You can also reach out to your child's school counselor or homeroom teacher.
Falan provides therapy for children, adolescents, and young adults ages 7 - 25. She believes it is her job to meet clients where they’re at and provide services specific to their needs. Falan is honored to be a positive change agent in the lives of people who come into her office. She believes in a holistic approach, not only considering the person as an individual, but as part of a greater working system. Falan earned her master’s degree in Social Work from the University of North Dakota. She is certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).
Tim Unsinn: Welcome to Mind Your Mind, a podcast presented by Dakota Family Services, an outpatient behavioral health clinic located in Minot, Bismarck, and Fargo, North Dakota. In this podcast, I will talk with our experts about understanding and nurturing our mental health and wellness. I'm your host, Tim Unsinn. Join me each episode as we explore the intricacies of our minds, decrease the stigma of mental illness, learn practical tips for managing our mental health and well-being, and recognize when it's time to ask for help. Join me now to mind your mind.
TU: Welcome to this episode of Mind Your Mind. Our guest is Falan Johnson. Falan is an outpatient behavioral health therapist on the Fargo campus and provides outpatient therapy for ages 7 to 25. Falan, it is great to have you on Mind Your Mind. Our topic is managing back-to-school anxiety. However, before we get to the topic, the first question up, why do you do what you do?
Falan Johnson: Hi, thanks for having me, Tim. Why do I do what I do? I think, you know, if I was really gonna try to narrow it down to one thing, I think it's connection. So it's kinda my personal belief that we're all here to connect. I think we all do a little bit better when we have somebody to connect with and bounce ideas off of. So that's what brought me into therapy and I like to see people reaching their fullest potential.
TU: So managing back-to-school anxiety, that seems like something that's always a stressor, no matter if we're getting ready to go back to school or in school. So managing back-to-school anxiety; what are typical stressors families deal with during this time?
FJ: Right, so there is a variety. Let me tell you, I think one of the biggest things is the back to school routines. I think that's something that probably everybody deals with at some point. Some kids and families jump into that a little bit smoother than other families. And so I think that's a piece. If kids are transitioning from let's say middle school into high school, you know, you're looking at a brand new school, all new teachers. Sometimes for the younger kids, you know, they're shifting from learning in one classroom to, well now I've got to go all over the school, and what will that look like? One thing, you know, we hear a lot about that I think would probably surprise people is kids with their locker combinations. Like that is just a really big thing and a big stressor.
FJ: So that's pretty common. I think one thing that maybe doesn't always get talked about enough, especially like in the middle school or as kids are getting into high school, is puberty; fun topic. But I think what happens is a lot of kids, like over the summer kind of hit that stage, right? And so they've got like a lot of changes in their appearance. Maybe they grew like three or four inches, maybe they're dealing with acne and they weren't before; voice changes. All those things can be a huge stressor for kiddos as they're thinking about going back to school. Another piece I had is just like friend groups. So a lot of us, if we're lucky we have a good support system. Hopefully we're keeping in touch with our friends over the summer, but there's also that other level of acquaintances and people we kind of only hang out with at school.
FJ: And so there's also that stress, "Will I still have those relationships when I go back in the fall? Will those people still want to connect with me? Will, some of those people have made new relationships over the summer and I'm not going to really fit anymore?" So these are some really common worries. Also another thing I think everybody can kind of relate to is, you know, clothing and trends, things like that, and then trends with social media. We're seeing that really become a thing and kind of a status symbol. So I know that's on some kids' minds as well.
TU: So that's some great information. A lot of things that I think kids stress about more than mom and dad. I still think about the combination and how stressful that is to remember it at key times. It's just very stressful. So now thinking about that, what are some of the strategies for preparing for and managing those stressors?
FJ: So luckily there are some things we can do to prepare for this. Some of the more basic things I think is just starting to practice that routine early. So some kids over the summer, you know, let's be real honest, sometimes the sleep schedule kind of goes out the window. Maybe you had a job in the summertime. You're just living a really different routine. And so as you think about going back into school, maybe just trying to get back on that school routine a week before school starts. So trying out that bedtime and getting more used to getting on track with your sleep, getting breakfast right away in the morning. We kind of tend to let those things go in the summertime. So just getting back on track a week early, is sometimes, you know, depending on the school you might some of them will have like a back to school night.
FJ: I think this is a great resource to use, as it can give you an opportunity to tour your classrooms, figure out where everything's going to be ahead of time. It's an opportunity to meet your new teachers, get a face to the name. So you know, when you get into that classroom and you see that teacher's face, it's like, "Okay, all right, I know I'm in the right place. I met her at the back to school night." And you know, not every school does offer that. And so if that's not your situation, maybe just kind of reaching out to the school to see if there is an option to go maybe a week ahead of time and do all those things individually. That's an option too. And when I think of the locker combination, I think about maybe some discrete ways you can kind of hide that, you know? So like maybe it is like on your shoe or in your sleeve, or I know most kids, a lot of kids are able to have phones. And so maybe it's something simple like that.
TU: Yeah. Don't do a tattoo because it's going to change next year.
FJ: Yeah, probably not a tattoo.
FJ: When I think more about like the puberty area, I think it's just really important for parents and I mean, just kids in general, I think it's good to create environment where it's okay to talk about those things. It's okay to ask questions. Cause I think the last thing we want is kids trying to figure out those things by themselves right. And figure out what's what's normal or not normal. And so just normalizing it and creating a safe place to ask questions and just kind of normalizing like, "Hey, this is something that everybody goes through at some point, you know, you're not alone." You know, for some people you might need to look at some additional resources. So within the school, each kiddo should fall under a category for a school counselor. So there should be one assigned to, even if you don't know who that is, maybe you do seek outside services and you look at meeting with a therapist to help with those stressors. That's definitely an option. In some cases with some kids, they do need to lean on like medication support. Sometimes focus is a big deal. Another thing that comes to mind is really leaning on your homeroom teacher. I know a lot of kids have like a "homebase" at school, so don't be afraid to ask questions and reach out to that person.
TU: That's a lot of great information. Our guest right now is Falan Johnson, an outpatient behavioral health therapist on the Fargo campus on Mind Your Mind. It's great having you on with us. And thinking about stressors, not just for the kids, but for parents, please don't wait until like the day or two before school starts to go get those back to school supplies. That is a huge stressor. And I think, you know, back to school sales, you know, start usually early July or something like that. So start shopping early so that's not a stressor. Your kids are gonna have enough stressors for you. You don't need to create some for yourself.
FJ: Right? Absolutely. Yep.
TU: All right. What about some resources to access for additional support?
FJ: So I kind of touched on some of that. But I think, again, that homeroom teacher, the school counselor. Some kiddos, depending on what they have arranged at school, some people will have some options for a resource room, where you can kind of go and reset or use resources to just deal with the back-to-school anxieties or anything else that's really going on. In some cases, kids might need to be assessed for an IEP at school. So an individualized educational program. This could be considered if the needs were to be more significant. Again, there's the outpatient resources. So seeking out a therapist or medication management, if it seems like that could be helpful. And then I would say peer groups. A big support for kiddos is going to be their peers. And so making sure they have access to healthy friendships, maybe exploring some clubs at school where people have like-minded interests.
TU: Great stuff, great information. Falan Johnson, our guest on Mind Your Mind. And as we wrap up, there's always that last question before we do. And that is what do you do personally, to mind your mind?
FJ: I have been trying to make it a daily practice to get at least 10 minutes of yoga or meditation into my day. Some days I'm able to get more of that. That's great. Some days, let's be honest, some days life gets a little crazy. So I try to at least get that minimum in. I find it just kind of gets me calm and reset and kind of ready for the day and bonus points if I can do it at night before bed, too.
TU: Thank you very much. Appreciate your time and your talent and being on Mind Your Mind.
FJ: Thanks so much, Tim.
TU: Thank you for joining us for Mind Your Mind, a podcast presented by Dakota Family Services. You can't have health without behavioral health. Remember to mind your mind. For more information, links to additional resources, contact information, and much more go to Dakotafamily services.org.
People tend to perceive risk as being inherently negative. But for teenagers, risk-taking is a healthy, normal, and important part of growing up. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn talks to Vanessa Lien, Nurse Practitioner, about creating a safe environment for your teenager to take risks—and knowing when to step in when they start taking risks that could result in serious and long-term negative consequences.;
15-25% of American students have experienced bullying. And cyberbullying is on the rise. Children who experience bullying suffer from long-lasting effects including depression, anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, low academic achievement, and more. Children engaging in bullying behavior are impacted as well. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Dakota Family Services therapist, April Morris, LCSW, talks about the impact of bullying and what parents can do to help.;
2020 was the year for living with chaos. Everything—at home, at work, and at school—is out of sync and changing from day to day. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Dakota Family Services psychologist, Dr. Megan Spencer, shares simple tips for building routine and structure into your life. She also provides an excellent, yet simple, way to ground yourself when you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious.;
Children experience grief over many things—the loss of a loved one, moving away from their friends, the death of a pet. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Lucas Mitzel, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, talks about the stages of grief, and how to walk your child through the grieving process. He will also talk about ways to determine if your child needs to see a professional who can help them untangle the many emotions of grief.;
In today's episode of Mind Your Mind, your host Tim Unsinn talks with Christy Wilkie about suicide warning signs and things you can do to make a difference. Christy, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, wants to normalize conversations about suicide so people don't feel like they are suffering alone. She says, "There is never a reason to not ask the question, 'Hey, are you OK?' Asking the question can save a life.";
In today's episode of Mind Your Mind, your host Tim Unsinn talks with Dr. Wayne Martinsen. Dr. Martinsen, Medical Director and Psychiatrist at Dakota Family Services, defines wellness as more than just the absence of disease, but as a state of well-being. In this episode he will share current wellness research, questions to ask to determine your own well-being, and steps you can take to achieve and maintain wellness.;
When someone in our life has cancer, it's difficult to know what to say or how to help. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn talks to April Morris about how you can best support a friend or loved one who has cancer. Morris, an outpatient therapist at Dakota Family Services, shares tips for knowing what/what not to say, and actions that speak louder than words.;
Sleep is just as important for mental health as it is physical health. During sleep, our brains process our memories, emotions, and other information. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," April Morris tells us why sleep is so important for overall well-being and encourages us to prioritize sleep. April, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, provides practical tips for improving sleep hygiene so you can live your best life.;
Stress does not discriminate, and it comes in many shapes and forms. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Dr. Megan Spencer talks about ways to identify and listen to the stress in our bodies. Learn relaxation techniques for managing stress over time, self-care routines that decrease negative stress, and things you can do to bring calm into your life.;
Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance our well-being. Exercise increases our mental alertness, energy, and positive mood. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Christy Wilkie, therapist at Dakota Family Services, talks about how movement, even for five minutes, can promote changes in the brain that lead to neural growth, reduced inflammation, and feelings of calm and well-being. Listen now to learn more about how moving your body can improve your mental health.;
Diagnosing children with a mental health-related condition can be controversial. Many worry this gives children a label that is set in stone and will follow them around their entire lives. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Dr. Wayne Martinsen talks about the role of diagnosis in getting children the help they need. Martinsen encourages us to think about mental health diagnoses the same as we do any health diagnosis. If you go the doctor and they diagnose you with strep throat, that doesn’t mean you’ll have strep throat forever, or that you are a strep throat victim. It just means that you have a collection of symptoms that point to strep throat, and the doctor will use that diagnose to provide the appropriate treatment.;
ADHD is diagnosed and treated at a much higher rate than in the past, especially in the United States. Why? In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Dr. Wayne Martinsen, Psychiatrist/Medical Director at Dakota Family Services, explains how the changing world has made it harder for people with shorter attention spans to be successful. In the past, if school was hard for you, you could get a job, work your way up, and live a middle-class lifestyle. Not so in today’s world. Learn more about this fascinating take on ADHD.;
In today's episode of Mind Your Mind, your host Tim Unsinn talks with Christy Wilkie about the Feelings Wheel*. Christy, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, says humans experience 34,000 different feelings! She demonstrates how to use the Feelings Wheel to help you identify your emotions so you can control the behaviors associated with them. *Adapted by classtools.net from the Emotional Wheel. The Emotional Wheel was developed by American psychologist, Dr. Robert Plutchik.;
In today's episode of "Mind Your Mind," Vanessa Lien, Nurse Practitioner, talks about the many changes occurring in the teen brain. The teenage brain is highly susceptible to stress, but it is also very resilient. Learn coping strategies you can teach your teen to protect their brains and help them cope with stress and emotional struggles.;
The grief of losing a friend or loved one to suicide is complicated and can be especially difficult. In addition to the grief, sadness, and loneliness of any loss, people might experience guilt, confusion, rejection, anger, and shame. The stigma of suicide complicates it even more, often preventing survivors talking about their loss or getting the help they need. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Tim Unsinn visits with Dakota Family Services' therapist, Christy Wilkie. Christy helps listeners understand the complicated nature of suicide grief and how to move through it with compassion and self-acceptance.;
You will be shocked at the seemingly safe places predators can connect with your children online. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Lucas Mitzel, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, talks about the things you need to know to keep your children safe. Learn the many websites and platforms used to target children, how to monitor their internet usage, and how to talk to your children about the dangers.;
Pregnancy and the birth of a child can be a joyous and exciting time, but some women struggle with their mental health as they transition to motherhood. Depression, anxiety, and other pregnancy-related mental health conditions may surface during or after pregnancy. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Tim Unsinn speaks with Clinical Psychologist Dr. Megan Spencer. Dr. Spencer helps us understand the common symptoms and causes of postpartum depression, as well as what to do if you think you may be experiencing it.;
Did you know that in addition to calming and focusing our minds, meditation can improve our physical health? In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn visits with Dr. Wayne Martinsen, Psychiatrist, Dakota Family Services, about the surprising health benefits of meditation. A regular meditation practice can increase longevity, reduce the risk of dementia, reduce inflammation, and play a significant role in the treatment of high blood pressure and immune disorders. Learn about the many forms of meditation and how you can start your own meditation practice today.;
Anxiety and depression are invisible illnesses—meaning they don't have outward symptoms visible to others. Because they are invisible, they are often hard for people to explain. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Host Tim Unsinn visits with April Morris, LCSW, Therapist, Dakota Family Services. April references the spoon theory of chronic illness created by Christine Miserandino, an award-winning writer, blogger, speaker, and lupus patient advocate. Listen now to learn more about spoons as a metaphor for energy and how you can use them to understand and explain anxiety and depression.;
While we hear a lot about autism in the news, many of us still have misconceptions about its causes and symptoms. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, therapist Falan Johnson dispels some of these misconceptions and explains the three levels of autism. Johnson then focuses on the least understood level—high functioning autism. Learn how to identify symptoms of high functioning autism in your child, the importance of early intervention, and ways you can support them.;
In this episode of Mind Your Mind, therapist April Morris talks about boundaries. April will define boundaries, explain their importance, and help you set boundaries that match your values and strengthen your relationships. Learn how healthy boundaries can improve your mental and physical health, and how you can say “no” respectfully.;
Going through infertility tests and treatments can be an extremely difficult and lonely time for couples. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Lucas Mitzel talks about his own experience. He also shares tips for couples struggling with infertility, and for friends and family members who want to be supportive but don’t know what to say or do.;
In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn talks to Therapist Falan Johnson about panic attacks. What do they feel like? What causes them? How can you prevent or manage them? Listen now to learn more and discover techniques that might work for you or your loved one.;
Are you concerned about your child's mental health but aren't sure what to do? Join Host Tim Unsinn and his guest, Therapist Jesse Lamm, as they discuss ways you can support your child through a difficult time.;
Are the stresses of college (constant worry, fitting in, lack of sleep, etc.) affecting your ability to function? Join Host Tim Unsinn and his guest, April Morris, LCSW, as they discuss ways to manage or eliminate the stressors that are impacting your well-being.;
Are you struggling to get enough sleep each night? Maybe you have difficulty falling and staying asleep. You can't get comfortable. You feel anxious and your brain just won't shut off. According to the Sleep Foundation, over one-third of adults in the U.S. sleep for less than seven hours a night. Join Host Tim Unsinn and his guest, April Morris, LCSW, in this episode of "Mind Your Mind," as they discuss how insomnia can affect many other areas of your life, as well as practical tips to improve your sleep hygiene.;
It's not unusual for children to have temper tantrums or for adolescents to be angry. But when they become out of proportion to the situation in intensity and duration, your child might be suffering from a mood disorder. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn visits with Dr. Megan Spencer, a psychologist at Dakota Family Services. Listen now to learn how to distinguish between normal mood changes and mood disorders, and some steps you can take to help your child.;
Resilience is not a personality trait or characteristic. Resilience isn't ignoring or emotional numbing or pretending that a problem doesn't exist. And being resilient doesn’t mean we won’t face adversity. Rather, resilience is our ability to bounce back from adversity. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Dr. Megan Spencer, psychologist at Dakota Family Services, shares ten ways to build resilience so you are ready when adversity strikes.;
You can probably think of a dozen things that make you feel sad. Sadness is a normal human emotion that helps us process the events in our lives. But what is "normal" sadness? When does sadness move from "normal" to something you may need help processing? In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Falan Johnson, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, will answer these questions and more. Learn the importance of allowing yourself to feel sad so you can move past it, and, when it might be time to seek professional help.;
In today's world, we are constantly bombarded by messages about who we should be, how we should look, what we should do or wear, and more. With the increased accessibility and prevalence of social media, kids and adolescents are hearing and seeing these messages at younger and younger ages. How do we help ourselves and our teens combat these messages and find our true selves? In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Therapist Jenika Rufer helps us wade through the unimportant things to find what we truly value so we can become our best selves.;
Unsure of whether your therapy is working for you? In this episode of “Mind Your Mind,” our host Tim Unsinn talks with Dakota Family Services therapist Lucas Mitzel about how to make your therapy sessions more productive. Making progress in therapy can often come down to simply having an open mind and a plan for discussion. Although each session can evoke a wide range of emotions, you should always leave feeling that some sort of movement has happened.;
In this episode of Mind Your Mind, host Tim Unsinn and Dakota Family Services therapist Christy Wilkie talk about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and its effectiveness in battling unhelpful thoughts and beliefs. Utilizing cognitive restructuring, CBT helps change inaccurate and damaging self-perceptions and perceptions of others, leading to healthier day-to-day thought patterns. Christy also touches on multiple CBT exercises to try at home, as well as some of her own tactics for promoting helpful thoughts.;
Are your worries and fears about the future getting in the way of daily life? If so, you may be one of the many people who suffer from anxiety. In this special Community Chat episode of Mind Your Mind, Christy Wilkie and Lucas Mitzel talk about the many types of anxiety and what they can look like in both children and adults. They also touch on ways to combat anxiety attacks, including using grounding techniques, mindfulness, muscle relaxation, and more.;
In this episode of Mind Your Mind, host Tim Unsinn and psychiatrist Dr. Wayne Martinson discuss autism and signs of it in children, touching on the different levels of the autism spectrum and where people fall. Learn about how autism often affects children's social skills, communication, and behavior, as well as its connections to other disorders and how to handle it.;
Many people find themselves dealing with high levels of stress and anxiety in their daily lives. However, there are plenty of simple strategies to help regulate these emotions. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, host Tim Unsinn talks with therapist Sandy Richter about various coping exercises to help you regulate and calm yourself, including breathing and movement exercises for both children and adults.;
Medication can affect people in many different ways. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, host Tim Unsinn and psychiatric nurse practitioner Amanda Daggett talk about genetic testing and its use in discerning how different individuals might react to various medications. Tim and Amanda also touch on some of the facts and myths surrounding genetic testing, including what testing can and can’t indicate and where the science is currently at.;
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems people face. However, there are many ways to manage and understand it. On this episode of Mind Your Mind, host Tim Unsinn and therapist Lucas Mitzel discuss what causes anxiety and how it can affect people’s day-to-day lives, as well as the difference between anxiety and fear and how to combat chronic anxiety with grounding techniques.;
In this special Community Chat episode of Mind Your Mind, Psychologist Megan Spencer and Psychiatrist Wayne Martinsen discuss how loneliness and social isolation are increasing in our country, as well as what that means for individuals’ health in the long term. They also give advice on how to get yourself or your loved ones more connected with others, including how to connect both in-person and online.;
Does it seem like your child is “stuck” in therapy, or engaging in dangerous behaviors like self-harm and suicidality? In this special Community Chat episode of Mind Your Mind, Psychologist Hannah Baczynski and therapist April Morris discuss Dialectical Behavior Therapy and its effectiveness in treating patients who have found traditional therapy unsuccessful. Learn about the 4 core skills of DBT and what makes DBT unique from other forms of therapeutic treatment.;
When our children are struggling with their mental health, it can be hard knowing how to help them. However, in addition to therapy, medication can be a viable and effective option for improving your child’s mental health. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, our host Tim Unsinn talks with psychiatric mental health nurse Amanda Daggett about how to know if your child needs medication, what the process is for a prescription, and how to tell if their medication is right for them.;
Did you know that depression occurs in about 15% of children? In this episode of Mind Your Mind, our host Tim Unsinn talks with Psychiatrist Dr. Wayne Martinsen about depression in kids and adolescents, including signs of depression to look out for and how to know when to reach out to a care provider. They also touch on how to know whether your child’s sadness is caused by depression or other external factors and what you can do to try and prevent depression in your child.;
It can be difficult knowing how to recognize and treat depression in children and adolescents. In this special community chat episode of Mind Your Mind, Psychologist Megan Spencer and Therapist April Morris discuss signs of depression to look out for, including both behavioral and physical signs that your child may be depressed. They also touch on the influence of environment, physical illnesses or diagnoses, and genetics on children’s mental health.;
Humans are hardwired for social connection, but it can be difficult knowing where to fit in as unique individuals. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, host Tim Unsinn and therapist Christy Wilkie talk about the importance of using your strengths, interests, and relationships to figure out where you belong. They also touch on signs that you might not be staying true to yourself, as well as how to handle feelings of being left out.;
While often perceived as only relating to those who’ve experienced warfare, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can affect anyone. In this special Community Chat episode of Mind Your Mind, Psychologist Dr. Hannah Baczynski and therapist Lucas Mitzel explain what trauma is, how it affects each person differently, and when to seek treatment for trauma-related symptoms. They also discuss different treatment options for PTSD, touching on the pros and cons of each.;
Though autism is one of the most commonly discussed mental health diagnoses in the community, it is often one of the most misunderstood. In this special Community Chat episode of Mind Your Mind, therapists Lucas Mitzel and Falan Johnson discuss what autism is, how it appears in children and adolescents, and how it may look different between individuals. They also touch on how autism can show up differently in boys than in girls and offer intervention tips for parents and caregivers.;
Autism is sometimes perceived as a disorder that only affects children and adolescents, but it is actually a lifelong diagnosis. In this special Community Chat episode of Mind Your Mind, psychologists Dr. Hannah Baczynski and Dr. Megan Spencer explore the symptoms and nuances of autism in adults, touching on the history of autism spectrum disorder, the research surrounding it, how autism commonly presents in adults, and more.;
Though spirituality is often associated with religion, it can mean much more than simply attending religious services or praying. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, host Tim Unsinn and psychiatrist Dr. Wayne Martinsen define spirituality and discuss its relevance in daily life, touching on ways people experience, express, and cultivate spirituality. They also talk about the link between spirituality, religion and meaning in life.;