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With another school year upon us, why not take this time to reflect on the well-being of Canadian children and youth?
Canada currently ranks 14th out of the 41 richest countries for teen mental health and a shocking 31st out of 41 for teen suicide. Why do we rank so low you may ask? That's the question experts across the country are working to address each day.
The project is helping raise mental health awareness.
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The Netflix series is about a teen girl who kills herself.
The question is - as parents, how do we teach our children effective stress management tools? My philosophy has always been "begin at the beginning." Ask your child to identify how they know they are feeling stressed.
They're worried children's mental health issues are still being ignored.
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The bullying I faced earlier in my life, was something that stuck with me and is still something that affects me today. My social anxiety and depression went hand in hand making events seem impossible, school lunch a nightmare and made my bed the only place I felt comfortable being.
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We all have ups and downs. Some people are very moody and emotionally intense. How does a parent separate the normal swings of a youth's tumultuous life from a real depression that needs treatment?
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If you remove all of life's unpleasantries, what are you really teaching your child about the world? Doing so will only result in giving your child a false sense of reality. Resilience, being able to get back up after you fall down, is what adults must instill in children. Allow your child to face uncomfortable circumstances even if it makes you uncomfortable. This will teach them about overcoming adversity.
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There's no need to list all the ways that many public schools can be inhospitable places for students. Not only is there the physical discomfort of sitting for hours each day but there is also the navigating of a range of emotional gauntlets: the whispered comments in the hallways, the judgements about clothes, the betrayal of "friends" on Facebook.
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For me, when I was seventeen, I stood in our garage and looked around to see which beam would hold my weight. I don't know what stopped me. I've thought of suicide since Rehtaeh's death. Being in love has seen me through. If you're a young person dealing with thoughts of suicide, please know -- tomorrow is worth sticking around for. Tomorrow will be better and this will pass. Tomorrow needs you. Find something to hold on to. A pet. A garden. Wanting to see a movie. Find something to hold onto and know life is worth sticking around for. This will pass. You'll be OK. In your darkest moment, say to yourself, "Not today. Tomorrow needs me. I need to see what it brings." Tomorrow needs you. We all need you.
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Understanding suicide helps. It does not take away the horrific pain, but it can help make sense of the unimaginable. When we learn more, we have a basis for comparison. We learn, perhaps, that our situation, alas, is not so unusual. We comprehend more fully the biochemical or psychosocial elements that led to our teen's suicide.
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Parent attitude toward mental health goes a long way. If your child had a cavity, would you let it go unfilled? Skipping antibiotics for a strep infection would be unacceptable. You wouldn't let your teen learn how to drive without them buckling up first. An open wound wouldn't go untreated.
Physical activity makes us feel happy and more productive. We're more open to learning and more apt to share topics on a run than over a lunch. Perhaps the girls would learn a little more about themselves, be part of something bigger and take away tools to help them in their future.
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Despite the good intentions of Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 5 - 11), it's pretty hard to learn some of the most basic information we need to know about mental illnesses. Many organizations, including the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) encourage us to take this week to discuss mental illness, but there seems to be a puzzling assumption that we don't actually have to know much about mental illnesses in order to have meaningful discussions. I'm still looking at the website for links to the early signs of psychosis or any information about schizophrenia.
Ask any avid drug user the difference between 'molly' and 'ecstasy' and they will most likely tell you that 'molly is pure MDMA' and ecstasy was more known to be cut with other substances. In reality, this couldn't be further from the truth. And herein lies the problem. Unless you are an accomplished chemist, 'pure' MDMA is a myth.
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I am on a mission. My mission is to increase the messaging and information about positive mental health. I believe that the more we practice positive mental health, every day, the less chance there is that negative, debilitating, fateful thoughts, feelings or actions will transpire. There simply will not be room for those thoughts, feelings, and actions to take over.