Peer Mentor Graduation at YouForward Lawrence
Today we wrapped up our Peer Mentor training at YouForward Lawrence! We welcome our new members onto the team and look forward to them joining our upcoming presentations.
Active Listening at Galvin Middle School’s A Time to Talk
Today we held our 4th session of A Time to Talk at Galvin Middle School in Wakefield! Today’s group was focused on active listening. We played simon says, practiced listening with a paired activity, stacked cups reflecting risk and protective factors, and our Peer Mentor; Nyatuga, shared her comeback story. We’re excited to return for more learning and fun activities next week!
Presentations to 122 Students at Greater Lowell Technical High School
Today our team presented to 122 students at Greater Lowell Technical High School! We were so impressed with the questions students asked about mental health, therapy, trusted adults, and how to help a friend that is struggling. We also had the pleasure of dining for lunch at their student-operated restaurant: The Artisan – it was quite the treat! A big thank you to Ms. Fenlon for welcoming us into her classroom once again. We look forward to speaking to more students at Greater Lowell Tech next week!
Managing Responses to Stress at Galvin Middle School
At the third session of A Time to Talk at Galvin Middle School in Wakefield today, we discussed positive, tolerable, and toxic stress as a group, played the “ABCs of Coping Skills,” and ended with mindful movement. We’re excited to come back next week to play some games centered on active listening!
A Night for NAN 2022
“It’s OK to Leave” – Living with a Mental Health Challenge Vignette
“It’s Okay to Leave” written by John Oxenford with Illustrations Designed by Alison Sabean
The following vignette is about a person who is experiencing symptoms from their mental illness, but is nevertheless able to persist, and manage their mental health challenges. Voice 1 represents the character’s fears that limit them from being able to accomplish their goals that day. Feelings and struggles, similar to those that this person is experiencing from their mental illness (Voice 1), can drive someone towards suicidal thinking. Thoughts like these can inhibit a person from being able to live a stable life, due to their consistent fears and repetitive irrational thoughts. The thoughts that this character is experiencing stem from a reasonable place, such as, wanting to ensure everything is set in a person’s home before they face the day, however, in this character’s case the thoughts are exaggerated out of proportion, and thus become invasive and limiting. Even though this person has checked all of the things that they needed to check, thoroughly and efficiently, in order to be able to start their day, their fear is still there and thus creating an intrusive barrier, causing them to assume that for some reason what they have done is not enough. Voice 2 represents the part of the protagonist’s mind that is uninhibited by their unsubstantiated fears and doubts, in other words their rational mind. The conversations happening between the protagonist and their voices represent an internal struggle many people with mental health face on a regular basis, as they work to manage their mental health. I hope this scene gives hope to people who are going through similar struggles – and might even be experiencing suicidal thoughts. This scene was created to give hope, and the understanding that struggles can be overcome.
It’s OK to Leave
Girl, early 20s
Voice 1 representing Girl’s negative thoughts
Voice2 representing Girl’s positive thoughts
A small apartment. It is simply furnished but immaculate. Everything in its place, not a speck of dust. Music plays through stereo speakers mounted on the bookcase.
Girl is packing her backpack for the gym. She puts a water bottle in the outside pocket, then checks each pocket. She puts the pack down and goes into the kitchen. She walks slowly round inspecting all the appliances—toaster, fridge, microwave. Stops at the stove, checks that each dial is set to off, checks each burner to make sure it’s cold. She does this several times, then stops, takes a breath.
Girl [as if about to do a parachute jump]: OK, ready to go.
She walks to the door. Her hand is on the knob. She’s about to turn it when–
Voice 1 (offstage): Haven’t you forgotten something?
Girl: Um . . . No?
Voice 1: What about the stove? You forgot to check the stove.
Girl [less certain]: No, I’m pretty sure I checked it all.
Voice 1 enters upstage right. The stage lights begin to dim.
Voice 1[sinister, slightly threatening]: Well I’m pretty sure you missed something. Check again!
Girl [moving toward the kitchen]: I—I thought I checked it. I thought I checked it really well.
Voice 1: You thought? But you’re not sure. What if there’s a fire. Do you want to take that risk? They’d evict you. People could be killed. Check again. Properly this time.
Girl goes over to the stove, repeats the checks she did before but takes much longer. Visibly nervous.
This interchange is repeated several times, until the girl, now very stressed, runs to the door, grabs the knob, turns it.
Voice 1: Are you really going? You’re willing to take the risk? What if—
The lights flicker. Sound of glass shattering, a siren, people running and shouting.
Girl: [screams] Stop! Stop! Leave me alone!
Voice 1 disappears. She drops onto the couch, head in hands.
Voice 2 enters upstage left. A faint light shows.
Voice2: Why are you sitting there? I thought you were going to the gym today.
Girl: I can’t.
Voice 2: Why not?
Girl: Because—I don’t know. It just doesn’t feel . . . safe.
Voice2: Safe? How do you mean?
Girl: What if I went out and I’d left a burner on and there was a fire? They’d evict me. People could be killed.
Voice2: But how could there be a fire? You checked the stove. Every burner. Lots of times. The stove is fine.
Lights begin to come up. Girl sits up, looks around her, as if seeing her apartment for the first time. Takes a breath. Laughs.
Girl: The stove is fine! I checked it! Lots of times!
She gets her backpack, walks straight to the door, leaves without a backward glance.
Voice1: Have you checked the—
Sees there’s no one there
Presentations to Swampscott High School and YouForward Training
Over today and yesterday, we presented to over 50 students at Swampscott High School! We had some great conversations around the impact of bullying and how to foster good self-esteem in yourself and those you care for. We also began a Peer Mentor training at YouForward Lawrence over the past two days. We look forward to learning more about our new trainees and hearing their stories!
Peer Mentor Presentations to Breed Middle School
This week we have presented to 15 classes at Breed Middle School in Lynn. It was our pleasure to return to Breed to share stories of recovery and resilience with students in both English and Spanish. We greatly appreciated the conversations about mental health and trusted adults we had these past three days and we look forward to speaking to more middle schoolers next week!
Presentations to Newburyport High School
Today our Peer Mentors presented to students at Newburyport High School. Some of our newest additions to the team presented with us for the first time!
Presentations to MAP Academy
Today our Peer Mentors presented to MAP Academy in Plymouth. We had a great discussion about mental health supports and how to reach out for help.