Minority Mental Health Month: Tips for Prioritizing Wellness

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Observed in July, National Minority Mental Health Month brings awareness to the unique challenges faced by our nation’s diverse minority groups. Due in part to a history of cultural stigma and lack of access to health care services, these groups often struggle to receive diagnoses for behavioral health issues. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions that health disparities faced by underrepresented communities “negatively affect the mental and physical health of millions of people, preventing them from attaining their highest level of health and consequently affecting the health of our nation.”

When it comes to managing mental health, this year’s theme centers around culture, community, and connection. Check out the following suggestions to get started prioritizing mental wellness for the whole family. 

  • Create Connections with Others. It is important to feel a sense of belonging and security within our neighborhoods. Activities like shopping, dining, exercise or worship bring an opportunity to build social connections. This can lead to an extended support network of people to assist with childcare or meals when needed, as well as shared family friendly gatherings. Meaningful interactions and having people to call upon are essential stress relievers.   
  • Be an Active Community Member. Community brings more than social connections; it’s also an opportunity to find purpose. Take pride in where you live and work to make it a better place through volunteering and advocacy work. Get involved in issues you care about (like education or health services) through rallies or town hall meetings. Be sure to enlist children’s help when appropriate, like charity walks or collecting donations.   
  • Take Time for Self-care. Be sure to care for both your body and mind. To reduce stress and anxiety, consider meditation, breathing exercises, or yoga — find helpful guides on YouTube or in the app store. Listening to music, keeping a gratitude journal, praying, or reading are also healthy calming practices. For physical health, aim for a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains and limit simple sugars and saturated fats. A routine of regular exercise and sufficient sleep round out a healthy lifestyle. 
  • Talk Openly about Mental Health. Develop an environment of openness and trust that allows you and others to feel comfortable discussing mental health. Some pointers for these types of conversations include setting aside appropriate time and space, being honest, and validating emotions without downplaying or dismissing them. This can no doubt be difficult, but increasing visibility of mental health issues within minority communities breaks the stigma and encourages people to get support when needed. 
  • Seek Resources. In addition to commonly experienced life stressors, minority groups may also be impacted by additional trauma. Therapy provides tools so you can better handle the past, present and future in a healthier way. Seek a culturally competent therapist who is respectful of differences, appreciating that everyone has a unique identity and set of needs. To find a mental health program or resources that are a good fit, check out FindTreatment.gov, search the directory at Mental Health America or American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s extensive list of inclusive resources organized by community. For free, immediate, and confidential support at any time, call or text 988, the Suicude and Crisis Lifeline.

When focusing on mental wellness, remember to keep in mind the importance of culture, community, and connection. When intertwined, you’ll find support and belonging to help you better navigate daily life.


Nurturing Children’s Mental Health

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ASU Prep recognized May 11th as National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, which highlights the importance of children’s positive mental health as part of their overall development. When children are in good mental health, they will be more successful at home and school, better able to participate and socially engage, learn new things and exhibit good decision-making.

Families can promote good mental health in what they say, how they act, and through the environment they create. Take a look at these suggestions for fostering a supportive environment for children and teens. 

Recognizing Emotions

It’s important for children to be able to recognize their feelings as the first step in processing them. For younger children, this might mean using a mood chart that allows them to identify a graphic depicting their current emotion. This check-in opens up the conversation for them to better share and get support. For older children, a journal with blank pages or guiding prompts is a positive and personal way to process feelings before discussing them.

Create a Safe Setting 

Nurture relationships by spending quality time together talking without judgment. A helpful technique is “High, Low, Buffalo,” in which each family member shares a “high” point from their day, a “low,” and a “buffalo” — a random tidbit. An Internet search for “conversation starters” can also be a fun way to ignite meaningful discussion with older children. 

A safe home environment also means setting boundaries on media use. Monitor use by discouraging screens in the bedrooms when possible to allow you to supervise both content and time spent on a screen, as well as any interactions through social media or online games.

Model & Encourage Healthy Behavior

Don’t be afraid to show kids when you struggle or make a mistake. It’s normal, and as they’re watching, they’re learning valuable coping skills.

Be a role model by taking care of your own mental health—discussing feelings and modeling what it looks like to make time for feel-good activities like reading, exercising or relaxing on the porch. 

Establish routines for the whole family that prioritize a nutritious diet, regular physical activity and plenty of sleep. 

Get Professional Support

Being involved in children’s lives allows us to regularly observe their well-being and track any signs that a child is experiencing changes in their thinking, feelings or behavior, as well as physical changes. 

As children navigate developmental and emotional milestones, continue to show them encouragement. Connect with them, reminding them that you care and are there for support.  

Need help? Call your child’s pediatrician or seek out additional resources, such as:

ASU Prep’s Family Resources — provides a sampling of social services available to our local community

Mikid — Arizona-based organization focusing on behavioral health and wellness with family-centered approach 

Crisis Text Line — offers free help via text message 24/7. Text ‘START’ to 741741 to text with a trained counselor.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline — provides 24/7 free, confidential support. Text 988 to connect to a skilled, trained crisis worker. 

Anti-Bullying Tips for a Positive Community

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While many Star Wars fans were busy celebrating “May the Fourth Be With You,” ASU Prep Academy was also recognizing May 4th as Anti-Bullying Day with a focus on digital citizenship. Just as there are powerful alliances formed in the Star Wars franchise, ASU Prep Academy encourages students to come together to support and encourage one another. Here are some anti-bullying tips to foster a positive community. 

Hold That Thought

Getting ready to post that picture with a filter that makes your classmate look like a furry Ewok? Remember not to post photos or videos of others without permission, especially those who are minors. While you think your classmate’s Ewok impression is spot-on, she may not appreciate it going viral. 

And just like we use a filter to enhance photos, let’s do the same for our comments. Filter your thoughts before posting them to make sure they are truthful and kind. Avoid teasing and sarcasm, which don’t usually translate well online. Instead of jokingly commenting on a friend’s post about his new Mandalorian backpack, “You’re such a dork!” try “Love your style!” instead. 

Leave a *Good* Lasting Impression

Everything we do online leaves behind a trail. Everything from social media posts to search history. So make sure the prints you leave behind are good ones you wouldn’t be embarrassed for your teachers, family members or future boss to discover. 

ASU Prep Academy Supports You

ASU Prep does not tolerate bullying, harassing or intimidating others on school grounds, school-sponsored events, or through use of technology. Any reports of such behavior will be investigated and may lead to disciplinary action like a guardian conference, or in serious cases, removal from the school community. 

Connect in a Positive Way

Show your school spirit by posting positive accomplishments like club activities or the triumphant completion of a project. Finally finished your watercolor of Yoda? Post it! When sharing your Sun Devil successes, strengthen our community connection by tagging #RepthePrep and #ASUPrepAcademy. 

7 Effective Ways to Cope with Stress During a Pandemic

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Stress is a natural part of life. We experience it when we’re feeling overwhelmed or dealing with unexpected obstacles. This is especially true when you’re navigating your teen years, trying to discover who you are and where you fit in the world.

While stress can sometimes be beneficial in pushing us through difficult situations and making us stronger, there are times when it takes a toll on our health. This past year has been no exception, with many of us feeling a great amount of stress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’ve felt anxious, worried and isolated, you’re not alone. Something as unprecedented as a pandemic is bound to cause stress. But how does stress manifest and what can you do to manage it?

You may be stressed if you’re:

  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Experiencing frequent headaches
  • Noticing changes in your appetite
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Often worrying about things you can’t control

While you may not be able to completely rid yourself of stress, there are ways to cope with it that enable you to continue moving forward without feeling like the weight of the world rests on your shoulders. Here are seven effective ways to manage your stress:

Practice mindfulness.

One of the best ways to tackle stress is to simply acknowledge it. Take a seat somewhere comfortable, think about one thing that’s causing you stress and ask yourself if it’s something you can control. If the answer is yes, make an action plan to solve the problem. If it’s no, visualize yourself letting go of the worry. You can also keep a mindfulness journal or download an app for breathing exercises and other relaxation techniques.

Prioritize yourself.

The pandemic has likely shaken up your daily routine, which can be stressful if you’re a creature of habit. It’s important to make time for me-time. Give yourself the grace to do something for yourself each day, like taking a bubble bath or watching your favorite TV show. Self care is just as important as your daily responsibilities.

Get more sleep.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, you need 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night to function at your best. That’s easier said than done during a pandemic when you’re more likely to lay awake worrying about the unknown or scrolling through your newsfeed. Since it’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole of trending topics online, consider reducing your screen time in exchange for more dream time. Disconnecting from that blue light will help you get the sleep you need to feel your best.


Being active improves your mood. Unfortunately, many of us have abandoned our fitness routines during the pandemic, having relied on gyms and other indoor spaces to help us stay in shape. If you’re not ready to venture into a group setting, stream online fitness classes or YouTube workout videos at home. Better yet, exercise outdoors: walk around the block, run through the park or do yoga in your backyard. Even just a few minutes of stretching can relieve a lot of tension.

Eat healthier.

What you put into your body affects your mental health just as much as your physical health. When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to eat junk food that isn’t as nutritious as whole foods that fuel good vibes. During the pandemic, you may have come to rely on sweet treats and snacks as a source of comfort – and that’s ok in moderation. Pay attention to what you eat and how it makes you feel, and adjust accordingly. Pack your diet with water, fruits, vegetables and lean sources of protein.

Do more of what you love.

While it’s important to arm yourself with credible information on how to stay safe during the pandemic, it’s just as imperative to disconnect from it. This is where your hobbies come to the rescue. Make time to do the things you enjoy, whether it’s picking up a page-turner you’ve been meaning to read or learning a new skill, like how to make sourdough bread. Making time for a hobby will not only relieve stress, it’ll also prevent you from burning out.

Open up.

The pandemic has made it hard for us to connect in person with the people we love. Stress can be a heavy burden, especially if it’s stemming from other emotions like loneliness. The best thing you can do is talk about how you’re feeling. Call, video chat or meet with a friend or family member (while following proper social distancing and safety measures). Seek professional help from a mental health counselor, parent or teacher you can trust. There’s always someone who’s willing to listen, but the first step is asking for help.

Check out the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health America for more information on stress and how to manage it effectively.

Managing Mental Health As An Online Learner

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With a year as unprecedented as this one, it’s important to remember that prioritizing mental health is imperative for everyone—but especially students. Many of you have made the switch to online learning this year, which is both exciting and overwhelming, especially given the circumstances. Transitioning can be tough, but you aren’t alone. Here are some ways to manage your mental health:

Communicate with your loved ones

As humans, we often have a hard time opening up while simultaneously being hard on ourselves. If we let things fester for too long, it can be detrimental to our mental health and affect our everyday lives. That’s why it’s important to keep your loved ones close and to communicate with them about how you’re feeling. They can offer support, help identify the cause of how you’re feeling, and assist in finding resources that will get you back on track. If you’re nervous to start the conversation, try writing down everything you’re feeling so you have an idea of what you want to say.

Stay active

It’s no secret your physical and mental health are connected! If you’re feeling low, one of the best things you can do is throw on your favorite activewear and get moving. Whether you go for a walk, take a virtual yoga class outside, or bike around your neighborhood, at least 30 minutes of exercise a day will improve your mood and provide a much-needed screen break for your eyes. Some schools, including ASU Prep Digital, even have fitness clubs, which promote maintaining a healthy lifestyle while bonding with your peers.

Sign up for therapy

While there are quite a few misconceptions surrounding therapy, the truth is that therapy is a great way to check-in with your mental health, work through any problems, and learn how to cope with and overcome the stresses of life. With half of all mental conditions starting by age 14, tools like therapy can help you address things such as anxiety and depression early on. In the age of COVID, many people are turning to online services such as Better Help and Talkspace, which offer virtual counseling in the form of video chats, phone calls, and instant messaging. There is no shame in getting help and therapy is beneficial whether you’re going through a difficult time or not.


Looking for resources or additional information on how to manage your mental health? Check out these posts:

Can Students With Social Anxiety Benefit From Online School?

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High school is an exciting time in a young person’s life. Between making friends, discovering new passions, and thinking ahead to future majors and careers, high school is where many students begin to find themselves. But for those with social anxiety, this experience can feel less than desirable.

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) affects approximately 15 million Americans and is the second most commonly diagnosed form of anxiety in the country. Many symptoms begin to surface around age 13, just as students are making the transition from middle school to high school. This means students dealing with feelings of self-consciousness and anxiety will have a harder time adjusting and feeling comfortable.

How can we help?

Many of these symptoms make it difficult for students to perform well in their classes. Some may experience an inability to focus, feel physically sick, or fear going to school.

Education is not ‘one size fits all.’ There are alternatives to traditional school whether a child is struggling academically, physically, or mentally. For students who experience social anxiety, online school may be a viable option.

Online learning gives students the freedom to work on their own time, at their own pace. For students with social anxiety who struggle doing simple tasks, this is especially helpful because they can slow down without feeling like they’re trailing behind their classmates. And for students who get anxious being in a crowd, online school eliminates having to sit in a classroom full of people, making it easier for them to concentrate on their schoolwork.


We understand high school can be tough to navigate, and even more so if you’re living with a mental illness. While online school won’t provide a quick fix and should not be used in lieu of professional help, we strive to provide the best learning experience for all of our students, offering support and resources every step of the way no matter what they’re going through.

Interested in learning more about how online school can be a great option for students who may be struggling socially? Check out these blog posts:

Curious if our program is right for your child? Check out our FAQs and learn more about enrollment here.

Learn the Power of Using Fitness, Food, and Education to Keep Your Mind Healthy

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For those who experience mental illness on a daily basis, it’s no secret that the toll it takes on you can be detrimental. Margaret Koukos, a 16-year-old junior, understands this all too well.

“I’ve always had bad anxiety, but it peaked in 2017 during my sophomore year of high school,” she said. “My doctor had me on mood stabilizers and antidepressants, but it felt like they were hurting me more than helping me.”

Determined to improve her situation, Margaret set out to find ways to feel healthier, both mentally and physically.

“I began practicing yoga in the beginning of 2018, when a trainer at my gym encouraged me to try a class after seeing how much anxiety was consuming me,” she said. “I didn’t instantly fall in love with it, but it grew on me. I started to feel a sense of calm and I knew from that moment that I had to stick with it.”

After realizing the impact of a single lifestyle change, Margaret decided to find other parts of her life she could improve that would benefit her mental health in a positive way.

“My eating impacts everything—how I feel, how I think, my workouts, and my mood,” she said. “I notice when I eat food that inflames me, like gluten, soy and dairy, I get a lot of anxiety. I try to keep a diet that consists of meat, fish, veggies, fruit and an occasional bag of kettle chips or chocolate!”

She also wanted to find an alternative to the brick-and-mortar style of education she was used to, which led her to online schooling.

“I knew life wasn’t meant to consist of days where we countdown the hours until they’re over,” she said. “A typical day for me began at 5am with a workout or a yoga class, followed by eight hours at school where I felt like I couldn’t focus, then coming home and trying to take care of a puppy, my family and, most of all, myself.”

Margaret realized she needed to change her day-to-day routine in order to bring some stability to her life, and online school offered her the balance she needed.

“It has allowed me to focus on school, but also focus on and be present with myself when I need to,” she said. “Thanks to online learning, I am able to take care of myself better, eat healthier, workout/do yoga when I want to and travel! The amount of flexibility is amazing and definitely relieves stress for me because I know that there is time for everything now.”

Margaret has not only discovered her recipe for happiness, but also a newfound love for yoga and its benefits. She strives to share what she has learned with anyone who wants to introduce yoga into their lifestyle.

“As my yoga teacher says, ‘there’s no right or wrong way to do yoga,’ which is so true,” she said. “Everybody is different. I’ve had some days where I’m not missing a beat in a flow sequence and others where something is hurting so bad I’ve wanted to quit in that very minute. I think no matter what, you just have to stick with it because it will be worth it in the end.”

Margaret already has her eyes set on the future and is looking forward to helping others find their balance, both in yoga and in life.

“I want to get my 200hr RYT, which means I will have spent 200 hours studying yoga and can teach classes,” she said.

Once she graduates from ASU Prep Digital, Margaret plans on attending ASU Online and earning a B.S. in Integrative Health while working toward becoming a yoga instructor.



If you want to learn more about Margaret or follow her journey, check out her blog here.

For more information on the connection between fitness and mental health, check out Mental Health America.