Tell The Truth – Unlocking the Youth Mental Health Epidemic

Honesty and the Youth Mental Health Epidemic

One of many contributors to the current youth mental health epidemic is OUR inability as adults to deal with OUR difficult thoughts and emotions. Because of this, we often lie to ourselves and our kids.

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.


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.

Does spirituality mean anything to you?

Over the past 25 years or so, the western world has slowly awakened to “eastern” philosophies.  Practices such as yoga, tai chi, meditation to name a few, are being acknowledged for their health benefits. A westerner who helped this process was “Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. is internationally known for his work as a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher engaged in bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society”  Please read more about him HERE. (

To me, the practice of spiritual life supports my understanding that I’m intricately connected to all life and all matter in the universe.  This allows me to live in harmony with my thoughts, feelings, emotions, and actions.  I’m able to embrace the people I encounter and the world around me because I no longer perceive myself to be separate from them.

The foundation of my recovery developed through the practice of a spiritual life. This foundation allows my work with therapists, psychiatrists, peer supports and yes even medication to thrive. I’m centred with an understanding that placing spiritual principles as a guiding light provides me the opportunity to approach all aspects of my life with grace, patience, and compassion. I don’t suggest it’s the only way to achieve joy in life, I’m acknowledging the profoundly positive impact spirituality NOT religion has had on humanity.  “Religion is belief in someone else’s experience. Spirituality is having your own experience.” – Deepak Chopra

In treating mental illness, or in search of a more positive and healthier life it’s important to treat the mind, the body, and the spirit.  In western society, the spirit is brushed aside as something “hokey.” Often medical treatment focuses solely on treating the mind. Medications are introduced with no other therapeutic suggestions. When treatment includes physical wellbeing as part of psychological treatment, outcomes are more positive.  From my personal and professional experience, a treatment that includes mind, body and spirit is the most effective form of care.

You don’t have to call things spiritual to embody them.  Often people who enjoy a high quality of life, emotionally, physically, spiritually and psychologically live their lives in line with spiritual values. Core values such as kindness, compassion, patience, love, tolerance, service, peace and dignity are displayed by many people who’d never associate the word spirituality to their lives.

Whether you want to label it spiritual or not, these principles help to build a character and personality that promotes recovery, well-being, and self-fulfillment.

Are these qualities important to you? Are you comfortable with the word spiritual?

Please share your thoughts, comments and experience with me.

Modern and old spiritual teachers I love,
Deepak Chopra
Marianne Williamson
Dalai Lama

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