Each time we do these events, we learn something new. This was the 1st event we’ve done, that wasn’t tied to a school/college/office/sports team/ responder group. Therefore, no built-in audience. No mandate.
That’s a scary proposition, & especially one when in 2019, we’re STILL at a place where most in society erroneously equate MH w mental illness. Why does this hurt a voluntary event? Bc ppl still feel that by going, they’re labeled in “that” category.
Yesterday, w the members of the community who showed & their engagement, steps were taken to reverse those trends.
Mike Mauti from Penn State & the NFL was our special guest presenter, & his message was on point. Someone whose physical injuries – 3 major knee surgeries, colitis, colon removed, absolutely affected his MH.
I like to take something from each of these events that I learn from the audience, & share. Here was my big epiphany, & I thank the teens who stayed & asked questions for helping me realize this.
They talked abt how they get away from stress & anxiety. What they shared, not surprisingly: YouTube, Friends episodes, gaming. We spoke to them abt the “passive” nature of these “getaways” & how they don’t help you cope, deal, release & rewire the stress & anxiety. They just act as distractions. It hit me at that moment – bc one of the kids asked abt friends telling them to use drugs/alcohol. Here was my takeaway:
These habits our kids form at young ages – to escape the pain passively to take their mind off of it & not deal w “it”…that is the breeding grounds for reaching for drugs, alcohol & other vices as they get older. If instead we can teach yoga, breathing, meditation, art as therapy, at YOUNG ages, instead of the smart devices alone, we will be giving them the tools to succeed.
Much props and thanks to the Sophia Valsamos Foundation, & to friends & neighbors who showed for the event. Thanks all!