This year more than any other year we will all need to take a mental vacation. Maybe you will need to take one hourly , daily or weekly whatever works for you.
Turn on a YouTube video with calming music. You can find one here in my virtual calm room. Then lay back in a comfortable space. If you are doing this from home make sure your space is a positive place for you to feel comfortable in. You may want to spice your working space up a bit . Add flowers and visuals that bring you joy.
Then close your eyes and breathe using the box breathing method. Think about a place you love and that feels safe for you. Personally , I always go to the beach in my mind. It might have something to do with all the summers I spent on beaches. I love the smells and the sounds of water. I picture being on the beach and waving my arms around in complete joy with a big smile on my face, but you do what works for you.
Take that mental vacation whenever you need it and ask anyone you want to join you in that space or just be by yourself and feel all the feels that make sense in the moment.
Where are you going on your mental vacation?
I could not be prouder to volunteer with the Youth Champion Initiative . What the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre , Youth Smarts Calgary and Canadian Mental Health do to support our youth is inspiring and so extremely important. I love that I am able to help in a tiny way . Kim Campbell and Ashley Lamantia lead the way to help youth day in and day out. Thanks for all you do all year-long.
The real reason I volunteer for this initiative is that if I can help in some small way to promote the work that Sheldon Kennedy has already done and is doing to make a difference for youth, especially when it comes to child abuse and sexual abuse, then I too can feel like I have contributed . I can be very proud to stand up and say I have done my very small part to open the door to this discussion and be a part of the incredible work already being done. I can celebrate students and staff who also want to make a difference when it comes to child advocacy.
According to the SKCAC in 2008 there were 14,403 substantiated cases of child abuse in Alberta. 7091 infants , youth and children were seen at the centre and 124 new cases are assessed each month.
Mental health and trauma affect way too many of our students , so collaborating with people who are continuing to have an impact makes me feel I have contributed to a society that cares about the mental health and the wellbeing of our youth and that is something for me that is so worthy of doing!
Anxiety is a topic we all want our students to have ideas and resources for. I made an infographic for you to use and if you click on the link 10 Tips for reducing anxiety by Susan Spellman Cann . You can open it and download for your use.
Just in case you want an easier download for the link Put A Positive Spin On Your Day Click here.
Have any infographics or tips related to School Counselling please share!
- Picking up the pieces. I work with so many vulnerable youth and one in particular convinced me to not watch. This young person was incredibly triggered by watching the show and made me realize that I did not need to watch it in order to know the harm it could cause to those who are at risk.
- Was I curious? Like most of you yes, and I do understand that it is compelling for both adults and youth to want to watch the series, but I also chose to not read the book years ago for some of the reasons I am about to discuss. For those who did watch … this is not a criticism, just a choice I want to make for my own reasons.
- I think young people need to know that there are adults who while they may be very curious about the series will still choose to NOT watch . I know this show was NOT created to really help young people , otherwise they would have based the series on solid research around suicide, how it is portrayed in media and the impact on youth. I do realize the creators say they consulted with medical experts and had good intentions however, I do think they missed out on some valuable helpful information when it comes to suicide. Stan Kutcher , a Psychiatrist and mental health expert from Dalhousie University whom I respect believes the show could be dangerous to young people who choose to watch it.
- I do not need to see the show to be informed and personally I have NO desire to see a child die by suicide (even if it is television). Some things on TV are even too graphic for me.
- I choose not to be triggered by watching the show. I have worked with too many vulnerable youth. I know that I need to practice self-care . Watching this series is not going to make me a better parent , School Counsellor or Psychologist . Being able to discuss sensitive topics is essential and I believe I can do so without actually watching this series.
- I plan on reading as many articles as I can that give informed information that is helpful regarding the series . The National Association of School Psychologists gives important information on how to do so responsibly. Dialoguing and engaging youth in thoughtful conversations around sensitive topics is essential. Yes, I certainly know a lot and I mean a lot have already chosen to watch and will watch this series , some will do so with their parents most I am guessing will watch on their own. Parents who watch can and will open a conversation that is useful and helpful with their child. I am just saying for me , I want students to know it is OK to not watch if they have not already done so.
- I want all people to know that suicide is complex. We are learning more and more about the brain . I am sure new research in the future will give us a better understanding of some of the complexities.
- I want students to know the protective factors, risk factors and warning signs of suicide. We have Canada Mental Health come in every year to speak to all our grade 10 High School Students.
- I want all students and adults to become more literate when it comes to mental health. All staff at our school are trained in the go to educator series. You might want to consider this for your school.
- I want students to know how to have better coping skills.
- This show is NOT hopeful . Students need HOPE in as many ways as possible.
- Suicide is never a solution. It is an irreversible choice regarding a temporary problem. THERE IS HELP! If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or know someone who is, talk to a trusted adult, like your School Counsellor or call Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868.
- School Counsellors across the world (#scchat) work very hard to let others know that they work diligently daily to help and serve students . They do save lives . They may possibly be the unsung hero in a child’s life , but that is not often the way they are depicted on tv or in movies and from what I have read definitely not in this series. There are also lots of other people who do like parents, teachers, administrators, support staff, coaches, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, and friends. I want youth to reach out and keep asking for help until someone they trust makes that difference. WE DO CARE!!!!!
The opinions expressed in this article are mine alone. This is my choice and although I listed 13 reasons I could have listed many more. I do not regret my decision. I know it is best for me.
Canada Mental Health responding to Netflix series .
Personal Wellness livebinders : Several topics and resources can be found here .
For Educators Teen Mental Health teenmentalhealth.org
Connect Teen: 24 hour support 403.264 TEEN Link to website.
Kids Help Phone: A space for you. Link to website
Police / Emergency : 911
Teen mental health Reasons To Live
I love this short video that our wellness team put together for our Jack Summit .
One of the most stressful things School Counsellors ever have to do is assist a student who is contemplating suicide. We never want a child to feel so hopeless that they feel that there is no reason left to live.
So I recognize how much courage it takes for a person that it is not in this profession to help when something so serious happens. A gigantic thanks to two very courageous Maritimers who stepped up to help . Thanks Robbie for letting me share your story.
Robbie’s Story …
As most of you know, I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time on March 1, 2012. That was the day I was able to help a young man from taking his own life.
It was just after 1 o’clock on a clear, but very cold day. I was pulling into my parking spot situated on the top level of the parkade. I noticed a young person sitting on the wrong side of the railing. To be honest, my first reaction was to grab my phone and take a picture of the young man who I would later know as (Stephen). I just thought he was a thrill seeker. He was texting on his phone,dressed in a warm coat with a hoodie underneath, and the hood pulled up over his head. I could not see his face as his back was towards me. As a matter of fact, I only got to see his face three times over the course of the next 25 minutes.
Just as I was about to take his picture (I’m still thinking he is young and cocky for sitting on the wrong side of the railing) he starts to turn his body slowly around. I start to panic and lower my phone so he wouldn’t see me taking his photo. His head moved very slowly back around, facing away from me. I never saw his face.
I was in a rush to get back to my office, so jumped out of my truck and headed to the stairs in the corner of the parkade. To this day I don’t know why I stopped short but things just weren’t adding up. I could tell he lived on the street. His clothes were very dirty and the speed his head was moving was very slow. It was freezing at -15, so I stopped and turned around.I walked slowly up to him and asked, “Are you ok?” No response. I asked him again. No response. I am about 15 feet away from him on his left side. I ask once more and he responds in a slurred voice, “Nobody cares”. My first thought when he said that was … oh my god, we’ve got a jumper! It went through my head just like the movie Old School.
Surprisingly I stayed very calm, plus he couldn’t see my face when I first realized he was going to take his own life. It wasn’t hard to tell drugs were at play as well. Not sure what to do after he responded, I moved closer to him. This is when my heart dropped. He shuffled across a four inch concrete ledge away from me. You or I couldn’t do what he did sober, let alone high on drugs. The positive thing was he stopped by a column and could put his hand on it to support himself if needed. He was shaking very bad and would act like he was going to jump two or three times.
I just kept asking him questions.
“What is your name?”
“Where are you from?”
“Do you miss home?”
“Do you miss water?”
Every question I asked him and he wouldn’t answer, I would answer myself.
“What is your name?”
“My name is Robbie.”
“Do you miss water?”
“I miss water, I’m from the east coast.”
For every 10 questions I asked, I would get about 1 answer in return, but we were starting to make a small connection. Finally he turned his head to see who was asking him all the questions and why. Then he turned away, but started answering a few of the question.
“What’s your name?’
“Where are you from?”
“The coast.” He slurred.
“Do you miss the water?” He turned slowly once more to look at me. This was the first time I saw his face. When all this was going on, I tried to get the attention of three cars that went by to call 911 for help, but no one stopped until Marty, a great guy from the Maritimes. He quickly realized what was going on and parked. I kept waiving at him to call 911, which he does. He walks slowly up and joins me and we both try to convince Stephen it’s not worth it. More time goes by and Marty and I are frozen, and so is Stephen. I was so scared he would fall, let alone jump. The parkade security showed up, but their radios were freaking Stephen out and he would start to shake as he was going to jump. We waved them to stay back a long distance.
The police also showed up and also stayed back with security. It was just the three of us. Marty and I took turns talking to Stephen and finally as I was telling him how cold it was, he just slowly reached his arm straight back as if to say, Ok, I’m done.
In a split second Marty and I had a hold of him and pulled him back over. Weird but at no time did I think we would drop him. I had the tightest grip ever on him, and so did Marty. From that moment, the police took over and got him downstairs and outside to the ambulance. I noticed when we pulled Stephen over, his phone fell on the ground. I grabbed it and looked at his last text. It was from his mother asking “are you ok?????” My heart broke, but I got the police to call her right away. Turns out Stephen wouldn’t cooperate with the police unless I was there, so I sat with him until they got the information they needed. He left in an ambulance and I never saw him again.
I’m very grateful. for how this story ended … here is more of my story
For a better part of my life I have battled and struggled with anxiety and depression. Throw ADHD on that and you have a wound-up-top on a rollercoaster.Depression is something you hide easy. All you have to do it smile.
That day when Stephen and I were together, we made a connection. We both missed water, but I also made my own connection with him. The only difference between us was I was wearing a nice suit and he was wearing a dirty coat someone gave to him. I knew exactly what was going through his head.
- Depression doesn’t know if you have a good job.
- Depression doesn’t know where you live.
- Depression doesn’t care if you are a good person or not.
I am very fortunate to have the best support people I could ever ask for. Two parents that are there for me for life and a wife that unconditionally loves and supports me. The one thing that’s harder to deal with than depression itself is to be married to someone that battles depression. So I am truly grateful for the support.
Don’t think that having depression slows me down. I have a saying “keep your feet moving” which I do very well. This doesn’t’ mean I don’t need help sometimes and it doesn’t mean I’m weak.
I think about many friends Mark and Colin, Felicity and family, Chad, Colette and family, Lori and her girls and their commonality is that they’ve all lost someone special. Someone that you never thought would take their own life. Someone that will never be replaced. Someone they loved very much.
They also gave me the courage to speak out and that it’s OK to talk about mental illness and depression. There probably will never be a cure for mental illness, but we always can be there for others. My father made a comment to me one time;
“Robbie, it doesn’t’ cost anything to care”.
Please understand that most people have some sort of struggle in life. Acknowledging and talking about it helps. Trust me, the best thing to do is to talk to someone who won’t judge you and who cares. They will never understand what you are truly going through, but can always offer love and support.
Robbie thanks for being you and allowing me to share your story #bellletstalk . I am sure someone reading this will understand that there are caring people like you and Marty who are willing to reach out to another human being when needed . I truly hope Stephen is alive and gets to read this some day knowing that two Maritimers who both live in Calgary were willing to step up to help.
- Centre for Suicide Prevention
- Suicide Prevention Hotline crisis line Calgary 403.266.4357
- Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention
ACCESS Mental Health
Provides mental health information and service options
Mon-Fri: 7:30am – 7:00p.m.
Telephone: 943-1500 (voicemail after hours)
Health Link Alberta
Access to nurse advice and health information
24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Telephone: 943-LINK (5465) Calgary or 1-866-408-5465 (Toll Free)
General info about community, health, social, and government services across the province
What if …
we lived in a world where there was PEACE?
we had schools filled with HOPE and LOVE?
there was no child abuse or sexual abuse ?
children did not have to live in homes affected by alcohol or drug abuse ?
we did not have children who came to school starving?
we lived in a world without violence?
there was no bullying ?
kindness was on the minds of all?
no child would die by suicide?
all students with mental health disorders recieved the supports and treatments necessary?
we had all the supports necessary to assist students with special needs?
every adult who worked in schools were passionate about what they do?
every teacher, counsellor and administrator had everything they felt they needed to meet the needs of students?
no child was left out or discriminated againgst?
all people were treated like a gift to the world?
schools had enough money to do all the innovative things they wanted to?
creativity , fun and joy abounded in our schools?
music and exercise were a part of every student and educators day?
schools were more like the most comfy inviting home you were ever in?
every student LOVED coming to school to learn?
we were all more grateful?
hugs were given freely and respectfully to those who wanted or needed them?
School Counsellors were seen as essential in every school , at every level K-12 in our country?
schools could easily access any resources and supports they needed in an easy , timely and helpful manner?
What if some of these came to reality? What if we all educated from the heart? Innovative practices would be so much easier.
CC photo by Yanngarphoto.wordpress.com
School Counselling is so important in every school. It is an essential service that is often not paid enough attention to sadly. What I absolutely know is that school counsellors save lives every day in the world. Some might not think that to be true, but I know that when school counsellors are working with students who are at risk they make a difference. What they do in their offices is preventative work and may go unnoticed because school counsellors can’t tell you what happened because of confidentiality.They might have just saved the life of a child who otherwise would not be around to tell their story.
Social media is also assisting students and school counsellors in a positive way. The work of Dr. Erin Mason @ecmmason, who created SCOPE is helping school counsellors every day in every way . Dr. Erin Mason from SCOPE is fantastic. School Counsellors in Canada and the especially the US are on board with new developments in school counselling and are connecting to even make things better for students everywhere.
Danielle Schultz @sch_counselor ,the founder of School Counselor Blog is also a leader in the field. You can often find her leading #scchat or sharing great information on her blog.
Speaking of #scchat, it always amazes me that when educational chats are listed usually school counsellor chats are not posted. I know that will change as school counsellors become even more active in many spaces on social media.
Below I am going to list some of the great leaders in school counselling and if I miss anyone I appologize as I KNOW you are doing amazing work with students.
- Erin Luong @eHordyskiLuong (Alberta,Canada)
- Julia V. Taylor @juliavtayor (Richmond, VA,US)
- Kaudri Auvaart @Kadriblaster (Australia)
- Michelle Brown @Michelle0102197 (Canada)
- Tamica Collard @TamicaCollard (Texas,US)
- Chris Polley @Teaching_Intl (Shanghai, China)
- Trent Langdon @TrentLangdonNL (Newfoundland, Canada)
- Darrell Sampson @CnslrDarrell (Arlington Virginia,US)
- Brian Zink @Brian_Zink (Guadalajara, Mexico)
- Rebecca Lallier SchCounselingByHeart (Vermont, US)
- Jeremy Goldman @MRJGoldman (Lutherville Maryland,US)
- ABurston @jyjcounselor (US)
- Rick Scheibner @rick_scheibner (Hermiston Oregon, US)
- Marci Newman ARHSCounselor (UT,US)
- Amy Sather @AmySatherBlair (Blair Nebraska, US)
- Jeannine Jervis @CounselorELEM (Indiana,US)
- Susan Langan @csfml (Cedar Falls Iowa, US)
- Carol Miller @tmscounselor (US)
- Randi Rosenberg @RandiCounsels (Northern Virginia,US)
- SchCnslrsRock @SchCnslrsRock (US)
- Fanciene Sabens @FSabens (US)
- Marty Stevens@martylstevens (Shiremanstown, PA) who writes the Gratitude Journal
- Jeff Ream @CounselingGeek (US)
This list would not be complete without the work of a fantastic school counsellor advocate Russell Sabella @rsabella who is a Professor at Florida Gulf Coast University , or Carli Segal @carlicounsels and Dr. Kevin Kelly @EmmausKevinK who are leading #sbmhchat School Based Mental Health Chat another excellent chat related to school counselling.
If you are a school counsellor from another part of the world please connect with us on twitter as we have so much to share and we can help each other grow professionally. It is an amazing opportunity for us to learn together. Please put that you are a school counsellor in your descriptor and if you feel comfortable please put where you are from.
TOP SCHOOL COUNSELLOR CHATS
I would so love to see more Canadian School Counsellors #cscchat to be active on twitter and I will do my best to encourage other educators to encourage their school counsellors to join. We are entering into a new way of connecting with each other that will only benefit our students and the educational systems even more.
Please click below to view the Haiku Deck on School Counselling:
http://www.haikudeck.com/p/wlK5Q1ceFG/why-school-counselling . Please feel free to edit and share.