B E H A V I O R A L  H E A L T H  N E W S 


Not Just Ego: Low Self-Esteem Can Fuel Substance Abuse

“Self-esteem” is one of those terms which can cause some eyes to roll. Maybe it brings touchy-feely imagery to mind, or the suspicion that some people need to toughen up.

The reality is a bit more complicated. Fundamentally, self-esteem is a person’s sense of value and worth. People with healthy self-esteem feel good about themselves, their ideas and their ability to contribute to the rest of society. READ MORE

 C L I N I C A L  N E W S


Mental Health Care is Helpful For Teens With Depression Symptoms, Says Study

Depression is not a normal part of growing up. Parents all too often dismiss the signs of depression as normal teen moodiness, causing them to neglect seeking professional treatment. READ MORE

• F E A T U R E  N E W S •

Electronic-Dating-Aggression-1-1.jpgElectronic Aggression and Dating: Where Does the Anger Come From?

Kids today are wired, and that doesn’t mean they’re drinking a lot of coffee. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), over 60 percent of adolescents aged 13 to 17 READ MORE

• F R O M  T H E  A R C H I V E S •

Effect-of-early-experiences-on-emotional-neurological-development-1-1.jpgThe Power of Nurture: Early Experiences Improve Brain Development

Researchers have suggested that our vulnerability to developing problems such as substance abuse, mental illness and certain medical conditions derives from the interaction between our genes and the environment.  READ MORE

Changing-the-way-we-perceive-teens-to-tap-into-‘The-Power-of-the-Adolescent-Brain’-1-1.jpgChanging the Way We Percieve Teens to Tap Into ‘The Power of the Adolescent Brain’

What do adults see when they look at teenagers? Maybe they see the similarity the children have to their parents. Maybe they see blooming human beings learning to be themselves. Maybe they see a buzzing hive of hormones and obstinacy.

But do they see power? The truth is that teenagers are full of opportunity, dreams and power. It doesn’t mean that they are always right, but they do have a great deal of potential to be great, if given the chance.

What if people worked toward recasting common teen traits.

• P A R E N T  T E S T I M O N I A L S •

Angela-reflects-on-her-son-Donovan-W.s-fruitful-harvest-at-White11-River-Academy-2.jpgAngela W. Reflects on her Son Donny’s Fruitful Harvest at White River Academy

This harvest season is the perfect time to discuss 16-year old Donovan W.’s story. We spoke to his mother, Angela, and Donny himself about mom and dad’s toil. READ MORE

• F E A T U R E D  E M P L O Y E E •

K1ristin_WRA Newsletter_featured employee_Kayla Massa_20170117_SLM (1).jpg

Featuring: Kayla Massa
Location: White River Academy, Delta, Utah
Department: Administration
Position: Public Relations Liaison

When we think of behavioral health treatment and academic boarding schools for boys, the image of bouncer-sized employees and rigid instructors comes to mind. But as White River Academy surprises and succeeds in so many aspects, there's no surprise its staff members are pleasantly unpretentious and formidably more than meets the eye.

Kayla Massa is one such White River staff member. Despite her intriguing, everybody's-favorite-sister persona and her down-home welcoming voice, she's a straight shooter who doesn't mince words when it comes to promoting White River and working with the teens.

The gift, the vision and an unexpected spin on "joining the academy"

Ms. Kayla has always had a knack for getting people to open up to her candidly. With such a gift, she's always envisioned for herself a career with the U.S. Intelligence Community as an interrogator. To that effect, Ms. Kayla graduated from Dixie State University with a degree in criminal justice. But a chronic health issue disqualified Ms. Kayla from being accepted to the FBI or CIA.

She moved back home, hoping to join the police department and took a position with WRA in the interim. Little did Ms. Kayla know, her skills and experience were the perfect fit for a fulfilling career with this Academy.

Hook, line and sinker

In her spare time Ms. Kayla enjoys fishing above all other hobbies. Her family owned a hunting/fishing store when she grew up and she's fished since she was a toddler. The sport is one of patience, skill and seizing opportunity – it's not for the fickle or faint of heart. This, coupled with how easily people confide in her, may be why the students of WRA open up to her so deeply.

"I don't know if it's just a trusting personality. And I've noticed it with the boys too; they start coming to me and asking for advice … it's really humbling to me to be that person for them."

She says she chooses her words carefully and words things in a way that makes clear she's not their therapist and won't overstep bounds or put students on a course that their therapist would have to reset.

Still, the mentor/mentee bond of trust, respect and candidness between Ms. Kayla and the boys is mutual. "With some of the boys, the relationship we have is like the little brother I never had. We tease each other and joke around but sometimes they come up and say 'Ms. Kayla, I really need some advice right now,'" she says as her voice chokes up, "and that's really heartwarming for me to know that I can make such a difference in somebody's life. When they're really hurting and they need someone to either listen or to offer constructive solutions," she says it's esteeming to know they value her input.

Ms. Kayla's cred

She reveals part of the reason she has a rapport with the boys is that they know she was in adolescent residential treatment herself.

"I was in a residential treatment center when I was 15 for an eating disorder, so I can kind of relate to the boys on what they're going through on their end as well. They'll ask me how I dealt with not getting my permit or not going to school dances and missing out on high school milestones." And because of her personal success and her degree in criminal justice, she can look them straight in the eye and encourage them on how to walk the road of recovery, of redemption.

"The best part about [residential treatment] for me was, when you're an adult I think that it's a lot harder, because your family is not as involved. But when you're a teenager, you've got that support system that you're going to have for the rest of your life learning with you. I think that's really important with the [residential treatment] and family therapy and family weekends that we have now. It's important for the families to know that any kind of disorder, whether its alcoholism, eating disorder, drug use or compulsive addiction … if families can learn the tools to help guide them, whether [their kids relapse] a year later or 10 years later, they have what they've learned to fall back on and that's a win in itself."

What inspires Ms. Kayla to help others

During her turbulent times, she went from feuding with her own mom to falling back into adoration with her. She says their relationship now is stronger than ever. Ms. Kayla affirms that her mother's triumph empowers her and inspires her to help others.

"She went through a nasty divorce, struggled to stay afloat as a single mother of three, with me becoming ill and needing treatment. Now she's remarried, financially well off, once again a business owner and was the first female to be part of Max-4 camouflage's design team."

She says after working this job, she realizes that the success of recovering from her past and the academic pursuit of her original career aspirations are the assets by which she can connect with people. "I can do my best every day … I'm learning all the time over at White River. Working at this job has helped my confidence and shown me what I can do and who I can be for other people."

 F A C I L I T Y  U P D A T E S  &  S T U D E N T  A C T I V I T I E S 

One student, Aaron, has been working on his small service project: shingling a shed roof for a Delta resident. Despite the cold weather, he and his peers have been working very hard to get this project done.

On New Year’s Eve, WRA students attended the Delta City New Year’s Celebration at the Palladium and watched a magician/comedian. They had a festive time bringing in the New Year with the community.

Parents of students flocked to Brian Head Ski Resort in Cedar City, Utah, on Thursday, Jan. 19, for family weekend. On Friday, parents attended the Doc Dan seminars, and the students met up with them later in the day to tube and play in the snow. On Saturday, the students and their families leisured at the Delta recreation center for most of the day. As always, Sunday was a cozier family day here at the facility.

 S T A F F  A D D I T I O N S 


There are no staff additions at this time.

 R E A D E R   S U R V E Y 


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275 West 100 South, Delta, Utah 84624