Blog

Struggle and Strength

May 17, 2017 • Written by

My 4-year old’s “Spidey Sense” always seems to kick when I am in the grip of stress, even when I try to hide it from him. I know he can tell if I’m frustrated, or anxious, or worried, or panicked, even if I do my best to seem cool and “together”. Sometimes he takes advantage of the moment and fuels the fire by acting out, and other times he offers an awesome leg hug. Either way, he notices.

Knowing that my kids see me not just at my best but also my worst is normal, but it can be hard. I think that for many of us, it’s an emotional battle to allow young people to see us truly struggling, whether in anger, sadness, disappointment, or stress – without feeling shame.

Have you ever read the work of Brene Brown? If you haven’t come across her yet, you are in for a bit of a life-changer.

Brene is a “researcher-storyteller” who has opened up the conversation about vulnerability, shame and human connection. Among many other things, Brene has written a beautiful Manifesto on Wholehearted Parenting that can be printed as a poster (for free!)


What I really, really love is her call to parents – and indeed to anyone who cares for young people –to model struggle and strength so that kids and youth can witness how we navigate those challenging, and sometimes ugly, emotions.

The Manifesto also talks about making a commitment to model self-compassion and embrace imperfections in front of children.

When my daughter sees me forgive myself (sometimes by me actually saying, “Darn it. I forgot to call my dentist back. That’s okay – I forgive myself!) – it registers in her mind that this is something she can try too.

As we work through giving ourselves grace to be wholehearted with our kids, I know many parents also struggle with age-appropriate language, especially when confronting more serious struggles such as depression or anxiety. I recently came across a news article that provides some advice about this and I encourage you to give it a read and let me know what you think.

http://globalnews.ca/news/3425035/parents-this-is-how-to-tell-your-children-youre-dealing-with-depression-anxiety/

I’ll leave you with the invitation to check out the Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto.

And, to check out more of Brene Brown’s amazing work, go here: http://brenebrown.com/

Leave a comment and let me know what you think about this topic!

Mother’s day

May 17, 2017 • Written by

With Mother’s day just around the corner, I wanted to show my mom how grateful I am for having her in my life. She’s always there for me and she gives selflessly without expecting anything in return. There are many articles out there to consult for “Mother’s day gift ideas she’ll love” or “top 10 ways to treat your mom like a goddess”. These weren’t what I was looking for this Mother’s day. Even though any of those ideas would have been good enough, I was still looking for more. I felt like I needed to do something I don’t normally do. I was running out of time. It’s only when I came to that realization that I found it.

With my job being highly demanding lately and with my studies taking most of my free time, I have been spending very little time with my mom. This Mother’s day, I’m going to give my mom my undivided attention and my time. I’m going to show her how much I cherish her every second of the day. I’m going to pamper her. As I get to enjoy her company, this will be good for my emotional wellness! Please share with us how you plan to treat or how you treated your mom this Mother’s day.

Happy Mother’s day to all moms, you make the world a better place!

RRC piloting online mindfulness training for faculty and staff: Enter draw for a spot!

May 9, 2017 • Written by

Red River College is piloting the evidence based 30 Day Mindfulness Challenge with 30 faculty and staff who will be selected by lottery. The training starts on Monday, May 29 and everyone who registers gets to take the Challenge for free with a buddy of their choice.

We’re pleased to pilot mindfulness training at the College as it dovetails nicely with our Healthy Minds Healthy College initiative’s goal of providing mental health supports in innovative ways. Faculty and staff who would like to be included in the lottery should email blsawatzky@rrc.ca by May 19.

The 30 Day Mindfulness Challenge has been implemented at the Mental Health Commission of Canada, UBC, WestJet, Memorial University, Harvard Law School and more. Research at Sauder School of Business found evidence that the Challenge lowers stress, increases resilience, improves teamwork, and strengthens leadership skills. The Challenge also teaches ‘mindfulness-in-action’ so people don’t need to stop what they are doing to become calmer, present and focused.

If the pilot is successful at RRC and we offer the Challenge again in the future, there may be a modest cost attached. Getting involved in the pilot is your chance to receive this training for free!

Staff Mental Health Support, Through Lifeworks

May 4, 2017 • Written by

 


 

Every year, one in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem, whether it’s a struggle with depression, anxiety, addiction, severe stress, or another issue. And millions more will be affected by a mental health issue in someone they love.

Contact LifeWorks, toll-free, any time: Are you concerned about a child who may be suffering from anxiety, a family member who may be abusing opioids, or about an issue in your own life? Our caring, professional consultants are available 24/7 with expert advice and confidential support.

Log in any time to the program website: This month, see the Mental Health Support feature on our home page. You’ll find links to articles, infographics, and a new podcast, “Managing Your Moods,” featuring Christine Padesky, clinical psychologist, bestselling author, and cognitive behavioural therapy expert. She describes simple research-tested skills you can learn to improve your mood and boost happiness.

LifeWorks is here to support you and your loved ones through whatever challenges you may be facing.

Call LifeWorks toll-free, any time: 1-877-207-8833
TTY: 1-877-371-9978
Visit us online at www.lifeworks.com or login.lifeworks.com.
(username: rrcefap; password: efap).

Guest Blog: Student Mental Health Story

May 3, 2017 • Written by

The following is a guest blog from Laura McNaughton, Child and Youth Care student at the Notre Dame Campus.

 

Laura McNaughton, RRC Student

For a long time, I have felt like I’ve been living two lives. The life everyone else sees, and the life I see. These two lives are drastically different.

When I was in high school, I was known as the happiest kid in school. “She is always smiling”, “She’s so upbeat and happy”. I was sarcastic and witty and joyful, but as soon as I got home, I would sleep until the next day of school. Then I would put on my happy face again and be the other side of me. No one knew the side of me when I was alone. Even now, after I have told my story to others, they are shocked- they still always say to me “But you were so happy in high school”.

Laura’s original artwork.

Depression is like a paradox. You want the illness acknowledged, but at the same time, you also want to deny it. I guess I was in my denying stage at that time. Then I started to realize I was sinking way too far down into a hole. I was in a full blown depression, I was self harming, and to me that was my normal. I had people in my life who were there for me and helped me get through it, but it was still always there- like a friend that just won’t leave you alone. But they’re not really a friend, they’re this toxic being that helps to deteriorate you. I felt all alone, even though there were people all around me. And it took years for me to be able to look at myself and see someone who was worth being around, worth living, just worth it.

Mental health is a process….

Laura (left) helping bring therapy dogs to RRC as part of her student-led practicum in Child and Youth Care.

I am now 22 years old, and actually about to graduate the Child and Youth Care Program here at Red River College. For my last practicum in my course, I actually did this new, unique student led practicum. I was a mental health advocate, connecting with people and organizations all over the city, and helping to facilitate events. Some things I accomplished were; I helped bring therapy dogs to the college for students in exams, I joined an online peer support network, I joined the advisory committee here at the college, I went to mental health talks, created my own business cards and am currently working on my own mental health event. Basically, I did so much in this last 7 weeks that I am shocked. This is not where I thought my life would be.

Laura displaying her prescribed psychiatric medication.

I used to be anxious as all hell, and too depressed to get out of bed to come to school. I used to think I had no future, and I was not going to amount to anything. This last practicum has really helped me to flourish and become who I was meant to be. Mental health is something I am so passionate about, and because of that passion, I have seen my dream become a reality.

Don’t get me wrong- I still have my bad days, I’m still depressed and have those days where I can’t function, I am still anxious, I am on medication to help, but I have something in my life to look forward to. I have found something that gets me out of bed everyday- my passion for helping others.

Mental health is so important to understand, and I want all of us to be on the positive spectrum, but it is an everyday process. It is not something that is going to come easy for some, and that is ok. It is ok not to be ok! I want to be that support for people who feel so in the dark, they cannot see the light. I want to be that light for them.

I have and am currently struggling with a mental illness, but I am here to say, that it will not stop you from accomplishing what you want out of life. It might give you some hiccups here and there, but it is not your whole life. It is not you, it is a part of you- and you are strong and beautiful and amazing and you can do anything you set your mind to. Don’t listen to the lies your illness tells you, You can do it. I believe in you.

I used to be scared to talk about my issues openly, but if it can help someone else not feel alone then I am going to do it everyday for the rest of my life.

“I know its hard to understand, if its never happened to you, but just realize its important to talk about for someone to be able to get through

 

so lets start talking about mental illness – realize it is not a choice. these people are sick, and need more of a voice

 

We need to end the stigma around mental health, Stand up, make a change, and realize happiness is our greatest wealth”

 

-excerpt from poem by Laura McNaughton

If you would like to write a guest blog about your mental health journey, please contact Breanna, Mental Health Coordinator, at blsawatzky@rrc.ca.

Bring new meaning to the phrase “Take it to heart”

May 2, 2017 • Written by

Our hearts are more than a symbol for our feelings, although the heart does respond to stress, attraction, anxiety, joy and depression among many influencers. Our hearts provide a “pulse” (pun intended) for our current state of health – if the pressure is too high or too low we experience negative side effects, and the body responds through physical reactions such as sweating, “blushing”, feeling dizzy or short of breath. It’s important to listen to your heart when faced with mental and physical concerns, it will indicate the severity of the situation and if need be will override your whole system.

Taking care of your heart can be as simple as what you put into your body, using recipes like these found through the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/recipes/heart-healthy-recipes/rcs-20077163/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=heart-healthy. Nutritional habits, however, are rarely as simple to identify and stick to so don’t be hesitant to ask for professional assistance.

Physical activity, particularly cardiovascular exercise, will benefit your mind and body. The heart requires exercise to strengthen it, allowing it to pump blood more efficiently throughout the body and keep all vital systems nourished. Although it is not always necessary to lost weight to improve your heart health, weight loss is often a side effect of improved nutrition and physical activity. Canadians are busier than ever, in their work and home lives, and it can be very tough to set aside time each day to exercise. The best strategy in that case is to learn how to sneak more physical activity into your already established routine, such as these examples: http://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/weight-management-guide/easy-ways-to-sneak-exercise-into-your-day/

Stress is a leading cause of high blood pressure, a huge strain on your heart. Learning to cope with external stressors before your body needs to physically react to call attention to the issue will benefit your mental and physical health. Resilience is our greatest weapon against stress. Learn to improve your personal resilience through this guide: http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/resilience-training/in-depth/resilience/art-20046311?pg=2

Take your total health to heart, and take care of it!

 

“13 Reasons Why” and Responsible Discussions Around Suicide

April 27, 2017 • Written by

There is currently a popular television series on Netflix that is centered around youth suicide and as such is opening discussions about this important topic. There is however, much criticism of how the show “13 Reasons Why” presents suicide and many are concerned that the popularity of the series will increase suicide ideation and attempts amongst viewers.

If you or someone you are working with is at risk of suicide, please call the confidential, 24/7, Toll-Free Manitoba Suicide Prevention & Support Line at 1-877-435-7170.

If you have watched the series or are likely to be interacting with folks who have watched the series, I suggest you read the following pieces which encourage responsible discussions around suicide.

Responding to 13 Reasons Why by Michael Redhead Champagne

Excerpt: I recently binge watched the new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why — All 13 episodes in 24 hours. To summarize, it is a series about a young woman who dies by suicide and leaves 13 cassette tapes behind t o share insights with 13 people who were the “reasons why”.

I was captivated. And horrified. And confused. And sad. And relieved.

Statement re: Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why series by The Centre for Suicide Prevention

Excerpt: This is a statement regarding the recent Netflix release, 13 Reasons Why, which follows the story of a young girl who dies by suicide.

The Centre for Suicide Prevention (CSP) is concerned that the Netflix adaptation of Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why novel does not follow the Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention and the American Association of Suicidology’s media guidelines.

CHMA National Statement Responding to Netflix Series: 13 Reasons Why

Excerpt:

The following are ways in which portrayals of suicide may be harmful:

  • They may simplify suicide, such as, by suggesting that bullying alone is the cause;
  • They may make suicide seem romantic, such as, by putting it in the context of a Hollywood plot line;
  • They may portray suicide as a logical or viable option;
  • They may display graphic representations of suicide which may be harmful to viewers, especially young ones; and/or
  • They may advance the false notion that suicides are a way to teach others a lesson.

Suicide is an important public health issue and must be treated as such. Responsible, informed conversations around suicide are important to reducing stigma and ensuring those at risk get the help they need.

Breanna Sawatzky, Mental Health Coordinator (blsawatzky@rrc.ca)

Stress Relief with Therapy Dogs

April 27, 2017 • Written by

St Johns Ambulance therapy dogs and volunteers at the Roblin Centre, part of the Healthy Minds Healthy College initiative.

Laura McNaughton, Child and Youth Care student and Healthy Minds Healthy College volunteer – L – spends some time with Pepper.

Earlier this week we had the privilege of welcoming St Johns Ambulance therapy dogs to both the Notre Dame and Exchange District campuses. Students were able to reduce some of their exam period stress by spending time with these beautiful and calm creatures.

On the topic of animal companionship and health, Christine Holowick-Sparkes of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority writes, “A few minutes of stroking a pet dog prompts a release of a number of ‘feel good’ hormones in humans, including serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin. These help people calm down and relax. Petting a pooch also results in decreased levels of the primary stress hormone cortisol.”

A student spends some time with Cooper the Pomeranian.

There are many additional health benefits related to animal companionship. You can read more about them in Holowick-Sparkes’ full article.

If you want to spend more time with pets, but personal or financial circumstances make it difficult to own your own pet, you may consider volunteering at a pet shelter or even walking a neighbour’s dog.

Thank you to all the students and staff who came out to visit the dogs and to the St Johns Ambulance volunteers for being so generous with their time.

Being with animals is just one way we can care for our mental health, building mental and emotional resilience so that we can better manage stressors such as exams and project deadlines.

What are some other things that help calm you and reduce your stress? Some people take deep breaths, walk, spend time in nature or listen to calming music. Find what works for you and build some time into your study schedule for these healthy breaks.

 

 

 

 

Breanna Sawatzky, Mental Health Coordinator

 

 

 

Two Free Tickets to World Premiere of Play “Breaking Through” at U of W

April 26, 2017 • Written by

Sarasvati Productions has created a new play called Breaking Through that we think staff and students will be interested in watching at the U of W.

The world premiere of this theatrical production is a combination of perspectives on mental health after two years of research and input from almost 400 local community members.

The play runs on several dates: May 23-27 at 8 pm, May 24 at 1 pm and May 28 at 2 pm at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (400 Colony Street at the U of W).

Tickets normally run $20 for adults and $15 for students and seniors, but for one lucky winner, you’ll get two tickets for FREE.

Visit your Lifeworks website at www.lifeworks.comand check out what your Employee and Family Assistance Program has to offer.

In order to access Lifeworks, you need the RRC Username and Password:

Username: rrcefap
Password: efap

Then, e-mail wellness@rrc.ca and tell us one thing on the website that you didn’t realize was offered, and you’ll be entered to win! This contest closes on Friday May 5, so don’t delay!!

Note: We will do our best to accommodate your date preference.

For more information, check out sarasvati.ca

Therapy Dogs on Campus! April 24th and 25th

April 20, 2017 • Written by

The end of term can be a very stressful period, with students experiencing added pressure to complete projects and perform well on exams. In order to help students cope with this stress, we’re welcoming the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program to campus. Students will be encouraged to sit with, feel, touch and pet a trained dog, enjoying the relaxing effect this can have on their mind, body, and emotions.

According to St. John Ambulance, the nation-wide program boasts 3,354 volunteer teams who assisted more than 120,000 clients throughout 2015. Therapy dog teams visit hospitals, retirement residences, care facilities, schools and universities.

Therapy dogs have been on campus in the past, and many students have genuinely enjoyed the visits.

Please join us at the following times/locations:

Monday, April 24 in the Cave Lounge at NDC, 11:30am-1:00pm

Tuesday, April 25 in the Atrium of Roblin Centre, 11:30am-1:00pm

For more information, please contact Breanna Sawatzky at 204-632-2061 or blsawatzky@rrc.ca