May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Good Morning! Here’s my Monday Morning Blog!

Happy Monday!

Being a author who writes about teen issues, I’m wondering how our teens are doing through this unprecedented time. I see stories about how some kids are working through the changes and being as resilient as they can be. But what about the kids that aren’t? The ones that aren’t doing well with the stay at home orders? Aren’t learning as well at home without the day to day interaction with their friends? Those kids may not reach out and remain quiet. Are we checking in with them and asking them how they feel?

Since 1949, Mental Health America and affiliates have observed May as being Health Month. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness.

There are many messages popping up on social media with resources to help us. The CDC currently has a public Service Announcement which pops up when you search for mental health awareness on Google.

Be Kind to Your Mind:
Tips to cope with stress during COVID-19

PAUSE – Breathe and notice how you feel

TAKE BREAKS – from COVID-19 content

MAKE TIME – to sleep and exercise

REACH OUT – and stay connected

SEEK HELP – If overwhelmed or unsafe

During the quarantine and stay at home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are isolating alone, have major changes to their daily routines that are leading to feelings of helplessness, or are just scared they are going to get the virus. The stress created by this has affected everyone’s mental health, but the tips listed above are good ones to be aware of even when we aren’t involved in a full-blown pandemic. In my research on the topic, I have found a couple of resources for you, your teen, or someone you may care about to look into. Remember, we are all in this together.

“You are Not Alone”
Everyone faces challenges in life that will affect their mental health. Mental Health America states 1 in 5 people will experience mental illness during their lifetime. NAMI joined with the national movement to raise awareness about mental health with their “You are Not Alone” campaign which focuses on the power of connection for those affected by mental illness. Collectively, we can make a positive impact on the millions of people who are struggling and feeling particularly alone given the current situation of social isolation and physical distancing. They are asking the public to share their experiences with mental health conditions at NAMI.org/YourStory. They want to share the lived experience of others to provide a means for people who are struggling to relate to and find comfort in. They also have a NAMI COVID-19 resource guide available in English and Spanish, just follow this link NAMI COVID-19 Resources.

Tools 2 Thrive
Mental Health America’s 2020 theme is Tools to Thrive. They have a 2020 Mental Health Tool Kit that you can download from their website that provides practical tools that we can all use to help improve our mental health regardless of what we are currently dealing with. This year’s tool kit offers printable handouts on topics like Owning Your Feelings, Finding the Positive, Creating Healthy Routines, and others. There are also marketing materials that may be helpful for teachers or community leaders, but may also help families educating from home with some reminders or materials to discuss with their kids. Here is a link to their site Tools 2 Thrive. When requesting the Tool Kit, it will ask for title and organization. If schooling your kids from home, I would enter parent as your title and homeschool or remote learning as your organization.

For as much as we may not like some of the effects of social media and online gaming for our kids and teens, I think it is a saving grace we have it for our kids to stay in touch with each other. It also helps for families and friends to stay in touch during this strange time in our history. Be sure to use the technology to reach out to family members you haven’t heard from in a while. Let your kids have play dates and zoom meetings to just be themselves with their friends online. But, be sure to keep an eye out and ear open to make sure they are doing it safely. We all need to embrace some of the changes that are happening right now on how we interact with one another. But the interaction doesn’t have to and shouldn’t stop.

Lime Green ribbons signify Mental Health Awareness. Be sure to promote awareness by wearing a ribbon or wearing a lime green shirt. Remember to reach out if you are feeling lonely, scared or overwhelmed. We are all in this together.


Happy Mother’s Day!

I hope you all found ways to celebrate with your moms, grandmothers, wives, etc. yesterday. Some of us have moms in heaven that we recognize with flowers and prayers. The traditional ways of taking mom to brunch or meeting up for dinner at her favorite spot aren’t going to be an option this year. Let me know what creative ways you came up with to show mom that she is special in the comments below.

Have a great week!

Teacher Appreciation Week 2020

Good Morning! Here’s my Monday Morning blog!

How are you doing with the whole Coronavirus thing? It is too big to not be affecting most everybody in some way or another. We couldn’t have imagined all the changes that have happened since the virus was deemed a pandemic in the United States almost two months ago. Being told you would have to stay home to curb the spread of the virus, learn and communicate via the computer or a six-foot distance, or to have to wear masks when you go out in public.

Did you know that this week, May 4th-8th, is Teacher Appreciation Week? Since 1984, the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) has designated one week in May to honor men and women who lend their passion and skills to teach our children. Teacher Appreciation Day is tomorrow, May 5th. Before, parents would have been out shopping for that special teacher’s gift to present in peron, now it will turn into showing that appreciation virtually or by special delivery.

I have been wondering about kids and teens are really doing at this time. How are they feeling about missing out on going to school and seeing their friends? Yes, we have Zoom for teachers to bring their classes together, but learning from a computer at your dining room table isn’t the same as being at school with your friends. Even though some kids and teens have always said they don’t want to go to school, I don’t think this complete change was what they were imagining. Or, the reality of having their parents trying to teach them the ins and outs of algebra or that new math after breakfast was what they had in mind.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation with a very special seventh grader in my life. She’s a smart kid and loves school but, misses her teachers and fellow students. She finds it hard to get into remote learning because of how it was just thrown together and doesn’t feel very structured. It isn’t anyone’s fault that it happened this way, since we didn’t plan for the effects of the Coronavirus. She also feels that her grades may be suffering because she isn’t thriving as well in this less structured learning environment. Sure, it is one of the casualities of the situation we must adapt to, but it winds up being a negative impact on someone who is trying to do everything right.

The other ones who are on my mind lately are high school and college seniors who were due to graduate this spring. Just a couple of months ago, they were rolling into their spring quarter or semester on what they thought was the downhill slide into graduation. Then it all came to an abrupt halt. No prom, spring sports, or graduation ceremony. Those school events are what has given some of us adults the fond memories we hold in our hearts about that time in our lives. Things change, so maybe our “normal” will not be the “new” normal going forward.

Congratulations to all 2020 Graduates!!!

We are all trying to make the best of the current situation for those seniors and give them something similar to what they were expecting for their end of school activities and graduation.

-Many high schools around me made up signs for those seniors to put in their lawn to show us who they are. They are also having car parades drive by their homes to honor them.

-A friend of mine has a senior in her household. She had her daughter and her prom date still get dressed up, they got a dinner to go from the Olive Garden, took some pictures in the park, and did a bonfire at their house with the prom couple to make a memory for them. I have seen other seniors pose for pictures in what they would have worn to prom and post them on Facebook.

-There will be a graduation ceremonies, probably virtual, coming in the near future, but not the same as going to your high school football field or college auditorium to walk across a stage to receive your diploma (or the fancy document holder).

Have you seen people struggling with change through this pandemic? I have seen and personally struggled with things through all of this,

-Seeing friends and family struggling with things they were looking forward to doing being cancelled.

-The struggle from some teens to do school remotely when their heart is at school with their teachers and friends.

-College students being sent home to do school remotely, instead of being able to enjoy the college experience away from home.

-Me and many others who are now in the process of looking for new jobs due to no fault of their own.

-Me and many others, not being able to see their loved ones, who are in assisted living facilities which are currently on lock down from having visitors.

The best advice I have seen is to be gentle with yourself right now. Let yourself feel sad if you are sad or mad if you are mad. But, let yourself do what needs to be done to keep yourself moving forward with your goals and dreams accepting what the new normal may bring. It is ok if it feels a little bit weird, because it will. Be ready, life as we knew it pre-Coronavirus will probably be changed forever too.

If you are struggling, please reach out and ask for help. We are all in this together.

Have a great week!

Teen/Young Adult e-book free this weekend!

Peer pressure doesn’t have to win. Learn from Paul’s mistake in The Hard Way, go with your gut and do what you feel is right instead of getting involved with a crowd going the wrong way.

Be sure to pick up your e-book copy of The Hard Way for free this weekend through Cyber Monday.

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The Hard Way

How teens react to bullying

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

I intended on publishing this in October as a part of National Bullying Prevention Month, but we had a death in the family that delayed me from making it happen.

So, here it is now.

Bullying

In my last blog post I talked about the differences between being rude to, mean to and actually bullying someone. Bullying is defined as repeatedly doing something intentionally hurtful and not stopping when asked to do so. Sometimes the bullying stops, and the victim is able to work through it. But, in some cases, this behavior has led to victims living not only with depression and self esteem issues but also hurting or even killing themselves because of it.

Teen Suicide

According to an article on the website, kidshealth.org, 60% of all teen suicides are committed by shooting themselves with a gun. Overdose, cutting and hanging are other options typically used by teens. How many kids have gotten to the point of wanting to kill themselves and changed their minds? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) suicide is the third highest cause of death amongst teens ages 15 to 24 and there is one teen suicide for every 25 attempts. In my opinion, with the number of the teen suicides there are, the fact that there are 25 attempted ones just makes me sad.

Teens are at a transitional age. They want to be adults, but don’t have the life experience to handle everything that life throws their way. It may be one reason why some teens feel suicide is the only way to ultimately get away from a bully.

warren-wong-253598-unsplash
Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash.com

There are many programs available to help victims of bullying, why don’t teens choose to use them more? Fear of retaliation from the bully and being seen as weak by their peers and others are two main reasons why teens don’t try and get help. They try to power through their feelings. If the bully ends up getting bored or move onto someone else, the powering through it worked. If the bullying continues, then the teen may reach out for help or may resort to drastic measures to escape.

What are parents and mentors trying to do to help teens deal with bullying? We may be sending mixed messages to teens through what we are saying and doing. We teach our kids not to tattle on others. Is this helping the bully get away with hurting others? I will talk about this in my next blog post.

On another note…

My books in The Way series focus on teen issues. I would like to get copies of them into the hands of teens. I hope these books will help teens relate to what my characters are going through and help them work through the issue they are facing. Reading a book about the issue is a great way to start a conversation about it.

My first book, The Hard Way was published in 2017 about peer pressure. My second book, The Bully’s Way, is due to be published summer of 2019 and is about bullying.

Be sure to check out my website for a link to get your copy of The Hard Way!

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The Hard Way

October is National Bullying Prevention Month

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

Along with the coming of fall and Halloween, October is also National Bullying Prevention Month. Here are a couple of key dates.

Go Blue Day – the first Monday in October. World day of bullying prevention and kick off to National Bullying Prevention Month.

Unity Day – October 25, 2018 – a day to wear the color orange to stand against bullying

I found this really cool photo on a Facebook post. When someone says something hurtful to you, it is mean and shouldn’t happen. What they said may make you feel bad, but sometimes you have to ignore what people say and walk away. Easier said than done, I know. But, if it continues to happen, then you need to get somone to help you make them stop.

After reading many stories and obituaries written about teens who have tried or actually ended their lives through suicide, I am upset by how many of them are doing it because of how other teens or adults have treating them. How do they get to the point that they feel there is no other way out? Has our society not given the victim a viable avenue to pursue to get help? Or do we have a way, but the victim is afraid to pursue it because of potential repercussions that may come from it?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, one out of every five teens reports being bullied. That is a lot of teens being bullied. And if that is per the definition stated above, we have a lot of bullies too.

This is one of the reasons why I chose bullying for the focus of my second book, The Bully’s Way, to be published Summer of 2019. To bring the issue up in a readable format in hopes that a teen may find some help or reassurance they are not the only one going through it.

My next post is going to dig a little deeper into the subject of bullying with a few more statistics and some other thoughts. Be sure to watch for it!

Looking for a book about peer pressure, another big teen issue? Be sure to check out the books tab on my website.

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The Hard Way

The link on my page will take you to Amazon.com to purchase your copy. It is also available on the Barnes and Noble website.

Have a great week!

Book Review – Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

Sorry I missed you last week. Life with work and home got pretty busy for me. Didn’t leave a lot of time to write. It was the first Monday I ever missed!

Time for a book review. Not only was it a book I wanted to read, but it is part of a research project for me on the topic of teen suicide. A pretty big topic of conversation for the audience I write for. The last few posts have been about bullying. And a lot of teen suicide is a direct result of being bullied. So, it was good for me to take the time this weekend to read it.

Continue reading “Book Review – Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher”

Teen Issues from an adult perspective – Why people bully others?

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

The next book in The Way series, The Bully’s Way, is a story about bullying and one response to it. I hope to publish October 2018 during Bullying Prevention Month. Maybe even on National Unity Day. A day in which people wear orange to show support for students who have been bullied. In 2018, that day will be October 24th. I write about middle grade and teen issues, but bullying is not exclusive to this age group. To round out Bullying Prevention Month 2017, I decided to look at people bully.

Continue reading “Teen Issues from an adult perspective – Why people bully others?”