Simple Things You Can Do to Improve Your Mental Health

Today is World Mental Health Day. Here on my blog, I have talked about mental health some as like many Canadian families we have struggled with mental health issues and there is a real struggle going on. It has been five years since my teenage daughter had a major mental health episode. It has been five years of recovery. Working on our mental health is something we take as important as our physical health.  So how can you improve your mental health?

Give Yourself a Break

Often we are our own worst enemies.  We need to treat ourselves with the kindness we would give to others. Avoid self-criticism and show yourself love and respect. Make time for the things that matter to you. Make the things you enjoy a priority.  If you love bubble baths like me, take one. Love to take photos, take great shots. Love to read, immerse yourself in a great read.

Look after You

One of the things I have not been great at is looking after myself. The physical me that is. If you want to be healthy mentally, you need to take care of your body. You need to eat healthily. Water intake is also important as is getting enough sleep and exercise. I have also started taking supplements.  Sometimes going for a walk is the perfect medicine.

Quiet Your Mind

I am not sure if you are like me but my mind can be going a mile a minute. For me, prayer helps me focus and turn things over to a higher power. For others meditation works. For me, prayer time has become an important daily ritual.

Find Your Tribe

The people you allow in your life become your tribe. Find a support network. If you are feeling friendless, alone, reach out. My teen was feeling this way recently especially right after her graduation. She started attending events that she enjoyed and met some cool new friends. She is now hanging out with them on a weekly basis. They have become a support network for her.

Volunteer

When you give to others, you can not help but feel good. It is also a great way to meet like-minded people. I have met some incredible people when I have volunteered even celebrities so you never know.

Seek Help

When things seem to be spirally out of control, we often isolate ourselves. I know I did but this is the time when we need to be seeking help.

Let me know what do you do to work on your mental health?

 

Lets Talk Mental Health: One Teen Story

hospital wait
waiting at the hospital

Almost a year ago my teen suffered what one would call a serious mental health episode. It was bad and it was scary, but the scariest part was the lack of mental health help for my daughter and teens like her here in Canada.

My daughter on March 27th, 2012 at the end of a long field trip at trip at school had a complete and utter breakdown in front on 3 teachers. How she ended up making it home safe that day I am not sure of, but very thankful for. When I finally saw my daughter it was l already 6 hours later, and her body was shaking, her eyes were glazed, her speech did not make sense. She was having visions ( her words,the medical word is hallucination) . Her eyes would dart and take her to another place. The scary part was about to get scarier.

As we sought mental health help for her, a teen who was considered in crisis by mental health professionals we were told we would have to wait for a hospital bed. Even though she was considered high priority, there were no beds in the GTA. Not one. The wait list were long.

We waited over 8 weeks to get her a hospital bed the first week of June and remember she was high priority.

She got diagnosed, and was released with lots of recommendations for community support.

When we tried and access those supports for her, the wait lists were long. She needed a section 23 placement for school or she would have to be Safe Schooled meaning she would not see a classroom for 10 months. She returned to a regular school for the first time in 10 months just last week, with never getting that section 23 placement.

As for community supports my teen remains on the wait list for several 10 months later.

I had to seek private support. Her therapy equaled my rent payment. Not that i minded spending a penny as I simply wanted her healthy. I am very grateful that I can say 10 months later I am getting my daughter back one day at a time. I am very grateful it has been at least 6 months since she last had a vision, or episode. Today, she is healthy and happy as she starts back to school. Yes she has to take medication every day, but now she has coping skills and can live well with her illness.

So many of our teens are not as lucky as my teen.

Here in Canada, according to my daughters doctor not a single bench mark is being met. Here in Toronto they have a plan to improve things but it has been more then slow in coming.

Lets really talk about it and just maybe our kids wont need to wait to help when they really need it.

now today on Twitter Bell Canada is giving 5 cents for every tweet with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk..

Share my daughter’s story or this infographic freely with the hashtag.

 

Mental Health and the Canadian Teen

Some of you may know I have a wonderful teen age daughter, some of you have even met her. She is an awesome girl and I don’t say that just because I am her mom, but she has many great qualities, and it is WITH her permission I write about something important. She happens to think it is important too.

My daughter is a Canadian teen with a mental health issue. We waited a very LONG time to get a proper diagnosis, and now will have to wait an even longer time to get her the services she needs and deserves. In the meantime much of my paycheck is going to private therapy. Here in Ontario, the coverage for many of the services needed are not covered and wait times for community based services after a teen is diagnosed here in Toronto are at least a year long. Those are the facts. These facts as those that surround mental health in Ontario scare me, and they should scare you. When talking to my daughter’s specialist last week I found out here not a SINGLE benchmark is being met, and kids are dying or going unserviced. 1 in 3 Canadian teens who need mental health services NEVER get them.

Does that scare you? It scares me.

Because 1 in 5 teens will have some sort mental health issue, and those who don’t will have a family member with one. That is the reality.

I decided to create an infographic to share the facts and I would encourage you to share the facts too, may they be the catalyst for change. WAIT times need to be reduced, funding needs to be increased. School supports need to be in place. There is much to do.

and now for the FACTS.

Mental Health and the Canadian Teen

 

Coming Apart At the Seams-Depression Kills.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfNjxINzPHg&feature=related]

Have you ever felt like your life was coming apart at the seams? I have.

Every year millions here in North America will suffer episodes of depression. The fact is 1 in 5 of us will go through at least one episode of depression in our lives.

Many that struggle with the illness, and yes it is an illness, get help and  many that struggle with it do not. Many decide that suicide is the only way out. This week alone I know of 3 suicides all after struggling with the disabling  depression.

I have struggled with the illness myself, so much so that I asked that question Why Me? and even planned my own death.

I was 33 pregnant with my daughter, and going through a very messy divorce. When I had been married I was step mom to 3 amazing kids, I thought we had a good family thing going and then in a heart beat it was gone. Not only was my marriage in ruins but I was also ripped out of these kids lives. I cried for weeks. Sobbed. Wondered why me? It came to a head that Thanksgiving Day 1997. It was Thanksgiving and I saw nothing to be thankful for. I was house sitting for friends who were away for the holiday. I sat there and thought about it all day. I thought my life was over, and I simply wanted an end to the pain, to the sorrow, to the grief.  I thought about how I could do it. How I would do it. I lied on the sofa thinking it through and then I thought of the unborn child I was carrying. I would be committing murder if I killed myself.

As I thought about my unborn child that gave me the courage to do one of the hardest things I have done and that is make a call asking for help. I went to Mental health clinic in the state where I lived at the time. I was offered meds to help regulate my body but because I was pregnant I refused the drugs, but took advantage of the counselling, of the talking. I need that most of all. I have had depressive episodes since as well but none as bad as that day, and I am thankful for that.

For me what keeps the depression at bay is rest, relaxation, time with God, walking and talking.

Depression is an illness and someone you know could be suffering in silence today.

In this rush rush world are we each taking the time to reach out when we know a friend is going through a rough time, and I mean really reaching out?

If you are suffering from depression let me tell you I know what it feels like, I know what coming apart at the seams is. I have been there and let me tell you help is out there. Please reach out for it.

This week is Suicide Prevention week.Let’s be kind to each other, and reach out. If you need help it is there. Here are some resources if you need them:

Canadian Mental Health Association
Mental Health America
Mental Health Europe
Mental Health Australia
World Infant Mental Health
Sheffield African Caribbean Mental Health Association
Asian American Pacific Mental Health Association