. . . the right care at the right time


Blog posts with a category of Teens.

Mental illness and schools – an American crisis

By Jeffrey Sendi DO, Medical Director New Oakland

As a child and adolescent center, we’re all too aware of the tragedies that are occurring in our schools. Our many therapists, social workers and doctors deal with the backlash every day. Here’s the reality students face:

  • If you don’t finish in the top 15% of your class you won’t get into a good college
  • If you don’t go to a good college, you’re chances of getting a good job are greatly diminished
  • If you don’t get a good job, statistics say you are likely to struggle financially your whole life

Should we wonder why kids of all intelligence levels continually break down from pressure? Should we wonder why they bully each other and attempt suicide in record numbers?

Our educational system is under fire and for good reasons. We drill them with facts and we eliminate the extracurricular activities and the more fun, free-wheeling elective courses because of budget restraints. And since we get our funding based on test scores, we turn learning into a high stakes game of posting a good number or a good grade.

One student in a recent survey said, They don’t teach us to love to learn. They teach us we have to pass all classes with a high grade or we will fail in life.” Continue reading

A tragic champion

By Eli Zaret, New Oakland Community Liasion and Guest Blogger

John J. McDermott
1911, ’12 U.S. Open Champion

It’s hard to imagine a world without the spectrum of medications created in the 20th century that play such deeply significant roles in the lives of those with mental illness. Before medications to stabilize mental health, people with serious disorders like schizophrenia were thrown into institutions to suffer the rest of their live in anguish and isolation.

As America’s iconic golf tournament, the U.S. Open plays out in mid-June, one such story still strikes a chord for golf fans and for dedicated mental health professionals like those at New Oakland.

In 1911, 19-year-old Philadelphian John J. McDermott became the youngest
U.S. Open champion, and then defended his title the next year. He remains one of only six golfers to have achieved that feat. He was a verifiable genius at his chosen craft. But there was also a very dark side to him. McDermott would become agitated by the most mundane things, shocking those around him. He could be quiet and mannerly and in the next minute become a boorish and overbearing bully.

 Those close to him had known since his early teen years that something was amiss, but there was no psychiatric infrastructure to identify his schizophrenic behaviors and certainly no mood stabilizing drugs to assist his therapy and recovery. No one had the knowledge or experience to connect the dots on his erratic, paranoid, irrational behavior.

In 1914, at 22, McDermott collapsed in a golf shop in Atlantic City. He then babbled, twitched and shuddered, imagining things and people that weren’t there. Continue reading

“Facebook” – The window into your child’s mental health

By Lisa Kalinski, Therapist, New Oakland

#1 parental concern:

Who is my child hanging out with; what activities are they engaging in, and how can I stay on top of it to ensure their safety and mental health?


Since most kids won’t or can’t tell you what’s really going on with them, monitor their Facebook activity and you may just find what you’re looking for.

In the past, parents would be reduced to subterfuge, sneaking a peek at the diary in their daughter’s drawer, or listening in on their son’s phone calls. Now, it’s often right there in front of them if they’re willing to look at their child’s social media activity and suppress the urge to react right away. The key is to view multiple interactions or profile changes to gauge your child’s mental state. Then if you’re amply concerned, call a professional.

A University of Missouri study published in the journal Psychiatry Research points this out.

“The beauty of social media activity as a tool in psychological diagnosis,” says Elizabeth Martin, doctoral student at MU, “is that it removes some of the problems associated with self-reporting. By asking patients to share their Facebook activity, we were able to see how they expressed themselves naturally. Even the parts of their Facebook activities that they chose to conceal exposed information about their psychological state.” Continue reading