Tag Archives: philosophy

Word up!

Yes, folks, it’s a rainy, slow Saturday. I love my blog, I do. And, I love to write. But, I will resort to incorporating some of the WordCount Blogathon‘s theme day suggestions in order to keep posting each and every day in May.

Here’s one: a super cool design site that creates a “Wordle” or word picture based on common words or blog posts. This is my Kids and Mental Health Wordle. Lovely, ain’t it?

A Kids 'n' Mental Health Wordle for a Rainy Day in May

Nuts, Crazy, Insane

I wanted to write a post on We Need to Talk About Kevin, a disturbing and thought-provoking book written by Lionel Shriver. The novel has been made into a film starring Tilda Swinton and it comes out this fall.

Image from NutsforLife.com

However, I am running out of time so I’ll leave that idea for another day.

Recently, I’ve become more sensitive to words associated with mental health:

-You’re crazy!

-That’s insane. You’re off your rocker.

-He’s nuts! Why would he do something like that?

These are common phrases used among adults and kids alike. But, at the risk of being too politically correct, do they damage our understanding of mental health? Obviously saying, “you’re crazy!” is meant as a negative. So, lately, I’m trying to avoid using: nuts, crazy, insane, wacko, nutty, etc. in daily life. It’s a challenge.What about you? Do you agree with my train of thought here?

Quick Guide: Children’s Mental Health Resources in Canada

Here’s a short list of some of the fantastic (online and offline) resources I’ve found during my research this year:

Walking Towards the Light

Children’s Mental Health Ontario – a general portal consisting of facts, information, and listings of children’s mental health centres and programs.

LD Experience – Kathryn Burke is a speaker, author and advocate based in Alberta. Her site offers information about learning disabilities and ADHD.

Hincks-Dellcrest is a kids’ mental health centre located in Toronto. The centre offers a variety of in and out-patient programs.

CHEO Mental Health (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario – in Ottawa) offers a useful advocacy page with reports and stats on the subject. They also offer in-patient counselling and programs within the hospital system.

The Province of British Columbia’s “Teen Depression Tool” page is useful for those living in the area (and elsewhere).

Halton Region has a very attractive and user-friendly web site with blogs, tools, resources, and specific information for both parents and youth dealing with mental health questions and concerns.

Finally, if you’re interested in the association between nutrition and mental health, check out my article, “The Right Stuff” which explores the possible connection between dietary choices and ADHD in May’s issue of Kiwi magazine. The article is not available online and it can be tricky to find Kiwi in Canada. However, the magazine is said to be available at Loblaws and Chapters/Indigo.

Guest Post: How Good Deeds Help Kids’ Mental Health

We're only human

Today, I’m featuring my first guest post. Lisa Bendall is a friend and colleague whom I’ve known for many years. We often swap notes on writing, editing, and the magazine industry. Enjoy her post on how good deeding leads to good mental health for kids and adults alike.

–I’ve been writing about kids for years. And I also spout off regularly, to almost anyone who’ll listen, on the subject of good deeds and random kindnesses. So when Lisa Tabachnick Hotta asked me to drop by her blog, it was a no-brainer to merge the two topics together.

Five years ago, I set myself the challenge of doing one good deed a day for 50 days straight. Like any working Canadian parent, my life at the time was non-stop hectic. But part of me suspected it didn’t actually take so much time, energy and money to make a difference in the world. I wanted to give it a try and see what followed.

So for 50 days, a lot of the talk around the supper table each evening centered on what good deed I’d done that day, and what kind of results I’d observed. (Did I get strange looks when I collected up garbage at the park? What did the administrator at the local nursing home say when I carried in fresh flowers from my garden?)

But the reaction that left the deepest impression on me was that of my daughter. Seven years old at the time, she seemed enthralled by my various daily good-deed adventures. She offered up endearing suggestions for new good deed possibilities. And then she started going out of her way to do good deeds of her own.

Emily had always been a rather considerate kid, at least I thought so. But even more so now, after 50 days of good deed discussions around the dinner table, she began to accept random kindness as a normal part of the family culture: It’s what we do.

I love this, because of course we all want our kids to be good citizens. Kindness, thoughtfulness, helpfulness, these are character traits we feel right about instilling in our children. But what I didn’t consider then was the impact this could have on my child’s mental health. And now, thanks to five years of exploring the topic of good deeds, I know it’s one of the healthiest practices any of us can have.

Research consistently demonstrates that doing good deeds is good for us. Counting up the deeds we do actually raises our level of happiness. Helping others increases our sense of connection with our community. Doing volunteer work reduces stress and symptoms of depression. Volunteering even makes old people live longer, for Pete’s sake!

I don’t know about you, but when I’m mapping out my kid’s future, that all sounds like pretty spectacular stuff to me.

So the word is: Teach your children the value of good-deed-doing, and you’ll be increasing their odds of lifelong mental health. It’s not hard: Have conversations about kindness. Be a role model by performing simple acts of helpfulness, even if it’s just holding the door for a stranger. Let them choose the foster child you support in Africa.

You’ll raise caring, compassionate kids, but you’ll also be doing so very much more for them.

–Bio: Lisa Bendall is a freelance writer and author of two books, including Raising a Kid with Special Needs: The Complete Canadian Guide. Her award-winning blog on acts of kindness and other ways to make a difference can be found at www.50gooddeeds.com.

What Experts Say Today: Surprising Insight about Kids + Mental Health

Today I’m doing a  round-up of what a variety of experts in the children’s mental health field have to say about “hot topics” in their daily work. I found the responses insightful and they will certainly help me to move forward with what to cover on this blog.


Richard Selznick, PhD, is a psychologist and author of The Shut-Down Learner who works in New Jersey. He says, “While I’m not sure if I see this is a common concern among mental health professionals, one of the biggest issues that I see affecting children is their continually being asked to handle tasks (academic and non-academic) that they really can’t handle. Effectively, kids are being asked to swim in deeper waters than they are competent to manage.  The assumption (not correct) among families and teachers is he/she isn’t trying enough.  This leads to much stress in the family and insecurity in the child.”

What makes a child smile?

Richard continues with this other excellent piece of advice: “Another thing I see these days is a general lack of patience with children.  There is a great deal of yelling and reactivity from parent to child, much of which is unproductive.  Kids need to be seen as works in progress – I try and encourage parents to think that ‘God isn’t done with the child yet.’  Usually, the message of patient encouragement is heard.”

Anne Ptasznik  is a communications consultant/writer who has worked in mental health for 20 years. I’ve recently connected with Anne on Twitter. She says, “It is a particularly exciting time to be writing on this topic as the government has recently announced three-year funding for mental health and addiction services geared toward children and youth. It will be interesting to see how this develops. Access to these services for young people has always been a huge issue.”

Alyson Schafer is a well-known psychotherapist, author and parenting expert who has her own parenting show on Rogers TV. Catching her between appointments, Alyson offers that, “The biggest issue seems to be anxiety/depression in Canada. Also debates around ADHD and autism and [lot’s of talk] about attachment disorder.” She adds that in the US hot topics include debates over medicating for behaviour issues and social media apps (applications) that can promote bullying and cyber-bullying!

Finally, Sara Dimerman, a psychological associate, counsellor, and author, is an expert I turn to often when writing articles on parenting, education, development, health and children. Again, catching her between patient appointments and interviews, Sara shares her feedback on today’s most common issues in children’s mental health. “As always issues around anxiety are always big.” Sara adds that a constant in her practise is “helping kids cope with divorce and separation.”

Some of the answers I received made me nod my head while others were a surprise and, again, made me think about my kids and all of the children we know. What’s your take? What kinds of mental health issues do you see in your family or community these days? Did these answers surprise you and make you re-think your own parenting model?

May the 4th be With You: Yoda and Friends

Okay, is this headline cheesy? Yes. Funny and clever? Also yes, but I love it. Full disclosure: I “borrowed” the phrase from a friend’s current Facebook status.

What I planned to blog about today isn’t going to happen. Why? It’s sunny out for the first time in days, and, while I want to blog about serious issues pertaining to children’s mental health as per yesterday’s post, I also want to address this topic in an off-beat and fun way, too. Tomorrow I’ll share experts’ opinions on “the most discussed” topics in kids’ mental health.

May the 4th be With You

So, in honour of today being May 4th, and the fact that so many (mostly males) in my life love the Star Wars saga, I thought I’d explore how Star Wars philosophy applies to our feeling s and emotions.

And, wow, when I was searching for quotes on a variety of pages including About.com’s Movie Quotes page, I see that there are some relevant, meaningful connections between Luke, R2D2, Yoda and the rest of us; a very philosophical bunch. Here are some examples:

Anakin Skywalker:

You’re asking me to be rational. That is something I know I cannot do. Believe me, I wish I could just wish away my feelings, but I can’t.

Count Dooku:

I sense great fear in you, Skywalker. You have hate… you have anger… but you don’t use them.


Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

Anakin Skywalker:

Mom, you said that the biggest problem in the universe is no one helps each other.

Star Wars plot lines often focus on “the dark side.” Obviously, while one should not equate hate and fear with the onset of mental illness, there is a connection between depression and the dark side. There’s also a link between hope, love, compassion and empathy here as well as trying to balance the yin and yang in emotional and mental health.

What’s your favourite Star Wars quote? Has the saga made a difference in your life or your children’s lives? And, will you be saying, “May the 4th be with you” for the rest of the day?