The Importance of Taking Care of Your Mind [IEP 031]
A child’s mind is so powerful and its well-being should be of utmost importance. Yet, many kids who suffer from mental illness rarely receive the help and attention that they require. In this episode, we revisit the matter of mental health and illness since May was Mental Health Awareness Month, and we share our own experiences with how we try to stay mentally fit.
Full show transcript at the bottom of this post.
What We Discuss in This Episode:
- Why our minds require just as much attention as our bodies do and yet, our physical health usually gets more attention
- The statistics and connection between mental health and school shootings
- 25% of all US adults have mental illnesses and for many of them, they don’t know where to get help
- Why it’s difficult to recognize if someone is experiencing mental health issues. Even worse, sometimes we don’t even recognize it in ourselves
- The benefits of exercise on mental fitness
- What are some school districts doing to help students with mental health issues?
- It’s ok to take a break and take care of your mind
CDC Report: Mental Illness Surveillance Among U.S. Adults
My Favorite Murder podcast
Mental Health Association of Orange County – Meeting of the Minds Orange County
Malcolm X quote: “When I is replaced with WE, even illness becomes wellness”
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Full Show Transcript
Vickie Brett: Welcome to the Inclusive Education Project. I’m Vickie Brett.
Amanda Selogie: I’m Amanda Selogie. We’re two civil rights lawyers on a mission, to change the conversation about education, civil rights, and modern activism.
Vickie Brett: Each week, we’re going to explore new topics, which are going to educate and empower others.
Amanda Selogie: And give them a platform to enact change in education and level the playing field. Welcome back, projectors.
Vickie Brett: Yeah, yeah. It’s just sticking.
Amanda Selogie: I’m trying to start this episode on a light note, because unfortunately, we have a not so lighthearted topic to talk about. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and you guys have heard us talk about this quite a bit in the last few months. Issues with mental health from eating disorders to depression and all of that. But it’s unfortunate that we came into the office today to find out that … This is May 18th … that there has been another school shooting, where as of right now, it’s 10:00 in the morning in California. There has been a noted eight fatalities. It’s a school shooting in Texas, in Santa Fe high school.
What’s crazy is that we’re hearing about this. It’s being tweeted about, and now they’re saying, which we didn’t know this, there’s been three shootings in the last eight days. So today’s shooting is the third in recent days in the United States. On Wednesday, so that would have been the 16th, an Illinois school resource officer shot and wounded a former student who fired a weapon near a graduation rehearsal at Dixon high school. Then on the 11th, in Palmdale, California, a 14-year-old boy went to Highland High, his former school, and began shooting a semi-automatic rifle shortly before classes began. We did not hear about these two. We’re in California. This is becoming too much of that norm that people aren’t talking about it.
I know that we’ve talked about school shootings a few times on the pod, and you might say, “Why do they keep bringing it up?” But this is a problem is that people do not keep talking about it, and that’s why nothing’s changing. So we feel it’s really important to continue this conversation.
Vickie Brett: It’s more so along the lines of mental health and understanding it. We don’t have that … I was going to say, super bullet solution, but that’s not appropriate in this instance. We don’t have that golden ticket where we know … We’re going to sit here, and we’re going to tell you guys this is what’s going to be great for everything. The only thing that we can talk about is through our experiences with the children that we defend and advocate for and the mental health illnesses that we see within them and how we can try and prevent just the kids harming themselves or harming others. Even at a very minimum, I’m talking about kicking a teacher or breaking a teacher’s finger. I’m not talking about by the time they get to high school and they decide or outside of high school and they decide to come back to their old high school with a gun.
Mental health is just like our physical health. We need to be able to give that same attention that we give to our body to our mind. We think when we start to feel sick, you’re achy and you don’t feel well, and it’s like those physical manifestations of illness. Our minds show us that as well. I actually was having a great conversation with one of our close mutual friends about just mental well-being. In California, we hear about it all the time, and people are probably like, “Oh, my God. Mental health, we didn’t talk about that back in …” It’s more so just starting a conversation about how our brains work and really understanding. We kind of understand the body, but the mind is this concept that we have, and you don’t think you can run it ragged. Right?
Amanda Selogie: Right, right. It’s like the ocean. We know so little about the depths of the ocean. It’s very similar. There’s a lot that we know about the brain and brain development, but we need to be talking about it in terms of humanity. We’re all humans. We’re all the same creatures. We develop differently. We talk about that in the sense of what are our strengths and weaknesses, but we don’t realize that we all come from the same place.
I had seen a tweet this morning, and I’m not usually on Twitter, but I followed a link and then went down a rabbit hole. But I saw a tweet this morning from John Legend, who said, “Even human beings who commit heinous acts are the same species as us, not animals.” Of course, he’s in referencing to 45’s comment about immigrants being animals, but that’s a different topic. But this applies here, too. He goes, “I’m in the hospital with our new son. Any of these babies here could end up committing terrible crimes in the future. It’s easy once they’ve done so to distance ourself from their humanity.”
Meanwhile, 45 is saying hopes and prayers, the same bullshit that we say every school shooting. But we need to be looking at the humanity of everybody is human, and how can we better support people who are going through a tough time? How can we better support the need for mental health awareness? It’s great that there’s a Mental Health Awareness Month, that is May, but is that enough?
Vickie Brett: Yeah. It’s not easy. I’m not saying that if you’re a victim of a violent crime or a shooting that you should sit here and really forgive the person. I’m not saying that. You’re probably thinking they’re a monster, and that’s okay. Let us take this burden where we’re able to be detached a bit. Obviously, we feel for the families. High school, we’re hearing about it because these kids, they’re kids. They had their whole lives ahead of them, and for one moment, they’re just completely extinguished.
One in five youth ages 13 to 18 experience some sort of severe mental health disorder in any given year. This is according to the Mental Health Awareness Month, eachmindmatters.org. This particular branch is here in Orange County. Just overall, with how we treat mental health and addiction, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2014 indicated that among 20.2 million adults in the US who experience a substance use disorder, 50.5%, that’s 10.2 million adults, had a co-occurring mental illness.
So you’re already seeing that a lot of people with substance abuse issues have some sort of mental disability or mental health issue that goes untreated, and people turn to alcohol and drugs all the time. It’s really sad, because if you are able to try to get some sort of help, even when you were 16, which for us, it’s all about early intervention, but sometimes I think I’d seen something else where it takes six to eight years before young people that are showing symptoms actually get help.
Amanda Selogie: That’s way too long. Imagine if they’re six years old.
Vickie Brett: That’s what I’m saying.
Amanda Selogie: They’re entering middle school. They’re in middle school by the time they even get help. That’s their entire beginning of their education. If they’re in first garde when they first start showing symptoms, they don’t get help til middle school.
Vickie Brett: The CDC US Adult Mental Health Surveillance Report published studies that reported about 25% of all US adults have a mental illness. People are struggling, and they don’t know where they can go to get help. I think that that’s why we wanted to talk about the mental … Maybe you didn’t know May was Mental Health Awareness Month. I realize that each month is something, but …
Amanda Selogie: Sometimes there’s more than one.
Vickie Brett: Right, right. May, and of course, we have Memorial Day, so we usually think about the veterans. But I think the veterans have some of the greatest health care in the United States of America, where mental health is at the forefront.
Amanda Selogie: It needs to be because of what they go through.
Vickie Brett: Exactly. The kiddos that were coming back. I had a cousin that was in Iraq, and being able to come back and have the help available was nice, whereas if you were any other person, you may not know where to start. That’s where a support system is useful. Sometimes these kiddos don’t have a great support system at home, but that’s where we would hope that the schools could come in and try to help.
Amanda Selogie: Because it is so tied to education. It’s so tied to the way that kids are able to not only be able to access their learning, but focus. We talk about a kid who’s not getting enough food at home because they’re low income or they’re homeless and how not eating affects the way a kid can learn. Or if they’re not getting enough sleep because they either have a sleep disorder or, again, they’re homeless or there’s a situation at home that’s causing them not to sleep. But mental health also has that same impact, because when we look at a kid who has anxiety, and if they’re focusing so much on their anxiety that they can’t even focus on anything else.
Vickie Brett: We know the mind is a powerful thing. We have the saying mind over matter. We have people that suffer from cancer, that it’s all about that mental state of mind. It’s a powerful thing.
Amanda Selogie: Positive attitude.
Vickie Brett: Exactly. Going back to the conversation that I had with my friend, and she was saying that she had read an article where you wake up in the morning, and you’re stressed out. You’re internalizing, like, “Oh, my God. I have all this stuff in my day.” Then you get up, and then you brush your teeth, and you’re nervous about getting to work on time or the big meeting that you have. But if somebody was watching your life and there was no sound, they would be looking at that early morning routine, and they’d be like, “This person is just doing great.” She woke up.
Amanda Selogie: What a wonderful morning.
Vickie Brett: She brushed her teeth. She’s getting her coffee. She looks a little happy getting her coffee. Our reality only exists in our mind. It sounds so weird.
Amanda Selogie: It’s like how we talk about … We have to tell teenagers this all the time. You internalize so much. “This person is thinking this about me. Oh, my gosh. Everyone’s … ” The idea of I have a zit on my face. Everybody is staring at it. I have to hide it, because you think everybody is thinking the same thing that you are, but in reality, they’re thinking about the zit on their face or they’re thinking about the blister that they have on their foot or the test that they have next period. Reality is people are not as aware about you. A lot of times we focus on how we think the world is, how we perceive the world, or how we think someone is looking at us. In reality, half the time it just doesn’t work that way.
A lot of times, everyone is focused on their own. Oftentimes, they’re focused on the issues that they’re dealing with. Oftentimes, a lot of people either don’t know that they can get help or don’t realize that they do need help. They think, “Well, everyone gets sad sometimes,” or, “Everyone has a tough day,” or, “Everyone has to fight through something,” or, “There’s worse people off than me.” I think a lot of people have that internal conversation with their selves and try to justify their feelings, which is not always a good thing, because no, it’s not normal to feel that way. Yeah, maybe sometimes if something happens, a tragic event happens, of course you’re going to feel sad and anxious if something is coming down the pipeline that you’re just not sure about. You don’t like public speaking and you have to go do a public speaking engagement. Some of that is normalcy, but there are a lot of emotions that I think a lot of people feel that I think they justify as being normal. So they may not let people know that they’re going through something.
Vickie Brett: The state of affairs as it is now with being able to have a therapist like via you’re FaceTime-ing them or computer. The help is out there, and a lot of the insurance carriers are able to provide insurance covered therapy and things like that. Some people shy away. It’s that stigma, right? It’s trying to change the conversation, because everybody deals with it.
I think when you talk about John Legend, it reminded me of Chrissy Teigen. She had come out a year or two ago on Instagram talking about how she suffered from post-partum. Anybody looking at her Instagram or anything like that would think, “Oh, my God. She has the greatest life ever.” For her to really stop and say that, and she’s not putting it on there all the time and trying to drag people down, but she was basically sharing. I thought that that was so powerful, because there had been people in the past that have been shamed, especially women, for having post-partum, like after their first pregnancy or second pregnancy. It doesn’t matter. It could be your fourth pregnancy.
Amanda Selogie: No, it can be anything.
Vickie Brett: Yes. Hormones, deal with it, and things like that. Some people believe, “Oh, I’m depressed because my serotonin is low.” There may be some physical manifestation within our body, but you want to also think, yes, I can treat my body, but I can treat the mind as well. I think that that’s why we wanted to be able to have this conversation to get people to start thinking like yeah, your brain needs to be shut off.
Amanda Selogie: Yeah, yeah.
Vickie Brett: Just like you read-
Amanda Selogie: It needs a break, just like you rest when you train. When this comes out, I will have finished, hopefully, knock on wood, my half-marathon. I’ve got to have rest days. What’s interesting is I actually just typed in Mental Health Awareness Month, and I found a Wikipedia page that talks … Did you know that number one, Mental Health Awareness Month was started in the US in 1949, and every year, they actually have a theme.
Vickie Brett: I did not know that.
Amanda Selogie: This year’s theme is fitness and #formindforbody.
Vickie Brett: That’s good.
Amanda Selogie: It tracks closely with the fit for the future theme of the Mental Health of America Organization’s June conference. They say, “During the month of May, we’ll focus on what we as individuals can do to be fit in our own futures, no matter where we happen to be in our own personal journeys to health and wellness.” I think that’s really important. I think that’s a really great way to look at it, because when we talk about mental health, we often talk about you’ve got to go to therapy, and that’s what’s going to help you. But one thing that I find as a very good tool is fitness for me is a very big mental health tool.
For me, being able to work out, however I do, it really from the endorphins you get from working out, that can increase your mood to feeling better internally can make you feel better mentally. Also, for me, I have some workouts that I do that like I go to a kickboxing class, and I don’t think. It’s very hard for me to shut my mind off. That’s why yoga’s really hard for me, because I try to do the …
Vickie Brett: The breathing.
Amanda Selogie: It’s almost like I need to be thinking about something else to not be thinking. The idea of focusing on what I’m doing in the class and the moves I’m making allows my mind to shut off, with the exception of focusing on the class. So for me, it gives my mind that breather, and so I find it to be a very good tool. I think we talk about being healthier, and eating better is obviously a big part of it. When we look at fitness, oftentimes a lot of people think of fitness as an exercise, as being something that helps you lose weight or be healthier. But I think mentally healthy is a bigger role. I mostly work out for my mental health is what I say.
Vickie Brett: Yeah. No, definitely. I’m a big fan of yoga. That’s how I used to feel. The breathing aspect, the yin yoga. Not just the moves, but being able to really trying to bring your mind to peace by focusing on your breathing has helped me a lot outside of just that class. So I have those tools that I can carry on throughout my day. I’ll find myself taking a deep breath every now and again just to recenter. I have an iPhone watch, too, so it reminds you to breath at random intervals.
Amanda Selogie: My watch does that.
Vickie Brett: Being able to … I’m sure it does, but just being able to take that moment. It doesn’t work for everyone. I know people that use the adult coloring books. I know people that have … I still have that writing down what I’m grateful for. I’m still doing that.
Amanda Selogie: Oh. That’s five months in. That’s pretty good.
Vickie Brett: It’s a habit now.
Amanda Selogie: Well, good.
Vickie Brett: That’s what they say is like it’s a habit.
Amanda Selogie: Have you been every single day?
Vickie Brett: Yeah, every single day. I have it at home on our little table in the living room. So then I always see it, and I always try to force myself to write something, even if it’s, “Oh, my hair looked good today.” Just something that I’m grateful for. That rewiring the thought process in your brain is really helpful, because it’s a slippery slope. You get on the bus to go to work. Another example that I was talking with my friend, and she’d start thinking about what if the bus crashes? It’s like you need to just stop, and you need to … Actually, on our favorite podcast, My Favorite Murder, [crosstalk 00:18:00].
Amanda Selogie: [crosstalk 00:18:00].
Vickie Brett: I know.
Amanda Selogie: [crosstalk 00:18:02].
Vickie Brett: I was talking about them all the time. Karen was talking about people that … They had a question about how they deal with anxiety and traveling. She had mentioned if you start going down that rabbit hole, look at the flight attendants.
Amanda Selogie: Oh, yeah.
Vickie Brett: They are cool as a cucumber. It’s because they’ve done this a lot, and the chances of you dying in your bathroom are higher than if you’re on an airplane.
Amanda Selogie: I think a lot of anxiety is the unknown. If you can kind of … I think she … I just listened to that this morning, too. She had said, “They’re trained to deal with this. You’re having issues. Just talk to them,” because they can tell you. They can be like, “Okay. This is what to expect.” We talk about this with kids all the time, that we want to … Especially kids who have difficulties with transitions, kids living with autism, front loading them and giving them very clear expectations and very clear information about what’s going to happen. Generally, they’re not going to have as much of a difficulty with transitions, but it’s like that’s the type of thing where we talk about strategies for kids living with autism, but a lot of those things can apply to anybody.
Vickie Brett: Once you get those basic foundational tools and coping skills, then as you get older and you … I’m not saying that teachers would create situations, but sometimes things don’t go the way that we had said they were going to go or how they front load and things like that. And then teaching them how to cope with that. You can’t start with all these transitions at first and then just be like, “Well, that’s life. That’s just how you’re going to have to deal with it.” No. That’s why we want early intervention so that they learn the tools and the coping skills and then they are able to deal with change, because change is life, but you need those basic tools, or else it’s just not going to work.
Amanda Selogie: Right.
Vickie Brett: In Orange County, California, there are a couple of events for the remainder of this week if you are listening when this drops. On the 30th, which is Wednesday, Meeting of the Minds Mental Health Association of Orange County has their annual conference. It’s at the Anaheim Marriott Hotel. This is actually the 24th annual mental health conference to educate the Orange County community on mental health issues and provide attendees with the important resources for accessing mental health care for the underserved.
There’s all these great events that are going on that mostly are free. I’m on ochealthinfo.com, and they have this great calendar. Then on Thursday, the 31st, there’s actually a parent support services fair. It’s actually at Orange Coast College. This is their 10th annual event, and it highlights services and resources to over 250 Orange County school and district decision makers. So that’s great, too, that they are able to get those people.
I know a lot of districts are trying to see that aspect of mental health. There was a bit of a hiccup in the last couple of years with one of the AB … I can never remember the name. We had run out of funding. We had had funding through the Department of Mental Health to put a lot of these kiddos that are in high school that are a threat to themselves or others into residential treatment centers. Basically the Department of Mental Health would pay for half and the school district would pay for half. That ran out, and so the funding … The Department of Mental Health pulled out, and in the last couple of years that we’ve been attorneys, the fight to really appropriately place those kiddos in RTCs …
Amanda Selogie: Has been tough.
Vickie Brett: … has been tough, because now the burden falls completely on the school districts.
Amanda Selogie: Everyone kind of passed the buck.
Vickie Brett: Yeah. But if there were those great early intervention services up front, then that would be helpful and we wouldn’t have to try to rush to put them into an RTC before they turn 18.
I wanted to end today’s pod with a quote that I’ve seen from the OC Health info calendar. Malcolm X said, “When I is replaced by we, even illness becomes wellness.”
Amanda Selogie: Oh. That’s a great, great quote.
Vickie Brett: Think on that.
Amanda Selogie: Yeah.
Vickie Brett: Because we’re always talking about, obviously, inclusion, that opportunity and community. I think that that quote sums it up.
Amanda Selogie: And that we’re stronger together.
Vickie Brett: Right.
Amanda Selogie: We are.
Vickie Brett: It sums it up perfectly, so kind of another heavy topic, but put it out there.
Amanda Selogie: Hopefully it gets you starting to think about … We talked about some of our advices, some things that help us with our mental health. Everyone has got to have their own thing. It’s important to have that. It’s important to make sure you make time for that. There’s always time. Everyone likes to say, “So busy. We never have time for things.” You can make time, and you need to make time to make sure that you’re healthy and your mental health is there and that you’re active. Whether you’re a mom, and you have to be there for your kids. It’s just like you have to put your mask on first in an airplane before you put your kid’s on, because you’re no good to them if you’re not able to be there for them.
Vickie Brett: One minute of just sitting still and breathing, because people are always like, “Meditation. I can’t do meditation.” You can sit still for a minute, and you can breathe. Just that and just focusing on the breathing, because yogis like to say that we have a monkey brain. It just starts going, and that’s okay. You acknowledge it, and you move on. Just like Amanda was saying. Yeah, you’re no good to anyone if your mask isn’t put on first. I think that women oftentimes run themselves ragged physically and mentally. The future is female. We can’t afford to do that.
Amanda Selogie: Take some time. Know that it’s okay. It’s okay to take a break. No matter how busy you are, no matter how much you have going on with your kids, or maybe you’re a teacher and you’re thinking about your students. Maybe you’re a man and you’re taking care of your family. It doesn’t matter. It’s important to take some time for yourself. With one of our favorite hashtags from Parks and Recreation, treat yourself.
Vickie Brett: Oh, yeah.
Amanda Selogie: Take care of yourself. It’s important.
Vickie Brett: Yeah. Hope you guys have a great rest of your week.
Amanda Selogie: We’ll see you in June.
Vickie Brett: You know what? We should say one thing that we’re grateful for.
Amanda Selogie: Oh.
Vickie Brett: That’s what we should do.
Amanda Selogie: Put me on the spot there.
Vickie Brett: I know. I know.
Amanda Selogie: What did you put in your journal last night?
Vickie Brett: Last night, I had put that I had actually seen one of my friends from high school. It was only for an hour, but she had made the time. So I was grateful for that. Even though it was quick, it was just a nice little check-in. So that was what I was grateful for yesterday.
Amanda Selogie: I’m grateful for good doctors. One of my best friend’s daughter has been in the hospital a little bit, and so we’ve been a little nervous, and luckily she had some good doctors that took care of her. We’re wishing her well, and she’ll be good. Her mom is super strong, so but it’s good when you get good news, because that’s not always …
Vickie Brett: Yeah. Her dad had said, “She’s a tough cookie.”
Amanda Selogie: She is.
Vickie Brett: She is. Well, that was good. See? Boom. Mental health.
Amanda Selogie: Next time we talk to you guys, it will be June, summer. Summer is coming.
Vickie Brett: We’re doing it. All right. You’ll listen to us next week, then. We’ll be in your ears.
Amanda Selogie: Talk to you later.
Vickie Brett: Bye.
Amanda Selogie: Bye.