Every single case makes me realize that my reach is simply not wide enough. I do not have enough resources or permissions from schools to do my work. People look the other way when I talk about mental health or death by suicide, they cringe when I ask for donations about such a scary topic. “Not our family, this doesn’t apply to us, that’s not going to happen to us”. I hear it every day.
As a nonprofit founder of a skill set that prevents negative mental health outcomes like suicide, homicide and self-harm, I find myself reaching for answers.
I walk on eggshells, modeling emotional intelligence and regulation, guiding students how to cope with such things and desperately trying to keep up with my students via text, chat or phone calls. I find myself screaming inside my own head and feeling frustrated with the lack of attention this topic gets.
I must constantly monitor my reactions and guard my emotional health when in reality, the whole world is suffering a collective traumatic experience and people only want to argue about masks. WAKE UP! Our children are dying…DYING. Every single day there is another death by suicide. 8-year-old siblings, 11 year old boys, 17 year old girls, and everything in between!
WE ARE IN A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS IN YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH! There, I said it, and I do not take it back. This is what it is, this is the truth that we are trying so desperately not to pay attention to. This is the life altering blow to any family and community that we cannot allow to continue.
We must talk about it, we must connect with our children or find someone that can, we must have very candid conversations about the finality of death by suicide and know how to help. This cannot wait.
For years, I have been banging on doors, keeping social media relevant, emailing schools, businesses, people, celebrities, other clinicians trying to bring this topic to the forefront. "Great idea" people say, "This is so needed", "Great work Cheryl", but this is not enough! We need action. I want action!
A tanglible plan for prevention, progression and treatment, all from the outdated and stubborn department of education. It's time for change.
CAN YOU HEAR THEM SCREAMING FOR HELP!! Our children desperately need help, they need us, all of us to get involved and realize that mental health is more important than anything. Nothing else matters, because grades mean nothing if you are dead!
Here’s what it comes down too…these children need a very serious integration of emotional intelligence and regulation training starting in kindergarten. My program offers this. (Ask for the slideshow for details) firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are living, walking, talking curriculum that does not drop a load of paperwork on the teacher’s desk and say, “here teach this”. The HES staff stays at the school, as a mindful liaison, a helper to the staff, the psych staff and the administration. The Whole Student experience is something that every single student should get, so that we can permanently change the outcomes of mental health crisis. These paraprofessionals deal with all aspects of social and emotional learning and provides a soft landing to students.
Here is what you can do right now.
Go and hold your children no matter what is going on. Tell them you love them now and forever and there is nothing that they can do to get you to stop loving them. Let them know that every conversation is okay, and nothing is off limits to talk about. If you need age appropriate ways to talk about this, ask me.
This is my life; I am committed to it and I will not stop until we push our way into the education system and make them understand that mental health is more important than grades and tax dollars.
Open your mind a bit and let go of your fears so that it may save your child’s life. They need you so much right now. Listen to them and do whatever they need to do to feel mentally healthy.
Cheryl Sims-Chouman, MPH Founder, Health Empowerment Series www.facebook.com/generationkindful