Mental Health Policy

The Capitol BuildingColorado State Capitol Building

A place of power.

Of change.

Of possibilities.

It’s right where I want to be making mental health policy.

Integrated Mental Health Crisis Training

Dylan Roberts State RepresentativeBack in September I was introduced to Dylan Roberts, the state-representative for Eagle County. He and I sat down for coffee, and I asked him about making a bill about something regarding mental health. I had heard about the state of New York passing a bill that integrated mental health crisis training and general education into health classes K-12.

 

 

Quick thing: If you want to change policy – go out there and do it. And although you might get a few weird looks, snotty remarks and stubborn legislators who don’t like kids,

Snotty kids

the likelihood of getting someone open and willing to change is much greater than any of that negative stuff. Just go out there and do it!

Make a difference

House Bill 1120

State Rep Dafna MichalsonA few months later we recruited Dafna Janet Michalson (another representative), who jumped on this opportunity to affect positive change. She’s been fighting to lower the age of consent for mental health therapy for three years now. So we combined our ideas and conjured House Bill 1120, which

  • lowers the age of consent of therapy from 15 to 12
  • creates a statewide resource bank, and
  • adds mental health crisis training to health classes in all schools.

Lowering state suicide rates

dreamingProposing a bill, or at least being involved with one, has been my dream ever since I was little. More like for seven months but for drama’s sake let’s go with the younger one. Anyways, HB 1120, I think, could be the first step to lowering our states suicide rate.

I will be the first to say that this might not be the answer to this suicide epidemic destroying our county, state, and country, but it’s something. And right now we have absolutely nothing.

If this bill and what it entails can

save one life,

one person,

that’s truly all that matters.

For the sake of our future, let’s hope it passes.

Project We Care ColoradoRemember that you are loved, cared for and appreciated, and if you’d like to get involved, get more information, or need anything, don’t hesitate to reach out. It’s important to support yourself and make good decisions, but you can’t always go it alone. There are trusted adults and peers who are willing to help.

Support Yourself & Make Good Decisions

Teen Mental Health

Go look up mental health memes that help you support yourself. Just do it. Now look up sexual health memes. They’re both pretty fantastic, because memes are honestly

one of the best things that have ever graced this earth.

Now before you get totally lost scrolling to support yourself through these memes (as I literally just did), I’ve got a few things to say.making bad decisions doesn't support yourself

  1. Teen mental health controls every single aspect of our lives.
  2. If you’re generally stable for the time being, you’re most likely going to make decisions that are aimed at supporting yourself.
  3. However, when you’re depressed, you tend to get careless; especially with big decisions like sex.

With mental illness, it’s hard to care, because it may seem like

there’s no point, that

you’re not worth taking care of yourself, or anything of the sorts.

Everyone has different coping coping mechanisms to support yourselfmechanisms, but one that I’ve mainly come across has been teens using sex and intimacy to fill the emptiness mental illness creates.

Well, if you haven’t realized this already, that can be extremely damaging not only to your psyche, but also to you physically,

with unwanted pregnancy, STI’s,

and just generally can mess with your self worth

once you come out of your depressive episode.

Besides the obvious “make sure to use protection no matter what,” what should we, as teenagers, do when we absolutely feel like shit?Feeling like shit isn't good mental health

Staying on the mental health side of things, I know that there

aren’t enough resources to help everyone who needs it, and that

the extent of places to get help is way less than it needs to be, but I also know that

there are things you can do in order to keep yourself from jumping off the ledge,

jumping off the ledge isn't a step to recovery

both physically and metaphorically.

Try to find things to keep you busy;

volunteering

sports

anything and everything

to help you move

away from a negative state of mind.

Steps Towards Recovery

And although this won’t ‘cure’ you, it can help you make steps towards recovery and help you avoid negative decisions and dangerous coping mechanisms that can harm your entire being.

Garfield County PREP has an amazing summer intern program – so I’ve been told, I actually live in Eagle – that is perfect for just this, or you can become involved in Project We Care Colorado, a state wide completely teen-led organization set on educating and advocating for mental health and decreasing stigma.

Project We Care Colorado teen mental healthOur board is composed mainly of teens who are on their road to recovery after extreme mental illness, and we are dedicated to making a change in our mental health landscape.

 

Be safe kids.

Making Smart Choices towards mental health

Wear a helmet

(and a condom).

Make smart choices and remember:

Even if things seem pointless right now, try to act like you care, so when you actually do, you haven’t completely gone off track from getting the wonderful life you want and deserve.

Take Care Good DecisionsTake your pills,

stay hydrated,

eat some food,

take good care of yourself

physically

emotionally

and mentally.

Purity

One of the many things that confuse me about my generation is the way we view people’s sexual lives/sexuality. It’s crazy how we’re so quick to label peers for something that’s personal to every human out there. And as confusing as it is, I’m going to open up about my purity. When I was 12, I was told one of the most important sayings that I hold close to my heart.

mirror image“Your body is a mirror.”

 

 

 

It sounds confusing. I know.  It might even sound vague to you.  So I will tell you my view of purity in hopes that it will help.

 

A mirror when first made is clean and spotless. (Like your body) It’s hung up so whatever is brought up to it, its job is to reflect. But as the years pass, this mirror’s appearance will be challenged.

purityLet’s imagine that we have a man come up to this mirror with a bucket full of purple paint. He sets down the bucket and examines himself for a few minutes. Then suddenly this man shoves his entire hand into the paint. He then puts his hand against the mirror, leaving behind a hand print.

But then another man behind him comes up and does the same thing but with green paint. And all of a sudden this mirror now has two handprints.

And then another man.

And another handprint with a different color.

And so it goes on.

Now that you’ve heard the story I can say this, the very first man symbolizes losing your virginity. You may be asking, ‘Well, why not just use the flower getting destroyed as an example?’ Or sharing stories about how sex is painful, sinful, disgusting, and should never be talked about.  I’ll be honest with you.

Because I do not want to create a bigger lie than the one that has already been created.

Everybody’s sex preference will be different. Some people will like the many colors on their mirrors. It is not my job to tell you that that looks wrong.

A percentage of the population might like their mirrors the same as when they were first made. With absolutely no hand print. That’s okay too!

To make things even more crazy, others are only going to want one mark. I’m here to say that there is nothing wrong with that either. Whatever your preference, my advice is to make sure you’re happy with your decision.

sexual preferences

This mirror will be the one thing you have to live with.

Project We Care Colorado

Teen Suicide

Teen Thinking SuicideTeen suicide is one of the most preventable causes of death (SpeakUp ReachOut), and yet, suicide is now the leading cause of death in teens in Colorado.

It’s messed up.

We shouldn’t be spending our teenage years thinking about death.

Something needs to be done.

I’ve seen mental illness completely destroy my friend’s life and my own; fromComforting Friends

pulling someone off of a bridge to

pleading with others on the phone at 2 am to not kill themselves, to

rocking back and forth on the bathroom floor repeating “I want to die.”

I’ve run out in the middle of class to hug my crying friends and

sat in a corner holding my friend’s hands as they shook and broke down.

I’ve had people tell me I ruined their lives by telling an adult about their mental illnesses, but I’ve also seen the way that eventually their real smiles come back.

Project We Care Colorado

My name is Saphira Klearman, I’m 15, a current sophomore, and the founder and Co-CEO of Project We Care Colorado, a teen suicide initiative.

reach out happinessI’ve always had this drive to do something meaningful, to

prove to myself that I was worth something, that

I could leave knowing that I had made an impact.

When I was suicidal, the only thing keeping me from actually attempting was that I knew I hadn’t done that yet.

But when I started being involved,Get involved

started reaching out and

trying to make a difference,

it helped me forge my way to recovery and to a place where I was actually happy.

I created Project We Care Colorado, a teen-led and teen-driven organization focused on educating and advocating for mental illness,

decreasing stigma, and

making it possible for anyone in need to recover.

We want to do this by making resources more available and affordable to everyone in need.

mini projectsProject We Care Colorado is divided into a few mini projects:

the Panic Button Initiative

We Were Left Behind: A Documentary,

and just generally changing policy.

Mandatory Mental Health Crisis Training

At the moment we’re introducing mandatory mental health crisis training for all school staff throughout the Eagle County School District, and working on a bill with Dylan Roberts and Dafna Michaelson Jenet to integrate mental health training into health classes state-wide. We are also creating an online educational resource that’s essentially a how-to with mental illnesses, based off of the idea that we as teenagers, and everyone for that matter, don’t have the ability or the knowledge on how to handle these types of situations. And a little help is always helpful when it’s your own life or your friend’s in your hands.

We Were Left Behind: A Documentary

Lost in the ShadowsAs of June 2019, we’re going to start production of our documentary, which features the parents and friends of youth who have taken their own lives. We want to show everyone the impact that they have on the people around them, and that their lives matter. Keeping with this theme of sharing stories, Project We Care started and is still currently based off of our Instagram account – wecare_colorado, which is a completely safe place for anyone to share their stories with mental illness. We post these “testimonies” anonymously, in hope that those who feel isolated will start to realize that they’re not suffering alone.

So what can you do? Get in contact with me, either through the project’s email ([email protected]) or my personal; [email protected] We’re always looking for more people to be involved, to help as little or as much as you’re able. Every little bit helps.

Remember, even if things seem pointless right now, try to act as if you care, so when you actually do, you haven’t completely gone off track from getting the wonderful life you want and deserve.

 

healthy foodTake your pills

stay hydrated

eat some food

take good care of yourself

physically, emotionally and mentally.