Cosby High School is the first to pilot the #umatterchallenge!

 

Check out the video the teens did! Thanks to Alex Chaffee, teen leader and member of the Swift Creek YMCA Leader’s Club for her help in leading the charge on this social media mental illness acceptance and suicide prevention program! And to all the students who stood up against the stigma of mental illness.

I doubt I could have gotten a team of adults to do this video. So who’s gonna erase stigma? High school students like these guys!

If you want to bring this simple, 2-week program to your school, contact me. This program is through Beacon Read more...

Is there more stigma with depression or addiction?

Changes in stigma ahead

I thought stigma was bad with depression until Charles developed a drug habit. Don’t get me wrong, it’s bad with both. Due to lack of understanding and education, both depression and addiction are seen as “weaknesses.”

With addiction, things take on a new level of shame.

Until it happens to someone’s family they don’t see the disease because the nature of addiction is such a different illness. Hallmarks of addiction include behavior that is often considered “immoral” behavior therefore people think the sufferer should be able to control it. In short, it’s seen as a moral failing.

Addicts steal to … Read more...

The #umatterchallenge

This challenge starts on Feb 21, 2016. You can sign up now and you can sign up any time after that.

Program inspiration

Charles Aubrey Rogers died by suicide June 5, 2015. He was 20 years old and suffered from depression, anxiety and ultimately addiction.

He was a creative genius and one of the funniest and most popular kids in high school. Yet he died by suicide which shows us that what you see on the outside can be covering up a storm of emotions on the inside. If there was one consistent theme about Charles, it was that he … Read more...

Teens and Young Adults: How to help your friend with depression?

how can you help

Teens and young adults ask me this question a lot. They have a friend who is confiding in them. That friend may be cutting, thinking of suicide, doing a lot of drugs, having trouble sleeping or just really depressed lately.

This is for those of you thoughtful enough to listen to that friend who is suffering. If suicide is an eminent threat, then you listen with compassion, call the suicide hotline and get them to the next level of care. Sometimes that means calling 911 or the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255. This podcast is a good one for having … Read more...

This is my mental health story

coldplay albumJule is 15 years old and from Germany. She submitted this #griefheart and I asked her if she wanted to do a post about herself.  So many who suffer from depression and other mental illnesses find relief in music. I know for Charles it was also a lifeline. I think this shows an incredible sense of hope, self awareness and maturity. 

Like many others, it started with school bullying

I have always been rather worrisome, nervous and thoughtful, but I was ten years old when things started to get bad.

I was in sixth grade and one of the best … Read more...

Goals for 2017

1. Get Preventure mental health and drug prevention initiative integrated in Virginia schools. 

I need parents to say they want this in our area! Tell teachers, call principals. Deadline is Feb 3 for getting letters from 30 principals. If we can get the letters to get the grant from NIDA, this is the program around which we will treat all mental illness and addiction in the future. Emotional learning and life skills training works. This program will have historical significance.

2. ASQ Suicide Screening

Through Beacon Tree Foundation and with the help of the Chesterfield County Suicide Coalition, it’s Read more...

Educators, we need your help supporting Preventure drug program

This grant has been submitted in Virginia. We got the letters we needed. Thank you so much. We will keep you up to date. If you want updates, here is the link to our email list for Preventure Updates.

In order to see that the evidence-based Preventure Adolescent Drug Prevention Program is implemented here in Virginia, we need letters of support from educators. Directions below. 

To clarify, the letter is not committing schools

A letter shows interest on the part of the school to participate in such trial. The main purpose of these letters is to show to NIH … Read more...

The day I went public

newspaperMany of you know me as someone that went public after my son’s suicide. It was actually prior to that in 2014. 

I know why most of us don’t speak our child’s mental illness because our kids, teens especially, want their struggles kept private. We also worried they’ll get labeled and mistreated as a result. Which is a valid concern. 

In 2014, I had had enough silence.

I can’t remember the circumstances, but I was asked to write an article for Richmond Times Dispatch about our family’s struggle with our child’s mental illness. I said yes. I can’t say I Read more...

Shame

shame-003

When Charles first started abusing drugs, we didn’t talk about it. My frustration and fear and fear were the dominant emotions.

Was it drugs or was it mental illness? We did find out eventually that it was mental illness first and the initial drug use was a result of his wanting to feel better, or more normal. Getting to the root of the problem was an enormously difficult process.

I did talk to people I trusted.

I didn’t talk about it to everyone, though. And one time I talked to the wrong person and it somehow wound its way back … Read more...

Presented suicide prevention program to YMCA Leader’s Club

Watching Charles rap the song, "Letter to God"
Watching Charles rap the song, “Letter to God”

I was honored this evening to present my story and my social media based suicide prevention program to the Swift Creek YMCA group in Chesterfield County. Before my very eyes, I saw stigma leave the building. Tosha Frye, fellow Beacon Tree board member, joined me and told her personal story and delivered her message of hope.

I met teens willing to reach out to others. Some of them spoke up and told their stories. We cried and we laughed. They are a very special and diverse group with great leadership. It’s a service club that takes … Read more...