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.

Where are your feet?

WHERE ARE YOUR FEET? 

I’m having a challenging week. I’m symptomatic, tired, and irritated by simple things. The great thing is that’s OK!! A gift of recovery and wellness is that I have the tools to be ok and enjoy the process of allowing these times to exist and ultimately pass.  When I focus on where my feet are and what I’m doing in each moment, my problems slowly melt into the nothingness they came from.

So, where are your feet? I suggest you practice becoming aware of your thoughts. Through this practice notice when your thoughts wander off into la-la land, whether in fantasy, dread, past or future.

Are these thoughts serving you? Or are they an escape to distract you from the present moment.  With time and conscious effort, this practice will become easier and more effective.  At its core, if you can snap out of your thought patterns, look down at your feet and ask yourself. “Where are my feet” It’s a funny and silly way of snapping out of unhealthy thought patterns that serve no purpose.

The change in experience from these little tricks is difficult to explain through words, but I hope you experience the profound positive impact it can have on our lives.

So today I still feel awful, but that’s ok.  I remember where my feet are and what I need to regain a sense of balance and wellbeing. Please remember that everything that happens can be ok if we learn to challenge our unhealthy beliefs and replace them with healthy ones.

I wish you the best. Please remember to tell yourself, it always starts with me.

Peace

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. (http://www.mindfulnesscds.com/)

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
ECKHART TOLLE
Marianne Williamson
Dalai Lama
Lao-Tzu
Buddha

Please share, like and comment.

sincerely,