If you could increase your child’s self-esteem and create a positive self image for less than 10 minutes A-day at little to no cost would you do it?
Of course you say .

Let’s start with elementary and middle schools and include social and emotional learning into the classroom .
It’s too expensive , it takes too much time, teacher’s are overworked we can’t add on .

We teach children in kindergarten and first grade about the weather. It takes 5 mins a day. Why can’t we have 5 mins to teach and explore emotions? Instead of weather board, feelings board etc..

Second and third graders can read books on feelings. Spelling words could include an emotion. Can they spell it ? Use it in a sentence?

Art class instead of saying draw, paint, use modeling clay to make a flower, how about making it an emotion or social creation.

Music can be discussion of sounds that make you feel happy, sad etc.. Gym class can show children ways to creatively release emotions of frustration or anger in a safe manner.

These are very basic , simple ideas. They don’t take much time, money or planning to implement. Teachers have all experienced a variety of emotions throughout their lives. We don’t need to teach the teachers to feel.

A state of mental, emotional, and cognitive health can impact perceptions, choices and actions affecting wellness and functioning.

Studies have shown the following:

Developmentally appropriate, student-centered education materials should be integrated into the curriculum of all K-12 classes. The content of these age-appropriate materials should include the importance of safe and healthy choices and coping strategies focused on resiliency building, and how to recognize risk factors and warning signs of mental health conditions and suicide in oneself and others. The content shall also include help-seeking strategies for oneself or others and how to engage school resources and refer friends for help.

Access to school-employed mental health resources and access to school-based mental health supports directly improves students’ physical and psychological safety, academic performance, cognitive performance and learning, and social/emotional development. This training ensures that mental health resources are properly and effectively infused into the learning environment. These professionals can support both instructional leaders’ and teachers’ abilities to provide a safe school setting and the optimum conditions for teaching and learning. Having these professionals as integrated members of the school staff empowers principals and administrators to more efficiently and effectively deploy resources, ensure coordination of resources, evaluate their effectiveness, and adjust supports to meet the dynamic needs of their student populations. Improving access also allows for enhanced collaboration with community providers to meet the more intense or clinical needs of students.

It’s too important not to be done. Let’s normalize mental health for everyone and start at the very beginning.


Let’s normalize and de-stigmatize mental health

THE AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION reports “50 percent of mental illness begins at age 14, and three quarters begin by age 24.”

THE MAYO CLINIC STUDY reports The deadliness of attempted suicide has been dramatically underestimated.

This study not only demonstrates that suicide prevention efforts should begin before a first suicide attempt, but also supports prevention as being the responsibility of all medical providers, not just mental health professionals.

Let’s start with the old cliché s
It’s always best to start at the beginning.
If many mental health issues are diagnosed in young teens and evidence shows prevention efforts should begin before a suicide attempt why not start at the very beginning. Lets encourage pediatricians to include a mental health questionnaire as part of a child’s yearly physical.

A few questions on family history of mental health issues. Doctors have been asking adults for many years during physicals for family history of heart disease, stroke, diabetes etc.. Why not mental health?

A few questions about the child’s social and emotional skills . The pediatricians ask parents questions from birth to 3 years about eating and sleeping habits because it is imperative for their well-being. Well I say, how they are dealing with their emotions is also imperative to their well-being.

It takes a village to raise a child.
Also a true statement. Let’s take the next step and educate teachers on emotional and social needs for children. A few high schools in this country have just begun to start implementing education on mental health and suicide but its not enough. Every school needs to provide these services. Let’s not wait till high school, let’s start in elementary school
We need to begin normalizing emotions and teach children appropriate ways to deal with them. Not just sending a child to the nurse or school social worker for each incidence.
In the real world we all have to deal with challenges sometimes without warning and can’t just go to a mental health professional at each of those moments. We as adults sometimes need to reach out to others to help us through. Why can’t we teach our kids the same thing? Lead by example

Kindness matters

Everyone feels sad, confused, angry etc… at different times this is normal. Showing children that even adults feel this way tells them they are not alone. Children often model behaviors they see , so lets show them effective ways to process their feelings. Social and emotional well-being are of paramount importance.



Inflammation and Suicide

            In looking at the biological factors involved in suicide, inflammation and inflammatory conditions such as traumatic brain injuries, autoimmune disorders, and neuropsychiatric symptoms are only beginning to be explored. The immune system is being looked at as important in the pathophysiology of suicidality. Potential triggers of suicidal behavior can include various inflammatory conditions (TBI, vitamin deficiency, autoimmune disorders, and infections), which, through raised levels of inflammation, can cause cause significant problems for individuals. These neurobiological effects might cause profound changes in emotion and behavior, which could lead to suicidal behavior in vulnerable individuals. Suicide is multi-factorial, and many more studies are needed in this area. 

For more information, see complete article:


Genetics and Epigenetics

Genetics and Epigenetics

I’ve found that in trying to understand the underlying biological affects on mental health disorders, it’s necessary to understand a few terms.  Among these terms are Genetics and Epigenetics.  Both genetics and epigenetics have been found to be involved in various  diseases of the mind.

So, what is Genetics? Genetics is the study of heredity, in general, and of genes, in particular. 

Mental illnesses are thought to be caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors:    

  • Genetics (Inherited traits)  Mental illness is more common in people whose blood relatives also have a mental illness. Certain genes may increase your risk of developing a mental illness, and your life situation may trigger it.
  • Environmental exposures before birth. Exposure to environmental stressors, inflammatory conditions, toxins, alcohol or drugs while in the womb can sometimes be linked to mental illness.
  • Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that carry signals to other parts of your brain and body. When the neural networks involving these chemicals are impaired, the function of nerve receptors and nerve systems change, leading to depression and other emotional disorders.  (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/symptoms-causes/syc-20374968)

What is Epigenetics?   Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene activity which are not caused by changes in the DNA sequence.  It is a set of processes that effects which genes are switched-on (expressed).

It is also the study of how your behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work. Although the environment triggers natural development in some species, it often has harmful effects that have negative consequences for development and for disease.

Research is now showing that epigenetic changes are involved in ‘specific’ diseases. These include cardiovascular diseases, metabolic disorders, cancer, and neurological disorders.

Over the years, it has been debated whether or not epigenetic changes (that have accumulated throughout an entire lifespan) can be carried down from one generation to next, and the next, etc. Researchers have now begun to show significant evidence that this is the case.

Epigenetic processes have recently been implicated to cause numerous mental health disorders, including the most profound – suicide.  One in four of us will suffer from a mental disorder each year – a quarter of our population.  Yet, mental health is still lagging far behind in research.

Undeniably, there is much to be done.  Scientists are currently working on drug  treatments to turn “on/off” the harmful epigenetic modification switches.  So much more work needs to be done.  We must advocate for funding for mental health.