Avera, Children’s Home Society partner on children’s book

Jan. 23, 2019

Avera Health and the Children’s Home Society of South Dakota have partnered to publish a book that addresses childhood depression.

“A New Norm” is intended to touch the lives of children, adolescents and adults who suffer from depression and related mental health conditions.

“We are hopeful that ‘A New Norm’ will raise awareness about mental wellness toward the goal of all children and youth getting the help and support they need and deserve,” said Rick Weber, the society’s development director.

Written for children age 7 to 14, “A New Norm” is the story of a boy whose “norm” was living with a cloud on his head, and nothing he tried could make it go away. The story expresses the confusing and stormy feelings that can overwhelm young people but can speak to older teens and adults as well.

By identifying negative thoughts and emotions that are potentially harmful, the book encourages young people to seek conversations with people they trust. It can help foster meaningful discussions between parents and their children, in youth groups and in classrooms. The book’s message is to be that “spark of hope” for those who are struggling.

“Norm, like many kids we see, goes through a time of crisis and through that comes to realize there is hope,” said Shantrel DeJong, lead behavioral health technician in Avera’s adolescent inpatient program. “That’s the truth we want kids to hear.”

DeJong brought forward the idea of writing a book to help the youths she works with, and she wrote discussion questions to accompany the story. Resources for getting help, including Avera’s 24-hour assessment line, also are listed.

More than 20 percent of children experience one or more mental health conditions, such as depression, ADHD or behavior problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many cases go undiagnosed and untreated.

Nationally, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for children and young adults age 5 to 24.

“As the leading behavioral health provider in our service area, Avera serves those who suffer from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and related conditions on a day-to-day basis. These conditions cause a great deal of pain and disruption in their lives and the lives of their families,” said Dr. Matthew Stanley, clinical vice president of Avera’s Behavioral Health Service Line.

“As a health system, we have stepped up our suicide prevention efforts, for example, using depression screenings at primary care locations and emergency rooms. This book is a way we can raise awareness and reach out to those who are hurting in a simple, non-threatening way. There is hope. Help is available. That’s the message that we want to send.”

In addition to “A New Norm,” author Tom Roberts has written six books benefiting the Children’s Home Society. He and his wife, Tammy, have raised awareness for the organization through storytelling presentations and book signings. Their efforts have raised $1.2 million to help children and families. This is also the sixth book illustrated by Jim Brummond, an artist, graphic designer and photographer.

Through book sales, the Children’s Home Society and the Avera McKennan Foundation are raising funds to place books in area schools. Donations will also go toward programs that change lives at both the society and Avera Behavioral Health Services.

Books can be purchased for $10 per copy. To learn more or purchase books, go to chssd.org/books  or Avera.org/new-norm. Avera’s site has discussion guides and crisis line numbers available.


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Avera, Children’s Home Society partner on children’s book

Avera Health and the Children’s Home Society of South Dakota have partnered to publish a book that addresses childhood depression.

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