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What Parents Need to Know to Help Kids Through Mental Health Struggles

Depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges are on the rise, especially among kids. How can you support yourself and your child move through such a difficult expereince? Deb chats with high school couselor Carolyn Crouch about helping people make their mental health a priority – so they can thrive.

1 (6s):
Welcome to spirited straight talk the podcast to help you thrive with the help of spirit. I’m Deb shepherd, psychic medium spiritual teacher and author. Each week. I bring new insights to help you heal from loss connect with spirit, enter in setbacks and to try AMS. So let’s get started. Have you ever been depressed or have about someone you love perhaps even touched by suicide or had thoughts about suicide? Well, you’re not alone because it is an epidemic. And in may, it is mental health month. And I really wanted to bring this topic to the forefront and discuss all the ins and outs as much as possible. I have written a book grieving to believing and the stories in there about depression and grief and suicide.

1 (51s):
I’ve been touched by it with my husband and nephew, many other people, and we still don’t want to talk about it. It’s still taboo. And so I wanted to really let people realize that this is huge. In 2020, there is an estimated 21.0 million adults just in the United States who felt depression episodes. And I do know now that we have so many people that are having anxiety and they’re overwhelmed and they’re very sensitive. And I know that this is affecting so many people in schools and their relationships and their jobs and just their everyday life that we want to get out of bed or connect with other people with the pandemic. It added even more layers to children in the industry where people are feeling overwhelmed.

1 (1m 38s):
I’m hearing these stories about kids turning officer’s zooms and just zoning out. And these were kids that really participated in school or were really at this place that they were feeling good about themselves and they fell back even further. And that we’re seeing a lot more of these things with these kids that are feeling where do they fit in? What, what happens? What do I do next? And if I’m, if I’m alone and I think that’s the biggest thing is I don’t want people to feel like they’re alone with depression. I’ve always called it cancer of the mind. Versus people think that it’s something not as critical as any other part of the body. And it is the most important to keep us balanced in so many ways, because this topic is so sensitive and it has so many different layers.

1 (2m 21s):
I reached out to a dear friend of mine, Caroline crouch. She was there for me when my husband died and my son was just 11 Jake. And I want to go back to our meeting the story, but she works with these high school kids that have a variety of layers to them. And they’re actually really cool kids, but we need to understand them and parents and teachers and school districts and whatever else is out there in the medical community. I think we still don’t know enough about this. So I am so grateful and so honored to bring in one of my dear long-term friends, Carolyn crouch, and everyone give her applause. Yay. You’ve let Dana couple of times when I’ve told Dana about you, lots of times.

1 (3m 3s):
And so she knows a lot of the story, but not all the things since we haven’t talked recently, but I thought maybe to begin is just go back to a story when we first met, which is pretty cool. I haven’t forgot about it until we started bringing it up again.

2 (3m 16s):
Absolutely. And before we go any further, Deb, thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of your podcast. Yes, I adore you, you know, and always just, and

1 (3m 24s):
We have this connection.

2 (3m 26s):
It’s amazing. So I am a high school counselor at an alternative school and you and I met through a mutual friend who, with whom I was doing some school counseling at our school, and we had a big gathering for the school counselors in the district. And it’s, it was the one once a year gathering. And we got together and, and our, our mutual friend invited you to be a presenter at this, at this gathering of, of high school counselors, as well as the high school and middle school. And you work the room, you worked with all of us and talked with all of us

1 (4m 4s):
Through, Oh my

2 (4m 6s):

1 (4m 8s):
Now what I do remember when you started telling the stories or you remember that someone that was supposed to be the speaker couldn’t make it. So I was sort of last minute and I happened to be available, which is another great thing that the stars aligned. Let’s say that

2 (4m 23s):
A hundred thousand percent. And it was, it was amazing and years, decades later, cause I’d been in the district for 20 years.

1 (4m 30s):
Oh my goodness. And you look almost 22. So

2 (4m 33s):
It was so sweet and people still talk about you coming in and just talking with us on the human level, you know, as a practitioner taking care of the practitioners and just helping us with our own things. So it was, it was pretty amazing to have you there and shortly after when you came in and did your presentation with our group is when your former husband passed. And then we had conversations about Jake and bringing Jake over to our school to give him some support. So just for his, a little bit of history, the alternative school in which I work, we only have 285 students in our building Nevermore, but always less. But what that 285, it provides us the opportunity to really work with students, to hear their stories, to be a part of their lives, to hear their past and to support them as they move forward into their, into their future.

2 (5m 24s):
So, and that was one of the things that we did with, with Jake when he came over and we knew that he was going to go through some, some tough times and, and he certainly did, but he found a community. He found his, he found his voice because he was part of our leadership. He was also part of our boys basketball team. And he even traveled and earn credit for when he was over in Europe doing his,

1 (5m 47s):
It was the best gift and knowing you a little beforehand and just being open, it was a no brainer on some level. But thinking as I had that, I mean, not everyone has a Carolyn, you know, around, in a school like this and the school don’t they take in students from all the schools in the district high schools. Correct?

2 (6m 8s):
Yeah, absolutely. And we’re at that place now where we are application only in Lao. So people are, you know, students are or whomever and the district can’t force a student to come to us. It’s a student has to be at that place where they are ready to find something new and be a different version or a better version of themselves. So students can apply and we take students from all over our district.

1 (6m 33s):
I love that. Yeah. And it’s a melting pot. Yes. I mean, it’s, it’s one of those schools that you’re going to get a variety of things. So all kids are going to feel like they fit in, which I thought was also the beauty of it.

2 (6m 45s):
Absolutely. I mean, ethnicities, the cultural diversity, the LGBTQ community, we are primarily a, a school that you, anything that you would see in a, you know, in a traditional comprehensive school, you’re going to see at our school. And we, I mean like EV everything, we are just such a melting pot. It is so neat to see. And, and in our staff are just as diverse as our students, but we’re all alternative in the sense that we want to do life different. We want to do school different and we want to show up different.

1 (7m 21s):
And I love it because they’re accepted. Yes. That’s the big thing that I feel is cause for a lot of depression and cutting, or whatever kids are doing is because they’re not being accepted. They don’t feel like they fit in, well, this there’s no group to fit in. There’s just so many varieties there.

3 (7m 39s):
When you went into this, we ended this event. Was it for the whole schools? Like all the counselors or all the teachers in this school? Is that what the event was? I’m trying to remember what the story was or was it kids?

2 (7m 54s):
The event was for adults. It was for the school counselors in our district. And again, back in the day we had an association that was just for a school counselors and we had middle school and high school counselors, but we never really had the opportunity to gather and to share. So once a month, a representative from the school would get together from the middle school, my high school we’d all get together and just kind of process and talk about what has happened, what is happening and you know, where focus and direction needs to be. However, once a year, the collective whole, although the high school counselors and all of the middle school counselors, we would get together and we would do some self-care as well as a couple of times, we were bringing some humor just to, for levity for us.

2 (8m 41s):
Right. And then we would also bring in career people or college people, or, you know, just things that were important at that time. And I absolutely do not remember who we invited.

1 (8m 54s):
I don’t remember it was a gentlemen, but I went in talking about the sensitive kids. Yeah. That’s what I went in for, because I knew that you guys were dealing with that. And I had a lot of clients that were coming that were kids. And so that was the topic that I chose when I came to speak. And then from that we connected yeah. And continue to connect. And we took classes. And then I came even to the school when Jake was there and I would do these meditations and show these kids how intuitive they were. You remember that they were so excited?

2 (9m 26s):
I’ll, I’ll tell you what that truly is like the highlight of my career.

1 (9m 31s):

2 (9m 32s):
You me? No, no, no. Cause we, that was my advisory class. You would come in and our advisory when I set up my advisory class and it was kind of like a homeroom that you would think of in elementary and middle school, but the advisory class at the time was really focusing on the self and the intuitive self and the students were all in. And I still hear back from students who were, I swear, I swear. I still hear back from students who said that that class was one of the most important classes that they’ve ever taken in, in their high school. Because, because we focused in on them and allowed them the opportunity to, to understand who they were and who they are.

2 (10m 11s):
And I can remember when you would come in and do meditations with the students and we’d process afterwards, I can remember a student saying that through this meditation. And you know, you can imagine that all of these high school kids out on the floor,

1 (10m 25s):
So I’m sitting some way, so not paying attention. You think they’re not paying attention.

2 (10m 29s):
They all are paying attention. And a kid came out of, out of the meditation saying that I saw myself larger than life. And I, I was holding the world in my hand. I was like, absolutely, you have the world in your hands.

1 (10m 43s):
Want to cry.

2 (10m 44s):
Right. Like this is, this is the kind of stuff that we we work with. How

1 (10m 48s):

2 (10m 49s):
Ago was this? Oh gosh,

1 (10m 51s):
Well, Jake would have been 12, 13, 14, and he’s going to be 25. So 10 years. Yeah. 11. And I’ve been thinking, it’s interesting. I’ve been thinking about coming back if they’ll have me and do those things again, because I got something from it too. And like you say, if you just do one thing that maybe pays forward for somebody that’s in that place.

2 (11m 12s):
Absolutely. And the thing of it is, is that, I mean, gosh, there’s so many things to talk about and I have no idea where I’m going to land, but starting with this group, I, I th and I think starting with the classes that I did with the mentoring, the awareness of students and their intuitive selves, kids want to talk about it. Kids want to talk about their energy sensitive. They want to talk about premonitions. They want to talk about when you call them, although the clarity, they want to talk about that. And there’s not a place necessarily for them to land to have those conversations. But the beauty of it is, and in full disclosure, my office is called the den

1 (11m 55s):
And I, is it my opinion? And I gave her a picture of myself when I would think I was 13. And boy, was it not, it was not cute. I thought I was cute, but she put it in her office and not people ask you, but you,

2 (12m 8s):
Yeah, it’s, it’s still there. And you are an anchor in my office and it’s by the window, you know, but you are an anchor in the office cause it’s like, you are that reminder that we all show up differently. And whether it’s trauma driven or things that are happening in the home or things that are happening in the school, or even the self, you know, we’re talking about mental health awareness, things that happen within our minds and within our hearts. And, and imagine this as a, as a, you know, as a high school student or even a middle school student where we don’t understand these emotions and we don’t understand what’s going on, the gift where I, where I currently am employed is that kids can come in and I’m, I’m incredibly blessed to be working with some amazing people in our,

1 (12m 53s):
And they’re so heightened in so many ways. Yeah. I mean, we think these kids, because they don’t fit the criteria is that there’s something wrong with these kids have such unique talents. Amazing. You know, so that’s, what’s really cool too. Right. So with the mental health, and I do believe that you get a lot of kids that have been going through some real trauma. And so there may be depression and suicide thoughts and cutting and stuff like that. Overall, as parents, too, parents are depressed too. So we were not just talking about kids, but right now we’re kind of devoting our time to that. What advice do you give them in school? Or what do you do when they come to you?

1 (13m 33s):
Do you talk to the parents? What do you see that could change? And this is a lot of questions at once, but what do you see that society could do to make changes with this?

2 (13m 42s):
No, I think this is, you know, one of those age old questions, but I think the, when we allow ourselves the opportunity to, to be still and really lean into someone, whether it’s a kid or an adult, and when we really just are still within ourselves and can hear what the other person is saying. And again, if pulling away the layers, you know, and, and, and diving a little bit deeper and, and asking follow-up questions and, but just being really present in the moment and knowing that whoever sits before me is the most important person in this moment. And just really listen and support that person on his or her journey. I think that’s one of the best gifts that we can give to someone else because living it and experiencing depression and suicide ideation, people just want a voice and they want to be heard.

2 (14m 35s):
And they want that opportunity for someone else to release it and listen. And, and again, in full disclosure, when we hear someone’s talking about hurting themselves or hurting someone else, or, or having someone else hurt, hurt them, we follow up and we follow up with outside resources. First thing that we do is we pull in another person, I’m a social worker or a school psychologist. And we sit and we processed with a student and we make that professional decision of what, where do we go next? Because we need to share this information certainly with a parent, but do we do the follow-up with, does a kid need a 72 hour hold where we’re bringing in another?

1 (15m 14s):
Absolutely. Yeah. And it’s, it’s what I teach with. Even adults is making someone safe and they’re not broken. You don’t use their beds. They’re not broken. And don’t try to fix them because if you, if you try to give them the solution, you’re just going to make them upset. They want to be heard. Yeah. And listening is hard because people want to fix it. They just want to go, well, you need to do this. And this is like, no. So if you can just listen to have eye contact, not interrupt that, keep asking those questions and do not judge them, or think that there’s something wrong. Right. Cause they’re going to backpedal and that’s what the adults do. You know, we’re probably just as bad as the kids are, but kids feel in my opinion, that they need to find that safe environment safe.

2 (15m 60s):
And, and the students, you know, kids, they have the answers with them, them,

1 (16m 5s):
And that’s what you teach them too is good. What do you think inside? And they usually do know they’re, you know, they’re, most of them are old souls. They came into this planet and going, what in the heck is going on now? And what I’m seeing with some of these teenagers are people that are the kids that are growing up that 20 year olds is they’re living life and making different choices than what I was raised to do. Like they’re not choosing always to go to a full college or buy the big house or make all these commitments. They’re trying to make things that make them happy. And when we forced them to make the decisions that we think they should make, don’t you think a lot of the depression and the anger comes up with that too?

2 (16m 44s):
Absolutely. Once again, because I’m not being heard. That’s the way I consistently hear in a couple was that COVID oh my gosh. And people are talking about the big resignation, you know, with adults going, you know, I’m done and, and I want to pursue it. That, which makes me happy. It’s no different with the kids. And we’re learning that with the education system is that we need to do school differently. We need to take a look at how we interact and respond with students because students are no longer at that place of want to sit and get, they don’t want to do

1 (17m 18s):
Doctor talk. Just don’t talk to me. You make me do work and take it home. Yeah, absolutely. And they’re taking out so many of the classes that I had growing up. I understand there’s budgets, but it’s also their kids and they’re not having the opportunity to explore. It’s just, what’s your grades. What are you doing? Are you showing up for class? And because you guys have been successful, do the other schools think about implementing more about what you guys have or is it just it’s over there and we’re over here?

2 (17m 47s):
Quite honestly, I think some of the schools, their hands are tied because our class sizes are anywhere from mind students to 17, for the big comprehensive, traditional high schools, you have like 30 to 34 consistently. What we’ve heard with the pandemic is teachers are coming out saying I was more effective with that smaller class size. Right. So it’s like, well, how do, how do we implement that? How do we, how do we change that? Can we change that? And I mean, that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s much larger than my paycheck, but I think when we can lower those class sizes and, and again, when students can be heard and have that opportunity to be different, I think we’re going to be better off.

2 (18m 29s):
And once we allow students to do school differently and, and you and I previously had conversations about back in the day, You know, like, oh man, shut up. And I guess, so kids want that because kids want to go out and explore and it, and it’s adulting. And we’re bringing that into our school. We’re talking about how do we, how do we teach kids? How to, to iron or how to, to, you know, how to mend something or how to check the oil in the car or change a tire. You know, we’re going to, we’re going to bring those in. So this summit, right? So they can have an opportunity to, to look at school a little bit differently.

1 (19m 5s):
Do you think about Thomas Dana when he talked about that?

3 (19m 8s):
It was just going to say, is Thomas and Brita? My son and his partner are chatted with us the other day about not, there’s certain things that they didn’t learn in school, which they wish schools taught. Now they’re learning it, but it’s the parent’s responsibility to teach them. Like we don’t carry checkbooks as much anymore, but how to balance your account or how to budget, how

1 (19m 33s):
To build

3 (19m 34s):
Credit, how to build credit. Yeah. Useful life skill stuff that we don’t teach in schools, you know, anymore at all. And I remember having home-ec back in the day where cooking was a life skill that we could learn for a semester, but it was also how to balance your checkbook at the time all that stuff was brought in which I feel like we don’t teach the kids anymore. Like, that’s just not life skills are not taught. And when they really get out into the world, they could use some of that. Like, just like Thomas talking about how do I build my credit? How do I, how do I budget to make sure I’m successful?

3 (20m 18s):
And yes, I can teach him some of that as a parent. But sometimes the parent is the last one they want to hear from.

1 (20m 27s):
I said, you know, I try this, teach Jake how to cook and let’s do it. He’s like, I’m not interested on having it. And now that you have children, you’re like, yeah, now I get that. Like, you know, you try. And if you’re, if your classmates are taking the class, they can make a joke about it, but they’re still learning. So yeah, I guess it’s that whole budget. And how do we do that and provide that for kids. Do you feel that having some of these skills gives them confidence that maybe they wouldn’t have gotten just by doing like grades through just getting grades?

2 (20m 59s):
Absolutely. Well, and it brings in a whole new element to education. It’s not just about the road. I’m going to be invested a little bit into my education, as opposed to, I have to go home and write a paper. I have to go home and do homework, listening to the students and providing them an opportunity to really reignite that, that candle that perhaps has been extinguished within them. Yeah.

1 (21m 20s):
I also believe that mental health and I’ve written this in my book that I believe the food that we eat, the, our diet of social media, everything that we are putting into ourselves and also not even going outdoors, playing outdoors is a big deal. And it’s just really changed. I think all those things have also affected so many young people and other people too, with depression, because that’s that fast food, it doesn’t feed the brain. You know, those things that are you seeing that as well with these kids, I don’t how they’re eating their diets, stuff like that.

2 (21m 52s):
Oh, absolutely. And, and being outdoors. So one of the wonderful things that we have at our school is that we have an opportunity for kids to go outdoors and experience outdoor education at the right. Even if it’s for one night or two nights we’ve, and this was pre COVID, we would take kids out on, on camping trips, no social media. You have to leave your phone on all my gosh, the throwback that we would get

1 (22m 12s):
That might

2 (22m 14s):
Have left the dog and beings in there, where is it? You know, who’s sexting and they have to leave everything back. And to be able to sit with, to sit with students when they’re out in nature and they are on a solo journal right now, and they’re just with themselves and the peace and the quiet, and to see them re-engage with themselves. And to know that they’re okay, they’re in a safe environment and they have this power within that. All they need to do is just sit and be it’s so inspiring to see kids from the beginning of an outdoor adventure at trip to the end where they find their power,

1 (22m 52s):
Love it. And another earth is so healing,

2 (22m 54s):

1 (22m 55s):
It reminds me Dana, how we just had a retreat and we took their aura readings before the retreat and then after, and there was a difference. So doing these kids, or it would really be cool because that mother earth energy Hills for all of us, that’s why being outdoors is great. What advice would you give a parent going through the situation with the kids at school, a traditional school things aren’t going well, do they approach a counselor? Do they, because my kids didn’t want me to talk to the teachers or counselors when they were in middle school. Yeah. Like mom, I can handle it. Yeah. So I was not allowed. Fortunately I knew a couple of the counselors that I could say, Hey, you know, behind the, the kids are gonna know now behind their back, but I really tried never to intervene that I also knew that my kid needed help.

1 (23m 40s):
So what is your advice for parents? Counselors, teachers, kids,

2 (23m 44s):
You know, reach out. Okay. Absolutely reach out. When a parent reaches out to me and says, Hey, please don’t have this conversation with a kid. It’s like, absolutely. But I will go and have a conversation to bring the student in and just, Hey, how are things going? And, and again, trying to ask those questions to remove the, anion there to see if we can get to a place where it’s like, okay, so here’s the nexus of what is happening, you know, within your head and your heart. And let’s talk about that. And I’m willing to sit with you and to be with you and to be present with you and to dive deep with you and eliminate help. Right. You know, then we’ll follow it up. And I’m sorry, I didn’t ask your question.

2 (24m 25s):
You asked the question about the food because you’re talking about, I know it’s all good, but it’s food is so important. And right now students have the opportunity to receive free food for breakfast and for lunch at the schools. But it’s, it was last year for COVID, you know, for the kids that were in the brick and mortars and that’s this year for all of the schools. And I don’t know if that will be happening, but food is so critically important. And when food doesn’t necessarily exist at the table at home, it’s wonderful to be able to have that at the school where you don’t have to worry about the funds and you don’t have to worry about the economic social distance that occurs between someone who has and someone who has not us, you know?

2 (25m 6s):

1 (25m 7s):
So, yeah,

2 (25m 8s):

1 (25m 9s):
I remember just feeling like if my lunch bag wasn’t folded, right. Someone would tease me. I mean, that’s where you are at that age, maybe this age too, but more of that age where everything you feel is going to be talked about or judged or something like that. So the more you can take that out of the situation, the better. Good. And do you notice when they’re eating like that, there is a difference in their energy to see.

2 (25m 34s):
And again, our conversation’s coming from my perspective with my school and with what the students with whom I work, but we have healthy snacks for the kids.

1 (25m 42s):
Well, every time I would go in, I brought the junk food. Cause I want them to like me.

3 (25m 47s):
Oh my gosh,

2 (25m 49s):
That’s always important. Yeah.

3 (25m 50s):
The cupcakes

1 (25m 52s):
I’d bring them in. I’m like, okay guys, don’t tell anybody I’m bringing in the bad food.

3 (25m 57s):
I’m wondering Carolyn too. We’ve had, of course with what Deb does with helping parents who have lost children, they come, many parents come to see her to connect with their, their children who they’ve lost by suicide. And I think the youngest one was nine depth at desk that came to see you, a family that came to see you, that lost their child by suicide. So we see a lot of that end of it, where suicide has come to completion for that child. And what would you say to help these kids that are going through that bullying? I know bullying, social media, bullying, all that stuff you had to have dealt with that kind of situation where you’re at as you know, what’s your perspective on that?

2 (26m 46s):
If there is knowledge, if there is an adult who has knowledge of a younger person who is experiencing any sort of bullying, bring in a school person, a school psychologist, social worker, counselor, teacher, Dean, secretary, bring in someone bringing an awareness to someone at that child’s school so that we can help support that kid or that student through whatever they’re experiencing. But if we don’t know, if, if I, as an educator, don’t know what’s happening with a student, whether it’s cyber bullying or bullying in the, in the classroom, or whoever knows, you know, bullying at home or the neighborhood, if I, if I don’t have the knowledge, then there’s going to be the voice.

2 (27m 30s):
But if, and I’m so sorry for all of those parents who have lost a kid to suicide, that it’s just awful and horrible. And on some level, you know, as an educator, there’s there’s responsibility. And if we know if we have any, any idea that, you know, at home, there’s any sort of behavioral changes or the student is eating, or if something has shifted with the child, please, please, please reach out. Don’t be afraid. I mean, we’re, we here,

3 (28m 1s):
Things have changed since I was a kid, but I remember God, how old am I? Now?

1 (28m 6s):
Years ago,

3 (28m 10s):
35, 40 years ago, 35 years ago, whatever it’s been now, I hid my abuse. So there was trauma in my life and I would hide the abuse, but I was clearly an abused child. I had the torn clothes and the shoes that were taped together. And, you know, I always had bruises and all that stuff. So I don’t remember a counselor ever taking notice of that and, and trying to help me. And I remember flat out lying the social services when my, my bio mom heard that I was possibly being abused and reported it.

3 (28m 52s):
And I lied to social services, even though I was clearly abused, but that whole process of being made district as an elementary school child. So they could check me for bruises back in those days. You know, I know it’s changed, but there’s such an intimidation for these kids that are out there that have that kind of trauma going on. And maybe, you know, I was on the verge of suicide because I just could not, I could not take another day of my life being that way. And so there’s that element too, that you probably have dealt with it at some point, the abused child that is struggling and maybe they’re not being seen

1 (29m 38s):
Or afraid to be, to say, cause it’d be more abuse or more punishment from the child’s abuser. Right. A

2 (29m 44s):
Hundred percent, yeah. A hundred

1 (29m 45s):
Percent. And it goes along with just to tie in this when the child becomes the parent at home. So that to me, that abuse can be in that layer as well, where the child doesn’t feel like they have a parent at home. So what would you could answer?

3 (29m 58s):
So there’s so many layers to mental health and so many different scenarios, I’m sure.

2 (30m 4s):
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And again, our journeys are our journeys, right? And they become our lessons and, and hopefully what we’ve experienced as children, we can certainly take those lessons and help support the students and, and children as, as we move forward and, and as they move forward in their life. And certainly, gosh, back in the day, you know, I don’t even remember seeing my, my school counselor and both my parents were in education.

1 (30m 29s):
I remember going to the principal’s office

2 (30m 33s):
And those are, those are different times. And now, because now we know we need to do better. We have the gift of having an advisory class where it’s small and we can really get to know our kids. And once a student has that level of trust, then we start to hear the stories. And that’s not to say that, you know, kids aren’t going to talk, but you know, all of this is to say is that we do the best where we are with what we have. Hopefully we can catch the kids that we’re seeing changes in. Even if the slight changes that we can help support that student with whatever he or she is going through, whether it’s cutting depression and anxiety, trucks are, and kids are, kids are using drugs right now just because they don’t know how to cope with those emotions.

2 (31m 19s):
So we need it. We need to be able to provide students with that opportunity to learn how to deal with emotions.

1 (31m 25s):
A hundred percent. I was just going to go there because we have these sensitive kids. Now, everyone has anxiety. I’m hearing it all along. So many kids. And they’re saying, I feel overwhelmed. I feel this. So those kids that are sensitive like me, I was, I was told growing up, oh, you’re just so sensitive. You know, don’t, don’t be so emotional. Well now I get paid to do that. I remember your advisory group. I got like, it paid, you know how much whoa. But that sensitivity is where my intuition is developed. You use all those players. And instead these kids are feeling like there’s something wrong with them. I remember even Dana told me that Thomas, when he was in class, he had to have the headphones on because of all the distractions.

1 (32m 6s):
And what’s important is that I think that we realize that not everyone learns the same. Not everyone has the same path. Things are very different and to be compassionate. So these sensitive kids, when they don’t want to feel these emotions, they are drinking, cutting. You’re seeing all those kinds of things. So what do you guys do as a team? And I’m sure you get involve, like you are everything else you’re saying is you’re there to say, this is not going to help you. Right.

2 (32m 32s):
Right. Oh, and, and speaking from personal experience, it’s how can we help support you to make better decisions we find like with in middle school. Cause what happens when kids transition from that Neanderthal reaction into that frontal lobe, thinking where they’re starting to come into their own sense of self or they feel like I’m going to make my own decisions. I’m going to go blind. Right? Who am I, where am I going? And how am I going to get there? The three things that we always talk about. But when they start to come into that frontal lobe thinking they’re processing and they’re learning how to process all of those emotions and all of those things are coming at them fast and quick. And I don’t know how to deal with it, which is why they go into the drugs and it’s having an alcohol because they don’t necessarily know how to cope with what they have being in a small environment as at a school with some amazing, amazing adults.

2 (33m 23s):
It is our hope that all students connect with at least one person in the building with one adult, they have at least one trusted adult that minimum and hopefully multiple. And it doesn’t matter who that person is. As long as it’s a trusted adult in the building, our teachers are really insightful and intuitive when they see differences in students and they reach out to the support staff to say, Hey, can you touch base with, can you check in with, can you dot, dot, dot, dot dot? And so the tribe we do,

1 (33m 53s):
We do. And I think that probably makes a big difference having that community as well. And I think it’s letting kids know that having anxiety is not a bad thing, right? It is emotion. So like we go back to not being able to go outdoors. You’re not going to be able to go hide and seek or play out there because that really helps get rid of a lot of anxiety. You know, you release that stress, the hiking, the bicycle and whatever you need to do. And I think too kids are just, I’m not saying all kids, so I’m putting them all in a container. But for the, a lot of them that are having depression or anxiety or trauma, what can they do to change it on their own without going to drugs or alcohol, things like that.

2 (34m 33s):
Right. Well, and we teach mindfulness

1 (34m 36s):
Here seriously. Oh no,

2 (34m 38s):
I know. Right. And music, music therapy and mindfulness and teaching kids how to center. And there are some amazing apps out there where yes, there an app. And it says, okay, so look around your room, tell me five things that are blue and you know, so we try to shift the energy and just do some neurophysical poses with the students so that they shift their energy within themselves. And we talked about grounding. We and yoga is amazing, right?

1 (35m 4s):
Yeah. I just can’t get up sometimes, but yes, it is amazing.

3 (35m 8s):
So are most of the schools teaching mindfulness now? Or is it your school in particular?

2 (35m 15s):
That’s a great question. And I don’t, I don’t necessarily know the answer to other schools, but I do know that, you know, mindfulness is such a buzzword. It is like you and I were doing that. Debbie and I were doing that before. Mindfulness was a thing

1 (35m 28s):
We’re about we’re pioneers. I think this because I think parents and kids, or it doesn’t have to be their parent biological parent, but whoever their adult is and their family is to know that there are other things versus just getting mad at somebody or not understanding. And I think for some people you just say second up or get over it, or like I was, I was told, you know, don’t be emotional. And when you can’t be yourself, then what replaces it? And you’re just going to get more frustrated with yourself. Like there’s something wrong with you.

3 (35m 60s):
And I’m, I’m so glad I keep seeing things nowadays on teaching your child to manage their anger instead of teaching them to not feel it, which I would assume would apply to all emotions, you know, anger, frustration, feeling sad. I remember just being taught and trained, not to get angry or not to get frustrated. It was not acceptable to be angry. And now I’m seeing so much more out there about teaching your child, how it’s acceptable to behave when you’re angry and how you can feel that emotion be angry.

3 (36m 41s):
Okay. Process it. And let’s figure it out instead of well, don’t get mad. You know, that, that to me, I think is important is, and I know there’s, there’s that cartoon out there, the one where, what is it called? Where it’s, I think it’s a middle school age kid, but learning all the emotions. I think it’s a Disney movie or something, but it, yeah. Where it’s somebody actually learning how to process all the emotions. Cause you know, we have hundreds of emotions, but we only talk about three or four. I think that’s important too. Is back to your point having that conversation.

3 (37m 22s):

1 (37m 23s):
And want to bring this in just what you’re saying, Dana, because we’re all three talking about how, what was going on in our life as kids. And then as we became adults, unless we decided to learn to be a different parent, the parents that had those kinds of teachings continue those teachings because they don’t know something else to do. Does that make sense? So it’s like passed on. So for a parent that has a child that sensitive, and maybe isn’t going to make it in traditional school or is gay or has whatever stuff going on instead of going into what your parents did, trying something new with your child. Yeah.

3 (38m 2s):
And that

1 (38m 2s):
Can be very scary. It is. Did you ever hear of the, the car therapy you heard of the car therapy parallel talking. Yes. Yes. So my son only

3 (38m 13s):
Car therapy.

1 (38m 15s):
You have your son in the back seat or the passenger seat and you’re asking questions because there’s no eye contact and you actually get more from them. Otherwise it would be like, how was school fine? How was your friends? Good.

3 (38m 28s):
Yeah. It started, it started with Thomas when he was three, at least because he having a conversation with them or getting something out of him was so hard, even from a young age. So we’d play Play-Doh and talk, you know, it was all textile, he doing something in order to chat with him and they went all through now he’s 20.

1 (38m 56s):
And I think people think, well, if they’re not paying attention and they’re playing with Play-Doh, then they’re not listening. Which actually that’s how they’re wired. That’s what they need. Yeah.

2 (39m 5s):
Yeah. And Plato’s a great, great example and any, and you know, playing with having something in their hands, a fidget toy, and even kids, you know, they’ll have an air pod or in their ear and cause auditory sensitivities. Right. So they, they need to quiet the outside noise a little bit so that they can filter and hear what they need to hear. But it’s, it’s the fidget toys. It’s the doing life a little bit differently and good for you for being able to just sit and be present and doing the Play-Doh so that you can hear your little one to you and you know, and even like the parallel conversations with, in the vaccine,

1 (39m 43s):

3 (39m 44s):
Or in the front seat. Yeah.

1 (39m 46s):
It’s almost going to be 29 or 30, 28. You’re 28. He still calls his mom several times a day. So that Plato did work Several times. And I wanted to, to go to adults too, because as adults, we were maybe told to knock it off or don’t pay attention or you don’t have a voice. I do know that that has affected adults because I work with adults and I will hear these stories that they will remember from their childhood. Don’t do that. You can’t do it that way. What of other people are going to think? So we still have that mantras and that belief system in our core. And so when, when they think that that’s how you have to be, they still show example of how to be.

1 (40m 28s):
And that’s why sometimes we don’t understand these kids, but when you can learn as an adult, that those old belief systems do not resonate. They’re not true. They’re not good. They’re not healthy. When you begin to shift that around, that’s when your mental health becomes better because you’re not in that box of being judged, told there’s something wrong with you. And it’s how do we rechange and re modify our self-talk. We don’t want to do the bad talk. We want to find that loving talk. And we’re not good at that. Not at all. And if we’re doing it as a parent and we’re feeling depressed, we’re showing our children, grandchildren, this is how life is. And that’s not how it has to be.

1 (41m 9s):
It is a choice of how you want to live, but kids need to see the other possibilities, which I totally believe this program that you are involved in is a hundred percent. I want to clone it. Yeah,

2 (41m 23s):
I get that a lot,

1 (41m 24s):
But let’s clone it around. And I know it’s out there because how are we going to deal with mental health? And it’s still such a shameful thing that people don’t want to talk about it. And I always it’s cancer, the Mies cancer of the brain. You’re just, it’s, what’s going on inside. And now we’re realizing with adults, especially, but younger people that get concussions, they get have CTE. And now we’re coming out with all this other trauma from, we thought playing football or soccer or all these other sports were really good. But now there’s another element. And they’re finally taking an awareness to say, when you have a concussion, you’re out of the game for awhile, which it also causes mental health, like the food and things like that.

1 (42m 9s):
Are you seeing some of those because you can’t get diagnosed with CTE until you’re deceased, which is really hard.

2 (42m 16s):
And we have kids that, you know, have been in accidents,

1 (42m 19s):
Car accidents. Yeah.

2 (42m 21s):
So, you know, the kids will come and have those concussions and we try to limit the screen time and try to have some supports available to the students. Again, once we know we have the supports available for the students so that he or she can be successful, I just had a kid will come in today and say, okay, I’m supposed to graduate, you know, in, in two weeks. But my concussion has really kind of limited what, what I’ve been learning and what’s been happening. And so we’re taking a look and trying to do some things differently for the next two weeks just to help the student. I love it. Yeah.

3 (42m 54s):
It’s for people like you.

2 (42m 56s):
Well, we all exist. And then the company present, you know,

1 (43m 0s):
Now, you know why I brought Jake, please take my son. Now he’s like six over six foot. But I think too, there’s also natural things that we can take. I have no problem with Easter Mendez or excuse me, Western medicine whatsoever. But like you said, the yoga essential oils CBD, there’s a lot of things out there that people can take and do to help their bodies calm. And the things that you’re teaching in these groups, I think is letting them know there’s other things you can do when you’re at home by yourself or things like that.

2 (43m 29s):
Absolutely art therapy, music therapy, mindfulness getting out and just shifting. And, and it really is such, it’s just a shift.

1 (43m 37s):
It is.

2 (43m 38s):
And the shift can be pretty simple as, you know, pulling out that app and saying, you know, name 10, 10 foods that you eat, you know, with your, with your hands. I love

1 (43m 48s):

3 (43m 48s):
You know what I think we should do?

1 (43m 50s):

3 (43m 51s):
As, I think you should have some classes for some kiddos,

1 (43m 55s):
We tried to do that and you know what it was, we really wanted to do it. What happens is these kids at the last minute are afraid to be there because I think they were afraid to be judged, maybe his change. And a lot of them wouldn’t show up at those when we did the one big class and stuff like that, you were trying to, to launch something. But I think coming back to the school or whatever, or are offering this at other schools that there’s an option, but there’s still a lot of taboo for some people it’s getting out of the mind that this is, you know, meditation and mindfulness is all really important for mental health.

2 (44m 29s):
Absolutely. And, and I, you know, just bringing it up says, and I’m thinking about, and bringing into the, into the awareness, there’s, you know, it’s perhaps time to revisit that and, and offer it where it’s not necessarily in schools, you know, during school hours, but it can be afterschool, then it can be, you know, on the weekends, but offering something to, to families. And, and certainly, you know, if, if a student is, is ready, then you know,

1 (44m 57s):
The digital come. Right. Absolutely. And so it is putting it back there. And I think over the years, this type of stuff is becoming much more. And like you said, the forefront. And so people don’t think it’s as weird as it used to be when I was started doing this over 20 years ago. But I think this being a may being the mental health awareness month is to really pay attention around us. And in noticings, is there one or two things you can tell teachers, families, community what to look for, if you’re thinking yourself or a young person is struggling? Like, what would you like? A couple of things you’d really notice like this something’s isn’t feel right.

1 (45m 38s):
And you may ask them and they say, no, everything’s okay. Right. I’m sure you get that a lot. Like, no, I’m fine.

2 (45m 44s):
Yeah. Yeah.

1 (45m 45s):
My son, everything’s fine.

2 (45m 47s):
Of course, everything’s fine. But peel away, just start pulling away the onion. And my, my suggestion to parents is absolutely partner with the schools. That’s what we’re here to do. We’re here to help support the families. Schools are not here, you know, to, to be the, the amazing places, but they are there that, you know, that people want them to be. But families reach out because we are here for you. I tell this to the families all the time is that I, as an educator, I’m here to help support you as a family, reach out to me, reach out to anyone within the school and we’ll do what we can. Anytime that there’s a shift that you notice a shift reach out and say, Hey, do you mind just touching base with, to the school counselor?

2 (46m 30s):
Hey, do you mind just touching base with Deb and seeing if she’s okay? And of course, you know, you bring the kid in. They’re like, no, no. I’m okay. Like, well, how how’s how’s home? How are the boyfriends, how the girlfriends how’s the car and you get them to talk about different things. And, and even counselors and mental health support. People will take students and we’ll get them. And we’ll walk with the students again, shifting the energy someplace or go out and we’ll shoot baskets. But we’ll, we’ll be interactive in a way that when we show up different than the student will also show up different and can at times just go

1 (47m 7s):
Inviting. Yeah. There you’re inviting them to share what they want to when they’re comfortable versus forcing them to, to share. No one likes that.

2 (47m 18s):

1 (47m 20s):
This there’s a point where the teenagers are in their room or with their friends. And that’s, there’s a lot of normalcy to that behavior. If you have teenagers, I don’t want to be dropped me off at the corner versus right in

2 (47m 30s):
Front of the school. That whole relationship is, you know, I roll on us cause you’re the parents don’t want to talk to you.

3 (47m 39s):
Teach me anything. I don’t know anything. I know more than you.

2 (47m 43s):
Oh, I’ve lived that one. Yeah, same. Yeah.

1 (47m 48s):
Carolyn. Oh my goodness. That’s just made my

2 (47m 50s):

1 (47m 52s):
So good to see you. And I truly believe in my soul that Jake got the best love and support because of you in this wonderful school. And I know a lot of parents aren’t going to have this, but you can start asking for it. We an advocate at your school. I want to conclude this podcast by making some suggestions, give some information regarding support groups so that families know that there are resources for children, as well as adults that are struggling with mental health challenges. Unfortunately, this affects all demographics. And so we can’t say it doesn’t affect my family, or it doesn’t affect a situation because we could all be touched by this, including myself.

1 (48m 33s):
When I was much younger. I remember thinking this is really hard. I don’t know if I want to continue doing this. And so I was able to get through it, but there was a time I thought I don’t want to be here anymore. I don’t want to deal with these things. It felt so heavy in my heart, so it can touch so many different lives. And we, sometimes we look at people and think, well, they have it together. But mental health challenges is internal. We look at people like Ernest Hemingway, Robin Williams, Kate spade, Anthony BlueJean, all of these people died by suicide. And even though on the outside, it looked okay inside. They weren’t. So I want to give some suggestions so that we can go deeper and realize that this is something we all need to talk about.

1 (49m 15s):
The first thing is, if someone is talking to you about depression, their mental health challenges, the first thing you don’t want to do is shame them or make a big deal. That it’s not a big deal. You know, you can deal with this. Don’t just be passive. Take it seriously, get support. Number two, get support. Don’t give up. If you feel like your therapist, a counselor, your doctor, your family friend, whomever is not making this a big deal. Continue pursuing, looking for answers because it is important that you continue asking for help and not give up. I want to talk about a couple of organizations that I think are very powerful as well.

1 (49m 55s):
The American foundation for suicide prevention, rockstars, what they now have, which I think is great is they have a, it’s called an app called most days. And I searched through it. And this to me is a perfect avenue for anyone that doesn’t really want to talk to other people yet, they kind of want to know what’s going on and they make it a safe place for people to be able to share. And they match you up with somebody else. And unless you want to bring somebody in, but they gave you a great way to help with your mental health on a daily basis. Love that. There’s also in a M I, I never pronounce it, right? NAMI the national Alliance for mental illness.

1 (50m 38s):
And again, this is another organization that supports everybody. They know they have, they know people that people understand on this. They are specialists, they’re experts in this field. So once again, there is a resource for you. If you feel still that you’re in that place, or, you know, someone’s in that place, that there’s a crisis and you’re not getting the help. You can text 7, 4 1 7 4 1. And again, a lot of people feel shame. They don’t want to go and talk about this or make an appointment or wait for a long time. So these are things to help you immediately. And of course, I have to talk about my book grieving to believing it is my story about how I became a medium, but it’s also the story of my husband’s suicide, my nephew, and just the whole idea of what people think about mental health and to help support others that have mental health.

1 (51m 30s):
So I just want all of you to know that there is help. Don’t feel like you’re alone on this journey, and it’s not a stigma that there’s something wrong with you. In my book, I call it cancer of the mind because it really is how the mind works and we don’t know enough about it. So please reach out, use these organizations and get help in the meantime, know that your loved ones, even though they’re on the other side, they are by your side. Thank you. Thank you for listening to today’s episode. I hope it inspired you. If you enjoyed our conversation, make sure you subscribe so that you get notified of new episodes and let’s get connected.

1 (52m 11s):
Visit Deb shepherd.com for more insights, support workshops, and a book, a session with me. And finally, always remember your loved ones in spirit, or just a thought away, even though they’re on the other side, they’re always by your side.

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