Tag Archives: mental hygiene

In the Air There’s a Spirit of… Panic?

I have to tell a little story on myself if only because it is, in retrospect, a bit funny. The experience also serves as evidence of the mind’s ability to process information quickly. Quickly is not the same as accurately.

I was shopping in Staples. Office supply stores are a personal weakness and I often allow myself some wandering time by rationalizing that there’s probably something I need that I’m going to forget. I was near the front of the store, noting there was already some Christmas spirit in the air.

Noticing things is important. I’ve always prided myself on being “situationally aware” — a skill that’s helped me avoid trouble on more than one occasion. In addition to the Christmas spirit, I noticed another shopper  standing about six feet away. She seemed distracted and was gazing about the area.

Suddenly a dot of light appeared in the center of her chest. Just as quickly it disappeared. But in what must have been a second or two I saw it re-appear, moving from the left back to the center of her chest. It was like a scene in a movie.

For a split second I considered yelling, “Gun!” and tackling her to the floor.

Except there was no gun.

A quick look around yielded no shooter but did reveal more dots, some on me. And they weren’t just red. Some were green!

So it turns out there was actually a laser light attached to the ceiling of the store. Similar to the disco balls that were popular a few years ago, it was rotating and sending random dots of red and green light throughout the front of the store’s featured gift area. The intent was, of course, to contribute to the holiday spirit and not to create momentary panic for those familiar with laser gun sights.silhouette-114436_1280

Since I try to find lessons in life events, I’ve replayed this several times in my mind. But instead of finding a moral in the story I tend to get chuckling over the prospect of how it might have turned out if I had reacted by leaping forward and tackling my fellow shopper. I’m sure it would have frightened her at first. So one version of the story has us both getting back up laughing.  But another considers the panic that could have resulted, not to mention someone deciding I needed a psychological evaluation.

We think of  “situational awareness” as being attuned to our environment–sensitive to what is taking place around us. But it also includes a need to be aware of how we are responding to the events and conditions going on around us. Overreacting may be as dangerous as not noticing.

 

Say Something! -- preventing violence before it happens:

This article is reprinted from the “Say Something” website… while I haven’t fully “vetted” this program, if your school or organization is interested, I will be happy to assist you… I also have the material and can teach the Eddie Eagle Program — a gun safety program designed for pre-k through fourth grade.


Did you know that when it comes to violence, suicide and threats, most are known by at least shp_2016_say_something_week_logoone other individual before the incident occurs. In fact, in 4 out of 5 school shootings, the attacker told people of his/her plans ahead of time. Additionally, 70% of people who commit suicide told someone of their plans or gave some type of warning or indication. Imagine how much tragedy could be averted if these individuals said something?

Say Something teaches students, grades 6 -12, how to look for warning signs, signals and threats, especially in social media, from individuals who may want to hurt themselves or others and to Say Something to a trusted adult to get them help. The program is based on research conducted by Dr. Dewey Cornell and Dr. Reid Meloy, two leading national experts in threat assessment and intervention.

National Say Something Week is organized by Sandy Hook Promise (http://www.sandyhookpromise.org) and will take place October 24 – 28, 2016. Hundreds of schools and youth organizations across the United States will be participating in Say Something Week. Will you join them?

Say Something Week raises awareness and educates students and the community through training, media events, advertising, public proclamations, contests and school awards. Say Something Week reinforces the power young people have to prevent tragedies and Say Something to a trusted adult to protect a friend from hurting them self or others!

Say Something is a no-cost and easy to implement program that is available to all middle schools, high schools and youth organizations serving youth grades 6 – 12. In addition to young people, Say Something will benefit educators, administrators, community-based organization leaders and parents. By building a culture of looking out for one another and reporting possible threats of violence when someone sees, reads or hears something, entire communities will become safer and lives will be saved.

Schools and youth organizations participating in Say Something Week agree to host a no cost, easy to implement, flexible Say Something training that can take place within the classroom, an assembly, or be led by student ambassadors. The training can be accomplished in 50 minutes or less and activities (which SHP provides or schools and organizations can create) can take place on one day or spread throughout the week. In addition to the initial training, the Say Something program offers a wide range of post training activities that can be done throughout the year and serve as reminders. Schools and youth organizations have the option of choosing the day, time and format they would like to deliver the Say Something training during the week of October 24 – 28.

Please help us empower our young people to prevent violence before it takes place. Please sign up to participate in Say Something week today at: http://www.sandyhookpromise.org/saysomethingweek.

Who is Sandy Hook Promise?
Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a national, nonprofit organization based in Newtown, Connecticut. We are led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 that claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and 6 educators.


Sandy Hook Promise is focused on preventing gun violence (and all violence) before it happens. SHP does this by educating and mobilizing parents, schools and communities on mental health and wellness programs that identify, intervene and help at-risk individuals.

SHP is a moderate, above-the-politics organization. Our intent is to honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation. For more information on Sandy Hook Promise, please visit:www.sandyhookpromise.org.


Read a chapter from my book regarding the Sandy Hook tragedy.

BDN Series Mentions Mentoring…

back-to-school-183533_1280“Maine Focus” is currently running a series of excellent articles “Before Addition There’s a Child.” I’m both honored and humbled to report that my experience with Bus Drive Otis Phillips was included in the installment entitled “How one caring adult can change the life of a child.” (Scroll down to the epilog, “Your Stories.”) I continue to be amazed at the impact this story is having.

My ongoing hope is captured in my observation that “We mentor people in ways we don’t even mean to.” A corollary to that is mentoring doesn’t have to be hard. By definition, mentoring is a relationship in which an experienced person helps guide someone who is less experienced.  I think something as simple as  a kind or encouraging word creates a connection that can be defined as a relationship, however brief. Let’s call it a ‘mentoring moment.”

The Maine Focus series is about “preventing one of the largest public health problems of our time.” There’s a growing body of evidence that human connection goes a long way towards combating addiction.

Mine isn’t the only story in which an adult did something that at first seems small, but turns out to have major impacts, perhaps because it is about human connection. Hearing those stories is encouraging and heartwarming. But creating our own stories can be even better. Just look for those mentoring moments.

Craig Colson and I Talk…

For those who missed it “live,” here is a link to the brief talk Craig Colson and I had on the WVII Monday Noon Newscast. (I haven’t been able to embed the broadcast here… you can also find this link on Mr. Boomsma’s Facebook Page.)

I’m grateful to Craig for reaching out with his invitation and the opportunity to share some thoughts. For more information about the workshops visit the FAQ page… or just register and come! (Registration is not absolutely required–we have plenty of room, but it will help us plan handouts and seating.)

 

FAQ About the Suicide Prevention Workshops

questionsHere are some frequently asked questions about the suicide awareness and prevention workshop—with answers from Walter, the instructor. If you have a question or concern that’s not listed, send it by email!

Who should take this class?

Is there a minimum age to attend?

What does the class cover?

What is class based on?

Will the class be depressing?

What are some reasons people don’t take the class?

What are some reasons people do take the class?

What qualifies you to teach this class?

Who should take this class?

It’s tempting to answer “everyone!” Employees of public school systems are required by law (LD 609) to complete suicide prevention training. This course satisfies that requirement. However, most adults would benefit from attending. (See “What does the class cover?”) Past classes have included volunteers, health care professionals, ministers, and individuals from many different walks of life.

Is there a minimum age to attend?

Not formally, although the material is not geared to young children (under 12). Research shows that teens often reach out to peers in times of trouble, so middle and high school students are important potential participants. I’ve had more than a few conversations with parents of teenagers, suggesting they attend together.

What does the class cover?

Major topics include “myths and facts,” recognizing risk factors and warning signs, basic intervention strategy, resources available, post-attempt strategies, and questions/answers. An important focus is on the basic intervention strategy. Among people who have attended, 95% feel more confident in recognizing risk factors and warning signs; 85% feel better equipped to help someone who displays warning signs or seems suicidal.

What is class based on?

The course is “research based” and most content results from a collaborative effort through the Maine Suicide Prevention Program, an initiative of the Maine CDC in DHHS; training offered through partnership with NAMI Maine, The Maine Medical Association, Co-Occurring Collaborative Serving Maine and Maine Primary Care Association. It is not a “touchy-feely” course but is based on facts and empirical data.

Will the class be depressing?

On the contrary, while suicide is a public health crisis, the emphasis of the class is on what can be done and what is being done.

What are some reasons people don’t take the class?

There are probably as many reasons as there are people! We suspect some people do not attend because they do not feel they are qualified to help prevent suicide. Research proves that nearly anyone can provide a basic intervention using simple techniques that include being a good listener.

What are some reasons people do take the class?

Some initially attend because of the legal requirement, but all report the material and experience is helpful and no one has ever said they regret attending. I like the analogy of CPR. When we stop and consider the number of people who are CPR trained and the lives saved as a result, doesn’t it make sense to have a similar emphasis on mental health?

What qualifies you to teach this class?

I am Gatekeeper trained and have completed the required “Train the Trainer” Program conducted by the Maine Suicide Prevention Program. While not required, I am also a NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) Certified Mental Health Specialist for Youth and Adults. I am an experienced educator and substitute elementary school teacher.