Posts Tagged coping skills

ST goes VIRTUAL!

ST goes VIRTUAL!

The above students are just a few of the many students who have taken part in our virtual Stand Together training to combat stigma.

The world has changed-and we’ve changed along with it! This year things are a little different (well, a lot different!), but we’re rising to the challenge. It’s been a chaotic time, but within these trials we’ve discovered innovative ways to inspire and empower our youth and propel them forward, expanding on their current successes and taking further strides to break down the barriers to mental health.

Althought projects might look a little different this year, we know that your school teams are going to come up with creative ideas and make a difference in your school communities, whether online or in-person. We don’t know what the future holds, but we do know that you’ll decrease stigma and help each other become and stay mentally healthy. One new addition to the Stand Together curriculum this year is self-care; participants learn about and then share coping skills with the other students and staff to promote a culture of wellness in their schools. We will ‘stand together’ for mental health and against stigma.

Our first trainings started in October with CAPA, West Allegheny, and TJHS. These schools wanted to jump right in and get started, noticing the incredible need for mental health education, awareness, and resources in their schools. Yeshiva is currently ‘in session,’ and Propel-Braddock Hills finished up last week. If you haven’t gotten a chance to take part in your school’s training sessions yet, we’ll have another blog about some of the changes we’ve made and fun activities we’ve added to keep it interactive! (Stay tuned!)

We knew going into the 2020-2021 school year it would be different-and we’d have to adapt. The Spring was so sudden and it broke our hearts that some of our students didn’t get to hold or complete their projects. Mental health is more important now than ever, especially with the added pressures of the Coronavirus. (Yes, we talk about it!) I’ll admit, I didn’t know how it was going to go virtually-mental health is such a personal, vulnerable, intimate topic and I was really concerned about how we would be able to get the ST vibe and experience in a virtual setting. I also pouted for a little bit, if we’re being honest-trust me, I experienced a lot of the same feelings you have! It’s so frustrating! But over the summer, we worked on an entirely new virtual training to give you the best online experience we can.

Sessions are shorter and so is the entire training-screen fatigue is a real thing and we didn’t want to contribute to an issue that was already challenging, especially since most of you are all online all the time. I mean, it’s great to stay in my pj’s and work in bed, but it’s also not easy. Schools also get the option this year to select (2) 4-hour sessions or (3) 2.5 hour sessions to split up the training. Project planning will be conducted with ST trainers during the first few team meetings and schools will be encouraged to think ‘outside of the box’ to reach their peers in this virtual world. Thanksfully we’ve also had the experiences of our all-school summer projects to provide some great examples of how to move forward this year. (If you haven’t checked them out, you need to! Check out the podcasts and eZines in the Projects section of our webpage.)

Whew! That was a wordy bit-thanks for hanging in there until the very end! If that wasn’t enough, Stand Together is expanding to Clarion and Washington counties in addition to Venango County and the state of Delaware! This is all because of YOU! So hang tight-we can’t wait to start your schools’ training and meet YOU! See you (virtually) soon!

Written by Danyelle, Coordinator

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My Experience: Depression & Anxiety Awareness Week (Brandy)

My Experience: Depression & Anxiety Awareness Week (Brandy)

This blog is part of a series from our Stand Together team to bring to light our experiences with depression and anxiety. May is Mental Health Month and it’s as good of a time as ever to end stigma by talking about our experiences and spreading awareness. You are not alone-we’re with you. We’re in this together.

Trigger warning: suicide & self-harm

Unsurprising to most (looking back, myself included), my symptoms of depression and anxiety began when I was a child. What I do find interesting is that my symptoms changed over time. In the very beginning, it was incredibly difficult for me to open up and meet new people, I kept my emotions ‘bottled-up inside,’ and I had issues not being comfortable with my body. In high school, I started to struggle with self-harm. I had yet to receive any kind of help for my mental health issues growing up, so these problematic symptoms became even more challenging when I went to college.

At university, my generally social anxiety turned into general anxiety (anxiety about any and everything). Along with my body image issues, I also developed a general feeling of inadequacy in my life, whether it be school, social life, finances, or anything else. Neither my good grades nor the praises that were given to me from loved ones consoled me. I still hadn’t received any treatment or developed any healthy coping skills; as it sounds, at that point it was a constant downhill spiral. It was at this time (in college), that I also started having suicidal thoughts and I ended up admitting myself to a psychiatric hospital.

Now I am finally on the proper medication (it took a few tries to find the right one for me) and I am constantly developing and using coping skills to diminish my feelings of loneliness and increase my feelings of self-worth. These strategies can look like anything from making origami to cleaning. Yes, I love cleaning! Haha. I’ve also cut out any ‘toxic’ individuals that were in my life that weren’t good for my mental wellness and I’m trying to reach out to my friends more, not only when I’m in need, but just to have meaningful human interaction that I crave.

I still don’t have too many friends (I only have a small handful of wonderful humans), but I don’t feel lonely or inadequate. My only thought now is,

I’m shocked I don’t have more friends because I’m pretty awesome!

Haha 🙂

To be able to have that mindset is something ‘younger Brandy’ would have never imagined and that, too, is pretty awesome. I also love making people smile. I love my cats. I’m a cherished friend a fierce advocate. I thrive off anime, Spongebob Squarepants, video games, and-much to the dismay of my dentist-pastries!

My big floof, Oliver

The things I like don’t define who I am and neither does my depression, but all these things make up who I am as a person. They are the little parts that interact with each other that make me who I am and shape how I view and navigate life. These pieces enable me to show other people-and myself!-that I have plenty to offer. I will fiercely and unapologetically be myself to achieve wonderful things in life. Because, like I said, I’m awesome! 🙂

Written by Brandy, *new* trainer

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My Experience: Depression & Anxiety Awareness Week (Danyelle)

My Experience: Depression & Anxiety Awareness Week (Danyelle)

This blog is part of a series from our Stand Together team to bring to light our experiences with depression and anxiety. May is Mental Health Month and it’s as good of a time as ever to end stigma by talking about our experiences and spreading awareness. You are not alone-we’re with you. We’re in this together.

I knew something was different about me from a very young age; I distinctively remember not feeling loved as a child-and that’s not a typical experience. It wasn’t long before my mental health conditions (MHC) emerged. Multiple mental health conditions frequently occur at once (co-morbidity) and can overlap in different ways; psychologists have recently discovered that all MHC are more connected than we ever thought.

Although I have bipolar disorder, I also have symptoms of both anxiety and depression. Depression is a phase of bipolar disorder, but the anxiety that accompanies it-and the in-between, baseline times-can be overwhelming. The important thing for me was not the diagnosis or the label, but discovering how to manage it and cope with my MHC on a personal-level. It took a while to find what works for me and sometimes I have to change my strategies, but as long as I stay aware and mindful of my feelings and their effects on my thoughts, I can minimize my struggle. You wouldn’t know it by looking at me, but I have to put a lot of effort forth every day to manage my health holistically, whether it’s attending therapy to talk through my emotions and experiences, exercise to promote the ‘good chemicals’ in my brain, or support from family and friends, I work hard to stay in balance. But it’s always worth it. I live with a mental health condition-but it doesn’t define who I am.

I am a person-first: a wife, lover of Mister Rogers, cat-mom, mental health advocate, friend, Christian, adventurer, foodie, and a person with a purpose. We’re all people-first – let’s start believing and treating each other like it; it makes all the difference.

Coordinator, Danyelle

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My Experience: Depression & Anxiety Awareness Week (Montaja)

My Experience: Depression & Anxiety Awareness Week (Montaja)

This blog is part of a series from our Stand Together team to bring to light our experiences with depression and anxiety. May is Mental Health Month and it’s as good of a time as ever to end stigma by talking about our experiences and spreading awareness. You are not alone-we’re with you. We’re in this together.

I first learned about depression when I met it face-to-face. Growing up, I struggled with thoughts about death and my rocky childhood experiences did not help with my mental wellness. The change in pace, constant moving, and inconsistency made me turn inward, keeping my thoughts and feelings to myself.

This trend followed me throughout school and stopped me from seeking the help I so desparately needed. I became a master at masking my feelings and struggles; with theater performance my college degree, it wasn’t hard to do.

Knowing all along something wasn’t right, but being afraid to actually ask about it, really kept me suffering in silence for a long time. Growing up, I didn’t have access to conversations about taking care of my mental health, let alone know who to reach out to for that kind of support. After finishing college and not having anything left to keep me running and distracted, I came crashing down into emotional distress.

Life started to make sense when I found out that I had been living with major depression disorder. I did have to work out my own stigma, accepting my diagnosis and accepting the fact that I needed help-and it was okay to do so. Talk therapy has helped me process and manage my recurring thoughts, fears, and shame. When I don’t feel okay, I allow myself to feel those feelings and have a cry if I need to. I also turn to humor, art, cooking, and writing to help me cope and thrive.

a Mixed Media Collage I created

My experience with depression and anxiety has helped me become who I am and advocate for myself and other. The best accomplishment I have made is becoming emotionally aware. I am still building my community of support and true self-care. I get closer and closer to arriving at joy each day. I credit this to the hard work I’ve done in therapy and my continued practice of mindfulness.

Talk about your feelings to an adult you trust and remember that your feelings don’t dictate your future-you do. A diagnosis is just a diagnosis; you are a ‘person-first.’ You can go on to do amazing things despite having a challenging condition. Take care of yourself and enjoy the small things (like tacos and koalas!). It can get better.

Written by Montaja, trainer

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