Jared Talks About How Hoyleton Helped Him And His Family

A story of a families’ love and commitment started more than 20 years ago when a young couple brought their adopted child home from Korea at six months old. Sadly, as the story continues there are many chapters of fear, frustration and heartache as their little developmentally delayed Korean boy battled anger and aggression issues. The committed parents tried everything but couldn’t raise their child on their own, they knew they needed help.  After many years and attempts at treatment and therapy they found their way to Hoyleton and in January of 2019 they placed their teenaged boy into our residential treatment program. The journey of love and commitment continued, this time from Hoyleton staff, and on June 9, 2022 Jared walked out of Hoyleton, with his mother and the confidence and life skills needed to live a new much more stable life.

Jared’s parents were so thankful for the love and support the Hoyleton staff provided to their troubled son that they came back to residential campus and threw a party for the staff to say thank you for everything they did for their son. Jared’s mother Ann said the change is Jared is “unbelievable” she believes it would not have been possible without Hoyleton’s programs, therapy and supportive environment.

One of the highlights of the party that day was both staff and clients getting to watch Jared proudly drive his mother’s vehicle around the block!  This accomplishment showed Jared’s focus and dedication to learning new skills coupled with the encouragement and perseverance given to him by his parents, teachers and Hoyleton staff.  It was a proud moment for so many who played a part in helping Jared grow.

Life with Jared was not easy before his time at Hoyleton. His mother explained that from about age 5 Jared was angry, aggressive and over-powering. As the years went by Jared’s anger issues escalated and it was more and more difficult for his parents to contain or discipline him for this type of behavior. They became fearful for their safety and his which prompted them to search out resources for support. Jared was in and out of treatment facilities for most of his life without much improvement. At one point when he was 16-years-old he was put into a mental hospital because that seemed to be the only place for him, but then Jared’s family found Hoyleton.

Jared arrived at Hoyleton at the beginning of 2019 and from the start it seemed like a good fit. Anthony “Amp” Smith was one of the first direct care workers he met. Anthony quickly recognized Jared as a guy who liked to work and was motivated to make money. “He really wanted to have his own XBOX and TV, so I helped him find one online and I told him what he needed to do to make enough money to get it and Jared went right to work,” Anthony said. Jared worked around the grounds on the Hoyleton campus, he worked at the Goodwill store in Nashville and also spent time working at his school’s workshop.  Jared saved up his wages and got his XBOX and TV but he was still motivated to work and make money so Anthony talked to him about saving half of this paycheck and planning what to buy next with the other half. Jared took to this idea and as a result he is leaving Hoyleton with $1800 in the bank plus a good understanding of budgeting his money and goal setting. “I am so proud of him,” said Anthony. “He really listened to what I said and stayed motivated, he was a great worker too. I’m going to miss him,” Anthony added.

When Jared wasn’t working at one of his jobs he was working on himself and his behavior. “I have learned to make choices that help me,” Jared said. One of his counselors said, “he has worked on how to express excitement in a way that does not intimidate his parents.” Jared is very proud of his progress and often asks his mother if there are other things he needs to work on. Jared says he will stay motivated because he is happy to now be living so close to his parents again so he can see them regularly.

Jared is going to miss all his friends and counselors at Hoyleton but he has a lot to look forward to. He is moving into a group home through CILA and will live just 20 minutes from his parents. His Mom is a nurse and has worked it out so she can be his caregiver. “I will listen to what she says as my Mom and my Nurse,” Jared said.

In one of the workshops at the Bridges school, where he attended while at Hoyleton, Jared learned to cook. His specialties are spaghetti and mac & cheese and he can’t wait to make dinner for his Mom and Dad. Jared says he will stay busy this summer mowing his parents’ yard for them too.

As if the send off from Hoyleton was not enough of a celebration Jared and his parents are going to Chicago on July 16 to celebrate the 21st anniversary of Jared arriving in the United States as their son.

Everyone at Hoyleton, and his teacher from the Bridges school, have been amazed at the progress he has made since 2019 and although they will miss having him around they are very excited to hear about Jared’s next chapter in life and wish him the best.



Hoyleton CEO Chris Cox Discusses Self Care on Fox 2 News

Our President and CEO, Chris Cox, joined Fox 2 Now's Studio STL to discuss the importance of self care. You can't pour from an empty cup, and you don't have to feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Watch below to learn more:

Self Care is the practice of actively nurturing one's happiness and well being, and it's not as hard as you would think. Self care can  be as big as tackling your bad habits, or as small as making a cup of tea. Taking a small amount of time for yourself can help find balance in other areas of your life, too. Holistic wellness can be put into 8 dimensions that focus on different aspects of everyday life. By taking care of one dimension, we often see the others improve. Read more in depth about SAMHSA's 8 dimensions of wellness.

Hoyleton CEO Chris Cox Discusses Youth Suicide on Fox 2 News

Our President and CEO Chris Cox joined Fox 2 Now's Studio STL to discuss youth suicide, the warning signs associated and how to engage our children in conversations. Watch below to learn more:

Explore the mental and behavioral health counseling services offered by our Forward Counseling Care program here.

Hoyleton Youth and Family Services teaches parents how to spot the signs of suicide

In Honor of World Mental Health Day 2021

Hoyleton Supports Mental Health Advocacy and Awareness

By Adam Woehlke, Director of Clinical Services

This Sunday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day, and because of the pandemic, a lot of people are struggling with their mental health. In fact, even without the added anxieties of a global pandemic, 20-25% of the U.S. population is impacted by mental health each year. It’s as important as ever that we advocate for mental health because so many people are affected.

At Hoyleton, mental health advocacy is focused on reducing stigma. Building communication among our friends and family and educating people about mental health are two ways we help reduce stigma. The best thing you can do to help protect people who are experiencing mental illness is help build their network, which requires having people in your circle who can look past the stigma and empathize with what they’re experiencing.

The same way a community might rally around a child who has a physical sickness, bringing them food, encouragement and well wishes, we need to care for those affected by serious mental illness. What’s going to help people dealing with mental illness is having other people at the core of their recovery or treatment.

At Hoyleton, we are working to be a part of the networks so that we can better advocate and care for people with mental health struggles. We do this by going out into the community to meet clients where they are,serving both youth and their families to make sure that they have a care system in place to lift them up and provide unconditional support. And we make sure that our clients feel heard, feel cared for and are referred to the resources they need to thrive.

But mental health advocacy isn’t just reserved for organizations such as ours that have the resources to affect change on a wide scale. There are things people can do every day to advocate. It’s as simple as talking to the people around you, or asking your friends and family if they’ve noticed anything out of the ordinary, how they’re doing or if they need help. It can also look like getting involved with a group that is involved in mental health advocacy, whether it’s at Hoyleton or at your local church, school or other community center.

People affected by mental health are in need of supporters, advocates and friends. It’s on all of us to create safe spaces to have vulnerable and honest conversations, spread mental health awareness and make sure everyone feels cared for. We are doing what we can to enable people with mental illnesses to reach their fullest potential, and we hope you will join us in doing so.

Community Mental Health Care that Reaches All

In 2020, we established a specific program to reach out to those in our community that are in need of mental health care. Here at Hoyleton, we explored the need and importance of access to qualified mental health professionals within the Southern Illinois community. It was with the information gathered and understanding, a community resource for mental health care access was essential and the FORWARD Counseling Care by Hoyleton initiative was established.

Services provided by FORWARD are for children, adults, couples, groups, school districts, community outreach, and businesses which would like to offer employees a safe space to seek healthy mental health care.

FORWARD Counseling Care is comprised of several services that fall under different funding sources. Programs are funded by multiple sources including the State of Illinois, private grants, and private funding. Some of Hoyleton’s traditional services now encompassed by FORWARD continue to include:

Outpatient Counseling
School-based Partnership Programs, primarily in the East St. Louis School district
The Wraparound Program sponsored by DCFS
The Victims of Crime Act
Southern Illinois Violence Prevention Program
Mental Health First Aid

Three new evidence-based practices are now being offered; Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Child Parent Psychotherapy, and the Nurturing Parent Program. All programs managed by FORWARD are built on the model of healing oneself from a holistic approach.

Our highly trained therapists want to help you be the best you, that God has intended you to be.

If you, or a loved one are uncertain where to get qualified mental health care, reach out to a FORWARD team member today at 618.688.7040. When you reach out, you will receive a call from a member of the FORWARD staff within 24-48 hours.

Learn more about the FORWARD by Hoyleton program at forwardbyhoyleton.org. To best serve the community, our website is available for both our English and LatinX speaking friends.

Back2School Blog | Phylicia Gay Guest Blogger

With August upon us, we are greeted with a familiarity that we as adults know all too well, the stores full of Back to School Supplies and new school gadgets our child just cannot live without! and within the first week of school, they will have no doubt, lost, forgotten, or broken the much ‘needed’ supply.

I know this because I was that kid too! My love of new school supplies and office gadgets runs deep, when my own children go off to school I will likely have to send them to the store with their father who is far more sensible.

When we prepare the children in our life to go back to school, what do we do as the parent/caregiver to prepare them for this new school year? Does it end at the new backpack and lunchbox?

For me, it was exciting to get the new school supplies, but that was where my excitement ended and the anxiety began. My mother knew two things for certain when she was raising me, one – she raised me in a very routine and structured way and I became dependent on that routine. This now means if you don’t prepare me for a change in that routine, I will struggle. And two – I have an anxious streak. For my mother, school supplies were the least of her concerns. She had to start preparing me for my new routine in advance, that I would end up forgetting!

The summer months offer our kids the freedom of a later bedtime, a little less structure, and the best part of all, NO HOMEWORK! Much like our children in foster care, I knew what it meant to be in a new and unfamiliar environment, my father spent 22 years in the Air Force and I wasn’t always guaranteed to be in the same school, state, or even the same country, from one school year to the next.

As a new school year approaches, our children are not only facing the anxiety that comes with back to school, but they are also facing the added anxiety and uncertainty this year that COVID-19 has brought into our world. COVID-19 has become a new level of uncertainty. I won’t discuss it with them and even as a caseworker, I find it difficult to explain to my young clients what is going on in our world. With or without these unknowns, the reality is our kids are going back to school. Whether learning virtually or in the classroom, we have to assist them through the transition. 

Here are some tips that may ease some anxieties your children may be facing.

Establishing a back to school routine:  

• Implementing a routine for a good night’s sleep is key.

• Start with having a conversation with your child and let them help you decide what they need to do before bed.

• Getting your child involved in what their bedtime routine will look like will help them feel a part of the routine and be excited to actually start to “wind down” at night. 

• Just like having a nighttime routine, a morning routine is just as needed! 

• With virtual learning, parents going off to work, and childcare drop off, morning routines may look different this year. 

If your child is returning to a traditional school setting, the routine may not change very much. They will just need reminders of what the routine is after an extended summer break. 

There was a period in my youth where I was homeschooled for two years and my parents worked with me to establish a routine. What time I woke up for school while learning at home was different. If your children spend the part or all of the day at a daycare or with a babysitter. These changes will determine when schoolwork will be completed and with whom they will learn. All of these factors will assist you in guiding you into routines that will suit your family’s needs.

As a child and now an adult that suffers from anxiety, one of the greatest tools my parents gave me was knowing the power of my voice and my emotions, children often do not fully grasp the depths and meanings of their emotions and as the adult, it is our job to help foster and teach our children to understand and cope with their emotions, even the uncomfortable ones.

• Don’t be afraid to ask your child how they feel;

• Allow them to talk, explain, and help them identify the emotion;

• Affirm for your child that those feelings are okay to have and help them identify healthy coping skills to better manage those emotions!

One example would be when I was anxious in the morning, my mom would do something small that to this day still helps me cope. She gave me mints or minty gum. These small acts also gave me something else to focus on. I focused on chewing the gum or the mint getting smaller in my mouth. I didn’t concentrate on my fear. As fear subsided I became more comfortable with putting myself out there to make friends.

• Never doubt the benefits of having consistency! As much as kids love a day to go a little crazy, kids really want the routines, whatever plan you make, do your best to keep your child in the know. When changes and transitions happen, discussing them will help ease the anxiety that may begin to brew.

• Being active is also a great way to decrease anxiety with our kids! Whether it is a walk around the block or a homemade obstacle course, getting their bodies moving will help burn up that extra energy and keep their mind focused on healthy activities.  

These are general ideas to help children cope with the anxiety of a new school year. The most important point to remember is communication!

It’s okay that as adults, we don’t always have the answers. It’s also okay to feel our emotions. Having that bond and trust to communicate openly as a family will help your children moving forward. 

They say it takes a village and now more than ever, our villages are very important! Here at Hoyleton we have a diverse group of professionals who lend themselves to creating an environment of trust and growth, and we see ourselves as a part of your village, so don’t be afraid to reach out.

-Phylicia Gay
Hoyleton Foster Care Case Manager

Hoyleton | National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

As we continue to struggle with our history as a nation, the focus on minority mental health and the impact of generational trauma is brought to the forefront. While this July has become a focus on making movement to change, July is also National Minority Mental Health Awareness, which sets an appropriate timeline for us to focus on the increasing need for access to culturally-skilled, mental health practitioners and the ongoing obstacles to access to treatment. Hoyleton Youth and Family Services understands that cohesion and personal well-being in the community are essential to the progress and development. Together with Puentes de Esperanza, Hoyleton's therapy department works with local partners to help make mental health services more accessible to minority communities. 

There are varying reasons why access to mental health care adversely affects communities of color. Common barriers to access to care include, but are not limited to, healthcare coverage, lack of services and mental health providers within the community, fear and stigma to mental health, cultural competency, and sensitivity to belief structures are just a few reasons. Hoyleton therapist, Federico Parola, works closely with the immigrant communities within St. Clair and Madison counties and noticed what a lack of funding is doing to limit access to mental health care. “Funding is a concern as we try to serve more individuals. We are receiving support in the form of grants, but the need is often four or five times the provided fund allotment,” states Parola. Individuals seeking mental health care are adults in their 30s to 60s and are actively engaged in their mental well-being. The population Parola works with include single moms working the line in manufacturing jobs and are scared about their health during a time when COVID-19 numbers are rising among communities of color. “Individuals’ anxiety levels have increased. People are making the hard decision between financially caring for their families or their health due to continued possible exposure to COVID-19. Obstacles to mental health services are always about access to resources. This community doesn’t have the natural support like other individuals living in a different area.”

Hoyleton is conscious of the connection between resources and access to mental health care. Our organization strives to build coalitions with local community leaders to bridge the gap in mental health services in minority communities by pooling resources. “Hoyleton staff members are engaging with for-profit businesses to be a part of Hoyleton’s mission. We encourage businesses’ to see their participation as an investment in the communities they serve,” states Parola, “We continue to stay in touch with our community resources, whether we are using the libraries to see clients closer to home, or in the case of a local bank, creating educational workshops that benefit the community.” Hoyleton’s goal is to encourage businesses great and small to be a part of the solution in making diverse communities a place for mutual well-being for all residents. Mr. Parola notes that in his role as a therapist, he is often used as an interpreter. These interactions provide opportunities to engage with school leadership, businesses, and other civic organizations for the continued advocacy of minorities and strengthening community bonds.  

Hoyleton will be here to help make change. We encourage you to reach out to us if you are an individual, civic leader or business owner interested in partnering with Hoyleton for change within your community. For more information on how you can be a part of the solution, you can call Hoyleton at  618.688.4727. Be the difference in your community. CARE today and we will CHANGE tomorrow.

#Hoyleton #BeTheDifference #NationalMinorityMentalHealthAwareness #CounselingCare #HoyletonCares #MentalHealth

Counseling Care Month

April is National Counseling Awareness Month and a time to bring attention to an area of health care that still carries with it a measure of stigma.  Some individuals are under the misconception that seeking therapy or counseling is a matter of human weakness. This belief could not be further from the truth. Therapists and counselors are here to provide mental health care by journeying with individuals through life’s ups and downs. Building a relationship of trust, in a nonjudgmental environment, to help individuals achieve mental health, mindfulness, and personal development is the goal of Hoyleton’s Counseling Care Department. 

As part of the St. Clair and Madison County communities, Hoyleton Youth and Family Services knows the importance of walking alongside people so they can attain wholeness and well-being. HYFS provides a number of counseling and therapy programs:

Family, Couples, and Individual Counseling
Uses various approaches to help individuals work through an issue. The benefit of combined family, couples, or individual counseling creates a cohesive plan whereby co-therapists help clients navigate personal issues, which can affect family dynamics.

Behavioral Health
Reaches out to youth who have suffered trauma and are “acting out” to deal with their overwhelming emotions. Therapist work with the youth to identify behaviors and understand how the youth’s behavior is impacting others. Behavioral Health issues addressed are ADHD, anxiety, depression, grief, PTSD, mood and adjustment disorder. 

Therapy using Play
Usually implemented for children five and under, who find it difficult to communicate how they are feeling. In certain situations, this can be an impactful option for older children as well. A therapist uses puppets, dolls, and toys to help children express their emotions. 

Therapy using Art
Utilizes different art mediums (clay, figurines, crayons, visual boards, and more) for children and adults to express themselves through art. 

Approaches to Mental Health

Cognitive: Helps individuals use a strategic approach to guide them in understanding how thoughts and feelings influence their behavior and life choices. 

Motivational: Utilizes open-ended questions to engage a client and ascertain the individual’s reason for a particular behavior that leads to personal accountability and change. 

Life can be challenging, but that does not mean individuals have to walk the journey alone. Hoyleton is here as a community partner, mental health advocate, and resource. Whether individuals are looking to make a change, deal with past trauma, looking for support, or seeking treatment for mental health, the Counseling Care Department is here ready to assist you. Together, we can help individuals build the future they imagine for themselves. For more information on programs and the referral process, call the Counseling Care Department at 618.688.4744. 

Letter to the General Public

Letter to the General Public, Clients, and Hoyleton Family and Friends,

During this time of uncertainty, it is clear that we will continue to serve our clients and our communities while maintaining a healthy workplace for our employees. While communication is very fluid and the local, state, and federal governments are communicating continually, Hoyleton wants to do the same with you, our clients, supporters, and families.

We will continue to support you as Hoyleton has in the past. Hoyleton was started 125 years ago because of the pandemic of the Cholera Outbreak, and we will continue services during this COVID-19 pandemic crisis. We know that these days everyone is feeling anxious and are unsure of how each day looks from our regular ‘normal,’ but we WILL succeed in supporting each of you to the best we can in the days and weeks to come.

We have identified several-staff that can work from home and still be able to support their clients. Our 24-hour residential sites will remain open. We will adhere to CDC Guidelines as we continue planning to provide service to our children and families.

What is Hoyleton doing:

Over the next few days and weeks, we will be working to provide you multiple resources that will hopefully be tools for you to continue to support you and your families during this difficult time. We will be sharing information that families can get meals for their children, resources to help keep children occupied while at home, and support you when and where you need Hoyleton.

For our Foster Parents, please know we are continuing board payments as scheduled. Your Case Manager will be contacting you directly this week to help with immediate needs that you and your children may have.

For our donors, this is the time when we need you more than ever.

To our clients, while the delivery of our service might look different, we maintain our commitment to serving you and your family.

CDC Guidelines: (this is an active link to the CDC)
Take steps to protect yourself

Clean your hands often:

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Take steps to protect others

Stay home if you’re sick:

Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.

Cover coughs and sneezes:

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
Throw used tissues in the trash.
Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Wear a facemask if you are sick:

If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.
If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.

Clean and disinfect:

Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

World Mental Health Day: You’re Not Alone

Mental health is oftentimes something that gets put on the back burner for many people. When we have a sore throat, we go to the doctor. When we feel a sinus infection coming on, we see a doctor. But why is it when we feel mentally drained, we do not see a therapist? Throughout time, there has been a negative stigma given to mental health. Portraying the idea that if someone reaches out for help, then they are weak. That is not the case. When an individual becomes cognizant of their mental state and can admit there are things they would like to work on to better themselves – that takes tremendous strength and self-awareness.

Today is World Mental Health Day, a day created in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health. This day was established in hopes to raise awareness around mental health issues that can be improved, and also create opportunities for mental health care opportunities worldwide. The stigma around mental health can be very damaging and cause an individual to not seek treatment out of fear of being judged. Here are three ways to help you navigate the stigma around mental health. 

  1. You are not your illness. Often times, people may say “I’m bipolar” but instead, they should say “I have bipolar disorder.” This language may seem small, but it is important. Although it may seem scary and vulnerable, inform those around you about your illness. Don’t isolate yourself from those that care about you, because you are scared to tell them. They may be able to offer you more support than you expect.
  2. Get treatment. Treatment is created to help you live your everyday life with minimal disruptions from whatever it is you may be struggling with. Meeting with support groups can also be therapeutic. Knowing that you are not alone and connecting with others who share the same experiences can be beneficial. 
  3. Speak up. Sometimes, it can feel scary opening up to people about mental illness. Or maybe you aren’t the one with a mental illness, but you have a family member or friend who does. Advocate for them. If you hear mental illnesses being portrayed in a theatrical and unrealistic manner, speak up! Stigma is created because of individuals being uneducated in certain topics and only hearing negative connotations with mental health.

Mental health does not have to be a topic that people are scared to talk about. By creating an open environment for people to learn without judgment, individuals can become educated on matters that may concern them or someone they know. If you think you could benefit from therapeutic services, please give us a call today at (618) 688-4727 and schedule an appointment with one of our licensed therapists.

For additional resources, Mental Health America provides a free online screening tool: https://screening.mhanational.org/screening-tools