Counseling Newsletter

Mental Health & Wellness

Welcome to our December issue!

Welcome to our counseling newsletter that has been created to help support students and their social and emotional well-being. Knowledgeable and useful information has been provided to encourage and care for our students at Harriton and Lower Merion High School. We hope students can find something in any of these articles or resources they can connect to or find meaningful. Also, please know that if any students would like to contact and talk with either Ms. Loverdi or Mr. Scroggin, each counselor has open office hours available M-F. Available times are listed under contact information.

Mental Health

Montgomery County Mobile Crisis (Pennsylvania)

What To Do When a Friend Is In Crisis by Eric Scroggin

Let’s say that you know someone who isn’t doing so well. A good friend of yours has come to you and communicated that they wish they weren’t around anymore and that they’ve thought about ending it. Suicidal Ideation, or the act of thinking about taking one’s own life, is an issue that affects many teenagers, with more cases being seen every day. If you know someone who feels this way, you might be frightened and concerned, but confused about what to do. There are many things to consider when someone shares these feelings, and we will discuss the best way to deal with them here.

Your first instinct when someone mentions hurting or killing themselves might be to dismiss the statement as either dramatic or intending to be sarcastic and funny. And while it is the case that we can joke about serious topics, your first instinct when you hear these kinds of comments is to check with the person saying it if it reflects their true feelings. You might ask, in a concerned tone “Do you really think about doing that?” or “Are you joking or are you for real?” While we all say things we don’t mean, it’s possible that throwing out a serious comment like this is a way of seeing how people that care about them might react. You might call this a “cry for help” or a “trial balloon” a way of determining if someone will show concern and take them seriously. If you laugh it off as a weird comment or a dark joke, the person may then learn that this is the way their friend will respond to the seriousness of their feelings.

In order to reveal these serious thoughts out loud or in text, a friend may be well past the thinking stage which becomes even more concerning. After thinking that this may be an exaggeration or a joke, your next thought might be “Uh oh, this person has shared something personal. Should I keep this a secret?” You want to keep your friend’s trust and to be someone they can rely on, but there are very clear exceptions to the rule of keeping secrets. In the case of treatment in therapy or working with a doctor, there are strict rules about keeping matters private we call Confidentiality, which allows patients to know they can say anything without worrying it would get to someone else. As a friend, we try to enact confidentiality as a way of letting our friends know they can trust us. In the case of contemplating suicide, this is not a secret that you want to keep. Just imagine, if you are the only person that knows about these feelings and your friend hurts themselves, you would certainly regret that you and your friend didn’t get help, not feel proud you kept their secret. You would likely want as a good friend to urge them to speak with their parents about what their options are at this step in the process.
When someone turns to you for help, it feels like a grave and serious responsibility to respond the best way possible, and in the case of a friend sharing with you that they may be contemplating suicide, the emotional weight of that may be even greater. You should know that simply being there for your friend is significant. Your ability to listen and show you feel for them may be incredibly helpful in a time when their thoughts make them feel alone. Unfortunately, lending an ear does not completely prevent the unthinkable from happening, this is where the experts come in. As a friend, it is helpful for you to know your limits for not just hearing and understanding but responding appropriately to heavy information. You will want your friend to connect to a professional, whether it be their therapist, a doctor, or a crisis outreach hotline (see information below). If you are ever put in the situation where you need to respond to an emergency mental health crisis with a friend, the best advice anyone would give you at that moment is not to wait, and to get that person to an emergency room as quickly as possible. A mental health crisis is just like any other health crisis and needs an immediate response.

Hopefully, as you read this, you will not ever need to use this information. It can be scary and intimidating to be put in a situation where a friend shares this kind of story with you, but you should know you do not have to respond to it alone. Listen, show concern, and encourage direct action. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please do not hesitate to reach out to your counselor, the school social worker, or the health and wellness counselor as soon as possible. Below are crisis hotlines available to you.

Montgomery County Mobile Crisis

1-855-634-HOPE (4673)

Is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Montgomery County peer support talk line

(855) 715-8255

is available, free of charge,

7 days a week,

1:00pm to 9:00pm.

Montgomery County also has a Teen Talk Line that can be reached by

calling 866-825-5856

or texting 215-703-8411.

It is available

Monday through Friday,

3:00pm to 9:00pm.

Brené Brown on Empathy vs Sympathy

The Power of Gratitude by Julia Loverdi

What is gratitude? Gratitude is pausing to focus on what is good in our lives and being thankful for the things that we have (https://kidshealth.org).

Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. When looking at the research associated with gratitude, it is strongly associated with greater happiness (https://www.health.harvard.edu).

Take a look at some ways practicing gratitude can be beneficial to your overall well being (https://www.forbes.com).

1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships

2. Gratitude improves physical health.

3. Gratitude improves psychological health.

4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.

5. Grateful people sleep better.

6. Gratitude improves self-esteem

7. Gratitude increases mental strength.

Three ways to practice gratitude (kidshealh.org).



  1. Notice the good things in your life. Start a gratitude journal.
  2. Savor the feeling of gratitude. Pause. Notice and absorb that feeling of true, genuine gratitude. Let it sink in. Soak it up. Savor your blessings at the moment they happen.
  3. Express gratitude. Act with kindness or thoughtfulness.

Stop the Stigma

Tips for Coping with Holiday Stress During COVID

Wellness & Self-Care

Here are some coping strategies for stress and anxiety from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America:


Take a time-out. Listen to music, practice mindfulness, learn some relaxation techniques, go for a walk, step outside, and breathe in the fresh air. Stepping back from the problems helps clear your head.

Exercise Daily to help relieve stress and stay healthy

Welcome Humor. A good laugh goes a long way

Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly. Count to ten slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.

Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get.

Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective. Is it really as bad as you think?

Maintain a positive attitude. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

Get involved. Volunteer or connect with your peers and family members safely.

Learn what triggers your everyday anxiety. Is it school? family? Look for a pattern and keep a journal.

Practice self-care. Do something for yourself that you love or enjoy.

Talk to someone. Let friends and family you are feeling overwhelmed and how they can help.

School counselors are also available to help!

https://adaa.org/tips

Take a look at https://screening.mhanational.org/content/what-anxiety if you have additional questions about anxiety.
Big picture

Coping with COVID-19

Helpful Resources

Crisis Resources