National Depression Screening Day

I’m in a pretty dark place today. The past few days have really done a number on me. 

I know I’m not alone. I know that. And neither are you.

#nationaldepressionscreeningday #mentalillnessawarenessweek #youarenotalone

Today is National Child & Youth Mental Health Day

Today is National Child & Youth Mental Health Day and what better time than right in the midst of a Pandemic to bring awareness to and acknowledgment of the thousands of young people and families who are in need of mental health support more than ever before. 

Statistics show (in Canada) that almost 40 to 50 percent of all visits made to the Pediatrician’s office are due to mental health issues and that Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10 to 24 year olds. And lastly 70 percent of all mental health challenges usually begin around childhood and adolescence. My greatest fear right now is seeing those statistics soar even more than they already have in the coming months or years because of our current crisis.

These statistics are proof that we still have plenty of work ahead of us and that we desperately need to build caring and emotional connections with our young people to help them through their worries and fears, help them stay positive and hopeful during this time and beyond and help ensure that both their bodies and minds stay healthy too.

I have spoken to so many parents over the last several years regarding our children and mental health in general. These conversations are so important to have because they reassure us that we are not alone and over the last couple of weeks since I began working on my initiative to honour our “Class of 2020” Graduates it’s very clear that we truly are not alone in this fight.

Our kid’s are having to deal with stuff right now that is beyond our comprehension as parents and caregivers. They have lost so much (like beyond our comprehension) and we as parents need to keep an open dialogue and ensure that our kids know that when they are feeling anxious or scared or lonely or angry or frustrated that it’s perfectly normal and acceptable to have these feelings and we need to let them have these feelings and that even the most resilient kids are going to sometimes feel anxious or lonely or scared or angry or frustrated too and we need to keep an even closer eye on them!

But the more ways we can find to build those caring and emotional connections with our kids right now could really help make a difference in their lives while in quarantine. Simple acts of kindness or even our body language can go a very long way to putting a smile on a child’s face (no matter their age).¬†

Try making them a favorite meal, pull out the old photo albums from when they were babies, make a Tik Tok video together, read them an extra long story at bedtime, make a fort in the living room with them and let them sleep in it, play a board game or do a puzzle together and of course hug them tight. 

I have received a number of messages over the past couple of days from parents thanking me for helping to put a smile on their “Class of 2020” Graduate’s face and it warms my heart knowing that we can all make a child smile by building caring and emotional connections.

How many ways can you make your child smile today?

#icareaboutyou #may7icare #icare #childandyouthmentalhealthday #mentalhealthweek #mentalhealthawarenessmonth #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #startaconversation #staysafe #masksoff #wheredidmommyssmilego #amazondotca 

About Last Night

I’ve done quite a few events and interviews over the last month or so since my book was published but last night was by far the most meaningful one yet. As I mentioned last week I was asked to be a panelist at an event called Community Conversations at the Richmond Hill Public Library where I was to speak about Mental Illness and Stigma. In preparation for the event I was sent a series of 4 questions beforehand on the topic of Stigma in which I would be asked to discuss in front of the group along with a short bio about my journey and then followed up with a Q & A from the audience at the very end.
One by one each panelist discussed their views on (1) the harmful effects of the Stigma surrounding mental illness, (2) the most commonly held stereotypes about mentally ill people, (3) our strategies on how we as a society can help diminish the Stigma and (4) our thoughts on the important and urgent need for more access and funding to better educate the public about mental illness in order to increase understanding and empathy.
I was BEYOND anxious and overwhelmed all day yesterday and especially as I sat in my big, comfy chair waiting for the event to begin. I sat there looking around the room as the other panelists and guests arrived one by one and the anxiety and overwhelm just kept building. By now my head was filled with so much negative self-talk I thought it was going to explode! I wanted to run for the nearest exit screaming and crying (but I was in a library afterall and didn’t want to distract the 100’s of kids trying to study!) And no amount of breathing or grounding exercises seemed to be slowing down what was going on inside my body and mind either, but then the Moderator started to introduce the panel 1 by 1 and when I started to tell my story to a room full of strangers all my anxiety and overwhelm seemed to dissipate.
Suddenly I felt a sense of belonging and that by sharing my story and speaking from my heart on a topic I have so much passion and understanding for and knowing that I could possibly help someone feel less alone, feel like it’s ok to not be ok or feel a sense of comfort from within their own community made all the anxiety and overwhelm all worthwhile.
Everyone in attendance last night had their own reason for being there. Some may have been mental health educators or professionals, some may have been mental health advocates, some may have been in need of some guidance for their own mental wellness and some may have been there to seek advice on behalf of a loved one in need of support.
But whatever their reason was for being there, they all have a story to tell, we all have a story to tell and we definitely need more evenings like last night so that more and more people can have a safe place to feel like they can start telling their story and know that someone is listening. I know I want to hear it; how about you?
#mentalhealthawarenessweek #mentalillness #mentalhealth #stigma #endthestigmatogether #youareenough #choosekindness #itsoktonotbeok #startaconversation #educationiskey #dontsufferinsilence #speakyourtruth #courage #wheredidmommyssmilego #amazon #rhpl