Teen mental health gets boost from Carol Todd in support of World Mental Health Day

Mother of Amanda Todd promotes mental wellness, offers tips for parents whose teens are constantly plugged into their smart phones

Port Coquitlam will join cities around the world in illuminating purple lights in support of World Mental Health Day on Saturday, Oct. 10.

And for Carol Todd, a Port Coquitlam mom and teacher, the date is important for her personally.

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It’s the anniversary of the suicide death eight years ago of her daughter, Amanda, who struggled with anxiety and depression after she was bullied and exploited online.

For Todd, promoting mental health and supporting families and teens with her Amanda Todd Legacy Society online auction — on between now and Oct. 14 — and promoting the Light Up Purple campaign in support of mental health keeps her going when she otherwise might struggle.

“It’s important for me to do things to help others,” said Todd in an interview with The Tri-City News. “That fills my bucket and helps me get going.”

SEEKING HELP IS KEY

While the months of October, November and December are difficult, Todd has found a way to cope by getting involved in meaningful projects, but also by participating in therapy.

She’s a strong believer in seeking help when struggling with mental health concerns, whether it be depression, anxiety or other issues, equating it to fixing a flat tire. 

“That’s not something I could do on my own,” she said.

“Getting help and support is number one and don’t be afraid to tell someone about how you’re feeling physically and emotionally, because if you try to say to yourself ‘it’ll pass, I’ll deal with it myself,’ often times you can’t or you don’t know how to.”

And when loved ones are struggling, she said, “it’s OK to step in and ask and be that friend and be that support and help guide them to what’s needed.”

Still, it can be difficult to know what to say or how to approach someone. Todd advises being as open as possible, and if you’re a parent, be persistent with your children. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions. 

CELL PHONE ADDICTION

These days, young people are glued to their cellphones and Todd said that while it’s important to understand their fear of missing out, they also need balance in their lives.

Recent studies have found there are negative consequences to teens’ ubiquitous use of cellphones. For example, a recent study noted by McGill University found that teens who were on social media more than three hours a day were were more likely to report psychological distress, less life satisfaction, less happiness and more anxiety than those who used it only weekly or less often.

Todd said parents should try asking their teens what they would do if they had to give up their smart phones even for a short time.

CONVERSATIONS MATTER

“It’s critical we have conversations with our kids about staying safe in both the physical and technological world,” said Todd.

When her daughter was being exploited online and then bullied, she became depressed, and even showed signs of self-harm.

Todd struggled with what to say.

Now, she says everyone should educate themselves about mental health, ways to deal with issues and how to stay well.

“It’s like normal first aid — it’s best to have all that information in your tool kit because if it’s there you can use it.”

For more information about the Light Up Purple campaign and items to bid on in the Amanda Todd Legacy Society online auction, go to https://www.amandatoddlegacy.org/

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