What Critics Got Wrong About ‘13 Reasons Why’

cassette tapes headphones desk

13 Reasons Why, the newest Netflix success, is still causing controversy. Critics welcomed the show with warm reviews on March 31st, but, as the series’s hype increased, there was some backlash and disapproval of the depiction of the main character’s depression and ultimate decision to end her life. The show, however, was responsible for bringing awareness to mental health problems, mainly those most common with teenagers.

The show is based on a 2007 book of the same name by Jay Asher. The story is about Hannah Baker, a 17-year-old girl, who, after struggling with depression, psychological and physical abuse for over a year, decides to kill herself. Before dying, Hannah records 13 tapes in which she discloses the 13 reasons why she killed herself. The reasons, however, are all people.

Critics questioned the way the Netflix show depicted the aftermath of Hannah’s suicide. Some said the series expressed the idea that suicide is inevitable because the people surrounding Hannah felt a sense of helpless about her situation. They were not able to help her or prevent her from killing herself because she was already dead by the time they understood she needed help. Instead, Hannah’s acquaintances were only able to agonize over her tapes and feel guilty for being one of her “reasons.” Continue reading What Critics Got Wrong About ‘13 Reasons Why’

Addressing the Clash Between Generations of LGBTQ Activists

lgbtq activist pride parade make america gay again flag

To start a discussion on LGBTQ activism and mental health during Pride Week, we asked two LGBTQ activists of different generations to meet and discuss their views, experiences, and perspectives. Michael Noker, a millennial who has written about LGBTQ issues, interviewed Patrick Cleary, a long-time LGBTQ activist who fought for gay rights during the AIDS epidemic and beyond. The two discuss the grief and mental health implications of losing a generation as well as the critical need for activism.

Noker: What would you say was the most monumental moment for the LGBTQ movement in your lifetime?

Cleary: There are a few, so forgive me for not picking only one. The 1987 FDA approval of AZT, a drug for treating HIV/AIDS is the most monumental thing I can think of as a gay man, because it meant that my friends stopped dying so often.

Ronald Reagan hadn’t even said the word “AIDS” until the year before. The honest opinion of most of the country was that AIDS was something that should burn itself out. It only affected gay guys and drug addicts, and we weren’t worth the trouble. Continue reading Addressing the Clash Between Generations of LGBTQ Activists

3 Tips for Sober Travel While in Addiction Recovery

Woman on phone traveling

Most addiction recovery programs tell you it is not only OK to seek out help; it’s mandatory. Recovery is tough, and it’s extremely hard to do it all on your own. Even during relaxing times, you might need help staying sober. If you’re looking to plan a vacation that’s both rewarding and celebratory of your newfound sobriety, it’s important to know how to help yourself avoid the pitfalls of venturing away from your comfort zone.

Keep reading for three tips to help you do just that:

Continue reading 3 Tips for Sober Travel While in Addiction Recovery

What Does LGBTQ Pride Mean to You?

stonewall inn memorial LGBT pride

Every June, communities across the world celebrate Pride, also known as “Gay Pride” or “LGBTQ Pride.” For many it’s a celebration of identity, representing freedom of expression and freedom from social oppression. For others Pride represents a time in which they can watch from afar those who have been able to live their lives in an “out and proud” way. For people not in the LGBTQ communities, the month’s events may represent something different.

Pride began as a movement to solidify the rights and existence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s-1960s — in which Black communities fought for the same legal and civil rights of their white counterparts — spawned its creation.

There are differing stories as to how Pride actually began, yet people commonly think it originated in New York City. Like other activist movements, the modern gay liberation or civil rights movement included violent interactions with police. Most people think of the Stonewall Rebellion (also referred to as riots) as the catalyst for the modern march for civil rights for LGBTQ folks. Continue reading What Does LGBTQ Pride Mean to You?

How to Turn Your Childhood Hardship Into Success

broken doll face

It is possible to experience childhood adversity and still feel good as an adult. In my most recent study of 310 successful men and women — featured in my latest book, The Adversity Advantage — 40% experienced child abuse, witnessed domestic violence, or had an alcoholic/substance abusing parent struggling with addiction. If you broaden the definition to include poverty, death of a family member, divorce, or mental illness, 60% experienced serious childhood adversity. In spite of these impactful childhood problems, this group of successful people reported a high level of life satisfaction as adults, much higher than the average in the population.

Many reported that things did not come easily for them, however. They grew up with poor role models for communication, conflict negotiation, self-esteem, forming relationships, and expression of anger. The abuse they experienced created many personal and work problems. Turning their adversity into successes required them to become students of factors that lead to success.

Continue reading How to Turn Your Childhood Hardship Into Success

How Changing Masculinity Is Good For Mental Health

daughter putting lipstick on father

Men are statistically less likely than women to seek help for mental health and to celebrate Men’s Health Week we’re highlighting issues specifically related to men and their mental health.

There’s a scene at the beginning of Anchorman when the narrator talks about the seventies, a time when, “only men were allowed to read the news.”

It’s said in earnest, in a deep, booming voice, and you get the impression the man behind the mic longs for that lost, halcyon era. It’s also meant to be a joke. The kind of thing we laugh about now because the character the film goes on to lionize is quite clearly a jackass. Burgundy’s misogyny and toxic masculinity is something we look back on almost fondly because we imagine we’ve progressed beyond his willful ignorance.

Of course, toxic masculinity has a ways to go before it disappears. There remains a huge number of men driven by insecurity and a mix of hatred and fear of women. It would be foolhardy to swaddle ourselves in the belief that gender issues are a thing of the past in our society.

Continue reading How Changing Masculinity Is Good For Mental Health

How Depression Strengthened My Relationship With My Son

black father comforting son

Men are statistically less likely than women to seek help for mental health and to celebrate Men’s Health Week we’re highlighting issues specifically related to men and their mental health.  

It was my worst fear. I missed the opportunity to help my 15-year-old old son when he most needed me.

In 2015 I faced the worst depression of my life. It felt like I was in a dark and bottomless pit. I felt distant from myself and my family. Days went by and my most significant family interaction was sitting silently at the dinner table with my hoodie pulled over my head.

One of the oaths I swore to myself when I was younger was that I would use the lessons from my early experiences with depression to make life better for my kids. At the same time I was facing my depression, however, my son faced his own depression as a result of being bullied at school.

Thinking about that season of my life, I wish now that I had been able to think a little more clearly. Maybe I could have picked up on his signs and supported him? Maybe he would have had an easier time if we had talked more? Continue reading How Depression Strengthened My Relationship With My Son

How Divorce Impacts Men’s Mental Health

sad wedding cake toppers

Men are statistically less likely than women to seek help for mental health and to celebrate Men’s Health Week we’re highlighting issues specifically related to men and their mental health.  

When Zak married his ex-wife, he wasn’t sure they were compatible. At the time it didn’t deter him, however. He was in love, and that seemed like enough.

“I think that’s normal,” Zak said.

Rather than spending time as a married couple without children, Zak and his wife started a family immediately after the honeymoon. After their first child was born, and somewhere between multiple moves, career shifts, and learning to be parents, their relationship became strained.

The changes were stressful, Zak said, and they exposed a preexisting lack of communication.

“We didn’t proactively do any work on the marriage,” Zak admitted. “Nobody said, ‘Hey, we need to go to therapy’ or ‘We need to work on this.’” Continue reading How Divorce Impacts Men’s Mental Health

Why Men Don’t Deal With Mental Health

black man depressed sitting

Men are statistically less likely than women to seek help for mental health and to celebrate Men’s Health Week we’re highlighting issues specifically related to men and their mental health.  

One of the biggest challenges that men face is dealing with their mental health. Frequently men cope with mental health issues in unhealthy ways including substance abuse, self-medication, anger, aggression, and isolation. Six million men in the United States suffer from depression, and that number increases each year. Some young men (more so than young women) also develop schizophrenia, a debilitating mental health condition that includes detachment from reality and emotional instability. Despite the growing epidemic, men tend to be reluctant to talk about it.

I understand the challenges men face all too well. For most of my life, I wasn’t aware that my depression was tied into masculinity and the way that men often think about their mental health. In my life, when I feel emasculated from rejection or failure, especially romantically, I experience severe depression.

As I’ve become aware of my own mental health issues, and continue to talk about it with my therapist, I’ve experienced increased happiness and well-being. Most importantly, I’ve felt more masculine than ever before.

Continue reading Why Men Don’t Deal With Mental Health

It’s Time To Retire These Self-Harm Alternatives

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I started self-injuring when I was 17-years-old, the result of not knowing how to manage the overwhelming emotions accompanying years of sexual abuse by a teacher. Self-injury became my way of expressing extreme feelings of fear, anger, sadness, hopelessness, shame, and a complete loss of control. Over time, self-injury became the only way I knew how to deal with emotions, and I didn’t know what else to do.

When I decided I wanted to stop self-harming, the only information I could find advised me to color on my arms with markers, snap a rubber band on my wrist or hold an ice cube. If I was angry, the suggestions were to “get it out” by punching pillows, ripping magazines or throwing ice against a wall.

Well, in short, drawing on my arms with red marker only increased my desire to see real blood and holding ice cubes didn’t hurt enough. At the end of the day, all I wanted to do was cut or burn for real. And I still felt overwhelmed.

It turns out I’m not alone in this experience, and these popular substitute self-injury alternatives are partly to blame. Continue reading It’s Time To Retire These Self-Harm Alternatives