Wellness

Why You Can't Give Up

Yesterday, our CEO had a meeting with Warner Brother's about pitching a TV show. She went in, and they told her no. Now, she's letting it push her even harder for that one yes. 

In the video, we witness Alexa cry. We witness her upset, which is not something we usually show on M.I.N.T. or even her social pages. But the message is this: everyone is going to put you down in this world. People are going to always tell you no, and it's up to you to get back up and push even harder for whatever you want your success to be. You can't give up, and you can't listen to what people think. All that matters is what you think, and how you're going to make your life the life that you want it to be. 

We started a Tumblr account for any of you who are dealing with anything and need someone to talk to: alettertoyourfriend.tumblr.com. We'll answer questions each month in a video. Steve will also be featured if you have any questions that are more in-depth and need a therapist to tune in on. 

Know you're not alone. Whatever you're dealing with, it will pass. You just have to get back up on your feet and keep doing what makes you happy.

Love, the team at Media Impact and Navigation for Teens

Our Recent Press!

"The first thing that popped into my mind when watching it was, 'Wow,' " said Curtis, who founded the nonprofit Media Impact and Navigation for Teens, a program that raises awareness about online bullying.

Thank you to everyone and all of the press outlets who have been supporting our journey to help and inspire teens- we can't thank you enough!

If you want to be a part of what we are creating, click here!

Our Ethics

Us at M.I.N.T. stand for a few things. Here's some Monday inspiration and guidance to get you through your week!

1. We stand with Planned Parenthood

Our team doesn't have any issues supporting this cause. With a President in office who doesn't believe in many of the topics we believe in, it's important that more people start standing up for their rights. We are trying to reduce the stigma around mental health, AND supporting the causes you believe in.

2. We stand with teens taking over

The past few years have revolutionized how people view teens. In the past, teens weren't given nearly the time of day that adults were, but now, teens are running the game. Millennials are writing for the top magazines, learning how to pitch the minute they're born (literally) and following their dreams. That's what we like to see!

3. Mental health issues are not your fault

There is a stigma around mental health issues that we are trying to reduce. But many people still blame the person with mental health issues, stating that it's "there problem" or "their issue" when it actually isn't. About 1/25 adults in the United States face mental health issues, and instead of blaming, be a friend for whoever you know is facing some issues. You may be able to help them overcome them.

4. Teens need M.I.N.T.

We're a bit biased, but from our research, teens need M.I.N.T. Teens need to hear about their bodies, their wellness, and their lives. We believe strongly in opening up the discussion on health to teens, and we need your help to continue pursuing our passion to make every teen fall in love with who they are.

Happy Monday!

Substance Use

Fair warning, this is a raw blog on my part. I hesitated to write this blog but I figured I need to put out there a very silent and deadly killer and its effect.

Background: 2 weeks ago, I lost a client to a possible overdose. I had worked with him over three years and he had been in recovery during this time  I worked with him through  some relapses. He had worked hard to change his life after many  traumatic and devastating losses in his life. He had turned to opiates and opioids at times, to the point he had become addicted before the age of 18. Sure, he had had injuries, but the doctors over prescribed, as he was very charming and convincing with his doctors.

His father, concerned, had contacted my client’s doctor to let him know of his concerns in regards to his prescriptions. The doctor, at the time, citing the confidentiality of all clients over 18, stated he could not talk to his dad. His dad, devastated, wrote a heartfelt letter explaining his concerns and his fear his son would die from opioid issues. The doctor, of course, never acknowledged receipt of the letter or anything to make the father feel recognized.

Fast forward to today: I was at a memorial service for my client with many other of his friends who were distraught. His father, of course, was devastated. The girlfriend, two weeks later, still in shock. Lots of memories were shared of how great he was and how his smile, intelligence, and humor, made everyone feel better for the moment. I was equally devastated, despite the professional distance. Why? I'm a human being who has feelings.

So the effect of substance use should be apparent based on this story but let me make sure I list them:

Family

Partner

Friends

Neighbors

Acquaintances

Colleagues

Professionals

Community

 

Yes community. We should all feel a sense of loss. It needs to be said that we are fighting a war against substance use, a war we are losing because of apathy: not my family, didn't know him, I don't know for a fact what he died from, he should have done something about it. I also see an increase willingness to experiment from younger teens. Why?

 

Apathy. We need to talk about substance use to our teens and the risks associated it. Not minimize it or ignore it. Parents know it's happening but don't want to set limits. So talk about it instead of limits. Open conversations, let others know of these struggles. It is the silence that makes our biggest accidental killer, substance misuse and abuse, the monster that no one talks about.


After all, think about the excuses to not talk about substance use. Would you do that about cancer, heart disease, or diabetes?

Q&A with Libby Vilner

Libby Vilner is one of the coolest girls around the blog. Alexa met her at a Boston fashion event last year, and they reconnected earlier this year when Libby heard about M.I.N.T., and wanted to be a part of the magic.

Libby is passionate, dedicated and driven. She runs her website, Life with Libby, while attending grad school at BC. She's into health and wellness, which makes her a fantastic addition to our team. With her own spout of domestic violence, she brings in a new perspective to teens and mental health.

Welcome to the team, Libby!

What inspired you to start your blog, Life with Libby?

When I turned 17 I signed with Modeling Agency, and doing photoshoots, fashion shows and events, they put on so much makeup on you all the time and use all of these chemicals. One day my older brother asked me if I know what was truly within those products, and made me aware of how toxic it all is. I began to slowly learn more and therefore exchange my beauty and home products to non-toxic and organic ones. I thought to myself, if I wasn’t aware of how harmful these mainstream products are, so many other probably aren’t as well! I began my blog with a focus on raising awareness about this subject, and organic living in general. Organic living for me doesn’t just end with the products we use, it continues into the people we surround ourselves with and the life that we make for ourselves. Going through a rough childhood and teenage years, I also decided to share my story on my blog in the hopes of helping others who may have gone through similar things such as parental divorce, domestic violence, moving to a new country, and more. This is why I named my blog Life With Libby, because it focuses on wellbeing and life as a whole rather than just a portion.

  Why do you want to work with M.I.N.T.?

Being a social worker, I want to work with MINT because I am looking to make a difference, even the slightest one, in people’s lives. Through sharing my own experiences and using the knowledge I have from my masters in Social Work, I hope to inspire others to take control of their lives, to seek help, or simply to feel as though they are not alone. I wish that in my high school days someone that had gone through what I was going at the time came and spoke to us, it would have given me hope, motivation, and someone to go to for help.

What do you hope to accomplish while working with us?

I hope to connect, help, and inspire teens through my story and my knowledge in the field of social work. I hope to be a resource and safe outlet for teens who need it. I hope to bring awareness to taboo subjects, to clarify societal misunderstandings, and to provide a sense of community within each school we work with.

  What's the best advice you could give to teens who are feeling down about their body image?

I would say to be more skeptical about what they see in magazines, on screen, and social media. These days everyone has access to airbrushing, photo edits, and the famous have stylists, personal trainers, cosmetic surgeries, and other tricks. Also, your body is not everything that you are, we all obtain such talents, personalities, and accomplishments, be proud of those, shine bright like the diamonds that you are! Comparison get tricky, try to focus on being better than you are today rather than better than that person is that you’re comparing yourself to. Truth is, they are probably insecure too!

    Who has been your biggest inspiration? 

My biggest inspiration has been my mother. She always has been my guidance through this life, the person that has pushed my limits, that has set my boundaries, that has trusted me even in my worst, and that has never given up on me. She is a fighter and has gone through so many obstacles in her life as well, yet she still oozes kindness, happiness, and inspiration.

Why Not Us? Why Not Now?

Ever wondered how this project got started? Well, I’ll tell you anyway.

I met Alexa at a Talkspace conference in April 2016 in New York City. She presented eloquently and was very engaging during her discussion at the conference. At the end of her panel, the moderator noted that she was 18 years old. I was so impressed, I had to seek her out and tell her.

While lining up for lunch, I saw her. I told her I was really impressed by her knowledge of teen and young adult issues and her life experience. As we chatted quickly (of course, she was going somewhere else quickly!). we exchanged business cards. She was working out of Boston and we decided we should meet at some point.

When we did, we had two other collaborators who wanted to do the impossible: replace DARE in schools with a 60 minute panel discussion on mental health, teens, social media, and the stressors they faced. We did not have a name at a time but we had ideas and enthusiasm.  That was good enough to start creating a curriculum and talking to schools.

Our team worked at exchanging ideas and suggestions on how to present the material. It was exciting and we really wanted to go across the country and make these presentations. Our goal was to offer information, as well as educate in a fun, creative way, about the social media.

In time, our collaborators have worked with us behind the scene, as they had other personal and professional obligations that were happening. We both consider Jamieson and Abbey part of our team. Alexa Curtis and I have been working diligently to set up schools, create surveys, get good information based on studies, and a host of brainstorming ideas.

We got to speak to our first school in October. We then spoke in several other schools, 6 to be exact, spread across 3 states. We have enjoyed all the talks and gotten feedback on what was working and what was not. Alexa and I continue to work on MINT daily with passion and do everything to promote it.

So why us? Because we are a great team, we have added other collaborators since then. It will bring more excitement and more discussion, as well as a great set of opportunities. We can be flexible and present a curriculum that is adapted to the school need based on the surveys and information provided in them. We want this project to succeed. We want to reach out in every state. This is not something that is our job: it is our passion.

And we need to do it now. No one is talking social media, texting, and other newer communication devises and how it affects our teens lives significantly. We need to address it now before it gets more difficult. We are not looking to take away social media from teens: we want them to be more responsible and respectful with it, seeing the impact it has on them and on others.

It needs to be done now and we are the collaborative team to do it!

Thanks Girls' Life!

Thank you Girls' Life Magazine for the fantastic feature!

 

Whether we like it or not, social media is a *huge* part of our lives. Some people are more involved with it than others, but it's basically impossible to escape it and it's all too easy to get lost in it. Our lives seem so much different from the famous models, actresses and Insta-babes whose feeds we scroll through day after day, and it can really have an impact on how we view ourselves—especially when it comes to our bodies.

Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and shades. But when you see the same body shape time and time again you might start to believe that that’s what the most beautiful or ideal body is. But the truth is far from that. It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, or what the color of your skin is—you are beautiful in your own way, even if your version is not reflected in the media.

That's a reality that Alexa Curtis understands *all* too well. The fashion blogger and entrepreneur recently chatted with us about her struggle with an eating disorder that stemmed from her experience in the modeling industry. As a teen, Alexa was severely bullied and dealt with depression for many years as a result of constantly comparing herself to what she saw online. Alexa explained, “[Social media] gives these girls who don’t necessarily have the 'perfect' life or body this unrealistic expectation that they should be that by the time they're 19, 20 or 21. And then they get there and that’s not what the reality is.” 

Social Media and the Brain

An interesting article we recently read on CNN...

Whether you're on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, What's App or Twitter, the way you communicate with friends today is changing.

Keeping in touch is no longer about face to face, but instead screen to screen, highlighted by the fact that more than 1 billion people are using Facebook every day.

Social media has become second nature -- but what impact is this having on our brain?

    Reward circuitry

    In a recent study, researchers at the UCLA brain mapping center used an fMRI scanner to image the brains of 32 teenagers as they used a bespoke social media app resembling Instagram. By watching the activity inside different regions of the brain as the teens used the app, the team found certain regions became activated by "likes", with the brain's reward center becoming especially active.

     

    Americans devote more than 10 hours a day to screen time

    "When teens learn that their own pictures have supposedly received a lot of likes, they show significantly greater activation in parts of the brain's reward circuitry," says lead author Lauren Sherman. "This is the same group of regions responding when we see pictures of a person we love or when we win money."

    The teenagers were shown more than 140 images where 'likes' were believed to from their peers, but were in fact assigned by the research team.

    Scans revealed that the nucleus accumbens, a part of the brain's reward circuitry, was especially active when teens saw a large number of likes on their own photos, which could inspire them to use social media more often.

    Peer influence

    As part of the experiment, participants were also shown a range of "neutral" photos showing things like food and friends, and "risky" photos depicting cigarettes and alcohol. But the type of image had no impact on the number of "likes" given by the teens. they were instead more likely to 'like' the more popular photos, regardless of what they showed. This could lead to both a positive and negative influence from peers online.

    Sherman believes these results could have important implications among this age group.

    "Reward circuitry is thought to be particularly sensitive in adolescence," says Sherman, "It could be explaining, at least in part, why teens are such avid social media users."

    Read: What parents need to know when kids are on social media

    Social learning

    Adolescence is a period that is very important for social learning, which could explain why teens are often more tuned in to what's going on in their respective cultures. With the rise of social media, Sherman thinks we may even be learning to read likes and shares instead of facial expressions.

    "Before, if you were having a face to face interaction everything is qualitative. You use someone's gestures or facial expressions, that sort of thing, to see how effective your message is," she says.

    "Now if you go online, one of the ways that you gauge the effectiveness of your message is in the number of likes, favorites or retweets, and this is something that's really different and unique about online interaction."

     

    This is your brain on LSD, literally

    However, the study may not be applicable to everyone, according to Dr. Iroise Dumontheil, at Birkbeck University.

    "[The study] only has adolescents and so they can't really claim anything specific about whether it's adolescents who react to this differently compared to adults."

    Read: Teens spend nine hours a day using media, report says

    Changing the brain

    Dumontheil does, however, concur that social media is affecting our brain, particularly its plasticity, which is the way the brain grows and changes after experiencing different things.

    "Whenever you learn something new or you experience something, it's encoded in your brain, and it's encoded by subtle changes in the strength of connections between neurons," says Dumontheil.

    For example, one study showed that the white matter in an adults' brains changed as they learned how to juggle over a period of several months. "They found that if you scan [the brains of] adults before they learn how to juggle, and then three months later, you can see changes in the brain structure," says Dumontheil.

    Time spent on social media could, therefore, also cause the brain to change and grow.

    "We might be a bit less good at reading subtle expressions on faces that are moving, but we might be much quicker at monitoring what's going on in a whole group of our friends," says Dumontheil.

    So are these new skills a good or a bad thing? Neither, she says. "It's just a way we have of adapting to our environment."

    Meet Our Team: Steve Bisson

    1. What inspired you to start M.I.N.T?

    Alexa! I was so impressed by her presence at a conference I attended. She was inspiring then. We exchanged information and she was really into doing this project. Her energy helped me also get energized on a subject that I have observed from a far for years.

    2. Why are you interested in social media and it's effect on mental health?

    I have seen what it does to my adult friends. I can also see it in my teenagers that I see. Teenagers feel so isolated, it is important to remind them that they are not alone. As a therapist, I see the long term effects of bad experiences with others as a teenager. 

    3. Why is this so important to you?  

    Growing up, I lost my best friend when I was 12. He died in a fire. It devastated me a great deal, to the point I was more isolate and was really struggling with depression, weight gain, and self-esteem issues. I had no one to talk to. With social media and mental health, it is the same thing. While saying it is social media, I also see many people who don't know who to turn to for support.  

    4. How is M.I.N.T different from other anti-bullying campaigns that are out there? 

    No one is actually talking about the biggest bullying going on right now: the social media bullying. We know it's a phenomenon but we don't address the depression, anxiety, fear of missing out (FOMO), obsessive compulsive behavior it is causing. We also need to find  ways to show it is happening so that everyone can see it and how teenagers and adults CAN do something about it.

    5. How does it feel to get out there and spread your message to teens across the country?

    It feels awesome. I feel we have developed a great message that is based on reality and the actual issues teenagers face on a regular basis. IT is important to be able to get a message that is based on actual things teens are going through. I hope we can continue to share this message and give them the hope and courage to go forward. 

    6. What has the response been from your program so far? 

    Excellent. I think we have made many people uncomfortable discussing this issue and that is a good thing. I see teenagers and school staff cringe and be uncomfortable when we bring up some subjects such as cutting, as well as body image. Making people uncomfortable creates their little group discussion, which is key to get the conversation going.

    7. Who inspires as you continue to build M.I.N.T? 

    I like to think of my work here as groundbreaking, an innovation so to speak. We need more of these services around social services. Those innovators and people who pushed despite the odds against them really inspire me. To name a few would mean to forget some. So I will just leave it as that.  

    8. What is the best advice that you received that has really helped you?

    Be yourself. Do not change who you are to please others. I always wanted to make others happy but it caused me to lose respect in myself, as well as not be able to do things for me. I think that being able to be me allowed me to see that I am liked and that people will accept me for who I am. 

    9. What are your goals for this year?

    Go to more schools, get to do it on both coasts of the continental United States, as well as create the curriculum to make it even more real to potential schools, donors, as well as form our non-profit

    10. Where do you hope to see M.I.N.T in 5 years from now?

    The program is stronger than ever, being implemented in schools across the 50 state plus some westernized countries. I am still doing presentations with Alexa but we are also training other well motivated, great people to do the presentations their way, so they can inspire others for years to come. I have vanity license plates that say M.I.N.T.

     

    Meet Our Team: Cassell Ferere

    As M.I.N.T expands, it's quite important for us to find people who believe in our message. One person we met who made in impact almost immediately on us was Cassell. A Brooklyn photographer with a unique perspective and view on the industry, Cassell was a hit at our last talk in Brooklyn, NY. Welcome to the fam! Read his interview answers below. 

    1. What inspired you to be a part of M.I.N.T?

    I decided to be part of MINT because the message is something I stand firm in - not letting social media control aspects of my life mentally.

    2. Why are you interested in social media and it's effect on mental health?

    I'm interested because I have seen how social media has been changing the social dynamic for the masses - connecting everyone while isolating everyone, simultaneously. 

    3. Why is this so important to you?  

    I grew up on the cusp of the dotcom, digital, and social media era. And to witness it's effects as someone who was, at first, reluctant, has altered my view of the world as fragile.

    4. How is M.I.N.T different from other anti-bullying campaigns that are out there? 

    The focus on the mental effects of social media as well as the the resolves that can be met through the same channels that consume us.

    5. How does it feel to get out there and spread your message to teens across the country?

     

    I feel like I can be the medium between finding the real world and navigating the social media world for teens because of my position and will power to not be consumed by social media, but rather, using it to my advantage.

    7. Who inspires you as you continue to build MINT? 

    I think I'm most inspired by people and the life they live. It's evident to see how someone is living through social media but it's also evident that none can entirely live their live on social media. Those that try to are at the most risk of getting lost in the digital world. They forget the charm found in real world encounters. 

    8. What is the best advice that you received that has really helped you?

    "Sticks and stones may break my bones..." I like this phrase because it reminds me of how strong I can be when someone is trying to put me down.

    9. What are your goals for this year?

    I would like to become more open to the idea of being a voice for the people. Making my brand something people can relate to.

     

    10. Where do you hope to see M.I.N.T in 5 years from now?

    I see MINT having a dynamic effect on the youth culture, influencing the younger generation to be more adept with the realities of social media and its effects.

    Depression & Social Media

    Have you just read someone else’s status, seen someone’s tweet, or someone’s picture and got a little down? Are you feeling upset about the recent post of a friend or family member? Are you getting down or having trouble sleeping because of your social media use?

    One of the things that can be a side effect of the use of social media is the effects it may have on our mental health. One of the most common feelings that we can see is the fact that we get down when we see someone else’s post where they appear to have fun or other stuff that makes you feel “less than” that other person. It is a very common phenomenon but sometimes, we see so many things that do that to us that it affects us in a deeper way.

    We start feeling down about ourselves, which effects our self-esteem. We start thinking some negative thoughts about ourselves as we continue to compare our lives to what we are seeing on our social media and how it appears boring and unexceptional. We start isolating and start staying in bed, eating less (or more, depending on the person), and even start thinking if our lives are worth living? It is more common than you think.

    It is estimated that 20% of teenagers will develop depressive symptoms that meets criteria for the diagnosis. While this stat may seem low to some (1 out of 5), this has to do with meeting the clinical definition. It is common for many teens to have some of these symptoms but it cannot be underemphasized how often it is related to the social media bombardment that they receive. But let’s also be realistic about it.

    Previous generations were more isolated (no Internet) and had these symptoms in their lives also. They could, however, leave their social problems at school and go home and not hear about it.  With the advent of mobile phones, teens today cannot “Get away” from it as easily. It is important, however, to limit some social media use, not because it is bad, but what it does to their thoughts.

    Please also remember that a person takes on average 5 selfies before posting the “right” one (6 for girls, 4 for boys). The post you see is a snapshot of a moment and not the entire time of the event. Most posts are meant to raise the self-esteem of the person posting, not to put yours down. Most posts put the best foot forward and this may be the best they feel all day. And finally, life is lived face to face not on social media. Try those uplifting thoughts when you see something that brings you down.

    Guest Post: The Unexpected Parent Resource

    M.I.N.T is expanding! Looking to guest post for us or join our team? Email us at fashionlane@alifeinthefashionlane.com.

    Today, we have guest blogger Allison Koenig-Ford joining us. She's an English teacher in Florida, and an advocate for teens + mental health. She's an inspiration to all.

    Most people will tell you that after having a child, you will look at the world in a different way. I had always heard this and wondered if it was true, or just something people said like, “Middle school is tough, but just wait until you get to High School.” And then, “High School is tough, but just wait until you get to college…”

    Why do people tell us these things? I had always sort of resented it when people tried to warn me into being afraid. As a high school teacher, I tried my best to explain, rather than warn.

    I did have a child—a girl to be exact—and my perspective did change, quite a bit. What began to blossom after giving birth, was another birth. A powerful perspective…one that no one had ever warned me about.

    I began to look at my students with a new lens—focused and looking for answers.

    I thought about the expectations placed upon them, I watched as they struggled to find their way, and find their voice. I observed them when inspired and proud, as they shared with the class, a thought, an insight.

    With each snap-shot I thought about my daughter, Kennedy. I saw her in them. I was overwhelmed with what she might do in this world; the courage she might project. And on the opposite end of that spectrum, I feared for the labels which would undoubtedly stick themselves to her. So many children I meet have already allowed the label to introduce them, their ability, and their possibilities.

    I began to see many adults who were once children, still wearing these things. I am this or that. I have always been that way. I have to do it that way, because it’s what I grew up with. No matter if it gets in the way of being fulfilled, I must wear our labels, I must repeat cycles, because that’s just the way it is.

    Layers of insight were peeling back.

    I started looking at myself, noticing many things I had bought into once upon a time. And while this awareness was painful, it was also liberating.  The more I saw, the more I wanted to know. I wanted to know about the process of how we evolve, what that is like for this current generation, and what kind of power I hold against this machine. I got curious, challenged my own dogma, put on my own “thinking cap.”

    The product?

    I decided to write a book, to become a speaker, and to show up on another level.

    I asked over 500 teen girls to teach me. To school me on how to be a good parent, how to show up for my daughter with love, and on what is really happening within their hallways. We talked communication, honor, expectations, social media, body AND mind image, and so much more.

    This was the crash course I needed. It was touching, invigorating, and oh so eye-opening. They taught me a lot! But what I observed on my own was unmatched by any lesson I had ever learned as an Educator.

    I witnessed their confusion. How they were struggling with processing emotions, how they had bought into labels themselves, and how they needed great assistance in getting out of that whole mess. It was clear to me that they could identify a friction, but that they did not always have the tools to articulate and breakdown why it had happened, or how they might heal it.

    The good news?

    That’s what I love to do! Break something down, find the source, and come up with a solution.

     Teachers know how to do this, and they do it well.  We are always looking for that angle, that phrase, or that metaphor that does the trick. We are proactive thinkers. We are always trying to get ahead of any issues that many arise with our kids…and from their parents J

    Why are we so good?

    We have been burned. Our lessons have fallen flat. And we make so many mistakes in front of a very expectant audience, each day. It’s humbling. It can make you into an incredible study, if you let it.

    So here’s what they taught me about parenting—the Cliff’s Notes—as we all use them from time to time:

    If you thought college was rough, just wait until you become a Real Parent.

    *And I will NOT leave you with blank a phrase to scare you, as that is not enough, and never was.

    Real Parent World…

    Where you will need to find great patience and invest in the work. You will need to watch your ego in order to gain connection, and you will need to do your own work internally—for you can never expect anyone to do what you will not—unless you wish to foster resentment.

    You will have to prepare them for far more than Algebra and understanding Lord of the Flies. They need to learn to transcend that label, to honor themselves, to back away when that is threatened, and to get outside of a judgement. Invest in teaching them self-reliance, as we know statistically they will be outside of our company more than they will be in it, God willing.

    We must rise to the grand occasion—the great exchange. We have to teach and learn through it all--with them, and for them.

    They need us. They need us showing up and holding this type of space, so that they might hold it as well.

    Thank you Allison for the lovely post! Check out her blog here!

    Don't Be a Bully

    Bullying is something that has been talked about for years, and is sometimes wrongly thrown around.

    Bullying is defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. 

    This aggressive behavior can take many forms:

    1. Physical Intimidation: this is the most commonly known form of bullying. It involves using physical power to push around, beat up, or hurt someone. 

    2. Financial Intimidation: this is the lunch money issue we once knew. It also comes in form of paying someone to be protected. It may also relate to socioeconomic status, as well as what brands of clothes you have.

    3. Cyber Bullying: this is becoming disconcertingly common, happening to 33% users of social media under 18, with 95% of social media users witnessing it. It uses social media to pressure someone out on purpose, telling other teen users not to be friends with someone, spreading rumors about someone, embarrassing someone in public. It is related to verbal bullying as it was once known. Our talks relate many issues to cyber bullying constantly. 

    It can be intimidating to intervene in cyber bullying issues, as you don't want to lose your social status, appear uncool, or even policing your peers. We can also keep in mind of many cases where cyber bullying and bullying have led to some teenager to kill themselves and citing bullying and social media as the main source of their despair.

    So what you should do?

    Speak up anyway. It is a risk to take but don't you wish someone would support you if you were going through it yourself? You may lose a few friends but were they really your friends if this is all it took? 

    Report it. Most social media platforms have a reporting button. It is usually anonymous and can be addressed by a neutral third party. You can also let a trusted adult, social worker, adjustment counselor about the issue. They will be more than happy to help the victim. You can also report it to law enforcement if it is of violent nature or sexual.

     Ask questions to the bully. It usually disarms the person bullying and makes it more difficult to continue to hurt others when others question you. It may encourage others to support you.

    We all have a role in it. Don't go silent, your voice is needed by everyone.

    Talk to your peers. Talking to your friends and other kids in school can also be beneficial. It takes away the power from the bully and you may also find allies that have been through what you have been through. There is something to be said about having strength and numbers. We are social and having a social support network definitely helps.

    We all have the power to stop bullying. And it's in your hands. You are not powerless. You have the possibility to change things.

    3 Tips To Combat Anxiety

    Anxiety: we've all battled this one. It keeps you up at night, stressed during the day, and completely overwhelmed 24/7.

    Here are three easy tips to overcome anxiety.

    1. Reach out for help

              You'd be surprised to see how much reaching out for help can help. Whether you want to talk to a therapist or a friend, speaking about your feelings out loud makes everything seem a little easier, trust us. There is a lot of negativity surrounding therapy, but us at M.I.N.T strongly suggest having access to a therapist if you have one available.

    Talkspace, iPrevail, and 7 Cups of Tea are free online therapy websites you can use!

    2. Start writing

        Everyone needs an outlet to throw any negativity/ harsh feelings into. Our favorite tool is writing. Buy a journal, or open up Google Drive, and start writing all of your thoughts down. No harm in writing to specific people, too: you don't have to mail a letter that you write online!

    3. Don't be ashamed

    Since we speak to a ton of kids per day, we're familiar with what teens are dealing with. A common trend we see is a fear or insecurity of admitting you deal with anxiety. Whether you deal with anxiety, substance abuse, or depression, you have a right to be open and honest with what you're dealing with. Never be ashamed to talk about your situation with anyone, because you live in a world where you deserve to be treated with love + kindness all of the time.

    Have more questions? Follow us on social media and talk to us! :)