Mental Health – Staff & Parents

Mental Health & Wellness Presentations for Staff and Parents

“Change begins with awareness and understanding. Stigma loses. Hope wins. In the workplace, or at home, it is imperative that an individual feels they can speak up and be accepted. Without encouragement, without an open mind, we close a door and lose an opportunity to show a sufferer that they are not alone.”

It has been two-and-a-half years and we are still standing strong. But the toll has been immense. This terrible pandemic has separated us from family, friends, and colleagues. It has taken away lives and livelihoods. Normalcy is still difficult to find as we continue to deal with this virus daily. There is trauma. There is fear. There is uncertainty and unpredictability. And for these reasons, never before has our mental health been this crucial. As we move forward, we can’t supress or repress what we are going through. It is time to heal, to be resilient, and to be proactive and preventative when it comes to our mental health. Let’s talk.

Fear and silence still pervade our society, our school communities, and our homes. Not only are students afraid to share their struggles, teachers and parents are as well. They fear judgement and acceptance when it comes to seeking support for themselves or their loved ones. I saw this and felt it as a sufferer in 1998 when I first began teaching. I felt I had nowhere to turn. At the time, I was right. Even in 2021, the fear is as intense. However, this fear is keeping sufferers in the dark. Competent, talented, and highly educated employees are afraid to tell their employers what they are going through. This only leads to breakdowns and pain.

Change is imperative. A suffer cannot do this alone. PREVENTION and PROACTION are keys to healthy living. If one is suffering, EARLY INTERVENTION is essential. Speak up early & often. This leads to short-term recovery. The earlier the intervention, the more effective the results. An individual can return to doing what they do best in their walk of life.

When we speak up early, we get the help we need, we heal, we recover, and we get back to thriving at whatever job we do. When stigma gets in the way, our loved ones will pay, and we will lose the skills and talents of men and women who, with the right support, will contribute immensely to any profession. One who has healed comes back with a purpose of helping others heal. We need these people in our professions. They are resilient, they are strong, and their impact is immeasurable. My journey is evidence of this. No one should ever have to live a lie.

My story of hope and healing resonates with staff, parents, and students of all ages. We are not alone. We are an arm-length away from receiving the help we need, if we feel we will be accepted. That is the goal. For our colleagues and family members to feel they CAN speak up without being judged or marginalized.

I am a mental illness advocate, illness survivor, motivational speaker, teacher, and author of five books including my memoir Two Sides To The Story: Living A Lie (Chipmunka Publishing, UK, 2013), my battle with mental illness, which has sold approximately 5000 copies. Since its release in 2013, I have had the wonderful opportunity of speaking to students, staff, and parents throughout Ottawa and beyond about my story of hope, resilience, purpose, and healing. Healing DOES happen. We can speak time and time again about mental health, wellness, and stigma, but when a survivor shares their own life experiences, and their road to healing, the impact is profound. Attitudes and views change forever, as does compassion and acceptance for sufferers and their loved ones.

I lived a lie, hiding my illnesses for over a decade to avoid discrimination and prejudice. No one should ever have to do this.

“I am not the illness. I have an illness. SEE THE PERSON, not the illness.”

-Chris Nihmey

chris nihmey speaking at carleton university

Safety Measures/Preparatory/Follow-Up

 

ENSURING STAFF & PARENT SAFETY

Unfortunately, we are not through this pandemic yet. When it comes to mental and physical health, I do not take chances of putting the safety and health and well-being of my audience at risk. I am fully vaccinated and have received my latest booster. I’m proposing these safety guidelines to ensure the health and well-being of your staff and parents is a top priority. At present, to ensure individuals are spaced out accordingly, the gymnasium would be the appropriate setting to ensure there is some distance between those attending. There will also be a distance between myself and the audience. I always recommend and highly encourage mask wearing for this gathering. These safety measures will decrease the chance of infection, reinfection, and possible long-term repercussions (including long Covid that is happening more than expected).

This DOCUMENT outlines activities that your school, school community, and parent councils can implement prior to, and following my visit, to ensure that my message is well received, understood, and reinforced. I provide staff/parents with several documents which include mental health links, resources, effective strategies, ideas, and several ways that teachers/parents can educate their students and children at home to create awareness, understanding, and compassion for those who struggle. Included are steps teachers/parents can take to receive direction and treatment for their own ailments. Each listener, upon request, will receive a bookmark that links to my website. On there are mental health links and resources, and a contact page where I can always be reached. Help is always available, prior to, and following my talk. Never hesitate to reach out. PREVENTION IS EARLY INTERVENTION. It is most definitely the key to pro-action.

Here is an optional QUESTIONNAIRE that can be distributed following my visit (adjust as needed). It is a chance for staff/parents to reflect on my messages. Questions can be used for any follow-up activities or discussion prior to my visit. The conversation must continue. You can also review my “goals” on this page with staff/parents.

Time for Presentation: 1 hour (+/- 5 min.) Virtual talks are also available.

Presentation Fee: $500 for one presentation, $600 for two, $700 for three.

Travelling to your city: I would love to visit. There will be reasonable travelling expenses needed for trips that require 2 or more hours of driving. Virtual talks are also available.

If you are interested in a visit, please click on the “Reserve Your Presentation Now” button. This will take you to my “Contact Chris” page. Thank you.

Creating Mental Health Awareness

 

Since 2013, I have hosted over 250 presentations at schools and organizations/institutions about my battle with mental illness and finding hope, purpose, resilience, and healing in my life. My feedback has been superlative. I continue to speak during the 2020-2021 school year. I would love to come out to your organization or institution to present.

MY GOALS:

My Presentation Goals:

    • Educating and understanding mental illness
    • Pain is pain, body or brain. Each deserve the same respect.
    • I am “fine” – the dangers of stigma and silence: how to eliminate
    • Speak up EARLY and often to get help and LISTEN to one another
    • Being vulnerable so other staff members or family members step forward and talk
    • Signs and symptoms to look out for in the workplace and at home
    • “Hey, Are You Okay?” A motto for life.
    • You are NOT the illness; you have an illness; it is not your fault
    • Be the eyes and ears of your school and home; suicide is preventable
    • Opening avenues to receiving help: having accessible MH resources and providing opportunities for staff relations
    • Utmost importance of empathy, acceptance, and compassion
    • Eliminating stigma and bullying in schools
    • Keep the faith in God, family, friends, and yourself. You are not alone
    • Don’t forget “you”: strategies and lifestyle changes for healing (mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and socially)
    • Inspiring hope, purpose, resilience, and healing (Healing DOES happen!)

We are all responsible for those in our workplace and our families, especially for those suffering from sickness, bullying, abuse or neglect, lacking the support that many of us have. This leads to suffering and in some instances, suicide. Taking your life is never a choice, but a decision impacted by circumstances within and around us (severe illness, addiction, trauma, stigma, bullying, rejection, etc.). Reaching out to someone is a choice. Suicide IS preventable. We must destroy the fear and shame that accompanies sickness. Until our loved ones and workmates feel they can safely step forward and share their stories without judgement and prejudice, they will choose to hide and ultimately lose hope. They must know, deep down, that they are not alone. Every life matters. Hope and healing is a gift we all deserve.

If you are interested in a visit, please click on the “Reserve Your Presentation Now” button. This will take you to my “Contact Chris” page. Thank you.

Testimonials

We are indebted to you Chris Nihmey for your ongoing contributions on our OCSB Mental Health journey. Sincere gratitude for your leadership in OCSB and beyond.
Denise Andre

OCSB Director, 2018

Chris recently came to Longue Sault PS to speak to my staff about his journey. He hit it out of the ballpark … wow! My staff were blown away by his story and message which contained useful, research based information which can be used to support all public education stakeholders. I highly recommend Chris Nihmey as a professional speaker for any organization interested in increasing their capacity to properly support mental health in their workplace.
Kieran Kennedy

Principal, Upper Canada District School Board

As part of a Parents Reaching Out Grant, I wanted to engage families in dialogue, awareness building, and learning about mental health and well-being. We were so fortunate to find Chris Nihmey! Chris presented to a group of parents, guardians and caregivers, alongside their children from Grades 4 – 6, at our Open House. His message of hope, compassion, and resilience was powerful and very well-received. Adults and students came away with a deeper understanding of stigma, how hurts don’t go away, and how to show empathy and support others in positive, encouraging ways. I highly recommend Chris to your school community!
Cynthia Seguin

Principal, UCDSB