All posts by bobanthony

Winter Blues celebration 2015 – Symbols of Wellness

Teens, parents, educators and health care providers gathered at the 8th annual  Winter Blues celebration.  The theme, Symbols of Wellness, highlighted activities for preventing anxiety and depression, ranging from puzzles to curricula.

Sally Webster and mentor Nathan Chiu in Community Q & A kiosk

Teen mentors staffed the Community Q & A kiosk during the Winter Blues celebration. They also spent a few minutes at the podium to say that stress was universal and that exercises are available for everyone to cope in healthier ways.

Dr. Nadja Reilly spoke of the mentors here coaching mentors at the Robinson School in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Dr. David DeMaso spoke of preventing depression and suicide; full comments may be viewed online by clicking the video image below.

Crowd funding 22 healthier kids for each case of depression prevented. This project gives more kids activities that improve coping skills.

AWI has an immediate opportunity to give many more kids access to existing resources to learn coping skills.  We need $22,000 to make it happen. Specifically:

Click to see crowd funding
Click for ’22 Project’ details
  • Free web access already exists to the virtual Wellness Center within Whyville (, comprised of social media and apps that build coping skills.  The first $8,000 raised for the ’22’ project will fund  training webcasts that have been requested by the staff of the Home for Little Wanderers (  This remarkable organization works with 7,000 children each year.
  • Our award winning iGROW peer mentor program is currently active in two communities.  AWI has been asked to reformat activities for the needs of a national mentoring organization, Students Against Destructive Decisions (  The next $7,000 will fund delivery of content for a wellness toolkit in their unique format, available to their teen mentors across the country.
  • Break Free From Depression is the Boston Children’s Hospital ( curriculum listed in the national Best Practices Registry.  The final $7,000 will be used to bring Train-the-Trainer workshops  into two new communities outside of Massachusetts (note-an average number of kids in a high school grade is 200).

New tools for prevention and treatment 'Hot Topic' at annual MSSAA conference

MSSAA ‘Hot Topic’ resources are listed by age range for kids, even pre-school ages, to exercise better coping skills and knowledge.  Most resources listed are little or no cost and several may be accessed from home as well as in the classroom.

The Summer Institute for Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators (MSSAA) is an annual conference covering key issues faced by educators state-wide, with the membership including superintendents, principals, and program directors.  The membership selects a special area of interest each year to address.  The new MSSAA president, Dana Brown, said that the top area of interest identified by the membership this year is mental health and that new tools are wanted for prevention, and also for directing families to treatment.

During the conference, a session titled ‘Hot Topic’ invited discussion on Adolescent Mental Health: Coping & Prevention Strategies. In the discussion, interest was expressed for new resources and questions were raised about:

  • Stress management
  • We are doing a lot; are we doing enough?
  • Increasing adult comfort / knowledge
  • Providing better coping skills for kids
  • Networking for knowledge & resources
  • Is there an increase and, if so, why is there an increase in symptoms? (NOTE: Statistics for each year are compiled in the school nurse report, Essential School Health Services (

Examples of new thinking as a result of the discussion included understanding the challenges were universal (not limited to certain schools), that some existing resources could be much better leveraged (ex. school nurses), that resources are becoming available to improve referral of kids with symptoms, and that actually prevent some symptoms are available for all kids to exercise, even on their own outside of class times.

Innovative suicide prevention awards

October 22 – Middlesex Community College, 33 Kearney Square, Lowell, MA

Register with Debbie Helms ( to attend this breakfast event.  In addition to award presentations, initial results will be shared from launching the PIP Problems-Ideas-Plans coping exercise within a new media format, a virtual Wellness Center (  The exercise was partially funded, along with private donors, by the breakfast event host, the Northeast region of the Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention.PIP room in virtual Wellness Center


Interested in peer mentoring and wellness? iGROW invitation

Meet iGROW teen mentors Wednesday afternoon to ask questions about their experiences and to receive invitations for training in wellness skills and knowledge to help oneself and others.  Teens that will start the new school year in the Fall as a freshman, sophomore or junior are encouraged to meet us on May 29 from 3:30pm until 5pm at 103 Old Colony Road in Wellesley Hills, MA.

As a group, iGROW teens were recognized at the Massachusetts state house for leadership in suicide prevention by co-facilitating the Boston Children’s Hospital depression prevention curriculum with 13 & 14 year olds.  Two high school seniors also developed senior projects on resilience and co-facilitated anxiety and depression prevention for over 60 sophomores with compelling outcomes. Just to be helpful, another teen edited video clips from interviews. (Click here for two minute video clip.)

The agenda Wednesday:
3:30 Refreshments, bocce (weather permitting) and casual conversation
4:00 Recognition of current peer mentors and achievements in the past year
4:30 Activity to ask teen priorities for the coming year
5:00 Conclusion


Resource for youth addressing loss or grief

Teens may find ideas helpful to a friend during this tragic week through this link to a tip sheet on loss and grief  (

All youth should be encouraged to speak about concerns with a parent, pediatrician, school contact or youth group leader.  Many Massachusetts families, including those in Boston, have access to an assisted referral service at   Nationally, individuals feeling an urgent need to speak with someone may call 24/7 to an anonymous help line at  (800) 273-8255.

Teens recognized at Massachusetts State House with award for leadership in suicide prevention

In an event at the State House on February 11, the Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention presented its 2013 MCSP ‘Leadership in Suicide Prevention Award’ to  iGROW (Interfaith Gathering ‘Round Our Wellness) and the teens who teach healthy 13 & 14 year olds to stay healthy by practicing resilience-building activities.

Teen Leaders in Suicide Prevention recognized at State House-1

Photo from the Massachusetts State House event recognizing teen leaders in suicide prevention from Dedham high school, the Winsor school, Dana Hall school and Wellesley high school. From left: Margot Manning, Rachel Barkowitz, Cecilia Milano, Olivia Stein, Bennett Capozzi, Alyssa Dole, Ashley Freeman, and Noah Stein. Next to Noah is psychologist Vanessa Prosper, Ph.D., of Boston Children’s Hospital. Participating teens not pictured: Alex Blakelock, Sarah Bradach, Tessie Connors, and Hannah Horobin.
Eight high school age teens accepted the award for iGROW, a program which clergy and Boston Children’s Hospital co-founded with Adolescent Wellness, Inc.   The teens teach the depression prevention curriculum through a three-part workshop series in the town of Wellesley, where eight youth have been lost to suicide in a ten year period.  The curriculum, Break Free From Depression, is listed in the national Best Practices Registry of the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

Parent Support group (NAMI) scheduled in Wellesley, MA

This support group is for parents of adolescents and young adults dealing with any mental disorder; it offers safety, respect, support, understanding and hope. You are welcome to attend any Parent Support group meeting. The 2013 schedule for Wellesley is the third Wednesday of each month. For example, the nearest date now is Wednesday, June 19, at 7:15pm – 8:45pm, meeting in the board room off the main sanctuary.

Every state Parent Support meetings, found by clicking on the NAMI locator.  Near Boston, please join us at the Wellesley Hills Congregational Church located at 207 Washington Street in Wellesley Hills.

Contact: No fee is required; register by calling Cynthia Gordon at (781) 235-4424 or email  to

Affiliated with Massachusetts  NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

Fall 2013 training workshops with Break Free From Depression

BFFD coverRegister for training

Download flyer

October 11, 2013
785 S. Main Street
Raynham, MA

November 8, 2013
Boston Children’s Hospital at Peabody
Peabody, MA

Developed at Boston Children’s Hospital, Break Free from Depression is a curriculum designed to increase adolescents’ awareness about depression, teach them how to recognize it in themselves and in their friends, and give them strategies for finding help.  The 4-session curriculum for high school students features a compelling documentary that focuses on a diverse group of adolescents talking about their struggles with depression and suicide. We learn of their symptoms, the course of their illness, and the methods they use for coping through their own words.

This training is tailored towards high school personnel and/or community health providers partnered with high schools who are focused on health services such as social workers, psychologists, guidance counselors, pupil adjustment counselors, school nurses, other mental health professionals, health teachers, and other staff. Participants will be introduced to the Break Free from Depression curriculum and trained to facilitate it in their school settings. Participants will also learn about adolescent depression and suicide as a public health concern as well as how to identify early warning signs in their students.

To register, please click on Train the Trainer Registration

For more information, please contact Molly Jordan, LICSW at:
or visit: