Shelter Dog Saves Man’s Life and Inspires Him to Run

It may not be from a Mental Wellness website….but this video spoke to me (a former dog owner….she passed away this past December), about the benefits of a companion animal.  How your dog, or cat, or even a hamster, can get you to “get out of yourself”, get you to meet new people, encourage you to exercise, and to give you a reason to put one foot in front of the next…all the things those with depression need.


So, take 5 minutes, and watch how the meeting of this “fat” man, and this “fat” dog helped them both to become more.


In 2010, Eric weighed 340 pounds, had type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. His doctor told him he’d be dead in five years if he didn’t change his sedentary lifestyle. At the suggestion of his nutritionist, Eric adopted Peety, a middle-aged, obese dog, from the Humane Society in Silicon Valley, Calif., and together they lost 165-plus pounds (Eric lost 140-plus pounds and is no longer a diabetic, and Peety lost 25 pounds from their daily walks). Eric also completed his first marathon in 2015.



The Bike That Saved My Life

FROM the New York Times – Jan 19, 2018

Two years ago, in January, my husband and I walked into a foreclosed house on a tree-lined street in Bedford-Stuyvesant that no one had lived in for 22 years.

“I could really see us having kids here,” he whispered into my ear as we tiptoed over the detritus of squatters and failed contractors.

For the first three years of our marriage we had been living in a series of rentals, but we dreamed of owning, and this was a whole house. A long-neglected brownstone in need of a ton of work, yes, but a house nonetheless.

We went to housing court in Downtown Brooklyn and bid before a judge. By March we had closed. It wasn’t habitable, so we kept living in our Crown Heights rental as we figured out how to do the work, which was tied up by expired permits and mind-numbing construction bureaucracy.

The construction started to take a toll on the marriage. Then, one morning in June, my husband woke up, looked at me and said, “I don’t think I want kids.”

I raced into the bathroom and threw up.

A week later he said he wasn’t going to be moving into the house after all. Instead, he proposed I move in alone and we take a three-month break from our marriage. He would use that time to gather his thoughts and decide when and if he might join me.

“Please come,” I begged, while suffering from night terrors about the children I would never have. He hemmed and hawed for the rest of the summer but ultimately stood firm. We would take the three months.

In October I moved into the house and prayed my husband would come to his senses. I was in terrible shape — emotionally, but also physically. In our five years together, I had gained 45 pounds. I was bloated and depressed. My joints ached. And I was broke. So very broke. I had naïvely imagined homeownership would be seamless and easy. Instead it sapped everything I had, leaving me with a lot of space but no money. Renovations and building permits had been slower and more costly than I had expected.

I was living alone in an empty house with no heat, boiling water in an electric kettle so I could bathe in a bucket. Friends suggested a gym membership might provide a better alternative, but there wasn’t any cash for that. There wasn’t cash for subway fare. So I started to ride my bike.

Link to this AMAZING ARTICLE….REALLY, it IS worth it!!

Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?

posted in: Research | 0




In the 1970s, a truth was accidentally discovered about depression – one that was quickly swept aside, because its implications were too inconvenient, and too explosive. American psychiatrists had produced a book that would lay out, in detail, all the symptoms of different mental illnesses, so they could be identified and treated in the same way across the United States. It was called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. In the latest edition, they laid out nine symptoms that a patient has to show to be diagnosed with depression – like, for example, decreased interest in pleasure or persistent low mood. For a doctor to conclude you were depressed, you had to show five of these symptoms over several weeks.

The manual was sent out to doctors across the US and they began to use it to diagnose people. However, after a while they came back to the authors and pointed out something that was bothering them. If they followed this guide, they had to diagnose every grieving person who came to them as depressed and start giving them medical treatment. If you lose someone, it turns out that these symptoms will come to you automatically. So, the doctors wanted to know, are we supposed to start drugging all the bereaved people in America?

The authors conferred, and they decided that there would be a special clause added to the list of symptoms of depression. None of this applies, they said, if you have lost somebody you love in the past year. In that situation, all these symptoms are natural, and not a disorder. It was called “the grief exception”, and it seemed to resolve the problem.

Then, as the years and decades passed, doctors on the frontline started to come back with another question. All over the world, they were being encouraged to tell patients that depression is, in fact, just the result of a spontaneous chemical imbalance in your brain – it is produced by low serotonin, or a natural lack of some other chemical. It’s not caused by your life – it’s caused by your broken brain. Some of the doctors began to ask how this fitted with the grief exception. If you agree that the symptoms of depression are a logical and understandable response to one set of life circumstances – losing a loved one – might they not be an understandable response to other situations? What about if you lose your job? What if you are stuck in a job that you hate for the next 40 years? What about if you are alone and friendless?

The grief exception seemed to have blasted a hole in the claim that the causes of depression are sealed away in your skull. It suggested that there are causes out here, in the world, and they needed to be investigated and solved there. This was a debate that mainstream psychiatry (with some exceptions) did not want to have. So, they responded in a simple way – by whittling away the grief exception. With each new edition of the manual they reduced the period of grief that you were allowed before being labelled mentally ill – down to a few months and then, finally, to nothing at all. Now, if your baby dies at 10am, your doctor can diagnose you with a mental illness at 10.01am and start drugging you straight away.

Dr Joanne Cacciatore, of Arizona State University, became a leading expert on the grief exception after her own baby, Cheyenne, died during childbirth. She had seen many grieving people being told that they were mentally ill for showing distress. She told me this debate reveals a key problem with how we talk about depression, anxiety and other forms of suffering: we don’t, she said, “consider context”. We act like human distress can be assessed solely on a checklist that can be separated out from our lives, and labelled as brain diseases. If we started to take people’s actual lives into account when we treat depression and anxiety, Joanne explained, it would require “an entire system overhaul”. She told me that when “you have a person with extreme human distress, [we need to] stop treating the symptoms. The symptoms are a messenger of a deeper problem. Let’s get to the deeper problem.”






How to Be Happy

posted in: Techniques | 0

Behavioral scientists have spent a lot of time studying what makes us happy (and what doesn’t). We know happiness can predict health and longevity, and happiness scales can be used to measure social progress and the success of public policies. But happiness isn’t something that just happens to you. Everyone has the power to make small changes in our behavior, our surroundings and our relationships that can help set us on course for a happier life.




All humans have a tendency to be a bit more like Eeyore than Tigger, to ruminate more on bad experiences than positive ones. It’s an evolutionary adaptation — over-learning from the dangerous or hurtful situations we encounter through life (bullying, trauma, betrayal) helps us avoid them in the future and react quickly in a crisis.

But that means you have to work a little harder to train your brain to conquer negative thoughts. Here’s how:

Don’t try to stop negative thoughts. Telling yourself “I have to stop thinking about this,” only makes you think about it more. Instead, own your worries. When you are in a negative cycle, acknowledge it. “I’m worrying about money.” “I’m obsessing about problems at work.”

Treat yourself like a friend. When you are feeling negative about yourself, ask yourself what advice would you give a friend who was down on herself. Now try to apply that advice to you.

Challenge your negative thoughts. Socratic questioning is the process of challenging and changing irrational thoughts. Studies show that this method can reduce depression symptoms. The goal is to get you from a negative mindset (“I’m a failure.”) to a more positive one (“I’ve had a lot of success in my career. This is just one setback that doesn’t reflect on me. I can learn from it and be better.”) Here are some examples of questions you can ask yourself to challenge negative thinking.

First, write down your negative thought, such as “I’m having problems at work and am questioning my abilities.”

  • Then ask yourself: “What is the evidence for this thought?”
  • “Am I basing this on facts? Or feelings?”
  • “Could I be misinterpreting the situation?”
  • “How might other people view the situation differently?
  • “How might I view this situation if it happened to someone else?”

The bottom line: Negative thinking happens to all of us, but if we recognize it and challenge that thinking, we are taking a big step toward a happier life.


READ THE FULL ARTICLE and the other techniques HERE.

How A Single Message Changed My Life And 10,000 Others

posted in: Personal Stories | 0

“I am desperate to meet new friends. I’m lonely and going through the hardest period of my life. I’ll sit on the stairs in front of the town hall from 2pm to 8pm. I have black pants and a North Face bag on.” – written December 7th 2016.

Late last year I wrote this message on an app called Jodel, a European equivalent of Yik Yak. It is an anonymous forum, where you can write about almost anything and where anyone within 10 kilometers can see your message and reply.

I had no idea at the time, that this very short message would change my life as well as 10,000 others.



Some more resources

posted in: Resources | 0


Talking to Your Kids About Drug and Alcohol Abuse: The Ultimate Do’s and Don’ts Guide


Intervention eBook: What to do if your child is drinking or using drugs


Co-Occurring Disorders


Promoting Mental Health at Home


How to Apply for Disability Benefits with Drug Addiction


Substance Abuse in the Workplace: What to Do When an Employee Returns from Rehab


Home After Rehab: The Guide to Finding the Right Place for Recovery

McMaster joins in call for new, integrated mental health strategy

McMaster is joining Ontario’s students, colleges and universities in calling on the province to take immediate action on the growing problem of student mental health with an integrated strategy that begins in kindergarten and continues through high school, post-secondary life and on into adulthood.

A joint report released Nov. 2 calls for a ‘whole-of-community’ approach by government, health-care providers, community agencies, student associations and postsecondary institutions including mandatory curriculum to teach resiliency in young people, an early-warning system throughout all levels of education, counselling, and expanded use of technology – all at no cost to students whether they live on or off campus.



In It Together: Taking Action on Student Mental Health was released today by four groups representing the province’s 45 colleges and universities and more than 220,000 students.

In the report, the four partners – the College Student Alliance, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, Colleges Ontario and the Council of Ontario Universities – say providing effective support for student mental health is one of the most pressing issues on college and university campuses today, and that postsecondary institutions have made addressing it a priority but can’t meet the challenge alone.

Other recommendations in the report include:

  • An update to Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy to recognize postsecondary students as a distinct group
  • Clearly defined roles across four Ontario government ministries to ensure no service gaps
  • Close working relationships between post-secondary institutions and local health-care and community agencies to develop and implement a plan to help students with mental health concerns
  • Free mental health care for students – on and off campus – through increased services not currently funded by OHIP
  • Government investment in transition programming for high school students as they prepare to enter postsecondary

Last week, McMaster provided an update on the advancement of its Student Mental Health and Well-being Strategy.

Since the Strategy’s 2015 introduction, hundreds of students and staff have received specialized mental health training, more front-line mental health professionals have been hired in the Student Wellness Centre and an improved student accommodation policy is in place.

Lawyers more likely to experience mental health problems the more successful they are: study

New Canadian research suggests lawyers are more likely to experience mental health struggles the more successful they are in their field.

The study from the University of Toronto, slated for publication in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, compares two national surveys of thousands of lawyers in both Canada and the United States.

In both countries, researchers found a strong correlation between signs of depression and traditional markers of career success.

Lawyers holding down jobs at large firms in the private sector, widely considered to be the most prestigious roles, were most likely to experience depressive symptoms.

Researchers say the findings buck trends found in the general population, where career success is typically equated with fewer mental health risks.

Lawyers say professional bodies have recently begun acknowledging mental health concerns, but say the research findings highlight the need to keep pushing for change within the industry.

Study co-author Jonathan Koltai said the findings were notable for their consistency across both American and Canadian research subjects.

American data surveyed lawyers who were called to the bar in 2000, while the Canadian lawyers in the survey began their careers about a decade later.

Regardless of the fact that both groups were at different stages along their professional path, Koltai said the same patterns emerged. The larger the firm and the more lucrative the role, the more likely a lawyer was to experience depressive symptoms.




Orlando Da Silva, former president of the Ontario Bar Association and current lawyer with the provincial Ministry of the Attorney General, recollects major episodes of depression at several career milestones.

He never told his law school classmates of his mental turmoil as he took on the editorship of a campus legal publication.

Nor, when he began articling at a prestigious law firm upon graduation, did he share the thoughts of suicide and self-harm that plagued him when he went home at night.

Those thoughts culminated in 2008 as Da Silva washed 180 sleeping pills down with two bottles of alcohol. But even as he languished in hospital, he still tried to hide the depths of his depression for fear of losing the job that he said had come to define him.

“I was so afraid the stigma of mental illness would destroy my career,” he said. “Especially as a trial lawyer where you’re supposed to be strong. Certainly strong enough to fight the battles that others can’t fight for themselves.”

Da Silva said the fatigue and overwork he accepted as part of his climb up the career ladder helped isolate him from his family, further compounding the problem.

When he became bar association president in 2014, he made the focus on mental health a personal priority, sharing his story and setting up a web resource to try to remove the taboos around the issue.

He said he’s begun to see evidence that law firms are waking up to the perils of mental health problems among their employees.