Mental health does not have to be a solitary struggle

Agencies in Rocklin, Placer County can help
By: Stephanie Dumm, Placer Herald correspondent
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Find help near you

Placer Institute for Families and Children

Where: 6518 Lonetree Blvd, Suite 174, Rocklin

Services Include: Counseling, workshops, play, art and sand therapy.

How you can help: Monetary donations, art and craft supplies, office supplies.

Info: 402-8810 and


Lighthouse Counseling and Family Resource Center

Where: 427 A St., Suite 400, Lincoln

Services Include: Counseling, family and finance classes, case management, family advocacy and educational support groups.

How you can help: Monetary donations, since services are provided via fundraising and cash donations.

Info: 645-3300 and


Kids First Roseville

Where: 124 Main St., Roseville

Services Include: Counseling, therapy for child victims of abuse and neglect, caregiver support parent education.

How you can help: Since services are funded by state, federal and county grants, CEO Lisa Velarde asks that readers “spread the word” about KidsFirst.

Info: 774-6802 and


Letting go of the stigma associated with counseling is a step that parents and children could take to possibly prevent tragedy.

The Herald spoke with three local counseling agencies to see how maintaining good mental health can prevent tragedies such as the Dec. 14 mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

According to the Associated Press, 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“I think the (incident) in Connecticut could have been avoided,” said Amanda Tingler, executive director of the Placer Institute for Families and Children, located in Rocklin. “Looking at the history of the shooter, (he had) a significant history of mental health (issues). There had to have been somebody out there who noticed anger tendencies, physical violence and aggression. Anything along those lines is considered poor coping skills.”

Tingler said the incident “didn’t just come out of the blue,” and that there were “obviously many red flags that had gone up.”

Angela Ponivas, executive director of Lincoln’s Lighthouse Counseling and Family Resource Center, echoed Tingler’s sentiments.

“In hearing about Adam Lanza, it was stated by mental health professionals that this was not a ‘snap decision.’ Anger, rage and resentment were likely building up over time,” Ponivas said. “Had he had a caring professional to speak to about his feelings, it may have never reached this level.”

According to Tingler, “red flags” parents and caregivers should look for in children and young adults include mood swings, thoughts of violence, being fearful and acting out in aggression.

Ponivas also provided red flags that could indicate the need for therapy. They include inability to sleep; feeling down, hopeless or helpless most of the time; concentration problems that are interfering with work, school or home life; using substances such as nicotine, food, drugs or alcohol to cope with difficult emotions; and isolation and lack of connection with peers.

In and around Rocklin are agencies that provide counseling for adults, children and families, services that are either free or low-cost.

Placer Institute for Families and Children provides counseling and therapy on a sliding scale. Lighthouse and Roseville’s KidsFirst, free of charge.

Tingler said it is “unfortunate there is still a stigma about counseling.”

“The biggest thing is making sure parents don’t avoid taking their kids to counseling services,” Tingler said. “What we believe at our organization is that you get help early on. Early intervention is critical when you see mild symptomology.”

Keeping up with your mental health is just as important as taking care of the body, according to KidsFirst’s Terrah Tillman, clinical program manager for the agency.

People often separate the body into above and below the neck, according to Tillman, and “tend to avoid or not acknowledge” issues above the neck.

Tillman recently spoke with KidsFirst Chief Executive Officer Lisa Velarde about detecting mental health issues early, comparing the outcome of early detection with cancer.

“With cancer, you want to detect it early so you can provide treatment, and have support put in place to help the outcome be the best and prognosis to be the best,” Tillman said. “If you wait, the prognosis is worse. It’s the same with mental health – it can cause a decline.”

Without seeking help, depression and other ailments could become cyclical, Tillman said.

A number of events can “trigger” mental health problems, according to Velarde, such as having a baby, divorce, changing jobs and even the “uncertain period of the economy.”

“Reaching out to people for support is very normal, and we want the community to embrace that so people are not just sitting behind the computer on their own in isolation because they’re afraid to talk to others,” Velarde said.  “Many times others ask who is the best doctor or dentist. We hope people will turn and remember KidsFirst is here for children and adults.”

Ponivas noted that “people are social beings,” some of whom “find supportive friendships to help them through tough times” while others “need the help of a caring professional as emotional issues persist.”

“It is important to recognize when something is not right within yourself or within your child and seek help, just as you would seek a physician when you are not feeling well,” Ponivas said. “Early interventions for anger, depression and other emotional issues can prevent greater issues down the road.”