Trish Glowacki talks to WealthEngine about the motivation behind starting the glowmedia project, how film can be used for advocacy and awareness, and how the glowmedia project is growing to reach a wider audience.
FEDUp is a national, grassroots coalition calling for immediate, comprehensive federal action to end the opioid addiction epidemic. In addition to regularly sponsoring the annual rally, Trish has personally supported FEDUp for the past five years. FEDUp has been incredibly impactful in ensuring that legislation addressing recovery and prevention programs be funded. The CARA Act (Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act) passed Congress just this fall.
At the 2018 rally, Trish spoke about using art, and especially film, as a powerful tool for raising awareness about the opioid epidemic, as a way to end stigma, and as therapy for both those in recovery and family members grieving lost loved ones.
Andrea Hansell, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist
In the past month, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have seriously impacted the lives of millions of Americans whose homes lay in their paths. Mexico is reeling from two major earthquakes. How can we help children affected by these natural disasters process their emotions?
During the early stages of a natural disaster, the focus of rescuers is on ensuring the physical safety of people in affected areas. But long after the immediate physical danger is over, the effects of trauma and dislocation continue to impact mental health. Children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to the psychological impact of trauma. While children tend to openly show signs of fear and distress and seek comfort from adults, adolescents who are overwhelmed by intense emotions may feel reluctant or unable to discuss their feelings with others. It is therefore imperative that parents and adults in helping roles stay attuned to the emotional well-being of adolescents and offer support when needed.
Adolescents who are already struggling with mental health issues are the most vulnerable during a natural disaster. Even well-adjusted people living far from Texas shuddered at post-Harvey scenes of people wading through sewage-contaminated water past floating islands of treacherous fire ants. For Houston adolescents with anxiety disorders, their actual experience of this likely overwhelmed their coping mechanisms. At this crucial time, they also temporarily lost access to their therapists and medications. Far from the predictable environments of their homes, they shared crowded shelter space with strangers, many of whom were emotionally overwhelmed themselves. When they return to their homes, these adolescents will require significant psychological support.
Many children and adolescents without pre-existing mental health disorders also struggle psychologically during and after natural disasters. Studies have shown that in the year following a large-scale disaster, up to 40% of previously mentally healthy children assessed show diagnoseable symptoms of anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
During the first hours of a disaster, children may be exposed to traumatic scenes of devastation and loss, and may experience direct threats to the safety of themselves and their families. Once they are safe, they must cope with the secondary effects of disaster. Their homes and personal property may be gone, and their daily lives become unpredictable without the normal rhythms of school and community. In their changed circumstances, teenagers may have difficulty pursuing the normal developmental tasks of adolescence. At a time when they are primed to move out and explore the world independently, they discover that the world is dangerous and unsafe. The friends and social networks which are so important to their identities are temporarily unavailable. The parents and caregivers to whom they turn for reassurance may themselves be stressed and grieving, preoccupied with efforts to return the family to pre-disaster living conditions.
Individual adolescents show symptoms of psychological trauma in different ways. It is common to see traumatized teens regress, acting like much younger children. Some may act out aggressively or become involved in risk-taking behaviors such as alcohol or drugs. Others may become withdrawn and fearful. Some adolescents may act indifferent and unaffected, but may have trouble sleeping or experience psychosomatic physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach aches.
Though the Red Cross typically sends mental health workers in after a large scale disaster, many affected children and adolescents are not reached or identified by these professionals. It is therefore important that parents and other available adults recognize that by virtue of their own maturity and life experience, they are competent to offer “psychological first aid.” By staying calm themselves and setting up predictable routines, adults can help children and teens cope more effectively. Studies show that following even insignificant seeming patterns such as washing faces each night before sleeping in a shelter helps alleviate anxiety in children. It also helps them to hear adults discuss their own feelings about the disaster while still expressing hope for things to improve in the future. Finding age-appropriate ways for adolescents to help out during the recovery period can help them combat feelings of helplessness.
Once life has returned to normal for families impacted by disaster, parents and teachers must be aware that many children and adolescents are still experiencing the psychological impact of trauma. Unfortunately, parents often hesitate to seek mental health assistance for their children because they underestimate symptoms, or they assume the children are just having normal reactions to abnormal events and professionals would not be interested.
David Schonfeld, director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, observed at a recent NIMH conference that stigma related to mental health is still a barrier, even in times of national crisis. It is critically important that children and adolescents with mental health needs be identified and treated in the aftermath of large-scale natural disasters.
For more information on helping children and adolescents cope during disasters, the following on-line resources are available:
Our Three New Films and Guides are Available Now!
Welcome to the dog days of summer. Time to relax, recharge, and keep cool! Most of us at glow media have taken some time to relax and re-charge, but our tireless director, Justin Chiet has been working like a dog, putting the finishing touches on the new films - even providing an audio cameo in one!
At this time last year we were gearing up for a busy month of filming. While we fondly remember our time on set last summer, we are grateful to be entering the production homestretch from well air-conditioned offices and studios!
With the completion of these films and companion guides, glow media will continue its mission to educate youth, their families, and educators, in an effort to reduce stigma, correct misconceptions, and reinforce the reality that mental health affects everyone.
It’s hard to believe that we have been working on our new films for a full year. After the premiere in May and subsequent review period, we are excited to announce that our three new short films: This is Me, Do Supermodels Eat Popcorn, and Gotta Get It, along with their companion guides for Educators, Parents/Guardians, and Students are available ONLINE at glowmedia.org on AUGUST 1, 2017! That’s TODAY folks!
The companion guides have been reviewed by mental health experts and educators and will be available in both English and Spanish. The guides will be updated regularly. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.
We have had requests for our films in Spanish and with closed captioning for the hearing impaired. Through the Vimeo video distribution service, we are able to offer the films with closed captioning as well as with Spanish subtitles, both without cost. Other languages are available for a small fee.
August is planning time for educators. Contact your local schools today and encourage them to use glow media films in their curriculum. For a guide on how to talk to your child’s school or your local school, click here and find the "How-to-guide" below the Frequently Ask Questions section:
As always, feel free to follow up with questions.
Kindest Regards – Trish
Executive Director - glow media