This post is brought to you by the team at ClearlyBalancedDays.com
At Clearly Balanced Days, we are all about Mental Health.
Given the state of the world over the last couple years, it is no surprise that rates of mental health emergencies are at an all new high, especially amongst our young people. Increasing the availability of mental health services needs to be priority #1 but, there is another piece that can help to turn these tides, that is mental resilience. The beauty of teaching our young people how to recognize and prioritize their mental health is that we are also learning to prioritize these things for ourselves. Approaching mental health the same way we would with a physical ailment, like asthma, or diabetes is how we break the stigma of mental illness. There is no reason it should be viewed any differently.
In our ongoing mission to increase awareness and prevent tragedies like the loss of our Alec, we work hard to speak up about these issues and further the conversation. It’s vital that we speak out about our own experiences and encourage others to do the same. We started the Alec J White Memorial Scholarship in 2018 to provide more opportunities to students going into Mental Health Services or a trade. In 2020 Alec’s Aunt Jana tossed out an idea just before his birthday 2/26… for everyone to grab a pink frosted donut on the day and to post a selfie with the hashtag #pinkdonutsforalec, and we’ve done it each year since. This year, we went a step further and created an online store on alecsantics.org/online-store with hats, travel mugs and stickers with 100% of the profits going toward our scholarships.
There is another huge piece of this we can’t stress enough. Each and every hat, mug, sticker, pink donut selfie or even just a trip for the donuts on 2/26 is an OPPORTUNITY! An opportunity for conversation about mental health and suicide.
Getting the conversation started isn’t always easy, knowing what to say isn’t either. It can be daunting; we don’t want to do more harm than good. There is a lot of misconception as well about talk of suicide. We used to think that talking about suicide could put ideas into someone’s head, research has shown that this isn’t the case. Talking about suicide can save a life. We might feel like we know someone well enough to know if they are in the kind of crisis that they might be lost to suicide, but this isn’t always the case. Unless we are checking in and having frank conversations, we can’t always know where someone is at, this includes our children.
The National Alliance for Mental Illness has many great resources, including this article and coloring book to help you get the dialog going. There’s a really great coloring book to go along with it that you can download for free from here. We cannot stress the importance of open communication about mental health and helping form that habit early with our kids can hopefully instill that resilience and understand that sometimes you may not feel ok and there is nothing wrong with that. We never have to face these things alone.
If you are looking for more resources check out NAMI.ORG and AFSP.ORG. If you or someone you love is struggling please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255