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Virtual Coping Strategies Awareness Workshop

Students in Mississauga, Canada. Student Coping Strategies Workshop.

Above are the student leaders with whom I practiced prior taking this workshop online with this group of high school students in Mississauga, Canada. They helped me work through the kinks and test the tools.

25 participants in this one. My largest was in-person group of 100.

All presentations start with the prevention lifeline, crisis text line, and a trigger warning that you can leave or take a break. One student is tasked with getting together the resources for that school and the immediate area. So one of the leaders of the … Read more...

What’s life without you?

by Kiernan Gallagher, 15 years old
Published with her mother’s permission

Strong emotional content and suicide method referenced. If you are in crisis, text “help” to 741-741 or call 988

One I never wanted to imagine. But instead, I now live it.

They say it gets easier.

It doesn’t. And I knew that from day one. 

It’s been over a year and I still remember everything. I still feel everything.

On September 26, 2019, I didn’t go to bed until four in the morning. I woke up four hours later just to get smacked in the face — … Read more...

I am in charge of my recovery from bipolar disorder

by Tammy Ozolins

Tammy is a middle school teacher who contributes regularly to this blog on subjects related to mental health

Being diagnosed with a mental condition called Bipolar Disorder (I do not call it an illness anymore, because my brain is not sick, it is just different) has been challenging at times but it has made me such a stronger person in so many ways.

When I was first getting medical treatment I would go into the psychiatrist’s office and just nod my head, yes, and say Uhm, and not say much, even if I felt like the medicine … Read more...

Free download for teachers and school counselors. Fishbowl game

Looking for a way to create connection in the classroom? Need icebreakers to get students more engaged? This game can help you do that. There is a version that will use 5 minutes of classroom time every time you meet and one that can be used in a broader context with faculty and students. Ideal for middle or high schools, the lastest version includes game questions for elementary age kids.

We know that belonging and inclusion help build a foundation of suicide prevention and this game inspires sharing and serves as an icebreaker for student relationships. This and other icebreakers, … Read more...

Virtual games for teachers to help students engage

Our students who are not in school, and even those who are not, are struggling in this pandemic. Providing a few minutes of connection before class starts can help your students be more engaged with the lesson plan after. By the way, if you are a parent, you can play these games at home, too.

As Kim O’Brien PhD and I were writing the book, Emotionally Naked: A Teacher’s Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk, we interviewed teachers and school counselors and this sparked a number of ideas you can use in a virtual classroom to … Read more...

What I put in my self-harm safety kit

by Ayushree

Note from Anne Moss: A self-harm safety box is a kit that a person puts together as a self-help strategy. This was sent to me by Ayushree and she details the contents of her safety box which she has so far found helpful in breaking her self-harm habit.

Self-harm safety box

To make my own self-harm safety kit, I took a shoebox, covered it in white paper and made doodles all over it. I didn’t write anything on it because otherwise, my mom would know.

Doodles are one of my hobbies and it helps me to relieve stress. … Read more...

Concrete strategies that helped me work through my teen depression

Note from Anne Moss: Desmond Herzfelder is a freshman at Harvard University majoring in applied math and visual art. Kim O’Brien and I interviewed Desmond for our book, Emotionally Naked: A Teacher’s Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. We asked several young adults who struggled as teens how they survived a dark period in their lives and the coping strategies they used to find their way out. This is Desmond’s thoughtful response.

by Desmond Herzfelder

1) Prioritizing my happiness!

This, above all else, made the difference for me.

2) Reaching out for help.

I cannot say … Read more...

A teacher’s guide to preventing suicide and recognizing students at risk

It’s not a short title. But I’m loving the cover. Books for the educational market rarely are.

The first draft of the book is done and the first draft to the publisher is due November 30. I’m hibernating in my writer’s cave daily and my brain is so spent by the time I sit down to write this blog post, it sounds like I’ve asked a third grader to take over my blog.

At times, I’m a bit of a deadline mess. Have I got all the good stuff in the book? Plus all the self-doubt that author’s struggle with … Read more...

Scripts on how teachers facilitate discussion with their class after a suicide

So how do you be there for yourself and your students after a suicide loss and still get through the day?  How can you look for that student that might also be thinking of joining the one who died when your mind is mush? What do you say or do? And if you do it all wrong will that mean someone else will die?

You need to talk about suicide with your students. Counselors from outside don’t have the relationships with them that you have. They want to talk to you. Silence leaves students who are struggling with no opportunity … Read more...

Virtual learning coping skills workshops

“I highly recommend to any clinicians right now, any group work you can do with students is the most important work you can do right now, just so that kids are seeing other faces.”

Jessica Chock-Goldman

Teachers and school counselors are calling them social skills workshops, mental health check-ins, or coping skills workshops. During COVID-19 they’ve been a critical connector.

You might think middle and high school kids wouldn’t be logging into these sessions. But they are. And according to those I’ve interviewed for the book I’m writing, the students are tuning in. Eagerly.

This was too important not to … Read more...

Add Crisis Text Line info in physical and virtual classrooms

Download the crisis text line poster below in 8.5 x 11

For teachers, their classrooms and virtual classrooms, and even parents and ministers, make the crisis text line visible.

Below is a downloadable pdf that you can print out and post. Or download the virtual background for use in online classes.

With 25% of teens seriously considering suicide during this pandemic, we need to make the resources visible. There is also a link to a school kit with social media images for schools to post.

Read more...

Let’s talk about our failures

What if executives did a whole series on their screw-ups and failures? What if social media had less “ta-da” and highlighted more reality? What if teachers shared more about their own vulnerabilities with students? We tend to put our successes on display more than our efforts that bombed. But it’s the failures that teach us the most and what can teach others, too. It normalizes it and instead of instilling fear of it happening.

I’d love to see a series just like that. So honest and naked you’re in awe. And I don’t mean a kind of self-punishment that ends … Read more...

If you’ve been at a school that has lost a student to suicide, I need your input

I and my co-writer Kim O’Brien are writing a book on student suicide and how to prevent it. The contract is with an educational publisher, Jossey-Bass, a division of Wiley and our target is middle and high schools.

No matter what role you had at the school, teacher, student, janitor, librarian, counselor, principal, bus driver, we want to know how it felt, how it impacted you, your school, how it made you feel, what you witnessed, what you did, things you saw that worked or didn’t work, how it changed you going forward. Your story can … Read more...

A special thank you to school counselors

School counselors do more than most people think. Often confused with guidance counselors, school counselors don’t focus on college admissions but on the emotional well being of students at school. They are often our unsung heroes. School counselors, social workers and psychologists often team together to meet students’ needs regarding mental health. Most of the time this group would be referred to as Student Services.

If a student is homeless, a victim of abuse, being bullied, lacking food or clothing, the school counselor is the one who manages the situation or refers that student to the right social services. If … Read more...

My father died by suicide four months ago

by Kiernan Gallagher, 14 years old
Published with Kiernan’s and her mom’s permission

I didn’t return to school for about three weeks and returning was like being held underwater.

When my dad first passed away, I didn’t want the sun to rise. I didn’t want my favorite song to play. I didn’t want to look at the stars — I didn’t even want to eat. I didn’t want to do anything because I lost my dad, my hero, my best friend, and so much more all in one. So going into school — a place which feels like a prison … Read more...