We are pleased to announce that Khristine Heflin, MSW, LCSW-C, LCSW, LICSW, has joined the Families for Depression Awareness Advisory Board! Ms Heflin is a Child and Adolescent therapist at a community practice in Maryland. Her theoretical framework uses a holistic approach and integrates key components of cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, solution focused therapy, expressive arts, trauma informed care and mindfulness.
Read our interview with Ms. Heflin below!
FFDA: Welcome to the Advisory Board, Ms. Heflin! Please describe the work you do as a clincian.
Ms. Heflin: Currently, I serve as a child and adolescent therapist in Prince George’s County MD. In my role I provide individual and group therapy to young people and their families. I conduct new evaluations, provide therapy, create crisis management and treatment plans with the young person and their family. During my tenure, I have developed and facilitated an intensive outpatient treatment program as well as a teen substance use group. I have facilitated parenting support, depression management, anxiety management and multifamily Dialectical Behavioral Therapy groups. In addition to my work in the outpatient clinic, I provide crisis coverage as a clinician for our urgent care clinic and serve as a community liaison maintaining our partnership with a mental health community organization that provides education and support to individuals with lived experience.
FFDA: In what ways can caregivers be constructively involved in the work you do with their loved ones?
Ms. Heflin: Caregiver involvement is crucial in managing the mental health of children and adolescents. Often times our young people who are navigating depression or bipolar have trouble with emotion regulation. Difficulty with emotion regulation is often exacerbated by environments that tell our young people that their feelings, thoughts or behaviors don’t make sense. These environments can be school, peer relationships, home, social media or even their own inner critic. Guardians can be constructively involved in their child’s care by arming themselves with education on the signs and symptoms of their young person’s mental health diagnosis and helping to cultivate an environment that promotes validating messaging and use of coping skills.
FFDA: What is one practical suggestion that you can offer to families who have a loved one living with depression or bipolar disorder?
Ms. Heflin: One practical suggestion that I would encourage all caregivers to do is to be kind to yourself. You can not pour from an empty cup. It is important for you to prioritize your own mental health, rest when you need it, lean on your village and offer yourself grace and compassion. Not only is this necessary to help support your loved one but these healthy actions also model appropriate coping during stressful situations.