Skip To Main Content
Viewpoint’s Partnership with the School Speaker Alliance of Los Angeles Brings Timely Topic and Important Resources to Our Parents
Viewpoint’s Partnership with the School Speaker Alliance of Los Angeles Brings Timely Topic and Important Resources to Our Parents

On October 13, SSALA, the School Speaker Alliance of Los Angeles, presented Tim Davis and his son Ryder to talk about “Recognizing and Navigating Mental Health Challenges in Tweens and Teens.” Viewpoint is a founding member of SSALA, a consortium of 12 Los Angeles-area independent schools whose purpose is “to provide engaging and enlightening speakers to the broader Los Angeles independent school parent community.”

In 2018, Ryder Davis, then 17, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. While educating himself about his son’s condition, Tim Davis developed a passion for educating others about the importance of mental health. He joined NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, as an Education Coordinator. He is now the Director of Programs and Services at NAMI Westside LA, where he shares NAMI’s ‘Ending the Silence’ program, designed to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness and to help parents, teens, and schools recognize and respond to mental health challenges when they arise.

Mr. Davis shared that in the last decade, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a dramatic increase in mental health conditions among tweens and teens. Understanding the risks, signs, and helpful responses related to mental health conditions in our families is vital.

Upper School Counselor Leslie A. Piccioni said, “As a licensed psychotherapist, I came to Viewpoint with a strong desire to de-stigmatize therapy and mental illness. And as we return to full-time, in-person school, it is obvious that many of us are struggling to figure out how to relate to others; how to find balance in our lives, and how to set and establish boundaries.  

I encourage students as well as parents to come to me with any questions or concerns they may have. I love to share with others how common and understandable their thoughts, feelings, and experiences are, and to collaborate to provide tools to help them feel more confident and calmer in the world.

In psychology, we use the term “unconditional positive regard” to describe the need that all of us have, and which those of us in the helping professions can try to provide. Love and acceptance without any conditions are what children of any age need from their caregivers, and it’s what they need to also feel while they are at school. 

Being a “good” parent doesn’t require you to have all the answers or always provide “perfect” advice. And actually, in lieu of advice and answers, I’d say that listening without judgment is the most critical and meaningful action a parent can take. When our children feel listened to (and not “spoken” to), they will consider opening up more and trusting us. If you’d like any tips on how to be a more effective listener, please reach out. I’m passionate about parenting and would love to connect.”

Laree Henning, School Counselor for Grades 5-8, added “Leslie Piccioni and I were fortunate to attend a four-day conference in San Francisco in February of 2020 titled Educating Anxious Minds, this was pre-COVID and was sold out. Experts spoke on topics such as the impact of stress and anxiety, building resilience, the importance of attachment, establishing boundaries, and how our presence as parents and educators shapes the neural wiring of our children’s brains. 

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of building emotional literacy with children. If parents model speaking about emotions with their child, normalizing all the feelings, avoiding the categories of good and bad they inadvertently get lumped into, it will support them in building self-awareness and self-management, as they navigate the ups and downs of their own life. Speaking to our own challenges and embarrassing moments as parents, and being vulnerable with them, helps them be able to open up about those moments in their own lives. I echo everything Leslie shared and am here to support parents, as well, please feel free to reach out. You may find more resources by logging into myViewpoint and clicking on the tile titled Family Resources for Student Support and Wellness.”

 Please contact or with any questions or concerns you may have. As a community, we are all here to support one another.

More Stories