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

Understanding and Erasing the Stigma of Mental Illness
views, attitudes and beliefs
play a role in how they interact with and help support people who have a mental illness. These attitudes and beliefs are often influenced by personal knowledge, cultural stereotypes and media stories about those who have mental illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). 
Mental and Physical Training For Depression Treatment
The blues are one thing - depressive disorders are something else. With symptoms that last for more than two weeks, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance reports that 14.8 million Americans are affected by major depressive disorder. It's a condition that often co-occurs with other diseases such as cancer, heart attacks and strokes.

C L I N I C A L  N E W S

Cannabis Use Disorder Is On The Rise And Few Are Receiving Treatment

The fundamental differences between marijuana use disorder and its use for medicinal, recreational or experimental reasons are:
  • Spending a disproportionate amount of time obtaining or recovering from the substance
  • Forgoing normal activities in lieu of substance use.

Mental Illness And Substance Abuse In The Child Welfare System

Most statistics or studies dealing with children in the child welfare system (CWS) deal with placement, whether it be in a congregate setting (such as a group home), placement with a relative, or adoption. A study published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry took a different tack. This study tracked the behavioral health patterns of young people who aged out of the system.

F E A T U R E  N E W S

You'd swear your son was born under the sun: at the least he could be a tanning model, at most, a true heliophile. But those sloughed off sunburns of childhood can fatally brand a person's future if repeatedly unchecked. 
P A R E N T   W E E K E N D

Weekend involved service-centric activities, a graduation ceremony, family training workshops

One weekend at White River Academy was different from the usual weekend.There was a lot of food, a large-scale service project and even a game of human-sized Hungry Hungry Hippos. There were also some emotional and touching moments as families gathered to share a special time together: the quarterly Parent Weekend.

Parent Weekend was held on April 14 through April 17 at the White River Academy. The concept was birthed with the intention of letting students and their parents bond to understand each others' journeys. The four days involved service-centric activities directed at cultivating relationships, the spirit of doing good, celebrating achievements and enjoyment. The highlight of the weekend was the graduation of three students from the program.

"The theme for this event was 'Think Big.'  The goal of Parent Weekends is to provide training for parents in dealing with their youth at risk and to provide fun, bonding activities for building family relationships," explained Misty Bliss, parent liaison at WRA. 

Thursday night, when the parents arrived, began with the parents' "mix and mingle" allowing them to meet other parents and share their experiences and insights.

Friday's main event was an orientation session and presentation on "Developmental Vacation" for parents by WRA's Therapy Director Dr. Daniel Sanderson (Doc Dan).  This proved to be a great opportunity for parents to ask questions and learn to understand what struggles their sons are facing.  This was followed by lunch, a talent show, and outdoor games and activities for the parents and the students to engage in. The evening ended with the graduation rehearsal.

Saturday largely focused on the dynamic service project, which was to fix up a local baseball field, used by many teams and organizations around Delta, Utah. The students and the families worked side-by-side for 5 hours, completing projects such as fixing the bases on a field, painting the dugouts and cleaning up the worn-out field. Throughout the day, students and parents could engage in therapy and academic meetings.  In the evening, the graduation ceremony commenced, which was met with immense delight and appreciation. This time, WRA was proud to present three graduates: two graduated from high school and the third was a program graduate.

The weekend officially ended on Sunday with ample amount of hang-out time between the students and families.  This allowed the families and the students to leave each other at a more personal and intimate note.

"The weekend went really well! Even though it was really windy and cold, no one complained.  In the end, all that mattered was that you could tell it had brought people together," said Sarah Bublitz, activities coordinator at White River Academy. "Our three graduates this year talked about how hard the program is and that the only way to 'get away' is by finishing the program.  One student talked about how he and the rest of the graduates loved the other students and that they will always care about how the students at White River Academy are doing.  It was a very touching, inspiring moment for everyone attending."  

F E A T U R E D  E M P L O Y E E

Loren Pence

Location: White River Academy, Delta, Utah

Department: Education

Position: Activities Supervisor

For most people working at White River Academy, their incredible journeys brought them here, giving their work and passion a new meaning. For Loren Pence, his journey began at WRA as he discovered a new passion and meaning to his life.

Prior to his work at WRA as an activities supervisor, Loren worked odd jobs that held little meaning for him. Today, his work involves overseeing and planning activities for troubled students, seeing them learn the steps and responsibilities it takes to plan something and experience joy in its successful execution.

Loren's sense of fulfillment from his work at WRA has kept him interested and extremely passionate, so much so that he plans on pursuing his career ultimately as a recreational therapist. Currently, he is working toward gaining certification as an entry-level therapist.

His job being quite different than most others within WRA, Loren gets the opportunity to witness these young men be active participants in positive, healthy activities, learning new skills and abilities to overcome difficult situations or cope with the fundamental decisions they will face in life. 

The activities are largely determined by the students themselves and run by Loren for approval. Once approved, Loren assists the students with the planning and scheduling. In the case of a budget requirement, the students are responsible for factoring in the cost of every aspect and making a financial plan as needed.  The budgets are then paid through the P.O. system.

Such an extensive planning process not only teaches the students strong planning skills and budgeting for taking charge of their own lives, but also allows them to understand the responsibilities they need to resolve before they can go and "play." Loren believes it to be a detailed insight into instilling these young students with an understanding of responsibility and accountability alongside the development of new coping skills to deal with life's ups and downs.

Loren's favorite part of the job is getting to enjoy the activities with these young men and watch them learn that there is always some way to enjoy a situation without the need to get high. He has seen long nights with new students who couldn't sleep or consoled young men terrified of their futures. Through it all, Loren can't pick one experience over the other. He holds them all dear to his heart.

Loren believes and advocates to all his students, "Seize opportunities every time you can to make a difference in life, no matter how small they seem at the time. They may one day lead to bigger and greater things!"

In his free time, Loren is seen spending as much time as possible with his loving wife and their beautiful 7-year-old daughter. He loves fishing, hiking, camping and overall outdoor activities.

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275 West 100 South, Delta, Utah 84624

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