New ways to stay in touch...

The buzz around the popular Netflix series – 13 Reasons Why – is the basis for the Newton Cares spring program tonight about how to engage people of all ages in safe, positive discussions about suicide prevention and mental health. It’s called 13 Reasons Why Newton Cares.

Whether your kids have watched the show, read the book it’s based on, or if this is the first you’re hearing of it, here’s your chance to ask tough questions and get answers. Suicide prevention experts from Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Riverside Trauma Center, and the Newton Public Schools will make brief presentations then answer audience questions. Whether you embrace or reject the program, its popularity and kid’s knowledge of it make it a potential starting place for positive conversations about mental health and getting help. Learn what to say and how to say it to those you care about, and how to get help if you’re worried.

The adults-only program will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 24, at Newton City Hall War Memorial Auditorium, 1000 Commonwealth Ave. Registration suggested at www.newtoncares.eventbrite.com but not required. Can’t come, but looking for resources? Try the Newton Cares Coalition for Suicide Prevention and Mental Health website at www.newtonma.gov/newtoncares

Next week, HHS is offering a suicide prevention training called Question, Persuade, Refer  (QPR). This training is often compared to learning how to perform CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation). QPR teaches lay people how to recognize if someone may be considering suicide, and how to get them the mental health resources they need. Like CPR, you hope never to use it. You’ll leave with resources, glad you know how to help if needed. QPR Training will be held on Thursday, June 1, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Newton City Hall, Room 209. Register on our webpage www.newtonma.gov/health

What is your Middle Schooler up to this Summer? How kids spend their free time is vitally important in helping them identify interests, skills, and personal identity.  As kids transition into their early teenage years, some start to resist the traditional camps and classes they previously loved. And parents can feel unsure whether to leave them to their own devices or how to seek out more appealing options. Furthermore, the price tag can leave families feeling ready for kids to keep themselves busy – for free. While the “lazy days of summer” have some genuine allure and middle schoolers need down time, balancing that freedom with structured opportunities to learn new things and explore potential interests can lead to better long term career and education outcomes. Check out a new guide to summer programs for this age group, and tips about financial aid and do it yourself ideas for keeping kids engaged during summer weeks at www.newtonma.gov/middleschoolresources

We’re your local public health department -- we do prevention in many ways through programs and education. We’re introducing new ways to stay in touch -- including this occasional column, a presence on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and a regular HHS e-newsletter. To sign up, visit www.newtonma.gov/health We’ll keep you updated on everything from the latest restaurant inspection grades, tick and mosquito disease prevention, mental health programs and more. Be social with us!

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