NMSIP launches Mindfulness Project
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness involves bringing one’s full attention into the present moment without judging or evaluating the experience. There are two components to mindfulness: 1) the intentional focus of attention on present experience, especially thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations, and, 2) taking a particular stance toward those experiences that invites curiosity, acceptance and interested investigation (Kabat-Zinn, 1990). Mindfulness offers a structured means of slowing down and exploring our inner and outer worlds reflectively. It is an ancient and simple practice that anyone can learn and teach. Neuroscience has powerfully illustrated that by using mindfulness, we can rewire our brains to cope in healthy ways to the stressors in our lives.
NMSIP is incorporating the practice of mindfulness across all its programs: in our work with youth and their families at the SKY Counseling Center; in training beginning therapists to develop therapeutic presence; and at various Northern New Mexico school sites where we are working with vulnerable students. We have found it to be an additional resource in the important work of preventing suicide.
A pilot project to bring mindfulness to first and second grade students in spring 2011 showed promising results. This 6 week program was based at Acequia Madre Elementary School in Santa Fe.
Mindfulness Project Movie:
Get the Quicktime player:
Wholehearted Sky Trainings
New Mexico Suicide Intervention Project invites you to join Sky Center supervisors for a day long symposium in Santa Fe.
Trainings will focus on developing as a Wholehearted therapist and on serving culturally diverse families struggling with a full range of issues.
This special event will take place on:
6 CEUs available!
Visit our website for early bird registration » WholeheartedSkyTrainings.com
It's not always easy to ask for help — particularly if you are dealing with familial issues involving children or teens who are coping with low self-esteem, divorcing parents or thoughts of suicide.
But the SKY Center, established in 1998 on the College of Santa Fe campus, provides free counseling services to families with children from the early months of infancy to the age of 21. And despite rumors to the contrary, the nonprofit is still running, though not on the CSF campus — as it proved by holding an open house Tuesday in its new digs on the campus of DeVargas Middle School on Llano Street.
"Everybody thought we closed," clinical director Apryl Miller said during the open house. "Everyone said they thought we went down with the college."
Though CSF is now run by Laureate Education on land purchased by the city, SKY started making plans to move last May, when it received its eviction notice in the wake of news that the College of Santa Fe was dissolving. After SKY representatives met with Santa Fe Public Schools officials, including Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez, the latter made an offer SKY couldn't refuse: free rent and utilities in former classroom space at DeVargas.
SKY offers after-school counseling sessions Monday through Friday. It employs five clinical supervisors and utilizes the talent of 10 graduate students who are working on their master's degrees in counseling, psychology or social work. It offers up to 600 hours of hands-on, work-force experience for these intern counselors. An experienced supervisor is on hand at all times.
The 2,100-square-foot structure has three counseling rooms, an observational room for supervisors to keep track of sessions, administrative offices and a feature it didn't have in its old digs on the CSF campus: bathrooms.
It's a busy time, Miller said. Students already under a lot of stress at home may feel doubly vulnerable when school is in session.
"We deal with everything from normal family problems — not getting the homework done, divorce, parental conflict, health problems — to a full range of mental-health issues that impact having a healthy family life," Miller said.
SKY, which serves more than 200 families a year, started as a youth outreach of The New Mexico Suicide Intervention Project, which was founded in 1994. It is funded primarily through donations, grants and city money.
SKY's executive director, Cynthia Gonzales, said seemingly normal problems — such as a fifth-grader feeling isolated and socially inept — can spiral into something much more serious, like thoughts of suicide, down the line.
Gonzales said there are several signs that can provide a tip that a youth is at risk of considering or committing suicide, including familial conflict, changes in scholastic performance and the inability to manage mood swings.
"These are initial red flags," she said.
The open house was designed to remind the community that SKY is back in business. "We are here," Gonzales said. "We are open. We are delivering services. We're not a crisis line. We're a place to go for help."
She acknowledged that many people have a difficult time admitting there's a problem to be resolved. Likewise, some folks are just plain nervous about seeking help.
"I think there's still a stigma attached to mental-health issues," she said. "We put in a lot of work just encouraging people to come in and talk. Maybe they feel like nobody has listened to them in the past. We want to empower them."
Call the SKY Center at 505-473-6191 or email us.