Tea Cup Illustration

by Tim Barley
Professional Speaker and Family Advocate

“Your value is based on who you are, and not what you do” is the fundamental message we illustrate to students with our tea cup analogy. Different cups represent how teenagers might see themselves and their peers: disposable as a red solo cup, replaceable like a mug, or invaluable like a tea cup. When children have the right perspective of their immeasurable worth, they also see others as invaluable; this mindset cultivates respect and empowers them to make healthy choices.

Building a Solid Foundation for Parenting in the Digital Age

by Ryan Bicker
Professional Speaker and Family Advocate

The challenges of parenting in the digital age concerns and even intimidates many parents. We recognize the benefits of technology, but we also recognize the importance of establishing boundaries. The earlier we help our children with parameters around digital devices, the easier our parenting path can be. How do we stay ahead? How do we find a balance between letting our children use tech devices but at the same time protecting them from indulging in harmful content and forming destructive habits? This video will help ease your mind as you become more confident in navigating parenting in the digital age.

Practical Tools for Parenting in the Digital Age

by Ryan Bicker
Professional Speaker and Family Advocate

If you are about to embark on or are in the middle of the challenging journey where parenting meets technology, this video will give you practical tools you can implement with your children. These helpful tools will address safety concerns, how to use technology to get better connected with your child, as well as how to set up parameters, expectations and consequences that fit your family values.


by Tim Barley
Professional Speaker and Family Advocate

This video will help you understand the overwhelming amount of pressure our children are under due to technology and availability of information. These new trends are causing significantly increased risks of stress, anxiety, sleep disorders and mental health conditions. Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. Studies from the American Medical Association show how these behaviors are linked to smart phones and technology, specifically social media and gaming. This ED talk will encourage you and equip you with tools to become an iParent (Informed Parent) creating strategies that will cultivate a healthy tech environment for your family.

Building Resilience Under Pressure

by Tim Barley
Professional Speaker and Family Advocate

Stress and failure are a normal part of human experience and it is imperative that we teach our children how to manage stress and bounce back from failure. How can we best prepare our kids for life by letting them work through their failures? How can we lead them to become creative problem-solvers? This ED Talk addresses how you can raise resilient kids, so they can avoid the pitfalls of unhealthy coping habits. It will show you actionable steps on how to encourage your children to adopt healthy coping skills and how to take safe risks.

Helping Kids With Mental Health Conditions

by Stefanie Hoffman
Writer and Mental Health Advocate

Current statistics show a staggering increase in mental health conditions among youth. Sadly, most young people don’t get diagnosed and they don’t receive treatment. In this ED Talk you will learn about the differences between normal and concerning behaviors, as well as steps you can take for early intervention.

Breaking the Stigma Around Mental Health

by Stefanie Hoffman
Writer and Mental Health Advocate

Studies are showing that mental health issues are dramatically increasing among youth. It’s time to break the stigma and start talking about these issues. What are some practical steps we can take to eradicate this stigma? Watch the video to find out how to deal with misconceptions and create a healthier and friendlier environment for our children.

Vaping – What Every Parent Needs To Know

by Wendy Hagen
Director of Speakers at Teen Esteem

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, e-cigarette use (more commonly called vaping) is a fast-growing epidemic among young people. In this short video you will hear relevant statistics, medical facts, helpful tips and encouragement for parents as well as the basics of what you need to know about vaping. What is vaping? Is it safe? What can parents do? What can I do if I discover my child is vaping? After watching this video, you will have a better understanding as to why it is important to talk with your kids starting at a young age.

Mental Health Awareness in Children & Teens

Mental Health Awareness in Children & Teens

Facts, Clues & What to Do

We all experience emotional ups and downs from time to time caused by events in our lives. Childhood and adolescence are synonymous with these high and low experiences. Mental health issues, however, go beyond these emotional reactions and become something longer lasting. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states these are medical conditions that cause changes in how we think and feel and in our mood. They are NOT the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. With proper treatment, people can realize their full potential, cope with the stresses of life, work productively and meaningfully contribute to the world. Without mental health we cannot be fully healthy.

When we think about cancer or diabetes, we don’t wait years for treatment to see how it develops. No, we begin with prevention. This is what we should be doing with mental illnesses, too.

Research has now shown that most mental disorders follow a developmental course that typically starts early in life. So, many people who suffer from mood, anxiety, psychotic disorders, depression, social phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia showed signs in adolescence or even earlier. Intervening as early as possible preserves education, employment, social supports, housing and quality of life; not to mention it costs less both emotionally and monetarily.

The instances of mental health disorders have risen dramatically in recent years which may be attributed to increased stress and pressure in school and among peers, as well as the rise in use of social media, smart phones and other new technologies.

Learn the Facts (provided by the National Institute of Mental Health)

  • 20% of youth ages 13-18 live with a mental health condition including mood disorders, behavior or conduct disorders and anxiety disorders.
  • 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14.
  • The average delay between onset of symptoms and intervention is 8-10 years. • 37% of students with a mental health condition age 14 and older drop out of school-the highest dropout rate of any disability group.
  • 70% of youth in state and local juvenile justice systems have a mental illness.
  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in youth ages 10 – 24. o 90% of those who died by suicide had an underlying mental illness. o For a link to our handout on Depression and Suicide: Signs & Symptoms, click here!
Clues to Watch For in your Child
  • Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than 2 weeks (e.g., crying regularly, feeling fatigued, feeling unmotivated).
  • Trying to harm or kill oneself or making plans to do so. • Out-of-control, risk-taking behaviors that can cause harm to self or others.
  • Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason, sometimes with a racing heart, physical discomfort or fast breathing.
  • Not eating, throwing up or using laxatives to lose weight; significant weight loss or gain.
  • Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships. • Repeated use of drugs or alcohol.
  • Drastic changes in behavior, personality or sleeping habits (e.g., waking up early and acting agitated).
  • Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still that can lead to failure in school.
  • Intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities like hanging out with friends or going to classes.
What Parents Can Do
  • If you’re concerned about your child’s mental health, seek advice. Don’t avoid getting help for your child out of shame or fear. With appropriate support, you can find out whether your child has a mental health condition and explore treatment options to help him or her thrive with the help of a specialist.
  • Ask your child’s mental health specialist for advice on how to change the way you interact with your child, as well as how to handle difficult behavior.
  • To help your child succeed in school, inform your child’s teachers and the school counselor that your child has a mental health condition. If necessary, work with the school staff to develop an academic plan that meets your child’s needs.
  • Consider seeking family counseling or the help of support groups, too. It’s important for you and your loved ones to understand your child’s illness and his or her feelings, as well as what all of you can do to help your child. • Seek ways to relax and have fun with your child.
  • Praise his or her strengths and abilities.
  • Explore new stress management techniques, which might help you understand how to calmly respond to stressful situations.
  • Contact the NAMI HelpLine at 800-950-NAMI to find out what services and supports are available in your community.
  • Connect with a trained crisis counselor to receive free, 24/7 crisis support via text message by texting “NAMI” to 741-741. In case of crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255




Depression and Suicide “Know the Signs”

Depression and Suicide “Know the Signs”

Teenagers naturally go through ups and downs; but when the lows become especially low, and are long lasting, it may be much more serious. According to the CDC, suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24, resulting in approximately 4600 lives lost each year.


  • Depressed mood (feeling sad or empty)
  • Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Significant changes in weight/appetite
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Agitation, restlessness, irritability
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feeling worthless, hopeless, guilt
  • Inability to think or concentrate, indecisiveness
  • Unable to cope
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation, suicide attempt or plan


Signs of depression
  • Feeling trapped, hopeless
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Anger
  • Recklessness
  • Lack of energy or wild variations in energy levels
  • Dramatic changes in behavior, actions, attitude
  • Increase in anxiety/anxiety related illness (headaches, stomach aches)
  • Changes in eating habits, sleep patterns, or personal appearance
  • Being unusually quiet or unusually aggressive/angry
  • Dropping out of hobbies, sports, school, work
Suicide:  Acute Warning Signs
  • No reason for living, no sense of purpose in life
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Feeling trapped, like there’s no way out · Hopelessness · Withdrawing · Uncontrolled anger, rage, seeking revenge
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Preoccupation with death, dying, or suicide including joking about death or suicide, creative writing, poetry, artwork
  • A sudden elated mood following a time of depression
  • A previous suicide attempt
  • Serious talk of suicide, or making a plan
  • Reckless behavior
  • Increase in alcohol or drug use
  • Giving away prize possessions, saying goodbye, writing a will, writing farewell letters
Suicide: Acute Warning Signs you may hear:
  • “Nothing ever goes right for me.”
  • “It’ll all be over soon.”
  • “Whatever, nothing matters anyway.”
  • “I might as well kill myself.”
  • “I hate life.”
  • “Everyone would be better off without me.”
  • “I just can’t take it anymore.”
  • “I wish I was dead.”

Don’t leave the person alone. Remove any object that could be used in a suicide attempt such as a gun, sharp knife, razor blade, or drugs. Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a mental health professional. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-TALK). All local calls are answered 24 hours a day by trained counselors at the Contra Costa Crisis Center and are treated confidentially.