National Prevention Week


Jennifer Distefano, PDHP

May 10-16, 2020 is National Prevention Week, which is hosted by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). The focus is on increasing substance use prevention and promoting mental health. Each day this week, a topic is dedicated to helping increase substance use prevention and promoting mental health and wellness.

Today’s topic is on Preventing Illicit Drug Use and Youth Marijuana Use

 Methamphetamine, also known as Meth is a heavily addicted drug, which means that a person can get “hooked” after their first use. Other illicit drugs are Cocaine, Heroin and LSD, just to name a few. Meth has become a major problem for this country, let’s

take a look:

The Rise of Meth Use 

in the United States

“The number of fatal overdoses involving meth has more than tripled (PDF | 336 KB) between 2011 and 2016, according to the CDC. Use is also on the rise between 2016-2018 for most age groups. In 2018, more than 106,000 adults aged 26 or older used meth—a 43 percent increase over the previous year” (SAMHSA).

Short-term Effects of Meth: Even taking small amounts of meth, or just trying it once, can cause harmful health effects, including:

  • Increased blood pressure and body temperature

  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat, faster breathing

  • Loss of appetite, disturbed sleep patterns, or nausea

  • Bizarre, erratic, aggressive, irritable, or violent behavior

Long-term Health Risks of Meth:  Chronic meth use leads to many damaging, long-term health effects, even when users stop taking meth, including:

  • Permanent damage to the heart and brain, High blood pressure leading to heart attacks, strokes, and death.

  • Liver, kidney, and lung damage.

  • Anxiety, confusion, or insomnia, Paranoia, hallucinations, mood disturbances, delusions, or violent behavior (psychotic symptoms can sometimes last for months or years after quitting meth. 

  • Intense itching, causing skin sores from scratching, Severe dental problems (“meth mouth)


  • What is Marijuana: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Marijuana is the dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. It contains a mind-altering or psychoactive chemical, Tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. THC is the addictive compound in Marijuana. Marijuana is also known as weed, pot, dope or cannabis. There are other chemicals in the cannabis plant such as cannabidiol or CBD, which is not mind-altering or known to be addictive.

Here are some facts to consider about Marijuana use:

  • People who begin using Marijuana before age 18 are 4-7 times more likely than adults to develop problematic use.

  • 1-in-10 adults who use the drug can become addicted.

  • Marijuana use is on the rise between ages 18-25. Although THC remains illegal at the federal level, many states have legalized its use, selling it in retail stores, growing it at home and coffee shops.

  • Since the brain is still not mature, marijuana use causes impairments in the overall growth and brain development for the youthful brain since neurodevelopment continues well into the age of mid 20’s.

Marijuana Risks: Take a look at this useful information provided by SAMHSA:

Marijuana use can have negative and long-term effects:

Brain iconBrain health: Marijuana can cause permanent IQ loss of as much as 8 points when people start using it at a young age. These IQ points do not come back, even after quitting marijuana.

Gears iconMental health: Studies link marijuana use to depression, anxiety, suicide planning, and psychotic episodes. It is not known, however, if marijuana use is the cause of these conditions.

Bicycle iconAthletic Performance: Research shows that marijuana affects timing, movement, and coordination, which can harm athletic performance.

Driving signDriving: People who drive under the influence of marijuana can experience dangerous effects: slower reactions, lane weaving, decreased coordination, and difficulty reacting to signals and sounds on the road.

Baby carriage iconBaby’s health and development: Marijuana use during pregnancy may cause fetal growth restriction, premature birth, stillbirth, and problems with brain development, resulting in hyperactivity and poor cognitive function. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other chemicals from marijuana can also be passed from a mother to her baby through breast milk, further impacting a child’s healthy development.

Arrow iconDaily life: Using marijuana can affect performance and how well people do in life. Research shows that people who use marijuana are more likely to have relationship problems, worse educational outcomes, lower career achievement, and reduced life satisfaction.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please know that you are not alone and help is out there. Call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889, or use SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to get help.

Also, 1800-NYC-WELL can provide assistance.

National Prevention Week Tips


May 10-16, 2020 is National Prevention Week, which is hosted by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). The focus is on increasing substance use prevention and promoting mental health. Each day this week, a topic is dedicated to helping increase substance use prevention and promoting mental health and wellness.

Today’s topic is on Preventing Underage drinking and Alcohol Misuse 

Here are some questions to consider:

–           How do you discuss underage drinking with your children? 

–           What is alcohol misuse?

–           What is their understanding of drinking alcohol?

–           Why do people drink alcohol?

–           Is there a conversation on the dangers and risks in underage drinking?

These are just a few questions to ask yourself to get a better picture on the perception and understanding your children have when it comes to underage alcohol use and misuse.

Can you believe that each

Alcoholic beverage listed is

Considered to be ONE

Standard drink?


Here are a few consequences to consider:

  • School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades.
  • Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities.
  • Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk.
  • Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.
  • Higher risk for suicide and homicide.
  • Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, and drowning.
  • Memory problems

Often times, when a teenager or adolescent is told “You can’t do that, because I said so”, “end of story”, “I’m older than you and know better”, “Never do it” etc, it is only natural to experience curiosity and confusion. Although the parent does have more life experience and is responsible for guiding and teaching their children, a child can perceive the above-mentioned responses as being dismissed or “shut out”, which can create a desire to defy or rebel. Also, teens can consider underage drinking as an “escape” from their reality or feelings. The best way to spread awareness and prevention around this matter is to          TALK ABOUT IT!

Allow an environment for your children to feel comfortable and emotionally safe to talk. Help them understand the effects alcohol has on the brain and their overall development. Eventually, you child is going to be influenced by music lyrics, advertising, peers and social media, so why not be a reliable source to them?

Hope this is helpful,

Wishing you all the best,

                                                                                  Jennifer Distefano



Weekly Check-In with Mrs. Jenn


Dear Holy Angels Community,


Hi Everyone, this is Mrs. Jenn. I want to wish all the Mom’s, Godmother’s, Aunt’s, and Grandma’s a very happy Mother’s Day. Although we are limited as to where we can go and what we can do, I am hoping you were with loved ones and able to have a special day yesterday. Last week was “Teachers appreciation week”.  I wanted to talk about our amazingly dedicated teachers who work so hard at teaching the minds of the future. I am sure many of you have to juggle being parents, being a homeschool teacher and are also working from home; NOT EASY! Our teachers are doing the same thing and I am encouraging everyone to recognize the efforts that not only the teachers are putting forth, but the entire school staff! 


We were all recently informed by our Governor that schools will remain closed this school year. That means, we will continue with our temporary “normal”, remote learning, for the next 6 weeks. Some people might feel like they have a solid routine established at home and are ready to conquer these next 6 weeks. Others might feel that something has got to change because their schedules and routines are no longer working or became obsolete. Here are some tips and resources for parents, teachers and kids that can be helpful in getting you all through the next 6 weeks. Remember, schooling at home is not the same as homeschooling. No one signed up for this and it happened without our permission. Being homeschooled, there is planning, preparation and a conscious choice is made for their children to receive their education at home. You are all doing great, give yourself a pat on the back and say 



Feel free to visit our PDHP’s parents page:

Here, you will find more information on various topics and resources that can be helpful and supportive to you.


With love and care,


Mrs. Jenn


Thank you, Teachers!

On this very special Teacher Appreciation Day 2020, we salute our dedicated teachers that make it all possible. 

Thank you teachers!

-From the Office of the Superintendent ~ Catholic School Support Services


  Catholic Schools of Brooklyn & Queens on Facebook Watch

HAPPY TEACHER APPRECIATION DAY to all of our amazing Catholic school teachers who have risen to the challenge, redesigning what school looks like…

  Teacher Appreciation Day 2020!

Thank you to teachers everywhere! Catholic Academies and Parish Schools within the Diocese of Brooklyn NY

Weekly Check-In With Mrs. Jenn


Holy Angels Community:

Good Morning, this is Mrs. Jenn. I am hoping everyone enjoyed some sunshine this past weekend. My hope is to provide some more sunshine as I spread some positivity and additional support to all the students and families. This week, I would like to talk about self-care. With so many restrictions, limits and overall changes going on around us, we might feel stressed, anxious, worried, confused and scared. Yes, this is scary and when panic occurs, rational thinking and good judgment goes out the window. Here are some tips, ideas and resources that can help you manage your emotions; managing our emotions in a healthy manner is part of self-care. Also, if we can focus on what is within our control, that can also help alleviate the “not so good” feelings. One last thing, just knowing that NO ONE is alone and we are all connected and in this together, can help improve the way we feel and overall improve our ability to care better for ourselves.

DIY Make Stress Balls Kids Will Love, Super cool squeeze balls, great for anxiety in kids & adults, help with Fidgeting, Easy to make, sensory balls How to Make a Stress Ball Kids and Adults Love – Natural Beach Living

Make Stress Balls Kids Will Love, These super cool squishy balls are perfect for fidgeters, children with Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, and DIY Stress Balls are great for anxiety in kids & adults. Learn how to make a stress ball and Super cool squeeze balls kids and adults love, Best DIY Balloon Stress Balls, Make Homemade Stress Balls today

self care during quarantine The Ultimate List of Ideas for Self-Care During Quarantine – Dwell in Magic

Look no further for self-care during quarantine ideas and tips. Self-care tips not only for you, but for your kids as well. Bookmark this page!

Check out our PDHP Parents Facebook page httpps://

With Love and care,

Mrs. Jenn

Weekly Check-In with Mrs. Jenn


Happy Monday Holy Angels Family! This is Mrs. Jenn and I am here to talk about mindfulness this week. My hope is that you will find this information useful, no matter what age. We hear a lot about mindfulness, and some people may feel intimidated by the name or concept. I am here to share with you that mindfulness is possible for everyone and can help us feel balanced and calm so think about giving yourself this opportunity to practice it.

What is mindfulness? 

Mindfulness is simply noticing what is happening right now. It means slowing down to really notice what you ‘re doing. Being mindful is the opposite of multi-tasking or rushing. When practicing mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in that moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future. Mindfulness is non-judgmental. It is having an experience without contemplating whether the experience is bad or good.

Why should I practice mindfulness?

-Strengthen self-control

-Lowers anxiety and stress

-Improves focus and awareness

-Better sleep

-Improved positive moods

-Better decision making

For daily updates, resources, and more, don’t forget to check out our PDHP Parents Facebook page httpps://

Also thanks to one of my colleagues, Dara Fein, PDHP Prevention Educator, for sharing some information with me so I can share it with the Holy Angels Community.

Love to you all,

Mrs. Jenn

PDHP Counselor

Weekly Check-In with Mrs. Jenn

Happy Monday Holy Angels family, this is Mrs. Jenn! Although this Easter break was like no other, I hope that you were able to enjoy your time off from school and celebrate. It might feel like we have been practicing social distancing for an eternity but can you imagine how long this must feel to our children? It might feel that you have answered all questions our children have asked about Covid-19 but do you notice that you continue to have questions after questions? Imagine how they must be feeling, our children. This week, I wanted to revisit how we are all managing during this pandemic. How are you all doing? Hang in there; I am sure you are all doing an exceptional job! The word of the day or should I say, the word of the pandemic is “Flexibility”. Routine is important, but during these times, showing our children the ability to adapt to unforeseen change will help them better cope and manage what is not within their control as well as build resilience. The link below is Sesame Street’s Pandemic advice to parents which includes embracing everyday moments and coping with the “for-now normal”. Sesame Street also presented Elmo’s Virtual play date which demonstrated the ways we are all socially connected and respecting social distancing; this is a great resource for any age and the link is below.

Please follow PDHP Parents facebook page. Cary Anne Fitzgerald is PDHP’s Parent/Community Outreach Coordinator and provides phenomenal resources and information, check it out!

Lastly, I attached a Brooklyn referral list if clinical services are needed. 

Wishing you all safety and sending you all love,

Mrs. Jenn

Referral List for Brooklyn Schools

Easter Art Gallery

All classes, from Little Angels to Eighth Grade, have expressed their Easter Joy in beautiful artworks representing the season. This is a small sample of the fantastic work that our talented artists are creating at home.