What’s Mental Health Got To Do With It? Henry’s Story - Part 2

[fa icon="calendar'] Jun 16, 2017 2:55:11 PM / by Starling Minds posted in men and mental health, physical health, return to work

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In our last blog, we shared the story of Henry, who experienced a decline in his mental health functioning after being diagnosed with a chronic health condition. His doctor was puzzled why Henry wasn’t responding better to treatment, and suggested that mental health might be at play. You can catch up on Henry’s story here. Otherwise, read on to learn what happened after Henry agreed to see a psychologist.


“Turns out it wasn’t so bad.”

My first appointment with the clinical psychologist, I was nervous. I barely slept the night before. The day of the appointment, I remember sitting in the waiting room — picking up a magazine, not being able to concentrate, putting it down. Then, two minutes later, picking it up again. If it weren’t for Megan, I probably would have left. But I promised her I would go.

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What’s Mental Health Got To Do With It? Henry’s Story

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 30, 2017 10:00:51 PM / by Starling Minds posted in mental health, physical health, relationship

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I often talk about the many parallels between mental health and physical health – but that’s not to suggest that the two exist side by side without ever intersecting. In fact, the two are intimately connected; one can have a major impact on the other. To illustrate, today we bring you the story of Henry.  


“He said sometimes these things just happen.” 

It all started with a diagnosis. Chronic kidney disease. It was a surprise to everyone, including me, my wife and my doctor. I’d always been a healthy person – I don’t smoke. I eat well and exercise often. My doctor couldn’t explain it. He said sometimes these things just happen. 

And what happened was my life got turned upside down. Within a week of my diagnosis, I was on a medical leave from my job. One month turned into two, two to six, six months turned into a year. Before I knew it, I’d been off work for four years.  

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David’s Story

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 29, 2017 11:42:20 AM / by Starling Minds posted in depression, educator, men and mental health

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One thing we’ve heard from our members over and over again is that you love to hear the stories of other educators’ experiences with mental health. So today we bring you the story of David, an educator and member of Starling, told in his own words. Thank you, David, for sharing your story with the Starling community.

‘I just reached a tipping point.’

“It wasn’t one particular thing that brought me to Starling Minds. It was a series of events over many years. I was at one school for a long time, and I was happy there. Then the district closed that school, and I had to move to a different one that wasn’t so wonderful. That was one factor. I also had a marriage end, which was another factor. There was a negative relationship with an administrator at one school. Then there were some difficult classes and a grade level I hadn’t taught before. Eventually I just reached a tipping point, and I knew I couldn’t do it anymore.

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Spring Break Recharge: What Starling Data Tells Us About The Spring Slump

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 8, 2017 12:37:52 PM / by Dr. Andrew Miki posted in mental health, prevention, recharge, data, educator, teacher, administrator

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Back in December, we shared a post about how seasonal changes can affect a person’s mood and overall functioning. This month, we focus on similar patterns – but this time we’re looking at trends that are specific to educators like you.

Starling collects data – anonymously, always – that helps us understand how members are doing, collectively. In reviewing the data we’ve collected from teachers and administrators, one thing we’ve noticed is that spring can be a tough time for educators.

For this example, let’s examine three factors: anxiety, depression and work functioning.

For educators, February to May are among the most stressful months of the school year. This is manifested with increased symptoms of anxiety and depression (i.e. fatigue, irritability, concentration problems) and a decrease in work functioning (i.e. more absenteeism and presenteeism).

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Talk About It: Men and Mental Health

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 15, 2017 1:57:15 PM / by Dr. Andrew Miki posted in mental health, men, mental fitness

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As a mental health provider, it’s heartening to see a growing public conversation about mental health. This conversation, amplified by initiatives like last month’s Bell Let’s Talk campaign, helps to lessen the stigma around mental illness. We still have work to do, but we’re making progress.

This year, one of Bell Let’s Talk’s spokespeople was broadcaster Michael Landsberg. In a video created for the campaign, Michael tells a story about publicly sharing his battle with mental health, which he says “changed the direction of [his] life.”

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Starling is here for you – and your family too

[fa icon="calendar'] Jan 10, 2017 10:22:24 PM / by Starling Minds posted in mental health, depression, family

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“I got a call from my neighbour. She said, ‘You’d better sit down. I have something to tell you.’ She told me that my daughter had been cutting herself, and had shown the cuts to her friends at school.”

When Starling team member Niina Niemi found out that her then-12-year-old daughter was struggling with depression, Niina felt a lot of things: panic, sadness, shame, self-blame, frustration, confusion.

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Feeling the winter blues?

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 30, 2016 7:27:41 AM / by Dr. Andrew Miki posted in mental health, prevention, awareness, winterblues, SAD, seasonal affective disorder

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The leaves are gone. The heavy coats (and toques and scarves and gloves…) are back in rotation. The days are short – most of us leave for work in the dark, and come home in the dark. If the sun shines sometime in between, it’s easy to forget it. It’s winter. Though it doesn’t officially begin until Winter Solstice on December 21, many of us are already feeling it, physically and maybe emotionally.

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Christopher’s Story – and the New Starling Program

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 26, 2016 5:05:11 PM / by Starling Minds posted in mental health, prevention, Starling program

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When Christopher made a late-career change to teaching, he didn’t expect it to be as tough as it was.

“The stress and strain of it actually felt reasonably normal. A lot of teachers suffer the challenges that relate to teaching – both the physical and the mental and emotional struggles. It shows up in staffroom chitchat. Although people don’t necessarily open up extensively about it. I wish it was a more open conversation than it is.”

Some of the struggles Christopher experienced were related to getting older. “When I was 20, I could take anything on, no problem, and get through it. Your mental and physical stamina is not the same as you get to your 50s and older.”

“I’ve had to learn to just step back,” Christopher continues. “Take it easy. Look for alternative solutions that work for me now, rather than feel frustrated and anxious about the fact that my traditional responses and solutions aren’t working anymore.”

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A new and better Starling. A new and better you.

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 26, 2016 1:27:17 PM / by Starling Minds posted in mental health, prevention, Starling program

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Starling exists to help you become the best possible version of yourself. To do that, we have to ensure the Starling program is the best possible version of itself. That’s why we’ve been working hard this year to create a new Starling experience - Starling 3.1.

The updates we’ve made were inspired by a number of things: our team’s own understanding of both the science and the real-life experience of mental health and mental illness, as well as feedback we’ve received from Starling members about our content and the functionality of the program.

We’re proud of the new-and-improved Starling program, which launched October 3rd. If you haven’t tried it yet, read here what you can expect:

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Mental Illness Awareness Week: Five Out of Five People Have Mental Health

[fa icon="calendar'] Sep 30, 2016 12:11:09 PM / by Dr. Andrew Miki posted in mental health, prevention, mental illness, miaw, awareness

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As you may know, this week is Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). One of the most common statistics you’ll hear this week is how one in five people will experience mental illness at some point in their lives. While this may be true, it emphasizes one end of the health continuum (illness) while ignoring the fact that five out of five people have mental health. It is time to embrace the fact that we all need to learn more about our mental health and how to increase our mental fitness. Our understanding of mental health needs to evolve.

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