What is ‘gray area’ drinking?

by Kari Schwear

As a former gray area drinker, I found myself living a double life appearing to have it all together, but wrestling with my wine addiction in secrecy. In this story, I explain how I ended up in that place. 

The Beginning

When I was just seven years old, I asked–“Is this all there is to life?” I wondered if life was really so lonely and empty–a profound thought for a 7-year-old.

As time went on, I never seemed to feel any excitement for life. Some special moments stood out, but for the most part, I dreaded school … Read more...

How to Talk to Kids about Depression, Substance Abuse and Suicide

Listen to this podcast here.

This podcast focuses on how to talk to kids about depression, substance misuse, and suicide from my perspective as a mother whose child died by suicide in 2015. 

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10 and 34-year-olds, only behind the unintentional injury, in the United States. Much of suicide has a correlation with depression and substance misuse—and while there is an epidemic of teen depression and suicide, only 45% of teen girls and 33% of teen boys who have experienced an episode of depression got treatment in 2019. It’s time to start … Read more...

No words to describe the grief

by Kerri Jenkins Rhodes

William “Taylor” Rhodes

There really are no words to describe the pain of losing a child.

To wake up each day and find a way to get through it, to find a purpose for the pain, a way to give all the love you want to give to your loved one and to others that need it.

To find a way to make a life for yourself with a huge part of your heart missing.

Unfortunately too many of us are in this awful club. We will all survive this because one day we will meet … Read more...

The hot potato topic

What I speak about is often acknowledged as important.

Heads nod, emails are answered and then the, “I think that is Sara’s or Kenny’s area.” Let me introduce you to these five people. And my message just gets drowned out in a sea of emails of “we’ll get back to you later.”

Do I get back? Sure I do. But what I get in response is, “Did you ever talk to Kenny or Sara?” No, they wouldn’t call me back.

Suicide, mental illness, grief and addiction are topics people want to pass to someone else to take care of. Not … Read more...

Rams in Recovery needs your help

by Michelle Omowaiye
Rams in Recovery, started by my friend Tom Bannard, is a collegiate group of students in recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) located at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. Just recently, Governor Ralph Northam announced that $675,000 in federal grant money will go towards expanding collegiate recovery programs at eight universities in Virginia.

Rams in Recovery offers space for recovery meetings, organize events and trips, offer recovery housing and scholarships and this group is doing a service project with the goal of creating care bags for the men at The Healing Place.

The … Read more...

What to look for in a mental health speaker

Given the sensitivity around topics such as addiction, mental illness, and suicide, meeting professionals should strive to hire mental health speakers who pay attention to safe messaging. So here are some thoughts on how meeting professionals and event planners can find the right behavioral health speaker.  

Mental health speakers should avoid graphic descriptions

While you want your speaker to deliver a thoughtful and educational presentation, avoid hiring or inviting mental health speakers who go into graphic detail about suicide method or cleanup which could potentially be triggering, especially for young students and more vulnerable … Read more...

My mom lost her battle with addiction and my world fell apart

by Miranda Booher

Every single day in the United States, 130 lives are lost to opioid overdoses. Children will never see their mommy or daddy again and go into foster care, parents will bury their adult children. Families will pick up the pieces. Partners will left behind to face the brutal realities of this world alone.

The dark day my mom overdosed on morphine

I was 12 years old when my mom started taking pain pills for her chronic back pain that was caused by an extra vertebra in her spine. It didn’t take long for her medication to become … Read more...

Virginia this Morning Video Plus More

What a day. It started off at WTVR channel 6 with an interview about the book, followed by a Philanthropy award luncheon, followed by a zoom call with Molly in Sacramento CA for a future speaking engagement, followed by book signing at Barnes & Noble (thank all for coming out) and ended the night with my best friend Martha, her husband and mine at “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” radio show on NPR. I’m too tired to eat.

Video link

diary of a broken mind
Love this shot of the book from WTVR. You can see Charles peeking out at the top on the bookmark
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Video: Thank you Teri, Nora & Andrew

Teri Rafferty, Nora & Andrew Crouch bought books for the SUD support group at REAL LIFE. None of these participants are in a place in their recovery to afford a book but they wanted one. And it looks like we didn’t do landscape and get every one in the picture. But we tried! It was a great group and I appreciated how everyone participated.

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Do you want me to speak at your high school on suicide prevention and SUD?

testimonial about a high school mental health speaker
15 year old student, Cosby High School

I have a list of high schools, however, you might want to request that I speak to a high school near you. If so, please list the name of the school and add other information about that school on the Google form below. That form will populate a spreadsheet from which I will work those contacts.

I will be sending an actual paper letter in an envelope to the principals of these high schools and follow up with phone call and an email.

At this time, I am focusing on high schools and … Read more...