Today started with some heavy training on gender violence prevention — to be honest I got pretty agitated. Not because the content was new or sensitive or any of the disclosures were triggering, but because I didn’t feel heard or understood.

When I get like that it’s important for me to take a break, go for a walk, grab something to drink or eat, feel the sunshine on my face, and remember that even if I’m assessing the situation accurately, it doesn’t really matter if they understand me or hear me or validate me or reject me.

What matters is my own knowing about my core beliefs and experiences and the faith I have in my convictions based on the lessons and knowledge I’ve learned along the way.

It’s not necessary to get others to agree with you, what’s important is to stay open while you finesse your growth through leveraging all conflict as opportunities.

Hone your ability to be resilient and self regulating in all friction. Don’t fray. Your power lies in self regulation once you determine it’s not useful to push. Instead, know when to retreat. Know when less is more.

Remind yourself: change doesn’t have to happen all at once, but in increments.

Often it is the most meaningful change that gradually emerges layer by layer; as I witness my own growth in balancing intensity with gentleness.

With this in mind I ended my day determined to absorb the sunset, welcomed the full moonrise, enjoyed a relaxing meditation bath, and put myself to bed early.

Tomorrow will be another chance to add a layer!


Tonight marked the 6th year of my therapy group for adult survivors of sexual trauma. I don’t know if I can put into words how remarkable I feel these women are and how absolutely honored I am that they have chosen me to support them through their recovery from sexual trauma.

The theme for tonight was growth because no matter what shape or direction it comes in, growth moves us, shifts us, and takes us to a place we haven’t been before. It’s not always a welcome change at first. Once you embrace the discomfort and fear by way of resources of courage and hope, change becomes motivation to get out of the place that imprisons you in pain and torment – stagnancy and defensiveness – even disconnection and numbness, which can often go disguised and rewarded. Behind that facade of aloofness you may feel agonizing loneliness or neglect.

I’ve had nine ladies and one man come through this group. The man didn’t stay, but he was welcomed. Three ladies have left island, five remain. Voluntarily and with fervent enthusiasm for the stability and connection it brings to them through the acknowledgement of similar pain, they remain. This isn’t just an intervention program, this is LIFE the way you must survive it once you have had a trauma such as this. It’s not something you can ever forget or remove from the cells of your body. That’s not to say you can’t heal, grow, or prosper. However, groups like this are what can make the difference between drowning or safely finding shore.

This isn’t the end, but it is a huge milestone. We can’t be sure what will happen next, but I have 100% faith that no matter what, these women will be okay.

Although you don’t know who these women are and they may be faceless to you — remember they exist. They are here in our community where you least expect them. They are successful, they are pretty, they are athletic, they are smart, they are everywhere and they wear masks.

The masks they wear don’t tell the true story, it’s what’s on the inside that haunts those struggling with emotional distress and the echoes of trauma.

Empowerment happens when they decide to risk it and remove the mask – letting the inside out. They are not just empowered, they are STARS!

*we apologize, but balloons were harmed in this group therapy activity!

Youth Mental Health

Suicide was the third leading cause of children between the ages of 10 and 19 years in 2015, resulting in approximately 67,000 deaths.  Let that sink in for a moment.  67,000 children globally in one year ended their own lives. How could that happen?  Could they not get professional help?  Were they afraid to ask for help? Did their parents know how they felt?

Firstly, let’s not get caught up in the blame game; instead let’s work to figure out a solution. We know that mental health issues such as depression – which often lead to suicide – are still very much taboo subjects that are not openly discussed. So let’s discuss them! We also know that depression is a treatable illness, though not getting the same access to healthcare as similarly debilitating physical illnesses. Why is that? Is it because a depressed child does not often exhibit physical injuries or symptoms? Most likely, yes, among other reasons. Mental illnesses continue to go ignored or denied as a valid health concern because it is a ‘silent illness’ and emotional resilience education is generally overlooked as part of the essential building blocks to their overall wellbeing and healthy development.  So, let’s get them access to healthcare they can afford and let’s nurture their emotional resilience! The goal needs to be prioritizing early intervention and access to mental health resources, as well as the application of prevention measures throughout the lifespan, starting in utero.

When a child is given the environmental supports to a healthy mind and body and is also given the tools to learn and develop healthy emotional intelligence, they will have the protective factors necessary for positive emotional resilience to the adverse experiences of life. We may not be able to protect or prevent children from experiencing life’s hardships, but we can reinforce them with emotional regulation resources to manage unexpected hardships more successfully. Fear may exist surrounding the admission that a child’s mental health is suffering because parents don’t understand their role in the causes or effects involved. It is also common for parents to view the symptoms of mental distress as bad behaviour or to outright label them as simply a difficult child. All of these faulty beliefs together with others are creating barriers to treatment and prevention, despite the glaring statistics.

Large segments of society, at best, fail to recognise depression and other mental illnesses as “real” and, at worst, stigmatize mental illness by labelling a child as weak, bad, crazy or unworthy. Where is the empathy in these approaches? If it is discovered that a child has diabetes, asthma or another physical illness, families are provided ample access to treatment, education, and support services. So why should it be different for mental illness? Mental illness is not a choice. The paths for treatment of depression are varied and depend on the individual, but thankfully depression can be treated and managed without spiralling to suicide or other dire outcomes. It is unacceptable that youths are not speaking up about mental illness due to fear of judgment and rejection despite treatment being available, which has too often resulted in unnecessary death.

Society needs to accept that depression is real, it is not a choice, and it takes lives – every – single – day.  Perhaps you have never suffered a mental illness, but the fact of the matter is you most certainly have experienced emotional distress. Emotional distress is the mild form of what can develop into mental illness. Luckily most people do not, but there are many protective factors that contribute to that. Mental illness is not just understood as a hereditary illness anymore, it is predominantly a preventative and treatable chronic experience of negative thinking, emotional dysregulation, and behavioural effects derivative from a cocktail of risk factors usually outside the control of the youth.

The next time you think someone could be in emotional distress to a degree that may be outside of your comfort zone, remember the worst thing you can do is nothing. Approach the person and remember you do not have to fix their problems, merely allow them to feel safe and heard in your presence, and then connect them with the necessary treatment resources.  Let them talk to you about their struggles without feeling judged as weak, cursed, or unworthy of love or attention. This act on its own can save lives.


Marit Hudson, Youth Mental Health Advocate

Dr. Taylor Burrowes, Marriage & Family Therapist

To listen to my podcast on Youth Mental Health click Here for Apple podcasts or Here for web/android

Here is a 2 minute sneak peek clip from the podcast: