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Real Talk about Mental Health

October 10 is World Mental Health Day.  This is a sensitive topic, but one that demands our attention. 

I’ve struggled with mental health my entire life, whether I realized it or not. I remember moments in middle school when I had to go to the school nurse because I couldn’t breathe. I would try to take full, calming breaths like my mom had taught me but no matter how deep I tried to breathe, I just wasn’t feeling right. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I struggled to understand why I got so anxious, why I couldn’t leave my bed for weeks and why, no matter how much affirmation I received from teachers, friends, and family, I didn’t feel worth it. It wasn’t until I got to college and hit rock bottom that I realized I needed help. 

Depression and anxiety plagued my sophomore year and I was unable to get myself help. From the outside, I probably looked fine but to the people that knew me best, it was clear that something was wrong and that my academic and social life was starting to be affected significantly. They called a counseling center and made me an appointment, they sat with me while I was studying and talked me through some of the darkest times I’ve had thus far. It’s a scary reality, but a reality we can no longer ignore.

Talking about mental health can be one of the scariest conversations to have. For those with little experience on the topic, it can be even scarier, but the most important thing is to try. If I had not had the support of my family and friends, I truly would not be here today. It is because of the people that love me that I was able to get help and become equipped with the tools to help me handle my mental health in the future. 

~ Grace Guynn, 2019

From a parent’s perspective, listening to your child tell you they are struggling to hold their life together is frightening. So many questions surge through your mind. Did I do something wrong? What should I do to help?  Is my child safe right this second and where can she go to get help immediately? 

I don’t claim to have answers, just more questions. But in these questions, I have learned that positive mental health can be practiced and promoted. Socially and culturally, we need to view mental health as seriously as we do other physical illnesses. The harsh fact is that suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds and, in 2017, there were 129 suicides per day in the United States. We can no longer be afraid to bring up concerns regarding a loved one’s mental health.  

Pebble Tossers strives to provide safe opportunities that promote positive outcomes for youth and teens, to foster positive relationships, and to equip youth with the support they need to grow and develop into healthy, active adults. We want youth to feel valued, respected, and to experience the joy of serving.

The World Health Organization website states that every 40 seconds someone loses their life to suicide.  They offer these tips of “40 seconds of action” to combat this:

  • If you are struggling, take 40 seconds to kickstart a conversation with someone you trust about how you are feeling. 
  • If you know someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, take 40 seconds to start a conversation and ask them how they are doing. 
  • If you work in media, highlight the 40-second statistic in interviews, articles and blog posts. 
  • If you work in the arts or on digital platforms, interrupt your production or broadcast to transmit a 40-second message about mental health or preventing suicide. 
  • If you are an employer or manager, take 40 seconds to formulate a positive message of support to your employees about resources available to them in the workplace or local community in times of mental distress. 
  • If you want your leaders to hear your request for action, record a 40-second audio clip or video telling them the action you want them to take on suicide prevention and mental health. 
  • If you have a platform for communicating with a large audience (social media, television, radio), provide 40-second slots for sharing mental health stories and messages. 
  • If you are a parent, take 40 seconds to ask your kids about their relationship with their friends.
  • If you are a teen, scroll through your social media and pay attention to sudden changes in posts of your friends, take 40 seconds to send them an encouraging chat or message.

Remember to respect the privacy of friends, colleagues or acquaintances who may be struggling and never share any information about their mental health on a public channel without their consent. 

Helpful resources:

US Dept of Health and Human Services has two apps for parents:

Bark:  Internet safety app for parents to use on all family phones that monitors text messages, emails, and social activity for signs of harmful interactions and content related to signs of cyberbullying, depression, online predators, adult content, and more.  

TalkLife: Developed by folks at Harvard and MIT, TalkLife is a peer support platform that engages an online community when people just someone who’s willing to listen. Posting can be done anonymously.  

Koko:  Developed by researchers at MIT, this app provides help for people in all states of distress from bullying and harassment to suicide and self-harm. Koko provides evidence-based supportive interactions with users while referring users in crisis to international lifelines for immediate help. 

~Jennifer Guynn, 2019

 

 

Share Love with Fragile Children

Nate is a sweet special needs child in the fourth grade. Unlike his older brother, he has trouble verbally communicating. Unable to hold a conversation, his speech is typically limited to 1 or 2 short sentences. This makes it hard for him to make friends. “We tried keeping him in regular classes,” his father said, “but he didn’t adjust very well. He needs special attention.”

Special needs students are wide-ranging. Some have physical disabilities you can see, while others might be sight or hearing-impaired. Other kids might struggle with anxiety, or have a learning disability like dyslexia, ADHD, or autism. Special needs children might find it hard to do typical tasks like reading or getting around. Making friends can also be difficult for them. Socialization can be a challenge.

We can help share love show love to children with special needs by helping them to be more independent. We can also simply being their friend and take or showing a special interest in them the things they enjoy. Spending some quality time together is extremely valuable.

How Your Family Can Help:

– Get Involved with Special Olympics Georgia
– Volunteer with Sunshine on a Ranney Day
– Donate to the upcoming Focus + Fragile Kids Silent Auction

What is the kindest thing you can do for someone with special needs?

How Your Family Can Make A Positive Impact

What does citizenship mean to you? Regardless of what state we live in, we are all part of the United States of America. We can look selfishly at our citizenship and only see what’s in it for us, or we can do the opposite and try to make our neighborhoods, schools, and environments better places. We can invest in the people in our local community. Let’s not forget a big part of America’s founding culture was for people to have dinner together, for neighbors to know each other and for people to help each other out.

Statistics show knowing about our country’s history – our Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and other important documents and events – helps us become more familiar with it. Our citizenship will mean more to us and we will want to give back out of gratitude.

We can be good citizens by knowing our history, investing in our local community, and having an attitude where it is better to give than to receive. Genuine love and appreciation of your home country will lead to small acts of service that help others.

Here are 10 ways your family can make a positive impact:

1. Help your kids share the love by donating gently loved toys at American Kidney Service, North Fulton Charities, Foster Care Support Foundation, Atlanta Mission
2. Start your spring cleaning early by sorting through your unused clothing and furniture and donating it to your local Goodwill, local thrift store, Dress for Success Atlanta or the Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta
3. Prep and Deliver Meals with Open Hands Atlanta
4. Support Grieving Families and Their Children at Kate’s Club
5. Spend quality time with Elders playing games and creating smiles at A.G. Rhodes
6. Recycle with Live Thrive Atlanta
7. Explore Historical Sites and Landmarks in Your Community
8. Join in on Friday Fun Night at My Sister’s House
9. Gardening at Lost Corner Preserve
10. Become a member of Pebble Tossers and Start a Ripple of Giving

Make a commitment to your community by being an active citizen!

Live in the Joys of the Season

Joy is defined as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. This holiday season experience the joy of service with Pebble Tossers. Volunteering brings the joy of serving others, the joy of connecting with your community, the joy of personal development, and the joy of spreading the holiday cheer this season. Many families in crisis experience hardships making this time difficult to find joy. When people face a crisis they are unable to adapt to, they desperately need a support structure to help them cope. Having an army of people ready to serve means the world to them. As we celebrate many holidays with our community, we hope to empower you and your family to get involved and make a difference!