Telephone Town Hall

Take Part in Discussion of City’s Financial Challenges, including budget impacts on Mercer Island Youth and Family Services. Wednesday October 11th, 7-8pm.

In July, the City began a public engagement process to share information about the City’s financial challenges with the community and to seek public input on how best to balance the budget. As part of its outreach, the City is piloting a new technology that allows interested residents to join a moderated, community meeting by telephone or computer, providing a new option for those who are unable to attend in-person. Participants may ask questions in real-time, and a recording of the event will be available afterwards. This interactive meeting is known as a “Telephone Town Hall” and anyone can join in, or just listen, from any telephone.

What does this have to do with Mercer Island Youth and Family Services?

For the 2017-2018 Budget cycle, significant deficits have been projected in the General Fund and Youth and Family Services (YFS) Fund, which account for most of the City’s services (excluding utilities). The General Fund pays for a wide range of City services such as park maintenance, police and fire services, and special events. The Youth and Family Services Fund pays for school counselors, emergency family assistance, and employment assistance.

The imbalance was temporarily solved using 2016 surplus revenues in the General Fund, which were generated by the high level of development activity on the Island, and one-time resources in the Criminal Justice Fund, which was folded into the General Fund in 2017. However, this budget balancing solution is only temporary, meaning the projected deficits will occur in 2019.

Sign up to take part in the Telephone Town Hall here:

http://tinyurl.com/Oct11TownHall

More detailed information about the budget, process, impacts, and further opportunities to get involved:

http://www.mercergov.org/Page.asp?NavID=3185

http://www.mercergov.org/News.asp?NewsID=2233

 

Help us balance the budget

Friday Introductions

School Counselors 2017

School Counselors 2017

Mercer Island Youth & Family Services (YFS) introduces our licensed mental health counselors in all six Mercer Island public schools: Chis, Cathy, Harry, Jonathan, Liana, Julie, Laura and Anna.

Our team of counselors are in all Mercer Island public schools every day making your child’s school experience the best it can be.

Our counselors are trained to identify problems before they become crises. They also teach your children mindfulness skills, address bullying prevention, and help them to learn about empathy and how to problem solve in order to be their best academic selves.

They are different from academic counselors who are funded by the school district.

Your donations, along with MI Thrift Shop proceeds and City of Mercer Island fund YFS counselors. This kind of emotional support is rare in public schools.

You can read more about the YFS Mental Health Counselors here and how your child can connect with YFS Counselors at each Mercer Island school here.

Please support YFS counselors today – donate online at www.miyfs.org

YFS Says Get Screened for Depression

Depression Awareness Month

October is Depression Awareness Month

National Depression Screening Day is October 5 and Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (MIYFS) calls on Islanders to get screened for depression and related mood and anxiety disorders and to raise awareness about the importance of mental health.

“There is no such thing as health, without mental health,” quotes MIYFS Director Cynthia Goodwin. As a community, we all play a role in recognizing warning signs of depression or anxiety in ourselves, family and neighbors.

Depression is a common, treatable mental disorder that will often show-up in adolescence and early adulthood. Studies indicate that 15-20% of young people are likely to experience an episode of depression before adulthood.  However, due in part to the stigma against treating mental health on par with physical health, most do not get help.

Much like a sore throat and fever might suggest the flu, so do changes in sleep/ appetite, poor concentration, loss of energy, loss of interest in usual activities, low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness or guilt, or recurring thoughts of death or suicide hint at depression. Both would suggest a trip to a medical provider is necessary.

Depression takes many forms and has many causes. Sometimes depression can be a single event, while at other times, it is a recurring health issue. While the very symptoms of depression – such as feelings of hopelessness or lack of energy – can make it difficult to ask for help or to believe that things will improve, we know that with appropriate treatment, most people can recover.

MIYFS invites all Islanders to join us October 5 and spread the word about the importance of mental health check-ups. Parents can contact their pediatrician or MIYFS school counselor (in all public schools) for consultation or screening. Adults are encouraged to contact their physician or MIYFS counseling staff (206.275.7611) for assistance. Learn more at www.nami.org or the National Suicide Prevention Helpline (1-800-273-TALK). In King County, call 2-1-1 for any mental health crisis.

To learn more about how to keep kids in crisis safe, please join Parent EDGE and The MIHS Forefront Suicide Prevention Team for a free training on Wednesday, November 15 at 7:00pm in the MIHS library presentation room.

Off to College, Parenting Still Required

Originally published in MI Living, August 2017.

Graduation caps

Parenting doesn’t stop when kids graduate.

As summer vacations wane, many Island parents will send their children off to college. These young adults say good-bye to childhood haunts, schools, and friends and prepare not only for a new campus, but for a whole new stage of life. Parents, too, must enter a new phase. Having an “empty nest” does not mean you can stop parenting.

As any parent of an adult child will tell you, parenting does not stop once your child goes to college. In fact, some will suggest it never stops – for good reason. Youth do better socially, psychologically, and economically as adults due both to nurturing parenting birth-18, and due to parents who stage engaged thru approximately age 25. Just like parenting a toddler is different than parenting a pre-teen, so is parenting a college student different than parenting a high schooler. And all are vitally important.

The need to continue parenting through the college years is partially rooted in brain science. The frontal lobes of the brain, often referred to as the brain’s “executive manager,” is the last area to fully develop. Up to ages 24-26, the brain’s ability to make effective decisions is still forming. Structurally, the process of myelination is involved. This is the coating, over time, of axons of some nerve cells in a fatty tissue “myelin” that allows neural signals to travel through the brain more quickly and without a loss of signal—in essence to allow the brain to function more efficiently and eventually to make more mature decisions.

Before this process is complete the brain is primed for malleability and learning but not necessarily wisdom. Yet at the same time, hormones and other environmental and physical processes lead young adults to feel invulnerable and wiser than they really are.

Ever find yourself wanting to yell, “What were you thinking!” to children at this age? In fact, without a completely myelinated brain, they might not be developmentally ready to think in the way we would expect.

So parents must not stop parenting when a child leaves for college, but shift how they parent. Some parent coaches refer to as the “cheerleader” stage:

  • Stay connected through regular check-ins that are unobtrusive. Listen to your child to determine frequency, but aim for at least monthly. Care packages are great even if you hear nothing back.
  • Be a sounding board and offer advice when asked. Allow them to express both learning and struggles. Instead of lecturing or teaching, facilitate their thought process and ask questions so they can develop confidence in their own choices.
  • Learn about the resources available to them and help them to identify what they need and where to seek this information.
  • Let them know you are open to having conversations about issues relevant to their new stage in life. Maintain clear expectations for age appropriate topics. Discuss alcohol and drug use, sexual and physical safety, and other risk behaviors on campus. Explore these topics when appropriate, with facts, and speak from a place of concern for their well-being.

Parents who convey confidence and facilitate problem solving from a distance will help young adults face the trials and challenges of college successfully. Consistent parenting through the college years will allow students to borrow a little of your wisdom until their brains are ready to develop some of their own.

By Cynthia Goodwin, Director of Mercer Island Youth & Family Services. 
To learn more, volunteer or request services, please contact the main office at (206) 275-7611. 

Dear YFS…Tackling Cyberbullying

Originally published in Mercer Island Reporter August 2017

 

Dear YFS,

My husband and I were saddened to hear that our freshman high school daughter is being bullied on social media. She showed us some really disturbing comments. She has a great head on her shoulders and we have good communication, but I know this can lead to real problems. What do we do?

SP

 

Dear SP –

I am sorry to hear your daughter is experiencing bullying through social media. This type of bullying is somewhat common (more so in middle than high school) and causes a lot of distress to the victim. The great news is that your daughter is speaking with you. Over half of young girls who experience this do not tell their parents.

There are many things parents can do to address and stop bullying. Consider normalizing the experience for her by putting it in perspective – about half of all high school girls will experience some kind of cyber (or media) bullying. However, still stress the real hurt it can cause. Clarify bullying is not about her or anything she did, but about a bully’s behavior and their need to feel power (albeit illegitimately) at the expense of others. She needs to hear loud and clear it is not her fault.

Do not dismiss the behavior as just “catty girl behavior” or “just how some girls are.” Bullies act emotionally abusive as a way to boost their esteem or social standing. Cyber bulling attempts to exclude, demean, threaten or embarrass an individual to cause emotional pain in a way that will be seen by many people. The result is legitimately painful, so listen to your daughter with empathy.

To help your daughter, avoid inadvertently punishing her by taking her phone or internet privileges away. Instead, focus on efforts to end the bully’s influence:

  • Ask that she not respond to comments – this only empowers the bully;
  • Help her develop a plan so the bullying is reported to other parents, school personnel (when appropriate) and other adults – save posts, photos, and write down disappearing remarks;
  • Ask the school to attend to communications generated at, from, or around school activities; and
  • Block bullies from posting on any of your daughters media outlets.

Reporting bullying is also crucial. Reporting and calling this out will expose the bully’s actions and sends the message to the bully and bystanders that this behavior is not tolerated. If there is a direct physical threat or sharing of sexual material, be sure to report this to the police as these actions are actual crimes.

As painful as bullying is for young women, the situation can serve as a catalyst for discussions on civil media behavior. On-line communications are now a part of youth culture. It is a platform where remarks are devoid of usual in-person filtering. As parents, continue to discuss and model appropriate on-line communications with your children both for prevention and to help process a bullying event. Together, we can shape norms for appropriate social media communications.

 

Cindy Goodwin is the director of Mercer Island Youth & Family Services. The advice offered by YFS is intended for information purposes only and to guide you in seeking further resources if needed. If you have a question you would like to ask Cindy to answer in this column, or if you need additional professional resources, email miyfs@mercergov.org.

3rd Annual Open House – Sunday, October 1st

The City of Mercer Island and the MIYFS Foundation are pleased to announced our 3rd annual Open House – Sunday, October 1st from 1 to 4 p.m. Please plan to bring your family on a tour of the Red Brick Building in Luther Burbank Park. You will have an opportunity to learn about services and programs here at Mercer Island Youth & Family Services. You will be the first to purchase from this season’s glass pumpkin collection! And, we will have lots of kids activities too. The pumpkin carver will return again to show off his artistry!

Also, this year, we are asking the Mercer Island community to “Fill the Wagon.” One of our Programs, the Mercer Island Food Pantry, serves approximately 150 Island families who are experiencing food scarcity – we see about 1,500 visits to the Pantry each year. Please help us re-stock our shelves for the fall, and consider bringing a donation of non-perishables with you to the Open House. The Food Pantry is currently in need of boxed cereal, canned fruit, chili, tuna, hearty soups, baking supplies, peanut butter & jelly and rice products.

If you have questions about our Open House event, please connect with Sari Weiss, (206) 275-7756, sari.weiss@mercergov.org

“Fill the Wagon” Please bring a non-perishable donation to the Open House

Lots of kids activities and the pumpkin carver


We will feature a new fall collection of glass pumpkins too!

YFS Says, “Get Screened for Depression”

National Depression Screening Day is October 6 and Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (MIYFS) calls on Islanders to get screened for depression and related mood and anxiety disorders and to raise awareness about the importance of mental health.

“There is no such thing as health, without mental health,” quotes MIYFS Director Cynthia Goodwin. As a community, we all play a role in recognizing warning signs of depression or anxiety in ourselves, family and neighbors share responsibility.

Depression is a common, treatable mental disorder that will often show-up in adolescence and early adulthood. In fact, many as 8% of teens can experience depression at any one time. However, due in part to an unjust stigma against treating mental health on par with physical health, most don’t get help.

Much like a sore throat and fever might suggest the flu, so do changes in sleep/ appetite, poor concentration, loss of energy, loss of interest in usual activities, low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness or guilt, or recurring thoughts of death or suicide hint at depression. Both suggest a trip to a medical provider.

Depression is not “one-size-fits-all.” For example, sometimes depression can be a single event, while at other times, it is a recurring health issue. Treatment can vary from recognizing and responding quickly to warning signs to crisis intervention to prevent self-harm.

To learn more about how to keep kids in crisis safe, please join Parent EDGE and The MIHS Forefront Suicide Prevention Team for a free training on Wednesday 10/5 at 7:00pm in the MIHS library.

In addition, MIYFS invites all Islanders to join us October 6 and spread the word about the importance of mental health check-ups and decrease the stigma about getting help. Parents can contact their pediatrician or MIYFS school counselor (all public schools) for consultation or screening. Learn more at www.nami.org or the National Suicide Prevention Helpline (1-800-273-TALK). In King County, call 2-1-1 for any mental health crisis.

stop-suicide

Mosaic Murals Ribbon Cutting at Luther Burbank’s MIYFS Open House – this Sunday, Oct. 2; 1-4pm

The Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (MIYFS) Foundation hosts the Second Annual Luther Burbank Open House this weekend on Sunday, October 2, from 1:00-4:00pm, at 2040 84th Avenue SE.

In addition to other festivities, the ribbon-cutting for the new Mosaic Murals will occur at the Luther Burbank playground. The two artists that led the project, José Orantes and Island resident Sandy Glass, will be in attendance to share their experience in creating the 250 square feet of mosaic artwork.

Bring your family on a tour of the MIYFS Administrative Offices (the “Red Brick Building” in Luther Burbank Park), be the first to purchase from this season’s glass pumpkin collection. Come and enjoy festive treats, family activities including field games and crafts, prizes, and more.

mosaic

Sunday, October 2nd from 1-4 pm; Second Annual Open House & Community Gathering

The City of Mercer Island and MIYFS Foundation invite you to our Brick Building Open House and Arts Council Mosaic Mural Ribbon Cutting Community Event…
Sunday, October 2nd from 1-4 pm

Bring your family on a tour of the Red Brick Building, be the first to purchase from this season’s glass pumpkin collection by artists Joni Johnson & Roberta Wyde, and wander among the new Mosaic Murals in the playground area where you will meet the mosaic artists Sandy Glass and Jose Orantes.
Entertainment and activities for this family friendly event include Russ Leno-Master Pumpkin Carver, roving musicians Duo Finelli, field games, fall treats and more!
pumpkins

Save-the-Date: Wednesday, February 8, 2017!

Mark your calendar now – and join us at the next Annual Mercer Island Youth & Family Services Breakfast.
Together, we do make a difference for all of our Mercer Island residents!
Stay tuned – more information on how you can get involved will be coming your way.

Filled Room 2016

2017 Breakfast Planning Committee:
Sue Wagner, Chair
Lynne Buckingham
Pam Hinnen
Jody Kris
Kate Lamperti
Kathryn Lerner
Myra Lupton
Terry Moreman
Sara Page
Virginia Pedreira
Barbara Potashnick
Mina Velamoor

GiveBIG to MIYFS for At-Risk Mercer Island Residents

Scott’s story is like many coming through the doors of MIYFS:

GiveBIG for At-Risk Mercer Islanders like Scott and his two kids

“Without MIYFS, we would have had nothing. Because of MIYFS, we are thriving.

Five years ago, I moved to Mercer Island to get treatment for a series of complicated medical issues and for better educational opportunities for my two kids. But when we got here, I was not able to work consistently because of my health problems. I would wake up not knowing if my body would fail me that day, or if I would have any energy for my kids. I was always wiped out. We were barely surviving. MIYFS changed our lives.

Groceries and utility bill help from MIYFS meant that I was able to spend money on things that would propel us forward – to get us somewhere else besides barely surviving. Just knowing I could consistently count on things like having enough food for my growing children and it meant I could take a class to improve my job prospects, or save to buy a used car to get to work. MIYFS made it so we could live without worrying that we would be on the cliff’s edge with nowhere to go. It’s hard to explain to people who have fallback positions. They think there are fail-safes available to help people, but that’s not really the case.

MIYFS was our safety-net. MIYFS saves lives.”

Your GiveBIG donation will offer temporary support to our most vulnerable Mercer Islanders – it could be the person next to you in the grocery store check out, or in front of you at the gas station.

The Family Assistance Program serves At-Risk and Low-Income Mercer Island residents. Resources include case management and emergency assistance with such basic needs such as food, rent and utilities. An Emergency Assistance Fund, supported by your donations, provides limited financial assistance to Mercer Island families. Our staff assists families and individuals to gain access to resources and develop long term plans. A limited food pantry is also available for those in need.

GiveBIG for At-Risk Mercer Islanders like Scott and his two kids

GiveBigLogo_color