18 Comics That Help Illustrate What Depression Feels Like

From BuzzFeed

1. When you have depression, you can feel like it can totally overwhelm you at any moment:


Illustration by Sylvie Reuter.

2. And you might feel like you have to hide it when you’re out in “the real world.”

Illustration by Kristian Nygård.

3. And you just want to hide yourself away.

rubyetc.tumblr.com / Via rubyetc.tumblr.com

Comic strip by Ruby etc.

See more here…

5 Little Ways To Show Your Kids The Importance Of Mental Health

From the “emotional volcano” method to a children’s book about mindfulness.


When children scrape their knees, they know it’s an injury that needs to be treated. But when they suffer from something mentally, they might not know it’s just as important to have their minds cared for too.

Maintaining good mental health should be considered a lesson not only for adults but for children as well.

“I used to see this level of stress in high schoolers who were applying to college,” said Katie Hurley, a child and adolescent psychotherapist and the author of The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World. “Now I have 5-year-olds in my office who are dealing with anxiety disorders and excessive stress.”

We spoke to experts in psychology, pediatrics and mindfulness for tips on how to teach kids the importance of mental health. They offered five interesting ways to get children to express themselves, feel validated in their emotions and take care of their minds just as much as their bodies.

Try the ‘emotional volcano’ method

Hurley said she talks to kids and parents about their feelings using the “emotional volcano.” She draws a volcano on a whiteboard and explains that everyone has different feelings throughout the day. When we don’t express those feelings, they remain in the volcano until it erupts.

“If we just leave those feelings in the volcano, they start to really bubble and bubble and bubble until they come flying out and exploding, and that’s when you get the crying, hitting and kicking,” she said.

Read more here…

Teen Suicide

A tweet from Maggie Haberman brought us here.

“Teen suicide is now at a 40-year high for young women Alexandra’s age. It is now the second leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year olds of both sexes.”

From CBS News

Parents blindsided by daughter’s tragic suicide hope her story helps save others

The home video will look so familiar to so many parents: a sweet little girl singing and dancing her way to her teen years, recognized for achievements outside the home and thoroughly cherished inside it.

But the full story of Alexandra Valoras’ life is more terrifying than familiar. Just weeks after a family ski vacation, the 17-year-old high school junior, straight-A student, class officer and robotics whiz made her bed, tidied her room and walked to a highway overpass in Grafton, Massachusetts. She jumped off the edge.

“I leaned over the embankment and looked down, and I saw her,” said Dean Valoras, her father. “I was just hoping for warmth. Do you know what I mean? But there was no warmth, there was none. And all the cars kept driving by. My daughter’s on the side of the road, nobody saw this. And she’s cold.”

On the overpass, Dean and his wife Alysia found two journals their daughter left behind.

Read more here…

Kids Help Phone’s ultimate back-to-school guide

From the Kid’s Help Phone website

Heading back to school after summer vacation? Here’s how to get ready for class.

Whether you love, hate or are indifferent about going back to school, it’s something every student has to prepare for. Here are a few ways to make the transition from summer vacation to a new school year easier:

  • Keep in touch: over the summer, try to stay in touch with your friends to maintain your relationships. This way, things may seem a little more familiar when you go back to school.
  • Prepare early: write a list and prepare your back-to-school essentials at the start of the summer instead of the end to avoid the rush.
  • Refresh your memory: try to practice the things you learned last year while you’re on summer vacation. Reading, writing and applying your math skills can be fun and rewarding.
  • Sleep smart: in the weeks leading up to your first day, try going to bed earlier each night — and getting up earlier each morning — to help your body adjust to a new schedule.
  • Visit your school: many schools are open the week before school starts. You can always contact your school, book an appointment, tour the halls and meet your teachers if you need to.
  • Know the route: no matter what method of transportation you use to get to school, it’s a good idea to test out the route so you know exactly how to get to class and how long it will take.
  • Prep your meals: if you bring a lunch to school, consider taking some time to pack it the night before instead of in the morning.
  • Organize your closet: figure out what you’re going to wear on the first day in advance so you’re not stressed about finding something to put on when you wake up in the morning.
  • Pack your bags: if you’re taking a backpack to school, fill it with whatever school supplies you have (pens, pencils, notebook, agenda, etc.) well before your first day so you’re ready to get up and go.
  • Stay busy: make the most of summer to keep your mind off the back-to-school blues. For example, you could try taking up a new sport or hobby.
  • Get support: it’s common to feel nervous about the first day of school. If you need to talk, you can always call a Kids Help Phone counsellor at 1-800-668-6868.

Going back to school after summer vacation can be hard, but there are things you can do to make the transition easier.

Accepting Help Doesn’t Make You Weak

From Medium, by Teresa Colón

When it comes to mental health, a DIY approach might not be the best option

I’ve been leading support groups for a while now, and one of the more interesting themes I’ve noticed is a DIY (“do-it-yourself”) attitude toward our mental health work. Overall, this is healthy and true. We are each responsible for our own emotional experience, and activities such as journaling, meditation, and mindfulness are typically solitary experiences.

In truth, these more solitary activities are foundations for the bigger work that comes down the road for us. As we start to heal our little wounds, we gain confidence in the process and the capacity to approach some of our deeper hurts. (I like to use the onion analogy: We start by handling all the surface layers, and as we make our way through each layer, we get closer and closer to the central issues of our lives.)

Eventually, we start to see outward evidence of our healing. Maybe we begin to engage with our friends more frequently, or perhaps we start looking for a new job. Inevitably, someone who knows us is encouraged by the progress we are making and offers a helping hand. “Hey, I know someone who is hiring; want me to make a recommendation?”

For the emotionally healthy, the default response here would probably be, “yes, please.”

But those of us in a storm might kindly refuse.

I’ve crossed paths with this specific scenario multiple times, both in my work and my personal life. Those who refuse the help will typically explain the decision with something like, “I want to know I did it on my own.”

I think this is, at least partially, a cultural response: Here in the United States, we worship at the altars of Ayn Rand and the proverbial bootstraps. We adore the self-made success story, holding them up as examples of what a little hard work and determination can achieve.

We rely on societal structures to help protect us, guide us, and meet our fundamental needs.

But no one succeeds in a vacuum. We are all inter-reliant upon each other. To deny this core truth is to deny our essential humanity.

Read more here.

Taking a paws for mental health in Innisfil

From Simcoe.Com

Exam time can be stressful for teenagers and the Innisfil IdeaLAB and Library has a solution: dogs and doughnuts.

The new Dogs and Donuts program was first tested in the summer and again on Dec. 15.

Another session is planned in January.

It pairs dogs from the St. John Ambulance therapy dog program with area high school students after school.

“We come here to get community service hours for Nantyr Shores Secondary School,” Ashlee Pauze said. “This is the first time we visited with the dogs.”

She has a dog at home and appreciated petting a bigger dog, a labradoodle named Dooley.

Dooley’s owner Greg Belanger has been with St. John Ambulance for over four years.

“I accidentally found out about the program when I first moved here after doing first aid training.”

Dooley just celebrated his 350th therapy visit.

“Everyone tells us he brings them joy and happiness and it reduces stress,” Belanger said. “Visiting with the students, most of them want to talk about their own dog.”

Jashvitha Vasanthakumar said she does get stressed around exam time.

“There’s a lot to handle. So much studying to do and it’s hard to concentrate on all of them, especially when they’re different subjects,” she said.

The Amazing Race Towards Self-Acceptance: Paul Mitskopoulos’ Story

From the Bell Let’s Talk blog

Paul Mitskopoulos is a Client Solutions Manager at LinkedIn, but he may look familiar to you if you watched The Amazing Race Canada on CTV. In 2017, Paul and his partner Sam Lambert won the fifth season of the show! We talked to Paul about his transformational journey, from the mental health challenges he faced before coming out to overcoming his fear of judgement from others, both on the show and in his everyday life.

Tell us about your experience with mental illness growing up.

Paul: I was never formally diagnosed, but I had symptoms of depression, and felt alone and isolated. I didn’t come out until I was 23, so I worked through a lot of years where I struggled with my own personal identity. I wasn’t confident or proud about who I was, and because I was bottling up my issues, I found it difficult to connect and talk to people. I grew up in Toronto, which is an accepting city, but I didn’t feel as though I had a strong connection with the gay community there. This just made me feel more alone and confused.

Can you tell us about your experience coming out?

Paul: I had a difficult time struggling with accepting my sexuality. I had a fear of judgement – I didn’t want to be stereotyped or put into a box. My mind went into worst case scenarios, like “I might lose my friends or my job”, but I feel very lucky to have such an open and accepting community of people surrounding me. Even though I was scared to come out, I’m glad I did, because everyone was so supportive.

We loved watching you on The Amazing Race Canada this summer! What motivated you apply for the show?

Paul: I’ve always been fan of the show, and I’ve been watching it for years with my family. I love traveling and I’m competitive, so being on the Amazing Race was always something that appealed to me. After coming out, though, I had a new reason to apply – to share my story. I wanted to tell people that you can live your true, authentic life and be happy living it.
After I was selected to be on the show, I was worried that people would comment negatively, on not only my performance in the challenges, but my sexuality. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the thousands of positive messages. So many men and women of all ages were talking about how they struggled with coming out, and they were so inspired to see my partner and I being open and happy on a national television show, positively representing the community. I was so happy I could be a positive influencer to so many people.

You mention that your fear of judgment is something you’ve struggled with over the years. Was this something that you experienced during The filming of The Amazing Race Canada?
Paul: It was very prevalent prior to starting the Race, but once I was in it, I was swept up in the challenges, so that allowed me to focus. Fear wasn’t top-of-mind for me. I spent a lot of time self-reflecting, though, which was tough. I’d second-guess myself, wondering if I looked okay during the legs of the race, or what audiences would think if I kissed Sam in front of the camera. How I coped with these feelings was focusing on the outcome. I thought about why I was doing this. At the end of the day I was afraid of judgement, but I wanted to share my story, and that’s what got me through it and put that fear at the back of my mind. Having Sam there as a person I could talk to and confide in also helped me work through my feelings of uncertainty.

Do you still feel fearful of judgment today? How do you overcome these feelings of self-doubt?
Paul: I don’t have a fear of it any more. When you’re doing a presentation, or an interview, or just talking to someone in everyday life, you can be judged. But I just focus on what my outcome and what I’m trying to achieve, whether it’s doing a great presentation or, in the Race, sharing my story and winning challenges. If you focus on making your objectives happen, it eliminates a lot of the fear in that situation. I focus on the achievement and the goal rather than the fear along the way.

Do you have any tips? Is there a process you follow?

… continue reading …

Kate Middleton explains in simple terms what mental health means in candid video

From Mashable

Kate Middleton has spoken out about the difficulty in opening up about one’s mental health in a video aimed at children and parents.

Appearing in a video for charity Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, the Duchess of Cambridge explained in simple terms what “mental health” means.

“Mental health is how we feel and think, things that can’t really be seen but affect us everyday. And talking about them can feel difficult,” she said. 

The Duchess’ words act by way of introduction to a short animation aimed at children to help them find the words to talk about mental health. The Duchess explained that the animation can help figure out “what to say and who to talk to when we have feelings that are too big to manage on our own.”

The animation gives a simple breakdown of what the term “mental health” means, and it features tips and advice from children and adults on talking about thoughts, feelings and emotions.

“Sometimes it’s just a simple conversation that can make things better,” Kate added.

Teach Mindfulness; Invite Happiness

From Edutopia

By objective measures, our young people are more anxious, more depressed, and have more psychopathology in general than students did a few decades ago. This has important implications for educators, school administrators, and society at large. What if our traditional school systems are unwittingly contributing to the problem — and what if a relatively simple practice could help?

Sense of Failure

As we are all well aware, the current educational system is narrowing its definition of what defines student success. It’s almost all cognitive knowing, as evidenced by standardized testing. The pros and cons of that system have been widely debated, so I won’t rehash them here. However, a side effect of this system is decreased flexibility in how we define success, and we are leaving many students with internal beliefs that they are failures.

A young person could be a prodigy in one or more areas (kinesthetic, inter-personal, musical, ecological), yet still grow up thinking that he or she is a failure based on messaging given by the schools. As some students’ light dims and self-doubt grows, there’s a good chance that they won’t grow into their full brilliance and power. This is a tragic outcome that’s a loss for all of us — yet it’s also an avoidable outcome.

How Mindfulness Can Help

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to present-moment experience and doing so with kindness and curiosity. It is not cognitive but sensory, and so taps into and strengthens different but vitally important parts of the brain that have been neglected by traditional education. One crucial attribute of mindfulness is that it is practiced without judgment. Many of our students are so hard on themselves and their internal critic is so loud that just a few moments of being given permission to not judge can bring huge relief to body and mind. I have seen it bring students to tears.

A triangle with Thoughts at the top, Emotions and Sensations at the bottom, and Mindful Awareness in the middle

Just a few weeks ago, I was introducing the practice to some graduate students in a highly competitive health sciences program. Presumably they were all successes in the conventional system. I started by explaining the triangle of awareness to them — how thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations all affect each other. I then led them through a guided contemplation to illustrate the point. They were invited to imagine a stressful situation and notice how they were feeling in their body, what emotions they were experiencing, and what thoughts they were having. By noticing the thoughts as the final step in the process, students can identify them as just thoughts they’re having and not truths that must be believed, especially if these thoughts are causing unpleasant physical sensations and negative emotions.

We then did a five-minute mindful breathing exercise. The students closed their eyes and were invited to let the sensation of breathing command their full attention. When they noticed their attention wandering, they were allowed to notice where it went, but were encouraged to gently and kindly escort their awareness back to the breath.

During the discussion after the practice, one young woman was in tears. She had noticed her thoughts telling her that she was probably breathing wrong and wasn’t good at it. This led to tightness in her chest, her heart racing, and a feeling of anxiety. In those few minutes, she recognized how her thoughts have been contributing to her anxiety all these years and also causing discomfort in her body. The ridiculousness of not being good at breathing revealed to her in stark clarity how insidious and unfair her inner critic was. She was excited to have made this connection and to have new tools for working with it.

Honoring True Genius

I think this anecdote illustrates what is going on for many of our students. Sadly, many of them never make the connection between mind and body, and just keep sinking into those self-defeating thoughts as they worry about how they will measure up on the next standardized test. These thoughts are contributing to the rise in mental illness and inhibiting students from reaching their full human potential.

There is now ample evidence that mindfulness practice enhances positive emotions (PDF). Imagine the possibilities if we offered this to young people with developing brains! What if we helped all students make this simple connection and gave them the tools to strengthen their own inner knowing? What if we gave them permission to honor their true genius, even if we can’t measure it on a standardized test? What if we practiced full disclosure and acknowledged that there are many different kinds of intelligence, and that some cannot be measured by conventional means? What if schools gave equal time and emphasis to cultivating things like kindness and compassion?

It might just change everything.

Hope > Vision > Action | Copyright 2019 ©. All Rights Reserved. Some images from Pixabay.