The 3 Es of Youth Mental Health Education,

Here is a picture of my brother 18 years old and me 15, at a time in our lives that our mental health started to decline to crisis levels.  One of the most important things in my work and life is to support youth mental health, wellness, and addiction education.  This blog post is an introduction to some of the work I’m doing and how we can develop better ways of providing youth with tools to support their wellness and mental health.

Youth Mental Health Education needs to be a top priority of our education systems. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.  The education system is obsessed with standardized tests and traditional subjects such as math, science and English.  I’m not saying they’re not important, what I’m saying is nothing should take a back seat to the importance of personal wellness and mental health.

Suicide is the #1 cause of death in the “developed” world (outside of car accidents) for people between the ages of 15-24. Our response to this crisis is terribly inefficient. It’s important to acknowledge that up to this point, educators, politicians and mental health organizations haven’t had the knowledge or experience to address this crisis. I’d argue that now we do.

How can we invigorate youth mental health education? Awareness is important, but it’s time to develop platforms for young people to internalize what all this “mental health awareness talk” means.

Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence are the most important tool we can give to young people to support their wellness, resilience, quality of life and ability to navigate a challenging time in their life. Thankfully mindfulness and emotional intelligence is gaining support among western scientific and intellectual communities. I’d like to develop a community to discuss, share, and help the people involved who are passionate about helping youth benefit from a better system of education, empowerment, and engagement. The 3Es!

Please share your thoughts, ideas, experiences, and comments.

Can you wave goodbye to your shadow?

Wave goodbye to your shadow!

Often the world of activism, social justice, environmentalism and many protest movements waste so much time, energy, money and emotion fighting against existing structures.

I understand this approach wholeheartedly. Feeling hopeless people get frustrated, angry and resentful towards things they don’t understand. Acknowledging the enormity of the global challenges we face, brings anxiety, depression, obsession and in some cases mania and breakdown. This was my story. When I studied these global challenges, I propelled myself into self-righteous anger and moral superiority to the “perpetrators” of global injustice. My outrage was fierce. I gravitated towards the majority of the “anti” movements.  Anti-poverty, pollution, war, capitalism and so on. I sympathise with the emotion driving these movements, but I’ve come to realize that fighting existing realities is hopeless. This is why so much anger and hostility builds up in people.  The level of condemnation, self-righteousness and finger pointing is nauseating. This behaviour climaxes in the horror of violence. So what do we do? Keep fighting? I don’t think it’s working.

To change the world, we must change ourselves and create realities that don’t currently exist. We must stop fighting what is and create what isn’t. Humanity is infinitely creative, yet we’re often stuck in the quicksand of emotion, hostility and righteousness. Albert Einstein said it best “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

So, my friends, I empathise with how hard it is to snap out of a frame of reference that fuels our need for control and empowerment. I’m experiencing the beauty of letting go of control and the need to change others, and to change what exists. Many people in history created revolutionary changes through creating new paradigms, not fighting old ones. Martin Luther King JR started with a vision. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Yes, he was against injustice, but he motivated people through a vision of what didn’t exist. He showed us through his character that we could love each other. That we can transform the world through our own transformation.

My passion is mental health. I sincerely understand the struggle within our minds. I’m asking people to look inside themselves, to be inspired by people like Martin Luther King JR.  

How can you love and empathise with those who you feel are holding you down?

We can’t stop the stigma, we can’t fight stigma, we can’t defeat the societal imprisonment that surrounds us.  It’s too exhausting, it holds us back from achieving our greatest potential.  We must stop pointing the finger, we must stop obsessing over changing others and things we have no control over. We must change our perspectives and our approaches.

How can you show compassion to someone who’s ignorant to your struggles?

How can you support those who unconsciously fuel the stigmas that perpetuate negative perspectives of people struggling with their mental health?  

Let’s get wise and change ourselves. Let’s “stop fighting against what is and create what isn’t.” 

peace & love

Sincerely

A Version of My Experience With Mental Health

I haven’t “published” a version of my story anywhere, so I’m venturing into that process.  My fist opportunity happened through a site called Mental Health Talk. I hope that the more I post versions of my experience, the better I get at using it to help others. For me, the help and support I’ve received from people, doctors, therapists and random strangers has been amazing. My intention is to give back to the best of my ability.  The “Stars With Me” company I started is one way I can incorporate the thing I’m most passionate about “Mental Health” into my work life.

Watching the explosion of the mental health advocacy and communication world is truly inspiring.  I’m so grateful to be part of it.

http://mentalhealthtalk.info/addiction-recovery-helping

I hope you get a chance to read the article.  Let me know your experiences or comments, please!