Kesha: The Holidays Are Hard If You Struggle With Mental Illness. Don’t Blame Yourself.

The holiday season is supposed to be the most festive and fun time of the year but sometimes it can quickly become a stressful and emotional time. All those plans and expectations of joy can turn tougher than they sound. This is especially true for those of us who struggle with mental illness — be it depression, anxiety, addiction or any other challenges. The holidays break your routine. Sometimes, you’re forced to spend time with family you rarely see and don’t always get along with. Or maybe you’re alone when everyone else is with family. Or you are off from…

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Almost half of Ontario youth miss school because of anxiety, study suggests.

At five years old, Shannon Nagy told her mother she wanted to die. In Grade 6, she missed almost the entire school year because more often than not, she couldn’t get out of bed. Nagy, now 20, was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and borderline personality disorder and was never able to finish high school. She spent most of her childhood immersed in a mental health care system that she said “did more harm than good.” Her struggle to get help and the impact that struggle had on her education is a trend captured in a new…

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I’m Depressed And Employed: How I Make It Work.

Since I was 15, I’ve been dealing with depression. I’m not talking about the blues, sadness, or simply the Mondays, but suffocating, full-blown depression—the kind that leaves you empty and hurting all at the same time. Throughout early adulthood, I had to constantly force myself to go to high school, college, and eventually, a full-time job. But then at 19, I was diagnosed with bipolar and things got even more complicated, adding mania, anxiety, and rapid cycling to the mix of symptoms. It seemed impossible to be productive, and there have been countless days, weeks, and even months when I…

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Strategies to calm the anxious brain.

Negative thoughts can bring you down. This is part of a series looking at micro skills – changes that employees can make to improve their health and life at work and at home, and employers can make to improve the workplace. The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell have created the Employee Recommended Workplace Award to honour companies that put the health and well-being of their employees first. Read about the 2017 winners of the award at tgam.ca/workplaceaward. Does your mind sometimes create thoughts – ones that make you anxious or worried – that you’d rather not have? When our unconscious…

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New clinic to support mental health in kids

The numbers aren’t pretty, but the future may be brighter for families with children experiencing learning or mental-health issues, thanks to a new initiative led by Western Education. According to Children’s Mental Health Ontario, as many as 1-in-5 children and youth in the province will experience some form of mental-health problem, with 5-in-6 of those not receiving the treatment they need. The Child and Youth Development Clinic hopes to fill that gap by welcoming children who are currently without access to the types of services the clinic offers. This week, Western opened the clinic’s doors in the former Bank of…

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Despite funding boost, advocates say Canada has a mental health crisis.

Frustrations over what some advocates are calling cutbacks to Afrocentric mental health services in Toronto came to a head last week in a town hall meeting in Scarborough. One by one, parents of Black youth stepped up to the microphone to share their experiences and voice their concerns over the lack of funding for programs. “We heard from a parent who spoke about basically having to refuse to leave the hospital because they were treating her 21-year-old son as just an angry Black man,” recalls Janelle Skerritt, a Black mental health advocate who moderated the town hall. “But she kept…

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For some students, the transition to university can be hard on mental health.

In a few weeks, more than two million students will step onto postsecondary campuses across Canada, roughly one-quarter of them in Toronto. It’s both an exhilarating and terrifying time for young people full of big hopes and even larger expectations. Many thrive and revel in their new-found independence. But others struggle and too often they struggle silently, because they’re afraid – or ashamed – to tell their parents, friends, or teachers that they’re anxious, depressed, or deeply unhappy. Seven years ago, Eric Windeler launched Jack.org to educate young people and their families on how best to advocate for their own…

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Trying To Understand ‘What Made Maddy Run’.

Madison Holleran ran track at the University of Pennsylvania. She was popular and beautiful — and raised in a big, supportive family in a New Jersey suburb. “By all accounts, Madison in high school was this young, happy, vibrant, wildly successful human being, who was destined — according to everyone around her — to do amazing things with her life,” says sportswriter Kate Fagan. And from the outside, Madison appeared to be thriving in college, too. But inside, she was struggling with anxiety and depression. Then, in the middle of her freshman year, Madison ended her life by jumping from…

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What Drives Transgender People to Serve Their Country?

When U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced on Thursday that transgender men and women could serve openly in the military, Captain Jennifer Peace was overjoyed. “I’ve been fighting for this and waiting for this for so long that it was much more emotional than I anticipated. I had to take a moment to let those feelings sink in,” Peace, a 30-year-old military intelligence officer, told NBC OUT. “Everything we’d been saying – that transgender people are fully capable of doing this job and that our service matters and is valued just like every other service member – it’s just…

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Meet the ‘doctors’ who will talk to you whenever you like.

Could health apps and chatbots eventually replace your traditional doctor? “Let’s talk about how you’ve been feeling over the past 30 days,” says Joy. “This will help me get a sense for your current state.” Joy probes a bit deeper, asking a series of questions: Do I feel hopeless? Do I feel restless? When I respond that I’m a bit stressed, Joy offers me several de-stressing techniques. Joy might appear to be my counsellor or my life coach, but the conversation I’m having is actually with a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to track emotions and provide…

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How It Feels to Be Turned Away and Disbelieved by Therapists.

Shared with me by a wonderful friend, definitely worth the read. M ———————————————————————————————– Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Palms sweating, I found myself nervously fidgeting my legs and glancing at the clock. I had been here before, many times over the past decade, and increasingly losing faith. At the beginning the sessions seemed to help — you could talk about how you were feeling, what you were experiencing, and you knew the person sat opposite you would believe you.…

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Tragic case of Robert Chu shows plight of Canadian medical school grads.

After he was passed over twice for a medical residency program, after he quizzed university officials and career counsellors about the reasons for his rejection, after exploring his legal options and shortly before ending his life, Robert Chu wrote a letter. It was precise, but penned with passion. It showed the persistence the 25-year-old medical school graduate had demonstrated throughout his accomplished life. But he also expressed his despair at what he believed is a flawed system used to match medical school graduates to residency programs — the final, obligatory stage in a doctor’s training. Each year, a growing number…

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‘A little bit OCD’: the downside of mental health awareness

It’s mental health awareness week. So that’s good. Well, mostly. There are downsides to increased awareness of mental health, it turns out. You ever met someone who is needlessly cold or even outright rude to those who deign to engage with them? I used to work with someone like that, and eventually one of his superiors had to call him out on it. I was within earshot, and happened to hear his defence, which was something like “It’s just the way I am. I think I’m on the spectrum.” He didn’t specify which spectrum. Maybe he meant the visible spectrum?…

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Yes, 13 Reasons Why glorifies suicide. You should watch – and talk to your kids.

Before we all descend into 13 states of apoplexy about the hit Netflix series 13 Reasons Why and the impact it could have on young people, let’s be clear about a couple of things: • Those calling for teens to be prohibited or otherwise dissuaded from watching the show have missed the boat. They’ve already seen it and, if not, the outpouring of adult angst will only make them more likely to do so; • Tweens and teens who watch 13 Reasons Why aren’t suddenly going to kill themselves. The so-called “contagion” theory is a bit more complicated than that.…

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How grief can lead to joy: Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg explains Option B.

Sheryl Sandberg and Dave Goldberg were a Silicon Valley power couple. In her bestselling book Lean In, Facebook chief operating officer Sandberg wrote about how she and her husband, who was SurveyMonkey’s CEO, leaned on each other. But that suddenly came to an end on a trip the couple took to Mexico in 2015. Goldberg died from cardiac arrhythmia at the hotel’s gym. Dave Goldberg and Sheryl Sandberg were married for 11 years. Sandberg was the one who found him. And then she had to return home to California to tell her children — then aged seven and 10 — that their father was gone.…

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The 5 percent solution for depression.

Selective Seratonin Reuptake Inhibitors: Who would pass up the opportunity of saying that mouthful on a regular basis? Well, okay, anybody who isn’t a biochemistry nerd would. But in case you don’t know, it’s a class of drug that throws some light in the amazing ways in which the brain works…and helps anyone immobilized by a clinical depression start to function like a normal person. Now, I’m a yoga teacher, and yoga teachers are known for pushing holistic solutions, not psychotropic drugs. But what if you suffered from a crippling depression because the chemicals your brain cells use to communicate…

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How Social Isolation Is Killing Us.

My patient and I both knew he was dying. Not the long kind of dying that stretches on for months or years. He would die today. Maybe tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, the next day. Was there someone I should call? Someone he wanted to see? Not a one, he told me. No immediate family. No close friends. He had a niece down South, maybe, but they hadn’t spoken in years. For me, the sadness of his death was surpassed only by the sadness of his solitude. I wondered whether his isolation was a driving force of his premature death,…

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Why self-care is an important part of parenting, and how to make time for it.

In traditional ground-fought wars, the command post behind the lines would often have hot coffee, good food and dry clothes. Was this because the generals were selfish? Or because they deserved it for having made the highest ranks in the military? No, it was because if the command fell or experienced low morale, the rest of the troops, and indeed the entire war effort, would be in jeopardy. Those leaders making critical decisions needed to be at their best. Now think of that in terms of parenting. Parents are the generals of their household. How do you, in particular those…

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A Day in the Life of a Student With an Anxiety Disorder.

Every day is a challenge. I wake up with a nervous stomachache. I get dressed and put on my mascara, trying to hold the brush tightly with shaky hands. I try to eat something, but I can’t. Everything makes me feel sick. At school I greet my friends with a fake smile and try to appear as calm as can be. It doesn’t last long. I spill out my worries in a stream of chatter. They are all irrational, so nobody understands. They tell me to “just calm down” and “it’ll be OK.” I don’t understand why it’s only me fearing…

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