Day 154 (of 188) It’s not easy being green; mental health day thoughts #blog4mh
I’ve always taken pride in my work with students with students of all abilities – even some pride in my work with students working with anxiety (apparently so well that my son has GAD to increase the personal connection!). But the biggest message that I try to share (with increased vocality each year) is that “It’s not easy” – for the learner but also for the support network – from the parents to teachers to friends to family to society. It’s not easy and it can be exhausting when people just want “it fixed”.
One of my CEAs just loaned me a great book:
and the book nicely illustrates that how one acts/presents is not necessarily how ALL are.
and it makes some great points that I try to emphasize to my entire learning community not just on Mental Health Awareness Day, but everyDAY, because it isn’t a two-week-fix issue – with anxiety, I like to say “Identify in grade 4 for independence in grade 10”, and currently we suspect approximately 40% deal with anxiety – not stress, but actual anxiety. This is not including depression, ptsd, OCD (should be CDO – gotta bring in some humour!) but likely blends ADHD & impulse control disorders. But we work with them all the same: personalized.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ support. There are some strategies that are more global – such as breathing breaks – my school does two via announcements each day, but my son gets agitated by focused breathing. Kinetic sand has been an amazing tool in my office as has Lego. But the use differs. I have some students who relax by building/creating, others by deconstructing (much nicer than destroying).
My fear: self medication & isolation because of a lack of a support team. I have lost too many classmates from my youth (and likely many students in my career) from a blend of not fully understanding this topic and an unwillingness to address the issue – because it’s difficult. Some symptoms only appear at home (or school) and often the ‘other side’ isn’t willing to get involved because “they don’t see it”……..yet (as I put it). But my grad class was 50% of who arrived in grade 8 and upon reflection…..well, we didn’t know then what we know now….and I like to reflect on the past students who have reached out via social media to let me know ‘how things are going’ (one’s doing her phd!)
It’s not easy being green because what happens today is no guarantee of what will happen tomorrow (think of the stock market warning – and there’s a reason why they called it the Great Depression – wasn’t only about the $$).
It’s not easy being green because people want to ‘fix it’. Now. Or at least in a couple days/weeks so things can get normal. This is normal. Call it the new normal if you want, but it is what it is.
It’s not easy being green because we have so many ways to personalize the life experience (my coffee selection being a great example) but too often we want everyone to fit a same standard (same final exam, same school work….) we can, should and must differentiate, not because it makes things ‘easier’ for some people, but because it makes life ‘easier’ for some people. I would like to just yell at the kids to get in the car and go for a treat – but I know I’ve gotta give a ten minute “what do you think about ice cream” pre-load. And chores will get done if I ask them to, but I have to be adaptable on the timeframe; “NOW!” ain’t getting anything done – “by lunchtime” does.
It’s not easy being green because with empathy we can understand how freakin’ hard some days/events/minutes/seconds can be and there’s nothing we can do to just make it go away.
We are wearing green, not because today is Mental Health Awareness day, but because EVERY day is.