How can we provide better mental health support for our youth?

When I look at this picture, I am curious about what was going through my mind? It is difficult for me to relate to who I was then. I have a hard time remembering how I felt and why I behaved the way I did. The ONE thing that’s clear to me is how uncomfortable I was in my skin. I was hooked the second I experienced the euphoria and relief from marijuana use. I had no coping skills, nor anyone to teach me how to understand my emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. Today, it is clear to me that I did not learn these things, because around this time, the 1990s, western society clearly didn’t value the importance of emotional intelligence and mindfulness. My teachers, parents and community leaders did not have an understanding of how to teach these skills. The exciting thing today is that we are learning how powerful emotional intelligence and mindfulness-based practices are for our wellbeing. I know how crucial these skills are for me today in maintaining my well-being, and that is why it is exciting for me to be learning how to implement them in the mental health work I am doing with youth.

Work by incredible organizations like CASELCollaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning is exciting. Here is a brief description and graphic for their model.

SEL

These skills are imperative for humanity to learn. If we want a healthier world, then we had better get our heads out of our #$& and start teaching our kids these skills as equally, if not more important that traditional, math, science, English and other core subjects.

“Children deserve to experience life positively, and society has
a duty to provide them with the skills and strategies to manage life’s more challenging moments. Mindfulness may be one way to provide this.” (Kim D. Rempel 2012, Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy)

The opportunities for change and a healthier happier world exist everywhere because these opportunities lie in each and every human. People often get caught up in the trap of saying things like “tell me what this magical cure for all our problems is?” Alternatively, people get lost in trying to picture or define what a healthier and happier world would be.

This perspective is not helpful, nor will it get us anywhere. I believe that we are incapable of describing what it looks like because we have not transformed ourselves. Once we change the way we feel, think, and behave, the healthier and happier world will create itself as an expression of our collective growth and wellbeing.

Can you imagine how improving our individual state of being will bring about the world we want? I surely can, because I’ve experienced it within myself. The more I heal and create a sense of wellness and contentment inside myself, the more I can bring love and positivity to my daily life. The possibilities of how we can change the world are endless. I hope you can find a little space within yourself to embrace this opportunity.

Written by StartsWithMe_

Starts With Me is a company of ‘Peers’ leading a post-institutional mental health care movement. We create platforms to support gaps in education and services along with empowering families and individuals to increase their capacity for well-being.

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