Suicide Prevention Month – Knowing the Warning Signs
Suicide Prevention Month begins September 1st of each year, yet it is always something that should be talked about. Here at the NAN Project with every school we go into and with every presentation given, we go over the steps on how to notice someone is struggling and what to do. Some of the examples students have cited as signs that someone is struggling with their mental health and may be considering suicide are:
- Hygiene changes
- Mood changes
- Appetite changes
- Sleep changes
- Giving away cherished items
- Changes to physical appearance
- Use of substances
You have the ability to help someone struggling, whether you are a professional mental health worker, student, teacher, friend, family member. The biggest way to help someone you know is struggling is to talk about it with that person, with a trusted adult, or with someone who has more knowledge on what steps to take. Did you know that “90% of suicides there is an underlying, treatable mental disorder”? That means there is help available, often times people struggle to know how to access that help. Some things you can do if you are struggling or if you know someone struggling:
- Go to trusted adult
- Seek advice on services (guidance counselor, school nurse, police station, crisis text or phone line, local emergency room)
- Listen to the person struggling/be there for them
“Research shows people who are having thoughts of suicide feel relief when someone asks after them in a caring way. Findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation.”
Resources for Suicide Prevention
CDC National HIV and AIDS Hotline
Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline
Crisis Text Line
Text HOME to 741741
National Grad Crisis Line
National Sexual Assault Hotline
National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (options for deaf and hard of hearing)
For TTY Users: Use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988
Teen Line Text 839863 or Call (800) 852-8336
LGBT National Hotline (888) 843-4564
LGBT Youth Hotline (800) 246-7743
Trans Lifeline (877-565-8860)
Back to School: A Guide for Educators on Mental Health
Educators are not mental health professionals, but that does not mean they should not be mental health educated because:
- 1 in 6 American aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
- 50% of all mental health conditions begin by age 14
- 50–80% of school-aged children do not receive the mental health care they need
Mental health issues in a student often do impact a students performance in school so teachers, principals, guidance counselors, paraprofessionals, spend a lot of time with students and are often the first to notice when something might be off. There are some telltale signs that something might be going on with a student with mental health issues. Some of those tell-tale signs are:
- Hygiene changes
- Mood changes
- Different circle of friends
- Excessive fatigue
- Appetite changes
- Grade changes
- Late assignments
- Skipping classes
There are also some not so subtle signs. Some students may appear overly happy, overly enthusiastic, perfectionist…those kids are often the ones that mental health issues are missed or not taken as seriously. All signs and symptoms of mental health should be taken seriously and directed towards the guidance counselor, adjustment counselor, school nurse, or principal.
Another really important part of mental health in schools is talking about it, not shying away from it, and promoting a safe space for students to share concerns with trusted adults. Someone within the school, most commonly the guidance counselors, know how to access the local crisis support and mental health services in the area. One way professionals can build skills and confidence discussing mental health with students would be by attending mental health training, learning, using, and teaching positive behaviors and decision making skills, encouraging other professionals to attend training..
There are lots of resources out there for teachers and other educators to learn more about mental health in students and how to become more confident in identifying it in students. Some of those resources which offer trainings, webinars, and general information are:
Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation and mindfulness are something a lot of people struggle with, they hear someone tell them to do it and it seems boring or hard or impossible. The key is finding a meditation or mindfulness practice that works for you. For some people that looks like listening to relaxing music, for others it means a bubble bath with candles, yoga, focused breathing, listening to a guided meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation. You might be wondering though, what does any of that actually do for me? With meditation you are slowing down and becoming aware of your thoughts and feelings without judgment. That is the whole point…to slow down from your daily life and take some time to just be.
Some tips on how to do that are to slow down and pay attention to your surroundings, your thoughts, feelings, all using your five senses. Accept any thought of feeling that may come up for what it is without question and focus on your breath. These steps are important in any kind of meditation you may choose to participate in.
Meditation and mindfulness can be practiced on a daily basis, or weekly, or monthly. However you can fit it into your schedule with what works in your life. Below are some tips for slipping it in when you simply do not have time. Practicing some kind of mindfulness and meditation is better than not doing it at all. If you’re having a hard time getting into it, start with once a week for 5 or 10 minutes, and build on that. There is no way to do it wrong, it is whatever and however you personally can slow down and observe.
Source: VeryWell Mind
According to the Mayo Clinic there are so many mental and physical health benefits to mindfulness and meditation including the reduction of
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Fibromyalgia symptoms
- Improve attention
- Decrease job burnout
- Improve sleep
- Improve diabetes control
Source: The Kewl Shop
Self Care…We ALL Need it!!
Whether you struggle with mental health or not, self care is such an important part of daily living. Self care offers every single person who partakes in it the chance to reset themselves, to do something they enjoy doing, something for them in a world where we are constantly giving and giving and giving to other people or other responsibilities.
Self care is different for everyone. What I might consider self care you might not, and that is okay. Self care is whatever you deem helpful for your mental and physical health.
Here are some examples of self care:
going for a walk, reading a book, journaling, calling a friend or family member, taking a bath or a shower, spending time in nature, spending time with people you care about, playing with a pet, yoga, doing a puzzle, playing a video game, whatever you feel centers you.
Now while these are all self care aspects there’s also the aspect of just keeping up with your day to day hygiene, which can be a huge self care step for a lot of people,especially those struggling with mental health. Setting up a self-care routine can be a challenge. You have all of these ideas and it’s just figuring out how to implement them in your daily life. One thing I found works really well especially with kids, teens, and young adults is a self care bingo board.
Basically, you make a bingo board and fill it in with self care items. Then you aim to get a bingo every week. And maybe if you get a bingo, you get a bonus, self-care thing. Maybe it’s a coffee from Starbucks, maybe it’s going to a movie, going to your favorite park, or buying yourself something that you’ve really wanted, but that’s a way to help motivate you and loved ones to integrate self-care into your daily life. Some people schedule self care in their planners, some people set a certain time each day for self-care. However, you can figure out to implement self-care into at least if not a daily, a weekly routine is so important for your physical and mental well-being.
In the article How and Why to Practice Self Care put out by the Mental Health First-aid Organization they found studies showing that “Engaging in a self-care routine has been clinically proven to reduce or eliminate anxiety and depression, reduce stress, increase happiness, and more.” To me that sounds like something worth trying.
Here’s a handy checklist you can use to check in with yourself and your loved ones about mental health before the big return to school this fall:
A Re-Introduction to The NAN Project Blog
Welcome to the NAN Project
If you’re new here you might be wondering What is the NAN Project? The NAN Project came about following the tragic death of Nan, who took her own life after battling depression, anxiety, and OCD from a very young age and with very limited professional support. Nan’s family wanted to help young people feel less alone and less scared of speaking up. So they developed a peer to peer model to reach students, teachers, and emergency responders. The peer to peer model has young people with lived experience sharing their stories of mental health and shows that life can get better, with the hope to relate to young people. During presentations students are given resources and education on what to do if they or a friend is struggling.
Now that you know what the NAN project is all about we’d like to expand our messaging across social media.We have had social media accounts since the beginning, however with the onboarding of new staff we will be revamping all of our social media accounts. To do that we’ve put together a social media team, Shannon, Rachel, Kylee, and Fantasia (all pictured below!). They will be working to manage our blog, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Linkedin accounts.
We have some ideas, but would love to hear from you guys and what you want to hear about. So if you have an idea please head over to our socials and send us a message or comment!
Until next week have a safe and peaceful week!
X (formerly Twitter lol): https://twitter.com/TheNANProject?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor
Blog on website: https://www.thenanproject.org/blog/
Trauma-Informed Fitness Class at First Day of Peer Mentor Summer Learning Series
The NAN Project Granted $21,000 from WCVB Channel 5 Boston’s Fifty Year Fund
We were awarded a generous grant from WCVB Channel 5 Boston through their Fifty Year Fund at the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge! Jake, our executive director, spoke with WCVB about how this grant will make a big difference in reaching more students in MA. We are so grateful to WCVB for all the work they do to support community organizations and kudos to all who ran in the corporate challenge!
North Shore Teen Summer Send-Off in Beverly
This past weekend our Peer Mentors Ares, Emilia, and Rachel tabled at the North Shore Teen Summer Send-Off in Beverly! It was great to make new connections and send students off into the summer with this community event.