Liam Response

Concerns: Poverty / Home Life / Running Away Liam’s Story:  A friend is having a hard time at home and thinking about running away.  Although currently single, his mom has been married a couple of times and he was the product of a fling in between. His older sisters are into drugs and drinking and one has an abusive boyfriend.  They are very poor and regularly have financial challenges.  His mom denies she has problems and refuses to associate with anyone who has tried to help. Response: Along with lack of financial resources, poverty can lead to decreased self-worth and loss of hope that options exist. Status:  Fragile and possibly needing help just for Survival Mental Health Status Concern Area(s):  Lack of positive male direction and surrounded by negative options (drugs, abuse) Connecting your friend to a positive male influence, helping him develop a talent or skill to build self-worth and looking for possible post-high school options could transform this young man’s life.  Although these sound overwhelming doing them will also benefit you.  They could happen through involving your parents  and including him more in your family or joining the Boys & Girls Club, volunteering or joining an entrepreneurship club.  The most direct route out of poverty is a college education so starting a study group, working with teachers, preparing for the ACT or SAT (even as Freshmen) and researching how to finance college would improve both of your chances for success.  You should also develop (hopefully together) a crisis plan with a list of local resources your friend can access if home conditions deteriorate and he is abused or neglected.  Your friend talking through a plan to runaway should be seen as a Red Flag and referred to an adult you trust or school official. *Also see Home Life / Anger scenario and response. Concern levels]]>

Cassie Response

Concerns:  Abuse / Substance Use Cassie’s Story:  A friend of yours has started smoking and occasionally drinks. She lives with her mom and stepdad while her bio-dad lives in Arizona (1000 miles away).  One day when changing for gym class you notice bruises all over her shoulder and arm.  She finally tells you that her mom did it, but makes you promise not to tell. Response:  One person hurting another person is not OK whether the pain is physical or emotional and regardless of whom the person doing the harm is (peer, parent or stranger). Status:  Injured moving toward Ill (Unhealthy) Mental Health Status Concern Area(s):  Substance use as coping strategy for obvious physical abuse and possible other abuse While not good for the body, smoking and/or drinking in moderation is not an indication of a serious psychological concern (possible legal concern, but that isn’t the focus of this app).  It could be just trying something new or an attempt to fit in and rarely rates more than a Yellow Flag.  However, when someone seems to attempting to escape their daily life (for example, drinking alone or saying, “I need a beer”) it may indicate another hidden concern, especially if there is a progression to more smokes, heavier drinking or stronger drugs.  Knowing of or discovering other concerns present before the substance use started should be considered a Red Flag that should be referred to an adult that you trust.  Regardless of whether drinking or smoking is involved, if the concern is physical, emotional or sexual abuse you speak to a teacher, pastor or other authority figure immediately.]]>

Isabella Response

Concerns: Depression / Cutting / Bulimia Isabella’s Story:  Recently, your best friend has gotten irritable, withdrawn and doesn’t want to do anything.  She gets good grades and is well liked at school although people are talking about how weird and thin she is getting.  She lives with her mom—who has extreme mood shifts from happy and energetic to reclusive and mean—her stepdad, older brother and three younger siblings. While dressing out one day you notice little scars on her arms and fresh cuts across her stomach.  Obviously, she is cutting on herself and attempting to hide it. Response: Be careful! This is not a problem that will go away on its own or that you can fix by being a better listener.  Quite frankly, those Red Flags indicate problems that will challenge a trained professional. Status:  Ill with possibility of permanent damage Mental Health Status Concern Area(s):  Genetic disposition toward depression, an eating disorder and cutting as a coping strategy Without talking to your friend you should go tell the school counselor about the cuts, the irritability and the change in weight even if only two out of these three are present.  People that cut and/or use food as life coping strategies are typically good at rationalization and minimizing their situation.  This means that they will likely be able to explain what is happening and convince you that they are completely in control and will make you feel bad about telling anyone about the cuts. In fact, you will probably lose a friend (at least for a while), but you may save a life as there is a fine line between cutting and attempting suicide.  For more information on Red Flags and Referring. Concern levels]]>

Mason Response

Concerns: Abuse / Relationships / Sex Mason’s Story:  You overhear an upperclassman talking about how easy it was to “hook up” with younger girls once you said you “loved them” and about how little effort he had to put in to get them to put out. You realize that this is the guy one of your friends is seeing. The next time you talk with her about it she reports that she thinks she loves him, but that he is mistreating her and getting verbally abusive. Response:  More than what you say or what you know, how you respond will determine whether your teammate will let you help her.  Remember that when a dam breaks controlling the flow and minimizing the collateral damage comes before fixing the hole. Status:  Healthy, but about to get played Mental Health Status Concern Area(s):  Acceptance of mistreatment and the cost of equating love and sex First, accept that your friend is really in love even if you don’t agree with the choices being made. Understanding that strong emotions are involved makes helping her deal with the pain afterward in a healthy way vital. Second, her love will make anything you say about the guy seem jealous and petty.   However, without naming names you could describe the conversation you just overheard and you could go over the differences between Agape (healthy) love and Eros (unhealthy) love and the definitions of abuse. Without being accusatory you want to plant seeds of empowerment that will grow into feeling more in control after the chaos that will come when he dumps her and she feels used. The most important thing is maintaining a relationship that allows you to build (or rebuild) her self-worth until she is no longer willing to be treated badly. Concern levels]]>

Jackson Response

Concerns: Home Life / Anger Jackson’s Story:  Your friend’s mother is very depressed and is constantly going to the hospital which is an hour away. Your friend lives with his brothers and dad who has a horrible temper. Your friend’s dad is not always supportive and has spent time in jail for hitting his mom. Recently, his younger brother was caught smoking pot and he has missed lots of school. The whole family has gone to counseling but these problems just don’t go away. Response:  You can’t fix someone else’s family, but you can act like a rock climbing belier who offers support while your friend climbs his mountain and help keep him from hitting rock bottom when he falls. Status:  Fragile, possibly Injured with potential to Thrive or become Ill Mental Health Status Concern Area(s):  Your friend losing hope and falling into the family’s cycle of mental illness and physical response to problems. It is important to accept what you can and what you cannot do as a friend. You cannot cure his mother and you cannot ensure that his father won’t hit him. You can invite him out of that world into yours once-in-a-while (more often if you involve your parents in the helping plan). You can be present in his life, be supportive of him reaching his own goals at school or outside activities and accepting his family’s rules regardless of how arbitrary they seem. Your friend needs someone to notice his talents, tendencies and potential and help him use those to build his self-worth to continue his climb without resorting to violence. For example, helping him channel his anger by working out, express his emotions through building, creating, drawing or poetry, and facilitate healthy relationships through group dates bowling or to the lake. Essentially, just be a good friend actively going through the 5 Levels and providing opportunities for sharing. Additionally, working to connect him to other adults (coaches, EMT training) and being prepared to deal with physical abuse will be useful. A start would be developing a list of local resources (see Places) and options for all of the above. Concern levels]]>

Tori Response

Introduction  Answering theses questions would help me help you. 1.  Question that you were asked or had.  Please include any vital situational information (i.e., if the is “Should I get an abortion?” please include things like age, living situation (mom and stepdad or boyfriend),  religious or financial concerns): 2.  Response that you gave or were given: 3.  If known, what ended up happening with the concern?  What did the person do?  What choice or decision did you or they come to? 4.  What were the consequences of the choice or decision? (i.e., did the problem get worse or did the person deal with it in an effective way?) 5.  Approximate Age & Grade that question or concern was faced: 6.  If concern is far enough in the past, what, if anything, might you have done differently?    ]]>

Harper Response

Concerns: Drugs / Parents / Pregnancy Harper’s Story:  One of your teammates seems dejected and more withdrawn then usual when she isn’t just angry at the world. You know she smokes pot and that behind her back others call her a slut because she’s slept with at least three guys. You know she fights with her parents who rarely show up to games. After practice one day you ask what’s wrong and a flood gate opens. She shares that her last boyfriend just used her for sex and broke up with her and she just found out that he has an STD and she hasn’t had her period in over a month. Response:  More than what you say or what you know, how you respond will determine whether your teammate will let you help her.  Remember that when a dam breaks controlling the flow and minimizing the collateral damage comes before fixing the hole. Status:  Very Fragile leaning toward Injured Mental Health Status Concern Area(s):  Coping skills Your teammate is dealing with life’s pressures (coping)—fighting with parents and how she feels about herself—through self-medication (pot smoking) and superficial relationships (boys that use her).  These choices have consequences (including STDs and pregnancy), but before you can help with those practical concerns she has to feel listened to and trust that you aren’t going to hurt or judge her more.  Believing that she is precious, finding ways of assuring her that she is valued (not junk) and has worth while letting her tell her story will allow the emotional pressure to subside.  As she calms down and feels cared for she will become more open to help and may ask what she should do or be open to another conversation which you should set-up to talk about options and resources in your community.  Commit to meeting up for a coke or coffee within a couple of days and finding some other resources. These resources should include the name of a counselor or coach you trust at the school and a clinic.  The goal is to be supportive while modeling healthy coping options.

  1. Let them tell their story and listen.
  2. Set-up another time to talk.
  3. Research options and resources in your community.
  4. Support through the practical consequences.
(see “Basic Game Plan” in Elevate Your Skills / Response for more)]]>

Olivia Response

Concerns: Sex / Spirituality / Relationships Olivia’s Story:  A friend who was recently confirmed at the church she occasionally attends tells you that her boyfriend from Florida (over 1000 miles away) is planning to visit during the summer and spend time at her house. She’s shares that he loves her and wants to have sex when he visits. She thinks she wants to, but isn’t sure and is fearful that he might break up with her or not visit, if she won’t. Many of your mutual friends say sex is no big deal. Response: SEX IS A BIG DEAL!!!  Welcome to a possible Level 5  conversation where a friend trusts your relationship to share real concerns and give you an opportunity to help them navigate potential land mines. Status:  Health with potential to Thrive (or falter) Mental Health Status Concern Area(s):  Is their self-worth strong enough to make decisions for himself? Hopefully, when asked your opinion you have time for an extended conversation, but frequently these type of concerns come without much time to talk and we give supportive, but clichéd responses like, “You’ll know what’s right when the time comes” and miss a opportunity for a real helping conversation.  Sometime, you won’t be ready to talk (an upcoming test or personal issue on your mind) and that’s ok, but set up a time to talk later or make a note to revisit the concerns. Your friend needs to be affirmed  that they have worth and shouldn’t be pressured into any decisions.  They also need to be listened to and helped to look at the potential of their actions (both pros and cons).  They also want to know where you stand or what choices you would make.  Be prepared to share both your choice and, most importantly, how you came to make that choice. If you haven’t made a choice about the concern (sex, long distance relationships, belief in God), this would be a great chance to stretch  you friendship by seeking answers together.]]>

Molly Response

Concerns: Suicide / Dieting Pills / Drama Queen Molly’s Story:  On a Friday afternoon, a friend tells you that she can’t handle her life anymore and is thinking about killing herself. She says she would like to talk and invites you to sleepover since the aunt and uncle she lives with are out of town, but you’ve already made plans. She used to be a really good friend, but this year has seemed to need a boyfriend who she spends all of her time with. You know that she’s been taking dieting pills to lose weight and that she is known to give BJs, but the boys seem to lose interest quickly with the latest jerk breaking up with her the previous weekend. She has a tendency to be dramatic and attention seeking. Response:  Drama queens are people too and while their histrionics (immature, emotional displays) can seem like “much ado about nothing,” these outbursts indicate that some basic needs are not being met and should be considered a plea for help. Status:  Fragile with potential to Thrive Mental Health Status Concern Area(s):  Contemplating suicide with access to diet pills and sexual favors in place of real relationships Your immediate goal is to make your friend feel important, but keep healthy personal boundaries to minimize the drama queen affect and to provide a protective environment for both of you.  Incorporating her into your evening plans and inviting her to sleepover at your house does all these things.  Be sure to let your parents know why you want to have her over, but keep things as normal as possible with your plans although shorting the evening is a good idea.  When appropriate let her tell her story.  Listen caringly, but remain calm no matter how emotional she gets.

  1. If suicide is still the focus, ask about how she would kill herself looking for RED Flags. This should be shared with your parents and her aunt and uncle.
  2. If not, ask if she is open to help from a friend and use the “Talk it Through” worksheet. This will also give you an opportunity to offer this app or other resources to her and develop a plan. Before going to sleep, commit to meeting up for a coke or coffee within a couple of days and finding other resources as suggested by the worksheet. The goal is to be supportive and help her find ways to meet her needs while modeling healthy boundaries.