- 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 .
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
I have been going to school almost every September for the past 53 years. When I reflect on that I can hardly believe it myself. This year as I focus on all the joy each day brings me, I am also going to reflect on my retirement year. The lasts …
The last time I will enter a building as a full-time educator . This awesome responsibility never eludes me. I know I can be the person who makes a difference in a child’s life. I will meet so many new students this year, many who will teach me great lessons. I look forward to that.
I also recognize that teaching and counselling takes great courage and energy. Often after a full week I feel like the pic above and need to rejuvenate for the week ahead. Weekends are a time for self-care and reflection so that the week ahead is exciting not only for the students , but for me as well.
I also recognize that each day requires me to challenge myself to focus on the positive while acknowledging that challenges will always occur along the way. It is up to me to not sweat the small stuff. Although I will never feel the anxiety I felt my first days of teaching “don’t sweat the small stuff “, still applies as much today as it did then.
I need to take each day as it comes and enjoy the moments. I must say easier to do as I have grown as a person and as an educator over the past years. Do I still fall short ? You bet. This is a life skill that is easy to say , but not always easy to master.
This will be my last first week of school … How did you feel your first week back to school?
People have been asking me if I am really serious about retirement and yes I am , but that doesn’t mean I don’t really love my job anymore . I absolutely do. I plan on making this year great! Why? Because each and every day I work with students and what I say and do matters.
I am far from perfect, but I really try my best to help students and create a positive environment in the school I work in. I love collaborating with educators and others that I know truly care.
I am often reminded that what I say and do matters and that is a scary and awesome responsibility. I never want to hurt a child or anyone for that matter, but I am human and I make mistakes . When I do I need to say sorry , make amends and do my best each and every day to be the best person I can be. I also recognize that I can be that one person who changes the trajectory of a students life , making a positive difference that they remember for a lifetime.
Does what you say and do matter? … you bet. Students are watching us daily … so as I enter my retirement year I want my students to know that I love what I do and will continue to do so until the day I retire. I love being with them and helping them as much as I possibly can. I look forward to this year and will treasure the memories I make with each and every person that crosses my path.
What I Say and Do Matters … and so does what you say and do.
We are School Counsellors
- We chose this profession. It is the best profession ever. All professions have struggles. Focus on the positive. Work towards making things better by being an advocate for other School Counsellors. Join your professional organization, have a voice on twitter and /or write a blog celebrating all the amazing things that happen in our profession.
- Self care is so important to what we do. We can’t help others if we don’t help ourselves.
- Embrace your professionalism. You were trained well. Be ethical. Consult, consult consult.
- Model a positive attitude towards work each and everyday.Your students will notice and feel it when you set the tone in your school and in your offices.
- Be a good digital citizen. Be authentic , but if you need to vent do so privately and with colleagues in counselling who understand. Never vent online.
- Connecting and collaborating makes us better at what we do. Collaboration has made me better at what I do. It actually makes the work I do easier. Share , connect and collaborate. It will make you a better professional.
- Passion and purpose help our students. If we wake up with the mindset that we have an awesome responsibility to help others today knowing that each and everyday we have an opportunity to make a difference. We don’t always see the fruits of our labour , but that’s ok because we know that the small things we do can have a huge impact.
- You are you. Be the best version of yourself. Don’t get caught up in comparing yourself to any other School Counsellor. Continually focus on professionally developing yourself so that you impact students in a positive way.
- Live every day One Day At a Time. Easy to say , not easy to do. Focus all of your energies on making this the best day ever. Just for today I will … laugh.
- Maintain gratitude for the work that we do. Being grateful for what we do rather than focusing on the things that we are not happy about is always a great state of mind. We chose this profession. I am grateful everyday that I did.
“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
Our students are passionate when it comes to mental health and wellness. They continue to work diligently when it comes to mental health and anti.stigma spreading messages of hope. All year they have continuued to do things that make a difference. Finally due to the generosity of Gary Nissen and Empowering minds … Connex we were able to produce this lovely colouring book for all to enjoy! Every year partial proceeds will go to a different chaity, but this year students chose the Children’s Hospital mental health unit.
Thanks so much to all those who collaborated with the wellness team to make this a very special project. Our photography , spectrum and who’s frank clubs. All know the importance of reducing stigma. raising awareness and improving overall wellness. We hope you have fun , relax and enjoy this students led project that is meant to touch your heart and make a difference. So let go, de-stress be as creative as you want . We hope you will be inspired to design your own colouring page while thinking about the messages that matter from our students.
Five years ago I did not paint and now thanks to great friends and my experiences in ETMOOC , I have more confidence and find it one of the most rewarding , therapeutic experiences that I can imagine. I take mini courses and I watch lots of youtube videos to get tips. It is so much fun.
I have keratoconus a progressive eye disease, ( I was diagnosed later in life ) so I think partly that diagnosis has driven me to create visually in case my vision ever gets really poor. Painting is therapeutic and healing for me. I have played sports all my life and I absolutely love to read, both which can bring me flow , but nothing brings me the kind of flow that painting does.
Painting brings me flow the kind of flow that was discovered by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Fifteen hours can feel like five minutes for me. I love that it brings me joy and that I am completely absorbed in the process. It is fun and easy and yes I think anyone can benefit from art and painting. If I can you can too.
I plan on using the painting that I did above, thanks to the online instructions from theArtSherpa ( see below) with our students. Art and Counselling definitely go together . Paintings tell stories often times with hidden messages.
Process for students:
Today we are going to embark on a journey of letting go of any negativity and go with the flow. For the next two hours you are not allowed to say to yourself I can’t . If you hear yourself speaking those words take your note pad and write I can … I will.
So let’s begin this process by being mindful and breathing. Lead students through a short mindfulness process to begin. Let them know that they are going to create a special painting today and that there are no mistakes. They can create their trees and painting anyway they like even if it is different from the paining they see. Like mine birch trees do not produce multi coloured leaves , but I did just because I wanted to visually and I love the effect. This seminar is about being yourself and letting go.
If they would like to follow the step by step instructions here they are:
- Write messages of hope and their dreams for their future in pencil on their canvas.
- Ask students if anyone would like to share their hopes and dreams with others.
- The size of canvas it up to the student. Have students bring the size of canvas they want to work on.
- Divide your canvas into six equal sections. They don’t have to be exact and you don’t have to measure them. Tell students they can estimate. So begin by saying Today we are going to create . We are going to start by painting a rainbow with trees, you can use any method you like to paint your colors on your canvas. I used upwards stokes, but really any would work. Start with red, orange , yellow, greens, blue and purple.
- Guide students through the process being as creative as you like in explaining what they can do next. Constantly remind them it is ok to make mistakes ( really there are no mistakes, but they may perceive them as such). Remind them that their perceived mistakes lead to more creativity and it is ok to be as creative as they wish going with the flow and what their heart wants to paint.
- Trees can be very symbolic and you can discuss this with students.Trees are strong and unique just like each of them. Birch trees can mean new beginnings. You can discuss with students what they believe their trees mean for them. I chose nine trees, but they can choose any number that means something to them. I also chose to add flowers and really birch trees have no colorful flowers, but I like the effect. The lovely thing when you create art just for the sake of it is that there is no right or wrong . There are no mistakes. It just is … creative , how wonderful and freeing.
- The rest of the directions are below in the video. You can watch and create your own instructions.
- Most importantly have fun and trust the process.
Check out the video below for detailed instructions:
If you decide to do this process with your students , please share your creative ideas with me @sspellmancann.
Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life