“Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians and accounts for the deaths of more young people than car accidents.”1
”Almost one in seven (13.9%) 4-17 year-olds were assessed as having mental disorders in the previous 12 months. This is equivalent to 560,000 Australian children and adolescents."2
“About one in thirteen (7.5%) 12-17 year-olds had seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous 12 months. One in twenty (5.2%) had made a plan. One in forty (2.4%) reported having attempted suicide in the previous 12 months.”2
I could keep going with the statistics, but honestly, I just don’t want to. It’s devastating, and a very harsh reality. There are so many reasons why I created Inspire Happy Humans. I want everyone to live their best lives – to know how to, and to believe that it’s possible. But, more so, I just need the above statistics to change.
[Stay with me here, friends. I promise you’ll feel brighter by the end of the post.]
In my first year of teaching, I encountered a gorgeous six-year-old boy named Louis. He had dark hair and had already lost his front tooth. You could see the gap every time he smiled at recess and lunch. Unfortunately, that smile disappeared in the classroom. Louis completely lacked confidence. He acted-out in class to avoid work, and isolated himself from his peers in the process.
The task on one particular day was to draw a picture to illustrate the sentence he just read. Simple, right? Wrong. Louis built up so much anxiety and fear due to his lack of confidence that he burst into tears and couldn’t draw so much as a stick figure. Much of the lesson was spent trying to calm him and encourage him to believe in himself more. Louis was having nothing of it.
The more I taught in different classrooms across Perth, the more I noticed a similar pattern. There seemed to be kids just like Louis in every single classroom. Let’s put it this way – pretend you have a child in year 1. At your child’s school, there are around 40 year 1 students. According to recent statistics, one of your child’s classmates will attempt suicide sometime in their youth. Will Louis become a part of one of those statistics mentioned above? Could he be the one in forty?
Now, I understand that everyone faces their struggles, everyone will have ups and downs – that’s all part of life! That’s what builds resilience. But, surely there's a way to help them out a bit. This realisation coincided with my own journey towards bettering myself, understanding my strengths and weaknesses, and realising that I am good enough. I was learning so much in my own self-development venture and felt such a desire to help children avoid feeling like this. It wasn’t just that I wanted to. It was that I needed to.
And so, I researched. Hello, Positive Education! There is so much scientific research out there proving the positive effects of things like gratitude, visualisation, meditation, mindfulness – the list goes on! If only Positive Education was integrated throughout all classrooms all over Australia - or better - the WORLD! Some schools are beginning to introduce strategies to improve child wellbeing into their school culture (YES!), but we need to do more.
I found something else to be incredibly interesting. Up until the ages of 5-6 years old, children learn by unconsciously absorbing all of the information around them, which means the habits, behaviours, actions, and beliefs of those they spend the most time with. A.K.A You - mum, dad, older siblings, teachers, carers, and extended family members to name a few. They have no say over what they do and don’t absorb. It isn’t until after the age of 6 that their brains develop in a way that allows them to begin to think and act for themselves. This really hit home about the importance of good role models.
Now, we should never, ever play the blame-game (parents have enough to deal with!), but it has outlined how important it is to be aware of how our beliefs, actions, habits, behaviours etc. can be absorbed by the young people around us. This is where, ‘Be the change you wish to see in your family’ developed from. I realised I needed to help adults to become their best selves in order to be the best role models for the young people around them, to help give them the best start in life. Everyone wins!
So, now that we’re all on board here to become the best role models possible; To live our best lives as our best selves; To be the example... What now?
Simply decide to do the work. Commit. Take the first step. Do it for you (because you are worthy of living a life of happiness, health, meaning and fulfilment) and do it for the young people around you (because you want them to have the skills and tools necessary to live their best lives from the get-go). Because you love them, and they love you. Your family is worthy of the best.
Together, I know that we can make a positive change in this world. I know we can begin to reverse those horrendous statistics stated above. Let’s do it.
Thank you so much for showing up, and committing to be the change you wish to see in your family. It means the world.
Love & Happiness
P.S Do you know someone who could really benefit from reading this? To give them the awareness and push they need to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of the young people around them? Share this post with them. Even if they don't embrace it straight away, you've done your part. Thank you.
The next step:
A great place to start is with my IHH 10 Days of Gratitude Challenge. Sign up now to receive your FREE copy. I made it especially for you :) (and not once did I let Adobe InDesign beat me! Ok, maybe once…)
From here, get involved in my whole-family approach and register your interest for the IHH Weekly Workshops ONLINE (for adults) and the in-person, Interactive IHH Weekly Workshops (for kids). Both programs launching early 2017! Note: Registering your interest does NOT lock you in to anything – it simply lets me know that people want to make a change, and gives me an idea of when and how I need to make it happen.
1. Stats and Facts. (2016, November 5). Retrieved from https://www.youthbeyondblue.com/footer/stats-and-facts
2. Lawrence D, Johnson S, Hafekost J, Boterhoven De Haan K, Sawyer M, Ainley J, Zubrick SR (2015) The Mental Health of Children and Adolescents. Report on the second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Department of Health, Canberra
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