Since 1970, the U.S. has had 1,316 school shootings—18% of which occurred after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in 2012. In almost every case, the shooter exhibited warning signs beforehand. And in four out of five cases, at least one other person knew about the plan but did nothing to stop it.
The Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) Promise Club, a student-led initiative of Sandy Hook Promise, works year-round to enact change by educating and empowering youth, engaging communities through prevention efforts, and empowering hope through positive peer influences.
One of those programs is National Youth Violence Prevention Week (NYVPW), an annual effort that brings students, parents, educators, business leaders, and more together to raise awareness about youth violence and get communities involved in making schools and neighborhoods safer.
Observed April 25 to 29 this year, NYVPW encourages businesses, government, media outlets, schools, and community organizations, along with parents, teachers, and youth, to get involved and take a stand against violence.
A free Youth Leader Action Kit provides inspiration and ideas for a week of activities that inspire others to educate and inform, encourage respect and inclusion, empathize and connect, empower change, and more.
When educators. clinicians, and school psychologists have questions about risk of violence in children and adolescents, PAR tools help them find answers. The Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY), the Psychosocial Evaluation & Threat Risk Assessment (PETRA), and the Adolescent Psychopathology Scale (APS) provide information about a range of concerns to help inform follow-up and intervention—and ultimately help prevent violence.
One of PAR’s core values is to give back to the community—and we’ve started 2022 off with plenty of activities that help the causes we support in our area. Here are some highlights:
January: Several PAR staff members joined forces with Feeding Tampa Bay to support their Mega-Pantry program. Held several times per week in various locations around Tampa, the Mega-Pantry distributes fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, dry goods, and more in a drive-through-style event to those in our community who are experiencing food insecurity. The beautiful weather provided an ideal backdrop as PAR staff members sorted food and loaded hundreds of cars with enough food to feed each family for a week.
Feeding Tampa Bay is dedicated to eradicating hunger in the Tampa Bay region by 2025. For more information, visit Feeding Tampa Bay.
February: The PARty Animals took home first place at this year’s Bark in the Park, an annual fundraiser for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay (HSTB). One of PAR’s most popular staff events, it combines our mission of giving back with our love of animals. Between holding neighborhood walks and running a robust fundraising campaign, we raised an all-time record of more than $11,000. The event raised nearly $160,00 overall, surpassing this year’s HSTB goal and providing much-needed funds that will be used to help house, heal, and feed hundreds of animals in the Tampa Bay area.
April: PAR staff participated in United Way Suncoast’s annual Week of Caring. This year, we worked with MacDonald Training Center, an organization that supports people with disabilities via training, vocational opportunities, life enrichment opportunities, and residential help.
To support this organization, staff members participated in MacDonald Training Center’s Bead Recycling Program. We sorted donated Gasparilla beads—about 7,000 in all!—to make new bundles that will be resold to pirates participating in next year’s parade—with all proceeds going to the center.
Learn more about MacDonald Training Center and the comprehensive services it provides to people with disabilities at macdonaldcenter.org.
We are so grateful to be able to give back to our community with our time, energy, and resources. To learn more about what we are doing to make a difference in the Tampa Bay Area, visit our Community PARtners page.
This week’s blog was contributed by Melissa Milanak, PhD, PAR’s clinical assessment advisor–national accounts. Melissa is a licensed clinical psychologist and internationally recognized academic. She has extensive clinical experience providing therapy and conducting assessments with a diverse array of patient populations.
It comes as no surprise we’ve seen a steady increase in mental and behavioral health concerns as our society continues to face challenges resulting from a global pandemic and ongoing social justice issues. This leaves many mental health providers questioning what they can do to positively impact those affected by this mental health crisis. Some patients and clients will have a clear presentation of symptoms and diagnosis. Many others may underreport, not realize there is any concern, or simply be on a slow decline, where small decreases in functioning go undetected over a prolonged period. This is compounded in those who have been isolated (whether they live alone or recently lost a companion), meaning they lack an accountability partner or someone to notice potentially harmful changes in mindset and behavior.
As these stressors persist, even the most resilient individuals are showing an increase in burnout and fatigue, a decrease in healthy behaviors like prioritizing quality sleep, and more frequent reliance on unhealthy coping strategies like an extra drink after work to try to unwind or induce sleepiness.
As individuals’ anxiety goes up, their mood goes down—and unhealthy ways of coping (such as drinking) increase. This in turn impacts and reduces the restorative abilities of sleep and can impair psychological factors such as memory, focus, concentration, and physical recovery. This cycle perpetuates as patients and clients feel more exhausted but continue to struggle to achieve relaxation and sleep.
Mental health providers need support in their efforts to stay connected with patients and clients. You may need to track mood and anxiety levels to detect early signs of symptoms, to allow for preventive strategies and interventions, and to provide ongoing progress monitoring.
To assist you in these efforts, PAR recently launched a new assessment product line, ChecKIT. With ChecKIT, you can quickly and regularly send industry gold-standard assessment measures for mood (Patient Health QUenstionnaire-9 [PHQ-9]), anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 [GAD-7]), alcohol dependence (Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test [MAST]), and depression (Geriatric Depression Scale–Short Form [GDS-SF]) to clients through a secure, HIPAA-compliant link. Tests are easy to complete, even on a mobile phone.
Though collecting qualitative reports from patients and clients is incredibly valuable, ChecKIT solutions augment provider sessions, allowing for more frequent monitoring. This enables you to effectively and efficiently identify which patients and clients may need follow-up sooner and to identify a disconnect between subjective experience and reporting and assessment scores.
Learn more about ChecKIT today!
Looking for additional mental health resources? Visit our mental health resources page.
April is Autism Acceptance Month, a time to not only recognize, but to open up and accept individuals with autism.
Up until last year, this had been referred to as Autism Awareness Month. The Autism Society of America suggested by the name change to encourage people to move beyond awareness and into acceptance of those affected by autism. This change in mindset can help drive positive changes for individuals and families affected by autism.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 44 children are diagnosed with autism. More than 7 million people in the U. S. are on the autism spectrum across all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. There is a growing need for first responder training and employer advocacy programs. For more information regarding these and other types of autism support, please visit the Autism Society.
If you’re treating a child you suspect may have ASD or another developmental disorder, remember that PAR has products to assist you, such as the PDD Behavior Inventory™ (PDDBI™), the PDDBI-Screening Version, and the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function, Second Edition (BRIEF2).
There are additional free resources on the PAR Training Portal for those who specialize in assessing and treating autism or other learning disorders. Located under the Achievement/Development header, you can find a recorded webinar on how to use the PDD Behavior Inventory (PDDBI) on PARiConnect as well as an interactive course on the PDDBI family of products.