In our second to last episode of this season, listen to Amy and Lisa share their personal stories of what brought them to CATCH, the life lessons they are learning, and what they are experiencing after the July 4th shooting in Highland Park, a nearby suburb. Whether you're parenting young children or young adults, our CATCH team can relate, because we are living it. In this episode, our podcast hosts provide a look at who we are and why we believe everyone should prioritize mental health.
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This is the conversation you aren’t having with your kids' doctors and teachers because time doesn’t allow it. Or, with your friends, because they just don’t get it. So put in your earbuds,
take this 30 minutes for you and join our conversation because mental health matters.
To find all of the resources CATCH provides to caregivers of young people struggling with their mental health, go to www.catchiscommunity.org or follow us on social media @catchiscommunity.
music credit 3 Water Springs by Ian Post
© CATCH 2022
To find all of the resources CATCH provides to caregivers of young people struggling with their mental health, go to www.catchiscommunity.org.
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CATCH, Community Action Together for Children's Health, is a 501(c)3 that provides support and education for families around mental health topics. Original content and materials from CATCH and its collaborators are for informational purposes only. They are provided as a general resource and are not specific to any person or circumstance.
Dr. Lisa (00:03):
It's been an extremely difficult few weeks in our community, on the north shore of Chicago. On July 4th, a lone gunman took the lives of seven people and shattered the lives of so many more during a holiday parade in Highland Park, Illinois.
Amy O. (00:19):
The events of that day have been really hard to process. As the effects of the trauma become every day realities for our community, our mission at CATCH only becomes clearer and our dedication to it that much stronger. Welcome. I'm Amy, the Founder and Executive Director of CATCH, Community Action Together for Children's Health based in Chicago's north suburbs.
Dr. Lisa (00:44):
And I'm Lisa. I'm a licensed clinical psychologist, a CATCH board member, and the liaison between CATCH and the mental health providers in our community.
Amy O. (00:54):
Together, we are the hosts of Parenting the Mental Health Generation, a podcast where we discuss topics related to parenting kids struggling with their mental health.
Dr. Lisa (01:05):
We are feeling empowered by the even more pressing mental health needs of our community. So today we're not hosting a guest, but instead, we thought we'd take this time to invite you to get to know us a little better.
Amy O. (01:20):
Put in your earbuds and take 30 minutes for you. Join our conversation while Lisa and I give you a glimpse into who we are, why we are here and what drives us to volunteer for CATCH.
Dr. Lisa (01:40):
For our listeners who don't know, we live about five miles from Highland Park, Illinois, and three weeks ago, this unspeakably horrifying thing happened there. People who we know personally, people who we love were at that parade where a lone gunman, opened fire and killed and wounded, innocent people in our community. We are reeling. We're feeling traumatized. We're scared. Our sense of safety has been shattered. And as a community we're just hurting right now.
Amy O. (02:09):
I couldn't agree more. Lisa, I find myself frightened that my kid is going to Lollapalooza next weekend. I don't want him to go. I never felt like that before.
Dr. Lisa (02:20):
It's yeah, go ahead.
Amy O. (02:22):
No, it's just, everything feels different. And I think that it's important for our podcast community to understand that we're coming to you today from an environment that we've never felt before. For sure.
Dr. Lisa (02:34):
Absolutely. As a parent to young children, I feel that deeply.
Dr. Lisa (02:41):
I feel worried about things I've never even thought about before. What grocery store I'm stepping into. Sending them back to school this fall. It just all feels strange. I will say at the same time though, it's been pretty incredible to see the response that our community has had, the way we've come together. The way that not only those first responders, but the mental health community has just united as one to support everyone in need. And it's brought light in some very serious darkness.
Amy O. (03:16):
I'm glad that you brought that up and it's a good segue into what I think we're going to get into during this podcast today. A lot of people are saying that they have never seen our community as strongly together as they have in the last three weeks. And it's important that we keep that momentum going. I think because trauma of this kind in particular is going to be with us for a long time to come.
Amy O. (03:44):
So I feel invigorated and empowered to continue our work at CATCH in an even more energized way.
Dr. Lisa (03:54):
I also feel like somehow the walls around the mental health and the stigma associated with it just crumbled in a really beautiful way. It seems like it feels normal now and necessary for people to be reaching out. And I think that also helps our mission and also brought us to the table of like, this is what we've been trying to do. And here we are. And so how do we capitalize on that momentum to make sure that we don't lose that to make sure that mental health remains at the forefront? And it brings me back to just thinking about how you and I met and how CATCH started, which was, you know, a story you have to share because I wasn't there in its infancy.
Amy O. (04:42):
Wait, did we meet first at the public library in Northbrook?
Dr. Lisa (04:47):
We absolutely did. I think CATCH at that point was a little over a year old, but yes, when I joined a colleague had actually shared a presentation that they were doing for CATCH and I saw the topic and I saw the mission and it felt important to me right away. Important to me as a clinician. Important to me as a parent of two young kids. And so, I showed up, I showed up at the library.
Amy O. (05:14):
I remember that meeting because I think there were about 20 people there, which at the time was, you know, four times as many people as I'd ever had at a CATCH meeting. <laugh> and I did not know what to do with everybody. <laugh> I think we went around the table and everyone sort of shared, and then I was like, hmm, not really sure what to do next.
Amy O. (05:35):
So, I'm glad you continued to engage. And now you're part of the board. So yay us.
Dr. Lisa (05:40):
Yeah, no, I remember also leaving that meeting, having absolutely no idea when and where and how I could help, but having a deep sense inside of my stomach that this was important. This is the real work. This is the mission. This is what filled my cup up when I'm feeling depleted. And, this is how I'm going to help make our community stronger and healthier and safer in a lot of ways for my, at the time, one little boy and now two little boys to grow up in.
Amy O. (06:14):
I remember one of the first conversations that you and I had, and I don't recall the circumstances, but it was striking to me because you came to CATCH with a young son. I don't know how old was Benji then?
Dr. Lisa (06:30):
He was one.
Amy O. (06:31):
And so you came in some ways out of fear or out of an interest in ensuring that the future for your children in our community would be one in which mental health was prioritized and important. And I came to CATCH having been through a difficult journey with my daughter, who at the time that I met you, I guess she was 18. And I already had an understanding that our community needed a CATCH and a place where parents could come to talk, discuss, learn about their kids' mental health journeys. So, we literally came from opposite sides and look at us now. We're pod-casters.
Dr. Lisa (07:18):
Nothing's going to break this relationship apart. That's for sure.
Amy O. (07:21):
But just to give our listeners a real quick background of how CATCH started and why Lisa came to the library that night. CATCH started four years ago, it'll be four years in October because my daughter was in recovery from anxiety, depressive disorder and severe anorexia.
Amy O. (07:39):
And during that journey, my husband and I felt extremely alone and had trouble navigating the school systems as my daughter was in and out of treatment and working hard to stay alive, literally. And I just pulled my old preschool group together, my old preschool mom group in my living room and said, we’ve got to do something. We’ve got to make something in this town for parents and kids. And we’ve got to make this town, this community think about mental health. Look through the lens of mental health when they're making decisions. And my friends all nodded and off we went. And I guess it was about a year later, like you said, that you joined us at that chaotic meeting where I didn't really know what I was doing.
Dr. Lisa (08:21):
Look at you now, Amy.
Amy O. (08:22):
And I'm really, really glad you did because you've become an integral part of who we are and all of the board members lean on your expertise to help us and guide us when we're nurturing our community.
Dr. Lisa (08:35):
I appreciate that, Amy. I'm so glad you had that thought. And you know, I think a lot of people have that thought, but you brought it to action and I'm so glad you did. You're filling such a need in our community. And yeah, you know, I did come at it from a different perspective. I came at it as a new mom, as a psychologist in the community and as somebody who's been on my own mental health journey and has seen how hard that can be to navigate. While I didn't grow up in the north shore of Chicago, I grew up in a similar community where a lot of the same, you know, values of education and performance and achievements are really at the forefront. I get to see every day at work the impact that that can have on our kids. And I don't love it.
Dr. Lisa (09:22):
<laugh> I don't love it. And I want to be a part of bigger change. And I remember a story very distinctly where my son, who was about 16 months old at the time and with a daycare, I was talking to a friend of mine who had a similarly aged child at a different daycare. And she says to me, you won't believe it. My kid is coming home, starting to recognize his letters. How cool is that? The school told me he's going to be a reader by the time he's three. And I just remember my heart sinking down into my chest and feeling a flood of different emotions. It was in part this anger of how in the world could we think that this is the important thing to be focusing on now? My kid is learning how to play with other kids and how to be free and how to socialize.
Dr. Lisa (10:13):
And these are the important things. And yet I also started to worry. I found, you know the amygdala inside of me just panicking about, oh my God, is my kid going to be behind if my daycare is not teaching him the letters? And it, can.
Amy O. (10:29):
You found yourself getting on that treadmill
Dr. Lisa (10:32):
Amy O. (10:33):
that so many people in our community hop onto mm-hmm <affirmative> and never get off.
Dr. Lisa (10:38):
Never get off at the ripe age of one. I started to feel it. And what a rough place is that to be as a parent, raising a child as a child growing up in that environment. And I know what that turns into. I know what that looks like. And I know that I want more for my children. My son is now almost five, and I've got a second son who's one. And I am very intentional about trying to parent with the values of community, of mental health, of openness and honesty and friendship and relationships.
Dr. Lisa (11:16):
And knowing that the academics will come in their own time, if we make sure not to make them too important. It's a big thing.
Amy O. (11:26):
It brings me a lot of joy, Lisa, to hear you say that, because one of the things that I felt so strongly about when I was noodling on this whole idea of a CATCH was to help young parents understand what really matters. It's easy for me to talk and to tell you perspective wise, my son is 25 years old now. My daughter is now 21. I do have the gift of being able to look back. And it's absolutely true that without a doubt, academic progress and athletic prowess and success at playing your saxophone and all of those things are absolutely less important than a sense of confidence. A sense of safety, a sense of being loved, a sense of being good enough in whatever you are, wherever you are.
Amy O. (12:23):
There is no question about it. I'm glad that you're here and that you're thinking about those things for your boys, because I think they'll be stronger for it.
Dr. Lisa (12:31):
That's the dream.
Amy O. (12:33):
So yeah, <laugh>, that's the plan. <laugh>.
Dr. Lisa (12:38):
I know we sort of quip about how CATCH started in your living room and it was small and here you are about to celebrate year four. And my, has it grown. Can you share a little bit about some of the cool things we're doing as a team?
Amy O. (12:52):
Absolutely. Why don't we start with this very podcast?
Dr. Lisa (12:55):
Let's do it. <laugh> I think we're about to celebrate our first anniversary here.
Amy O. (13:00):
Yeah. Our first entire season of what? Seven or eight episodes, I think. We decided to start podcasting in an attempt to bring our information and our message to as many people as we can.
Amy O. (13:18):
And by the way, we have folks from all over the world who listen. We wanted to bring it to folks in sort of a conversational, easy to digest manner because you know, let's get real volunteering or working as you do in the field of mental health can be very heavy. And you know, we're experiencing an especially heavy period in our community right now, but these are not easy topics. And it's hard to see our kids struggle. It's hard to see our friends and our community as a whole struggle with their mental health. This podcast kind of lets us bring information to people and experts to people in a way that feels a little bit comforting, a little bit comfortable. At least I hope so.
Dr. Lisa (14:01):
I find that listening to podcasts is actually the easiest way for me to take in information now. Whether it's on my drive to and from work or while I'm walking my dog and we continue as a board to discuss all the different ways that we can get messages and information out to people. And sometimes especially in our over scheduled community, it's tough to make a certain 8:00 PM on a Monday presentation work. And hopefully this just allows our listeners to be free to tune in when they've got those 20 minutes.
Amy O (14:42):
I think we also make information accessible to people in other ways, too, that I'm really proud of. You know, we, we have a YouTube channel where we house a wide variety of videos that we have made both with experts from our community, experts on mental health experts, on parenting and with national recognized experts.
Amy O. (15:02):
Our website offers lots of resources, links to blogs that we have written, or that we have had guests write. Short to the point, easy to digest information. And most recently with the events of July 4th, if one visits, the CATCH website, www.CATCHiscommunity.org, you can access a very extensive list of trauma informed therapists, who we have contacted and who are ready and available to help anyone that needs it in the aftermath of the July 4th event. And I think one of the things that's really at the heart of CATCH and that I hope can grow even further and become even more accessible to people is our parent support network. We offer parents connect groups, small groups of parents coming together to share, support, confidentially, talk about what's going on in their families and with their kids. While it would've been difficult for me to join
Amy O. (16:04):
one of those in the throes of my daughter's illness had I, it would've been extraordinarily helpful. I would have realized I wasn't as alone as I felt I was. And there's a lot of sharing back and forth about resources and information and things to try.
Dr. Lisa (16:20):
We keep hearing over and over again; it seems that parents on the journey of their kids' mental health struggles feel so alone. And even if they have incredible support networks in general, they have their own family members, they have their own friends, unless somebody is dealing with a similar type of situation, it just not as helpful to talk to them. And, it still feels so lonely. And, I think that's really been such a saving grace for a lot of parents who have found us to just have other parents to talk to who get it,
Dr. Lisa (16:58):
who've been on a journey, who are on the journey so that they don't feel alone.
Amy O. (17:02):
I think it's important to let our listeners know that the CATCH board is made up of six people and myself the director of CATCH. All of whom came to CATCH because of a mental health journey of their own, either with their family or their own journey. We are a group of people passionate about erasing the stigma of mental illness so that everyone can find help without fear, without shame. We are a group of people passionate about educating our community about the importance of mental health and prioritizing it in my mind, literally above all else, because without it it's tough <laugh> and we are a board who like you and I are friends and committed to working together to making our community better. And all of a sudden, I feel like I might cry
Amy O. (17:55):
so, I'm going to let you talk for a minute.
Dr. Lisa (17:57):
We're also just kind of fun. And I think that's important too. We're doing big, heavy lifting work, but we're enjoying our time doing it. And I think that really translates into us being an approachable group and people wanting to take part. And that's been part of the fun for me. Yeah. Sorry to say, but you're stuck with me in the long haul. I'm not going anywhere.
Amy O. (18:20):
I mean, I think just to add to that, we encourage any of our listeners to reach into us. Reach in by utilizing our resources. Reach in by asking us questions. Reach in by volunteering with us. We welcome you to engage with CATCH in whatever way can be helpful to you and your family. I want to make note that maybe by means of wrapping this conversation up this fall.
Amy O. (18:43):
I'd like everyone to watch for a series of Lunch and Learn conversations that we're going to be offering every month from August to November on a wide variety of topics. But the first topic we're going to start with is this idea of secondary trauma stress, particularly around returning to school. And we invite our community to come and our wider community too, to listen, once we record it. I think we're going to help folks understand what they might be feeling and noticing in themselves and their family following what's happened in our community. And in addition to that in October, we're going to welcome Bill Stixrud and Ned Johnson, the authors of The Self-Driven Child to our local high school. And I urge all of you to keep your eyes out for that. It's going to be an amazing event and we're going to invite the community to join us.
Dr. Lisa (19:29):
I am particularly excited about that one.
Dr. Lisa (19:32):
It was actually that book that was the first one that I read that really helped me see so clearly this need to parent differently. To parent mindfully. That I have the chance to make different choices, even raising my child in a community where it sometimes feels like swimming upstream in order to do that.
Amy O. (19:55):
Yeah. And, you know, we thought they were really a good choice because not only, do we have a chance to sort of reevaluate what we prioritize in our family is what we value following all these crazy years of pandemic. But now in fact, we all can take a breath and decide how best to communicate and how best to engage with our children, following the realities of the world that we've all been exposed to so closely. So, I agree. I think it's going to be a really powerful evening and keep your eyes peeled.
Dr. Lisa (20:25):
Well, Amy, thank you for inviting me into the CATCH world. Thank you to our listeners for continuing to tune in. We've got lots of exciting things for you as we get started on season two, this fall, and we're just excited to have you on board for this journey.
Amy O. (20:42):
This was great, Lisa, thank you so much.
Dr. Lisa (20:45):
And I didn't even bring up time fell right out of your chair.
Amy O. (20:47):
Not funny. <laugh> That's for a different episode, “Clumsy Moves.” Lisa, I know that you cannot wait to tell our listeners about the chair story, but maybe instead as we end our podcast today, you could remind them about the last episode of this season which will come out in early August.
Dr. Lisa (21:08):
Yeah, very excited about that one. In that episode, Amy, you and I sit down with a rising college, sophomore and his mom, as they talk very candidly and openly about his mental health journey while navigating his freshman year at school. It's timely. It's going to be especially relevant for all you families that are going to be sending kids off to college either for the first time or second or third.
Amy O. (21:33):
Dr. Lisa (21:34):
Amy O (21:34):
Thanks for joining us today.