Excerpts from Toronto Star. Full article can be found here.
“Things happen, they get in the way. Feelings of ugliness, of being unloved. But they should get in your way at a young age so you can outgrow them, so you can learn to get around them, to live your life, to find yourself. To find who you really are inside, even if sometimes, it breaks your heart.”
“You got though so many things in life,” she sighs, recalling those experiences. “You lose people, you give birth to children, you see so many million things. You make choices. You learn to say no. You purify yourself, you look for spirituality, for emotional balance.
“I love the way our lives keep changing. There’s one great thing about knowledge in life, about experience, about maturity, about time, about getting older and that’s knowing what you stand for, what you believe in. There must be something good about this. There must be a good reason why we mature and we move on.”
There’s a word you’ll never hear in a new program to help children cope with troubling emotions: suicide.
It’s delicate, balancing the need for helpful mental health messages without mentioning the act, which has a tendency to spread like a terrible contagion.
The Hospital for Sick Children launched a new program this week — an interactive video game — to help children express their emotions. Being able to speak about feelings is a key part of mental health. The video is made for children ages 7 to 12. Rather than talking about suicide, the story set in space allows kids to choose different ways of responding to feelings such as being sad or left out. It seems a very young age to be worrying about suicide, but doctors say prevention and identifying risk early on is critical. “This age group is such an important one,” says Dr. Peter Szatmari, chief of child and mental health at Sick Kids.
It’s more difficult for kids with emotional difficulties to come up with solutions; they struggle more than others to be able to say what’s going on, says Roberge.
Szatmari says current thinking is that behaviour is driven by the complex interplay of cognition and emotion. By bringing emotions into conscious awareness, you can challenge them and apply reason to them.
“That’s why the video game is cool. It’s the pairing of expressing and thinking about your emotions. I can problemsolve this. I can deal with this.”
So you failed a test, he says. Is it really the worst thing in the world?
“People have to be shown this as a model and showing it in a video game is a really effective way for younger children.”
The interactive story — in his travels, a space explorer finds creatures dealing with differing emotions — will be accessible to many children on About Kids Health, the Sick Kids website for families and patients. It has about 3,000 articles on subjects from juvenile diabetes to ADHD and will have about six million visits this year.
Emerging research shows that kids do learn and can change behaviour from technology such as videos, says psychologist Patrick McGrath. It’s not as effective as work with a trained professional, but modelling is a powerful tool, says McGrath, vice-president of research and innovation at IWK Health Centre in Halifax. “Modelling is one of the most effective ways of teaching. The way you have the most influence is not what you tell them, but what you do.”
“For us, mental health is not a separate topic but part of what we do,” said Sketchley. “We have kids who take part in a wellness group and meet every Friday at lunch hour to talk about initiatives like the yoga, meditation, and we want to do some work around intentional acts of kindness.
“… But you can’t have a building where kids aren’t loved and expect you are going to introduce a mental health program that will solve the issues.”
On Tuesday, in announcing the four-year plan, director of education Donna Quan said student anxiety interferes with learning, academic progress and self-confidence, and it’s important for the board to “build confident citizens of tomorrow.”
The plan is in response to worrisome survey results released last year that showed most students in Grades 7 to 12 feel nervous or anxious most of the time, and that many are worried about their future; many reported feeling tired or wanting to cry much of the time, and half of teens said they were lonely or down.
All 39,000 staff of the board —from principals to lunchroom supervisors and caretakers — will be trained in the basics of mental health by the end of June, Quan said, and training will be ongoing.
Every school is also now expected to have a mental health team made up of school staff, parents and students.
Source: Buddha Doodles