someone, there is no shame in getting help. YCC’s Family Link program provides professional and compassionate short-term, outpatient counseling services to families with children ages 6-17 who are experiencing concerns that could disrupt the health and stability of the family. These services are available at no cost to residents of Baker, Clay, Duval, St. Johns and Nassau counties through appointments at the child’s school or other community locations. Click to learn more about Family Link and the 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family. All Family Link counseling sessions are confidential. To learn more about services, please call (904) 725-6662.+

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5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family

Family Support is Key

Every crisis is different, just like each family’s experience within it. It is unfortunate that families today face a barrage of experiences that can result in a family crisis: death, divorce, addiction, relocation, mental illness, unemployment…the list goes on. There is no “typical” family crisis, just as there is no “typical” family. A crisis within a family can impact not only the family unit but also affect each member uniquely.

Heightened family tensions can cause family members to experience a variety of psychological issues, such as hostile behavior, difficulty thinking clearly, feelings of numbness or hopelessness, impulsive behavior, dwelling on meaningless activities, or low self-esteem. A family crisis disturbs the normal functioning of everyone in the family and requires a change in response to the stressor.

Elements of a Family Crisis

Even the happiest families can experience a crisis. Ideally, family members will always support one another in times of need. However, living up to this expectation isn’t always the reality, whether because of long work hours, conflicting schedules or personal issues. There are four elements that can lead to a family crisis, and when two or more of the elements are present, a family is likely to move into a state of crisis:

  • Experiencing a stressful situation: This can be anything that causes tensions to grow within the family, such as divorce, death, unplanned pregnancy, incarceration, or even a child protective services investigation.
  • Inability to cope: When a family is having a hard time accepting or dealing with the crisis at hand, a breakdown starts to occur in the family dynamic. Family members may blame each other, become argumentative, feel overwhelmed or hopeless, or stop communicating altogether.
  • Chronic difficulty meeting basic responsibilities: This could be anything from a parent not being present in their child’s everyday life to being unable to provide basic needs to survive, like food, shelter or protection.
  • No sources of support: Families that don’t support one another are at high risk of experiencing a crisis. When they are unable to rely on other family members, friends or neighbors, they are isolating themselves and eliminating support systems.

Stages of a Family Crisis

A family crisis has three stages: onset, disorganization and reorganization. Whether it’s something that happens unexpectedly, an underlying issue that has been waiting to surface, or the inability to adapt to change, each crisis will be characterized by these three stages.  

  • Onset: The family starts to realize that there is a crisis. Family members may present denial or disbelief about the situation. In this stage, it’s important for the family to identify the problem and accept that they need to make a change.
  • Disorganization: This is a family’s lowest point. Chaos from the crisis is in full effect, causing family members to feel helpless, anxious, agitated and vulnerable. Tensions are rising and family members may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope.
  • Reorganization: This is when the family takes action. They have identified the problem, accepted the need to make a change, and are working to overcome the crisis.

When to Get Help

Remember, a crisis doesn’t always have to have a negative outcome; it can be a time for the family to build stronger bonds, work on their problem-solving skills, or develop better coping methods. If the family is unable to come to terms with a crisis, or needs help resolving their issues, they should seek assistance. Family therapy can help a family understand each other better, prioritize communication, manage expectations, and address individual issues. There’s no shame in getting help. When all is said and done, you’ll be thankful you took action to rebuild your family.

YCC’s Family Link program provides professional and compassionate short-term, outpatient counseling services to families with children ages 6-17 who are experiencing concerns that could disrupt the health and stability of the family. These services are available at no cost to residents of Baker, Clay, Duval, St. Johns and Nassau counties through appointments at the child’s school or other community locations. Click to learn more about Family Link and the 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family. All Family Link counseling sessions are confidential. To learn more about services, please call (904) 725-6662.

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5 Ways to Strengthen Your Family