Friday, June 23, 2017

5 Tips to Help You Talk to Teens About Mental Health - Leslie Dragon {Guest Post}

Today I am sharing a guest post with you, written by Leslie Dragon, Director of Marketing with Partners for Mental Health. It can be so difficult to talk to teens about ANYTHING, let alone mental health. But talking to them is critical, and nurturing an open, trusting, and safe space for communication can make a huge difference to their well-being. Read on!

As a mom with two teenagers and a tween, I know how hard it can be to start up a meaningful conversation with my kids. Most times I’ve tried it, they’re too busy playing on their phones, or if I manage to get them to look up for a second, they’ll respond with one-word replies, grunts, blank stares or restlessness.

Sound familiar? We all know how important it is to talk regularly with our teens and find out how they’re doing, but sadly, this is an all-too-common scenario – and it’s even more apparent when it comes to the topic of mental health.

In a poll with youth contacting Kids Help Phone, half of them said they would talk to a friend if they were facing mental health problems, with Mom a distant second at 30%. One in five said they wouldn’t share their pain with anybody.

That last number is shockingly high when you consider how mental illness has become one of the most pressing issues facing our children today, and the tragic consequences of not addressing this important issue:
  • Every year, an estimated 1.2 million Canadian children and youth are affected by mental illness.1
  • Young people (aged 15-24) are more likely to experience mental illness and/or substance use disorders than any other age group.2
  • Suicide is the #1 cause of non-accidental death among youth.3
  • For 90% of teens who die by suicide, there is an underlying mental health problem.4

We as parents can play a vital role in supporting our teens’ mental well-being, and the first step is talking more about mental health at home.

My organization, Partners for Mental Health, created the Right By You campaign to improve mental health and prevent suicide among youth. The campaign aims to provide parents and caregivers with practical tools and guidance to spark more meaningful conversations with teens.

Here are five tips to help you get started in establishing regular dialogue with your kids, taken from the “Ask the Right Questions – The Basics” resource at

  1. Show unconditional love. Whatever happens in life and in your relationship with your teen, it is critical that they know you love and care about them unconditionally.
  2. It’s a two-way conversation. It’s important your teen doesn’t feel like they’re being interrogated or they don’t have your trust. You’ll get the most out of the conversation if you also share your own ideas, thoughts and experiences. Make sure to avoid dominating the conversation, lecturing, or providing unsolicited advice.
  3. Park your emotions at the door. It can be challenging but it’s important not to let your emotions get the better of you and that the conversation be non-confrontational. Becoming angry or overreacting can upset your teen, or worse, silence any hope of future dialogue. Instead stay calm, listen, and ask open-ended questions.
  4. What’s your goal? What is the one thing you want to communicate or learn from your teen? Focus on the information you want to relay to, or receive from, your teen.
  5. Have lots of discussions. Your goal isn’t to deliver a lecture, but to build a rapport and trust with your teen over time. Depending on the subject, they may only feel comfortable talking for a few minutes, and sometimes not at all. Don’t get discouraged. When it comes to important topics, teens want to hear from you and know that you care. Accept that the dialogue will unfold over time in bits and pieces.

Getting teens talking does take an ongoing effort, but it’s worth it to build those close and genuinely supportive relationships. Check out the many other tools available on the Right By You site that can jumpstart those important conversations:

Questionnaire: A quick 10-question quiz that serves up customized content and tools to support teen mental health based on your answers.

The Right By You Guide for Parents & Caregivers: A free downloadable guide for parents and caregivers to learn more about teen mental health, including myths and facts about mental illness and suicide; tips on talking about mental health; and information on where to find help.

Discover the Best Times & Places to Talk: A list of the top five times and places to spark a successful conversation with your teen.

Weekly Tips: A 12-week email series providing more information, ideas and insights to further engage your teen and support their mental health.

It’s time for us to start talking with our kids about their mental well-being. You never know when that one conversation could make all the difference.

1Risk Analytica/Mental Health Commission of Canada 2011 Impact Study.
2Pearson, Janz and Ali (2013). Health at a glance: Mental and substance use disorders in Canada. Statistics Canada Catalogue no.82-624-X
3Navaneelan, T. Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 82-624-X. Suicide rates: An overview. July 2012
4Arsenault-Lapierre G, Kim C, Turecki G. BMC Psychiatry 2004, 4:37 doi: 10.1186/1471-244X-4-37

Leslie Dragon is the Director of Marketing at Partners for Mental Health. She is a mom of three and lives in Ottawa.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

New at Legoland Discovery Centre Toronto - LEGO Ninjago City Adventure

The Legoland Discovery Centre is located just North of Toronto in the Vaughan Mills Mall, just off HWY 400 in Vaughan, and is the ultimate destination for all things LEGO. Boo and I have visited a few times in the past, although he is aging out of it now as it's geared primarily for kids aged 3-10. There are 2 rides, a 4D theatre (my fave!), and a ton of attractions, plus lots of opportunities to just build and explore. Since I am always fascinated by the amazing things master builders create, I especially enjoy the Miniland version of Toronto, created with over half a million bricks. Check out all the spectators included in the Rogers Centre and ACC models. Boo always enjoyed building and racing custom vehicles at LEGO Racers: Build & Test.

The Centre has explanded it's offerings with the opening of the new LEGO Ninjago City Adventure attraction this month. This new 2,300-square-foot interactive play area is the Centre’s 5th interactive experience added since opening four years ago.

LEGO Ninjago City Adventure is a two-storey play structure modeled after the Temple of Airjitzu, putting guests’ physical skills to the test as they fight to save Ninjago City. Together, adults and children will test their balance, agility, strength and endurance to become a Spinjitzu Master, all while experiencing more than 20 interactive features.

Guests of ALL ages can join Sensei Wu and practice ninja moves in the Dojo training room by testing hand-eye coordination on the color crush reflex reaction game. Moving on to the temple, ninjas-in-training engage in several obstacle course challenges inspired by their favorite Ninjago characters Kai, Jay, Cole, Lloyd, Zane and Nya.

There are tons of interactive activities including navigating a vortex spinning barrel, mastering the art of Spinjitzu on the spiral slide of lights, harnessing the power of the water on wave decks, crawling through hover rings and lightning buzzer bars, taking on a crisscross maze and vertical rope climb, testing LEGO® building skills and more.

Some Ninjago City Adventure Stats:

  • It took approximately 7,000 hours to build Ninjago City Adventure 
  • More than 110,000 LEGO® bricks were used to create the three showcase models: Sensei Wu, Jay and Nya 
  • The three Ninjago models were built in Kladno, in the Czech Republic, by LEGO Production s.r.o. Built by LEGO® model builders 
  • There are over 20 interactives for kids, including a Ninjago model build table, reaction game, endless pit, spinning barrel, Pogo power and more 
  • There is a special Toddler Area that features a Spin Cup (spin like a Spinjitzu Master), Toddler Climber (develop your perceptions and quick Ninja reflexes) and Drum Panel (play with elemental sounds and power) 
  • Ninjago City Adventure was constructed by Soft Play from North Carolina, one of the largest manufacturers in the world

Savings Offer

To celebrate the opening of Ninjago City Adventure, LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre Toronto will take $5 off a regular-priced admission ticket for any child who wears his or her martial arts uniform in the month of June. Cool, hey?

A Giveaway

Would you like to check this out with your family? One lucky RMB reader will be receiving admission for 4 people to Legoland Discovery Centre Toronto. Please remember - adults must be accompanied by a child. Entries are via the widget below and will be accepted until 11:59pm EDT, July 9. Giveaway open to Canadian residents only. Prize includes admission only. Travel to the venue is at winner's expense. Prize value - $96. Best of luck!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Reclaim Comfort with Vagisil ProHydrate #Vagisil #ad

Somehow I seem to have become a "woman of a certain age". If we are lucky, it happens to us all at some point, of course. My metabolism has slowed down. There are white hairs in my eyebrows and black hairs on my chin. More often than not, I wake up in a bath of sweat. My memory is shot. And I can heat a small room all by myself. It's tank tops year round for me these days.

You see, I'm heading into "the change of life", experiencing what is called "perimenopause." It's the stage leading up to true menopause (no more periods!), and it can last anywhere from a few months to up to 10 years. Four years seems to be about average, but my hot flashes have been happening longer than that already. Yay me.

This phase of life comes with a bunch of changes to our bodies and our lifestyles. For instance, summer is still my favourite season, in theory. In reality, the heat and humidity of summers in Southern Ontario are now too much for me to handle. I didn't think that would ever happen, but now I melt. Even in winter I'm usually too warm when indoors; I haven't worn any of my cozy sweaters or sweater dresses in two years now, and that makes me sad.

During perimenopause, our bodies begin to produce less and less estrogen. I'm still producing some of my own estrogen, but my doctor has prescribed a low dose pill to keep me as stable as possible and fight off the hot flashes and other symptoms. Those other symptoms can include such joys as worsening PMS (honestly, just stay away from me), low sex drive, irregular and/or heavier periods, urinary incontinence, trouble sleeping, and vaginal dryness.

In many ways it is not the most fun time of life, but there are tons of positives to being 40-something as well. Like increased confidence, having a way better understanding of who I am and what I want out of life, having my kids and superb, long-term friendships, and so much more. We just have to learn how we can cope with or improve upon some of the less happy physical changes that are happening to us. Like my low-dose hormone pills, practising good sleep hygiene, and using products as needed to deal with the fun stuff happening "down there".

Vaginal dryness is a really common complaint of women as we age. Our hormonal changes are to blame, and the results can range from mild discomfort, to itchiness, to painful intercourse. So what can we do? The answer is to add moisture back, with a gentle product like VagisilProHydrate Natural Feel Moisturizing Gel.

Vagisil ProHydrate has no added estrogen, no perfumes, no dyes, no preservatives, and has been clinically tested, gynecologist tested and cleared by the FDA. So it's safe, and non-irritating. The gel format coats the vaginal walls, providing immediate relief, and then works to release additional moisture over time. You can use it every 3 days, as needed.

The product comes in single-use, pre-filled applicators that are super easy to use. That tip is really narrow and you can't even feel it. Insert the applicator tip into the vagina, and squeeze in the pre-measured dose of lubrication. Because it's a gel, it adheres well to the vaginal walls.

Vagisil ProHydrate Natural Feel Moisturizing Gel is the only vaginal dryness treatment with its unique blend of moisturizers, including Hyaluronic Acids (HA’s). These HA's occur naturally in our skin, but decrease as we age, leading to increased dryness and skin fragility. Adding them back with this product improves skin moisture and feels natural, too. Hyaluronic Acids are extremely effective hydrators: a tiny amount holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water, plus it naturally attracts and retains moisture. Naturally occurring and effective? Works for me.

Now, it's important to note that it's not just perimenopause and menopause that result in vaginal dryness. Hormonal changes are the most common cause, but these can come from a variety of sources, including stress, pregnancy, IVF treatments, and more. Even certain medications, especially antihistamines and birth control pills, can cause vaginal dryness as a side effect. So, younger gals can experience this uncomfortable or painful dryness too. Honestly, I think if we talked more freely about these concerns, we'd find a lot of our female friends and family members experience this at least periodically.

Vagisil offers a number of different products for your feminine hygiene needs, not just moisture replacement, including treatments for itch caused by dryness, and gentle wash formulas to protect your pH balance. You can visit their website for more information.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Vagisil. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.


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