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After Two Parkland Students Commit Suicide, Community Unites To Share Mental Health Resources

One year after the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., two students have died in apparent suicides, compelling the community to come together and share mental health resources.

On Saturday, a sophomore at the school, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting last year, took his own life. One week prior, Sydney Aiello, 19, a recent Stoneman Douglas graduate who lost her best friend in the massacre, also ended her life.

As the Florida’s emergency chief Jared Moskowitz calls for the state Legislature to send more mental health resources for the high school’s students and faculty, calling mental health a “bipartisan issue” on Twitter, the community has stepped in where the state government has been slow to respond.

On Sunday, more than 60 school, county, city, child services and law enforcement officials, as well as mental health specialists, teachers and parents, met for an emergency meeting. Ryan Petty, father of Alaina Petty, a 14-year-old freshman who was murdered on Feb. 14. 2018, said that the school district will be giving parents the “Columbia Protocol, six questions that parents should ask their children, the Miami Herald reports. Based on their answers, they will know what emergency resources are available to them. Additionally, nonprofits are offering free therapy groups and services.

Online, it’s students, former and current, who are using social media to offer resources to those still suffering from the trauma and loss of last year’s school shooting. David Hogg, who graduated from Stoneman Douglas in 2018 and has become a fierce anti-gun advocate, took to Twitter, reminding Parkland students and grads that trauma doesn’t go away quickly.

“Stop saying you’ll get over it,'” he wrote. “You don’t get over something that never should have happened because those that die from gun violence are stolen from us not naturally lost. Trauma and loss don’t just go away, you have to learn to live with it through getting support.”

According to Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, who spoke with Teen Vogue, witnessing traumatic events can lead to symptoms consistent with acute stress disorder, including recurring memories, dreams or nightmares of the event; mood changes; irritability and more. These memories, she adds, can lead to negative thoughts, hopelessness, trouble sleeping and more.

Hogg wants youth to know that these symptoms are normal and that they can be managed through help, like therapy, talking with friends and family, meditation and self-care practices.

He, along with others, shared his own self-care routine.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, know there is help available. For immediate support, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis and are unsure where to turn, you can also reach out to the Crisis Text Line by sending HOME to 741741.

Read: Survivor Of Florida School Shooting Emma Gonzalez Is Turning Her Anger Into Political Activism

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These 13 Books On Self-Care Will Help You Start the New Year Right

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These 13 Books On Self-Care Will Help You Start the New Year Right

The holidays are all about love, familia, and good food but it can also be a stressful and overwhelming time especially for those who live with mental health conditions. The books featured on this list are meant to help provide you with the resources to not only get through the holidays but also start the new year feeling poderosa. Because self-care is different for everyone, this roundup includes a variety of books that focus on traditional practices and methods as well as more practical and holistic approaches. Some of the women are self-care gurus and/or mental health care advocates and others are writers or medical professionals who’ve dealt with their owns struggles and come out of it empowered.

With 2019 just weeks away, go ahead and take a moment to read through this compilation to find the best book that’ll remind you that you are a fierce, fly, and focused superwoman ready for what’s coming next.

 “You Have the Right to Remain Fat” by Virgie Tovar

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1 day until the official release date!

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Virgie Tovar’s manifesto for curvy women everywhere is a short but powerful read debunking diet culture beliefs that perpetuate the idea that skinny is the ultimate goal. Even with today’s seemingly more body positive message, there is the still the notion that healthy equals skinny and Tovar is not here for it. After twenty years of dieting, she decides to just let herself be and this book is a testament to her newfound freedom and acceptance of her fly self as is, dismantling fatpbobia in the process.

Buy it here.

“The Latina Guide to Health: Consejos and Caring Answers” by Jane L. Delgado

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Jane L. Delgado is a Cuban-American health care advocate and president and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health. With Latinas and their specific health issues and lifestyle in mind, Delgado’s guide breaks down medical myths and answers relevant questions. Sprinkled with “consejos”  like putting yourself first despite our tendencies to want to take care of others, the book also provides tips on how to feed your mind, body, and spirit and how to navigate the medical system.

Buy it here.

“The Color Of My Mind: Mental Health Narratives from People of Color” by Dior Vargas

Queer Latinx mental health activist Dior Vargas is known for being a vocal supporter of mental health awareness among people of color. Her viral People of Color and Mental Illness photo project in 2014 is the basis for this book published earlier this year. “The Color of My Mind” is a diverse counterpart to what Vargas sees is a homogenization of mental health conditions and the communities they affect. The book contains images and stories of 34 various POC discussing their trials, the strength they gained, and the lessons they learned.

Buy it here.

“The Color of Hope: People of Color Mental Health Narratives” edited by Vanessa Hazzard and Iresha Picot

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Vanessa Hazzard and Iresha Picot were inspired to put together “The Color of Hope” for POC after learning that less than  20 percent of psychologists identify as a minority yet mental illness is prevalent among these underrepresented communities. The book features more than 20 essays, interviews, and poems by people of color living with depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder and other health conditions as well as those loved ones affected by their conditions. It’s a powerful and emotional journey through their personal experiences with mental illness in a community that more often than not doesn’t confront these issues.

Buy it here.

“Latino Families in Therapy” by Celia Jaes Falicov

The second edition of the acclaimed “Latino Families in Therapy” by Celia Jaes Falicov is an updated guide written mainly for clinical practitioners. The book examines family dynamics, environmental stressors, and migration experiences to better understand what affects Latino families and their mental health. With such a small number of POC working in mental health care this book is an essential read to encourage understanding of culturally specific issues affecting patients.

Buy it here.

“What If This Were Enough?” by Heather Havrilesky

Acclaimed writer Heather Havrilesky released this collection of essays to encourage readers to embrace imperfection in everyday life. Her characteristic humor and inspirational approach made her famous through her “Ask Polly” advice column for The Cut and it’s also present here. She deconstructs the prevailing idea that buying new products and adopting a new lifestyle will lead to a better life and instead encourages readers to live in the imperfect present to find contentment.

Buy it here.

“You Don’t Have To Like Me: Essays on Growing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding Feminism” by Alida Nugent

Part feminist manifesto and part a declaration of self-love, “You Don’t Have to Like Me”  is a testament to the empowering effects of self-love and acceptance. Alida Nugent approaches the dark moments in her life including her struggles with an eating disorder and her initially complicated relationship with feminism with wit and sincerity.  She discusses deep issues like embracing her biracial identity and more relatable topics like being unapologetic about her love for being extra when it comes to her makeup. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll be inspired to love yourself as unapologetically as she does.

Buy it here.

“Bloom: A Gift For The Girl Learning To Love Her Beautiful Soul” by Shani Jay

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We’re all guilty of looking out there for our happiness. We buy the dream house, the right car, and maybe even those new boobs. We rush around like a bunch of crazies, swiping left & right like life depends on it, trying desperately to find our other half. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But we forgot that we’re already whole. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We think that more money, and more stuff is going to make us happy. I used to think this too. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But then we get the raise, we get the Chanel handbag, we get the bigger house — and it’s still not enough. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So we look around and see what else might fill that void we feel within. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But it doesn’t matter how much more we do or get on the outside — it has little to no effect on the inside. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It’s the same when it comes to people. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We all want to be loved; it’s a basic human need. So we devote our lives to searching for the special someone who’s going to give us that love we crave. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But we don’t love ourselves. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ And that’s why we spend the rest of our lives struggling to teach others how to love us. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ And that’s also why we’re never truly happy, or at peace — because we’re still dependent on someone else to make us feel that way. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ How many times have you thought to yourself: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ When I find that perfect person, my life will be complete. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I just need to get that promotion at work, and everything will be better. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ When we’ve saved enough as a couple and can afford to get a mortgage on our dream house, we’ll be happier. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Be honest with yourself. Maybe you’ve already had a thought like this today. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ These things you’re placing your happiness on are nothing more than distractions. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ No one and nothing out there can truly make you happy. That’s on you. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ You know where real inner happiness and peace comes from? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In your heart. In the act of embracing your authentic self. In peeling back those labels the world has nailed to you, and discovering your true soul. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ And in the realisation that everything you long to be — you already are ???????????? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ – snippet from my @medium article ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ????: @christineadel

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“Bloom: A Gift For The Girl Learning To Love Her Beautiful Soul” by Shani Jay reaffirms why self-love is the best and most important love. She addresses the women who need to be reminded to actually love themselves and who struggle with believing life will get better. This is for those moments when doubt is louder than any other emotion and you need that voice in your head telling you that you ARE strong enough.

Buy it here.

“A Cup of Water Under My Bed” by Daisy Hernández

“A Cup of Water Under My Bed” is a coming of age memoir by former ColorLines magazine executive editor Daisy Hernandez as she comes into her own as a queer Latinx. She was the first-generation American child of a Colombian mother and Cuban father who encouraged her to adapt the English language and look for a “gringo” boyfriend. Hernandez writes about her struggles at the intersection of her dual identity as American and Latina and her sexual awakening as a queer woman. This heartfelt journey to self-discovery is about exploring the possibilities that exist beyond the realm of familial expectations and finding the strength to stand up and say “this is me”. Learn more about Hernández by reading our list of Colombian writers you should know about.

Buy it here.

“Words from a Wanderer” by Alexandra Elle

Alexandra Elle’s passages are short but powerful making the collection “Words from a Wanderer” feel like you’re carrying around your best friend who is always there to uplift you. It features 62 affirmations (#anote2self) promoting self-love and self-worth and the value of putting in the work to get the desired outcome. This is the redesigned second edition of the collection originally published in 2013. Elle, a writer and wellness consultant, has published several journals with her latest, “Today I Affirm”,  coming out early next year.

Buy it here.

“Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life” by Gisele Bündchen

Supermodel Gisele Bündchen is known as the pretty face with the Amazonian body in glossy photos and runways but in “Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life” she writes about the pain and anxiety she endured at the height of her fame. She’s candid about her suicidal thoughts in the wake of constant panic attacks that were only made worse by her unhealthy lifestyle that included smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Instead of popping Xanax, she decides to completely change her lifestyle by practicing yoga and medication daily and adapting healthier eating habits. Her ability to overcome her struggles and find love and peace is a reminder that while no one is immune to suffering everyone heals is similar ways.

Buy it here.

“Three-headed Serpent” by Ariana Brown

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This mini-chapbook by Afro-Mexican American poet Ariana Brown is a research project on curanderismo in her family. The stories are told through poems and interviews with her mother and grandmother focusing on spirituality, gender, race, and migration through the lens of three different generations. Ariana, who is dubbed a part-time curandera, is known for delivering powerful spoken word poetry and this chapbook is equally passionate and thought-provoking. Learn more about Ariana by reading our roundup of some of the most important Mexican and Chicana writers.

Buy it here.

“First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety” by Sarah Wilson

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Back when I wrote #firstwemakethebeastbeautiful my friend Rick rang me and asked, “Darl, why exactly are you writing this book?” "Because I can’t help it and because I’m sick of being lonely,” I replied. Then I said, “We must suffer alone. But we can at least hold out our arms to our similarly tortured, fractured, and above all else anxious neighbours, as if to say, in the kindest way possible, ‘I know’.” “Good,” Rick said and hung up. * * * This is from the first chapter of The Beast. Ahead of #worldmentalhealthday tomorrow I hold out my arms to all my neighbours from a place where I’m doing the work and going down into the pain (which are, indeed, the titles of other chapters in The Beast.) Be bold and behold your Beautiful Beast, anxious ones ???? And now, I return to the trenches… ???????? #mybeautifulbeast #mentalhealthawareness #anxiety #newyorktimesbestseller

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The title of Sarah Wilson’s bestselling book is inspired by a Chinese proverb that states “before you can conquer a beast, you must first make it beautiful” and in this case the beast is anxiety. Wilson’s memoir “First, We Make the Beast Beautiful” takes the theme of acceptance and applies it to finding a way to manage versus attempting to erase anxiety. Throughout the book she offers tips and practices to help reduce anxiety like making your bed in the morning to achieve a sense of control and accomplishment. “I bump along, in fits and starts, on a perpetual path to finding better ways for me and my mate, Anxiety, to get around,” she writes. Her practical approach will feel like a soothing balm to  those who battle the same beast.

Buy it here.  

Read: 13 Latinx Books Published This Year That Everyone Should Read

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21 Tips To Drastically Improve Your Mental Health

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21 Tips To Drastically Improve Your Mental Health

Everyone gets a little down sometimes. It is hard to be upbeat and happy 24/7. Sometimes it can be caused by different things, getting into a rut at work, or the change of the seasons or something not so great may have happened to you recently. Whatever the issue is, it is essential to work to pull yourself out of it before it gets any worse. Here are some ideas to help you get through the blues and get back to being yourself in no time.

Clean up Your Space

Credit: Twitter @PH_Hello

Sometimes when we get down, it’s easy to let things become a mess. If you take 30 minutes each day to do a little picking up here and there the whole job will be done in no time. Having a clean room or house will make you feel better about being in it and lift your mood. If you don’t have the time to clean it yourself hire a cleaning service to get things started for you.

Get Out

Credit: Twitter @Gratianho

Lots of the time if we are stuck in a rut of some sort that is dragging us down we find it hard to pull ourselves away from the television and get moving. Usually, the hardest part is the initial get up and go. Make plans with a friend or schedule a workout class. By making a date with someone else, you are accountable for showing up. When you are accountable to someone else for being there that makes it easier to find the gumption to go and do what you said you were going to do. Once you are up and out the going gets easier. Make yourself accountable to someone to get out of the house, and you will be feeling better in no time.

Get Creative

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Sometimes all we need is an outlet of some sort for some of our feelings. To take care of this type of itch invest in some paints, pencils, or try out that recipe you have meant to try. Take artistic license in whatever you do and have fun with it. If it’s not perfect, that is OK, as long as you are having a good time doing it and working through some of the negative feelings that have been plaguing you lately. Invite a friend to help for additional fun!

Get Some Sunlight

Credit: Twitter Cleveland Clinic

Sometimes, especially in the winter, all we need is some Vitamin D. We get this naturally by being exposed to sunlight. If you do not go out much, you can also take supplements. If you are supplementing your vitamin D intake, be sure not to overdo it because that can cause problems as well. If you can’t get out for at least 15 minutes during daylight hours, think about purchasing a sun lamp. You can put it next to your computer and turn it on for 15 minutes a day. Many people report this as a good solution for their seasonal depression. If you are down during the winter months; or don’t get out much no matter what season, try a sunlamp at your desk.

Journaling

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Writing out your thoughts and feelings can help you to process them faster. When you process your feelings faster, you will be your awesome self in no time flat. If you do not usually journal, it may take a few tries to get comfortable with the process. Some people prefer, and others prefer an electronic format. Set aside about ten minutes to sit down and work on this process. If you don’t get much down the first couple of times, do not be discouraged. Keep at it and see what works best for you.

Exercise

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Exercise has been medically proven to help lift people out of depressive states. When your body is stagnant, toxins can build up. One great way to rid your body of toxins that may be dragging you down is to get up and move. If you have not worked out for a long time, you may want to start by committing to taking a walk every day. Walk for 30 to 45 minutes to get your blood flowing. You will feel more energetic in the long run. After you get this down, maybe think about joining a gym and working on the parts of your body that you would like to improve.

Try Out a Life Coach

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Sometimes we need a little direction to get us back on the path to happiness again. Getting another person’s point of view on things can be helpful. Look up life coaches in your area. This person should be able to help you to reorganize and come up with new ideas that will make you happy and more satisfied with what you are doing.

Talk to a Professional

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There are times when we need a little extra help with our mental health, and that is nothing to be embarrassed about. If you feel like you can’t pull yourself out of the blues, maybe it is time to talk to a professional counselor. These people are specially trained to listen and give you actionable ideas on how to improve your mental health.

Consider Getting a Pet

Credit: Twitter Petful.com

Pets are known to cheer people up. Just having something else around to take care of and concentrate on helps many people to not focus on their mental anguish. If you are considering a pet, think about what type of pet would fit your lifestyle the best. You may have always wanted to get a puppy, but are you ready to house train it and be there to walk it when it needs to be walked? If you choose to find a pet, be sure that you don’t bite off more than you can chew. You and your pet should have a happy and safe space to coexist in at all times.

Take a Vacation

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If stress in your daily life is what is getting you down, consider getting away for a bit. You will enjoy planning the time away, taking it, and then organizing your memories after the fact. Go somewhere that you have never been before for a little extra adventure. Remember always to be safe and travel with a friend or a group to be sure that nothing terrible happens to you.

Sleep!

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We are sure that you have heard it already, but we are going to say it again. You need to get your sleep for improved mental and physical health. Consistently skimping on sleep is an unhealthy habit that many people pride themselves on. When you sleep, your frontal cortex can refresh, kind of like when the flash drive in your computer is deleted when you turn it off. Having too much built up will drag you down and won’t be as good at problem-solving and remembering day to day things. Refresh your mind and experience additional health benefits by getting 6-8 hours of sleep on a regular basis.

Eating Healthier

Credit: Twitter Mindful

We can all eat more healthfully. It is just too easy to grab a bag of chips or a quick burger when you are in a rush and feeling hungry. Junk food does nothing to improve mood because it has minimal nutrients and often a lot of sugar and fats that we do not need. Consciously making an effort to eat more healthfully will make you feel better because your body will be getting the nutrients it needs to fight off sickness and operate at its best. If you know you are going to be in a rush pack some carrots, celery sticks, or a protein bar to tide you over until you can prepare yourself a good meal.

Write Out Your Goals

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Pick a goal and chop it up into smaller easily attainable steps. When you complete a step, check it off or scratch it out on your list. Making your goals realistically achievable by taking small steps will improve your outlook on your life.

Work on Something You are Good At

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If a daunting task is getting you down start off by doing parts of the task that you know you are good at and work your way on to the harder pieces. Doing this will boost your self-confidence in working on the parts of the task that you’re not so thrilled about.

Just Smile

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Sometimes this is harder than it sounds, but if you make an effort to smile when the going gets rough, you will get through the harder times much easier. By smiling, you will trick your brain into thinking you are happy and the rest will follow along.

Do Something Nice

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You can make this as hard or easy a task as you want. You can sign up to volunteer your time, or you can do a favor for a friend. Any way you choose to do this, it will cheer both you and the person you are helping up. Sharing joy is one of the best ways to refocus your mind on the better things in life.

Spend Time with Friends

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Spending time with people that care about you can be uplifting. Even just sitting and letting them talk about their problems can help you to see that you are not alone. Make plans to enjoy a meal, take a walk, or have coffee with one of your friends today. You will be glad that you did!

Get Results

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Work on a small, simple task that will give immediate results to lift your mood. Organize your spice cabinet, fold your clothes, or sock drawer. The great quick results will give you a sense of accomplishment and get you feeling good for the rest of the day!

Get an Older Relative of Friend to tell you a Story

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The older people in our lives always have such great stories to tell. Most of the time they will not share them unless you ask. Call up or visit someone in your life that would enjoy sharing a story with you. It will be a gratifying experience for both of you.

Go Virtual Window Shopping

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Remember how much fun you had window shopping on a lazy Sunday? Now you can do that online. Go to your favorite online store and fill your cart up. After you have had your fun picking out the best new spring outfits go to another store and do it again. Virtual window shopping is just as much fun as regular window shopping, of course, you can do that too!

Start a new Hobby

Credit: Twitter abeautifulness

The key here is to keep it simple. Start a new hobby such as knitting, learning to strum a guitar or cooking. Do your best not to go out and expect to become a master chess player in a week. Pick something fun that will keep your mind active and has you enjoying your day in no time!

Now you have some good ideas on ways to improve your mental health. Get out there and enjoy life!

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