13 Reasons I Personally Choose NOT to Watch 13 Reasons

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3.  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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. I want students to know how to have better coping skills.
  11. This show is NOT hopeful . Students need HOPE in as many ways as possible.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.

RESOURCES:

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 .

You Can Never Have Enough Coping Skills … Ideas from A-Z

img_3104Coping Skills are always important . When it comes to coping it really does matter what you have to cope with: How You Cope depends On What You Have To Cope With. Understanding how stress impacts you is vital to your well being. Check out my A- Z Coping skills. Source: Coping Skills Just 4 You for Teens Ideas from A-Z

The Heart of A Community

Our students always inspire me. I am so fortunate to work in a community that encourages creativity in all forms. The people I work with also give their heart and soul to all they do. Thanks to our wonderful Art teacher Sheila Stacey and Counsellor Erin Luong for collaborating on this fun project full of heart.

One of the innovative projects I am pleased to work on this year involves a collaboration between myself, another counselling colleague and our art teacher. BCHS Spectrum Club’s mission is to bring people together and spread a message of love and acceptance. Our aim is to educate and bring awareness to students while expanding our […]

via Heart of A Community: BCHS Students Fill Their Hearts — Erin Luong’s Reflections on Counselling, Education, Leadership and Technology

Powerful School Counselling Voices Across the World

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I have been an educator since 1980 and a School Counsellor since 1999, but never have I been so passionate about School Counsellors across the world having a collective voice for the students we serve as well as being a support for each other. As I get ready for retirement I am no less passionate about what I do and what we do in this profession.

Advocate

I am so hoping during Canadian School Counselling Week and National School Counselling Week #NSCW17 that others across the world will step up and let us hear their voice. Be an advocate for this profession. A special thank you to my American colleagues who often step up to be heard and have made transformative changes in attitudes and practice for School Counselors.

There are so many ways to do this .

  • Speak up in your district
  • Take on leadership roles at the district, local , provincial, state, and national levels
  • Get someone like Michelle Obama to be an advocate for you “School Counselors You Are Heroes”
  • Post ideas on twitter, facebook, instagram
  • Blog, vlog, and/ or podcasts
  • Share your BIG ideas on advocacy
  • Share, share, share (we are better together)

Believe 

  • You can make a difference
  • You do make a difference
  • You can make change
  • You can stand up for students and your profession

Collaborate

I am a better person because I collaborate  with other School Counsellors. Collaborate with others in your own school, others on-line and others who are and are not educators who all want the same thing a better life for our students.

Let your voice be heard. There are so many counsellors who are focused, determined and willing to give hope to School Counsellors and their students. I would love to see more School Counsellors from across the world STAND UP,  SPEAK OUT, and  SHARE your wonderful knowledge to others across the world who care as much as you do.

You can if we collaborate with others and one of the best ways to do that is to join us each month as we chat on-line using the hashtag #SCCHAT

Celebrate:

Celebrate what you do  with students. Celebrate other School Counsellors and educators every chance you can.

Most importantly be grateful for all those who work together to make this a better profession. The unheard heroes who work tirelessly everyday to be the best School Counsellors they can be.

Those who:

  • help the most vulnerable of our populations
  • that go the extra mile in the caring department
  • assist students across the finish line of graduation
  • do small things that matter , but they never find out until years later
  • save lives, but are silent
  • spread HOPE daily

Remember you are that leader. Don’t wait to be asked , take action TODAY! Yes you,  no matter where you are a School Counsellor in the world ,YOU have a vimg_5570oice. Don’t just listen … be that voice so that together we can make not only the positive changes in our own communities that we want , but maybe we can make a change and a difference for some child somewhere in another part of the world that we never imagined we would.

TOP SCHOOL COUNSELLORS TO FOLLOW : here

Celebrate:

Worth saying again:

Celebrate what you do with students. Celebrate other School Counsellors and educators every chance you can.

Maritimers …stepping up to help

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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?’
“Stephen.”
“Where are you from?”
“The coast.” He slurred.
“What coast?”
“B.C.”
“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

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.

ACCESS Mental Health
Provides mental health information and service options
Mon-Fri: 7:30am – 7:00p.m.
Telephone: 943-1500 (voicemail after hours)
Email: mental.health@albertahealthservices.ca

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)
Website: http://www.healthlinkalberta.ca

Inform Alberta
General info about community, health, social, and government services across the province
Telephone: 2-1-1
Website: http://www.informalberta.ca

 

Adolescents and Trauma

 

Trauma has adverse affects that can have an long term consequences. We need to help youth recognize that:

  • Abuse is not their fault
  • They can be kind to others, but more importantly they need be kind to themselves
  • Connections count
  • Having a positive social network makes a difference
  • Mistakes are a part of a learning process
  • Positive self-talk can help
  • Learning how to make healthy relationship choices is an asset
  • Reaching out for help is a strength not a weakness

Bruce Perry a leading psychiatrist on child trauma has said that trauma is held in every cell of the body. It is no wonder children often have difficulties coping years later.

Thanks to Sheldon Kennedy for taking a stand when it comes to youth and trauma. His story will help millions. His courage will help young men and women to never feel like they are alone.

If you aren’t sure who Sheldon is then you must watch his movie and hopefully you will be inspired to help others understand they are not alone and that life can be very different once they receive the help they deserve.

 

 

 

PROVIDING HOPE : Making a Difference in Students Lives

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Thanks so much for coming to my session today HOPE  for the United Way’s All In For Youth  and especially to Joan Gauthier for inviting me.

Hope is Everything. 

Shane Lopez fron the University of Kansas @hopemonger in his book Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want For Yourself and Others discusses the 4 core beliefs that hopeful people share :

  1. The future will be better than the present
  2. I have the power to make it so
  3. There are many paths to my goals
  4. None of them is free of obstacles

I discuss this with my students and let them know they matter. I hope you do too! We need to help students find the many pathways to reaching their goals and having hope.

Help students :

  • Edit down their goals to 2-3 specific ones.
  • See that HOPE is hard work and they can and do have the power to be hopeful.
  • See that obstacles are challenges that they can overcome and help them recognize that it’s ok to seek support from others.
  • Find what they excited and passionate about and encourage them to do more of those things.
  • Identify things they are good at and assist them in capturing the enthusiasm to pursue those things.
  • Find other hopeful people. Encourage them to suround themselves with hopeful people.
  • Seek the courage to keep going and understand that just because they fail they are not a failure.
  • To not just survive , but thrive
  • Fee and strengthen their mind.
  • Develop positive self talk.
  • Seek images of HOPE.
  • Give students blue ribbons  and have them pass it on to others.
  • Stay in the game.Find reasons to Never give up.

I also believe in the power of  touch and as I said today I  think we should bring back HUGS in schools. I recognize that some people don’t want to be touched and we need to set boundaries and respect that , but for the most part kids need HUGS. they are healing.

HAPPINESS is so important when it comes to HOPE. it is hard to be hopeful without being happy. To be truly happy according to researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky there are two components to happiness:

  1. positive emotions
  2. a sense that life is good

Scientists know that there is a genetic component to happiness, however students need to learn that happiness is also under their control . Helping students learn to be more grateful and show acts of kindness can lead to greater happiness. Happier people are better leaders, more creative and more productive so assisting students to learn how to be happier should be a priority.

You too can provide HOPE .

H appiness

Tom Bodett says a person needs three things to be truly happy in life. 1. Someone to love. 2. Something to do and 3. Something to HOPE for .

O pen

“Be passionate, fall madly in love with life. Be passionate about some part of the natural and/or human worlds and take risks on its behalf, no matter how vulnerable they make you.” … “Offer yourself to the world — your energies, your gifts, your visions, your heart — with open-hearted generosity.” – Parker Palmer

When we are open to new ideas to changing our mindset and shifting our thoughts to be more hopeful we can begin to recognize that we truly do matter in life . we do have a purpose.

P assion

As an educator it is essential that you live your passion and help students to find what theirs is.

E veryone has a story.

Find out what it is and celebrate them.

A MOOC I  took on happiness that I really enjoyed was the The Science of Happiness  You may wish to take it too.

I want you to know that YOU can and DO make a difference . Everything you say and do matters. All In For Youth. I am grateful you do what you do every day because YOU provide HOPE. Need some more tips check out my list of A-Z Coping Skills. You can find many more resources for you here.

I want YOU to go on a HOPE search . Look for HOPE everywhere and first and foremost BE RIDICULOUSLY HOPEFUL yourself.

Let’s #bringbackhugs and pass on HOPE to others.

 

The Alberta Family Wellness initiative has great resources. You may wish to be Brain Story Certified . It’s free click  here .

So may great educators at ALL in for YOUTH today. Truly thanks for all you do and spreading hope wherever you go. Thanks also to the Palix Foundation for doing such amazing work.

#bellletstalk