Teen depression and suicide

Posted May 14, 2019 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Family, Health

Tags: , , , ,

In Hawaii, 11.97% of teens (ages 12-17) had a major depressive episode in the past year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2016-2017. Even more alarming, 16.0% of teens (ages 12-17) reported that they seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) data, 2017.

Suicidal thoughts don’t have to be literal, but they’re always dangerous.

That’s one of the first things that I learned at a panel discussion about “Teenage Depression and Suicide” at the 2019 Hawai‘i Book and Music Festival.

Moderated by comedian Pashyn Santos, the discussion talked about how teens (and adults) can respond to sadness or depression. “Happiness is not defined by success or achievement,” Santos reminded us.

Psychiatrist Sonia Patel emphasized that “Suicidal thoughts really mean, ‘I want to feel better’ or ‘I need a break.’” We can help teens recognize their feelings by teaching them to be in the moment and slow down.

Clinical psychologist Sid Hermosura said that mindfulness can help us look at our thoughts, not just feel our thoughts. He emphasized the importance of social connection, relationships, and gratitude.

Associate professor Thao Le said that just as we eat healthy foods to feed our bodies, our thoughts are a form of “mental food.” For every negative thought we have, we need to bring up five positive thoughts to balance it!

Interfaith minster Rev. Bodhi Be challenged teens to identify their “core wound,” the hole that they are trying to fill. When we find out what we love, we can fill that hole and “forget about ourselves” by serving others.

Le shared a mindfulness practice that can help us feel compassion and strengthen our relationships with others. Think of a person (or yourself) and wish them well by saying, “May you be happy, peaceful, and free from suffering.”

What are your happiness tips? Who can you reach out to when you feel sad or depressed?


A better work-life balance

Posted May 7, 2019 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Business, Family, Health

Tags: , ,

Working for a growing nonprofit, I struggle with balancing the things I should do, but can’t do within a “normal” workday; and taking work home. Sometimes it means that my work-life balance is more work than home, and that’s okay – but only if it’s an occasional thing. It’s not okay if it becomes the new normal.

Taking work home is easier than ever because technology and social media are 24/7. It has an even greater impact on millennials, because this is the world they grew up in.

So I was really interested to attend a panel discussion about “Millennial Work/Life Balance” at the Hawai‘i Book and Music Festival last weekend.

Moderated by comedian Pashyn Santos, the discussion centered on how panelists “escape” from social media, their favorite “failure” story, and some of the initiatives that companies are doing to create a better work-life balance.

Psychiatrist Sonia Patel shared that she is no longer on social media at all. She stressed the importance of having structure outside of social media, like getting enough sleep and healthy meals. We have to learn to be advocates for ourselves and our time.

Clinical psychologist Jeff Stern suggested that we use social media as a reward after completing a task or achievement, rather than using it as an escape or avoidance. We need to learn to manage our time, or companies will try to manage it for us. He wondered if companies will start requiring employees to leave their phones at the door.

Stern mentioned an intriguing idea: some companies are offering a pre-cation, a vacation before the first day of work as a way to give employees breathing space before starting a new job.

Jade Snow of Jade Snow Media admitted that “I only realized my [social media] addiction when I experienced burnout and reminded us that we need to set healthy boundaries. She said that we need to appreciate being with people in the moment, and then be more intentional about the time we spend on social media. We should practice gratitude and surround ourselves with people who are like-minded.

Snow speculated that perhaps we are not looking for a work-life balance, but a work-life integration. The goal is to incorporate healthy practices into our daily lives.

KHON2 TV personality Mikey Moniz stated that we need to stop comparing ourselves with who we think we should be. “Have a strong group of friends,” he said. “You become who you surround yourself with.” Moniz added that when going out to eat, he and his friends are trying something new: they put their cell phones in the middle of the table, and the first person who touches their phone has to pay the bill.

Is social media a “reward” or an “escape” for you? Do you think about work at home and think about home at work?

“Hyperbole and a Half” by Allie Brosh

Posted May 4, 2019 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Book Reviews

Tags: , , ,

“Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened” (2013) has an intriguing title and eye-catching cover art. And Microsoft founder Bill Gates put it on his reading list. I plunged into blogger Allie Brosh’s life, as she explains depression in a way that everyone can understand and relate to.

“Hyperbole and a Half” is a collection of autobiographical essays with new material and selections from her Hyperbole and a Half blog. The essays are colorful and humorous, illustrated with simple and expressive drawings. The chapters are color-coded and talk honestly about living with depression, and there is some swearing (kids, skip those sections). The book itself is heavy, printed on thick paper, as if to counter-balance some of Brosh’s irreverent humor.

Here are 10 thought-provoking things that Brosh taught me:

  1. If time travel is possible, Brosh’s 10-year old self would already have proof of it.
  2. We love dogs for who they are, not for what they can do.
  3. Find what motivates you in life (like cake) and pursue it.
  4. You can’t will yourself not to be sad or depressed. In a strange way, apathy can be a temporary superpower – you start to feel invincible because you stop caring about society’s expectations.
  5. The need for parental approval can spiral out of control – and may lead you to eat 6 spoonfuls of hot sauce. Don’t eat the hot sauce!
  6. Have you ever exceeded your capacity for responsibility? You are not alone.
  7. Geese are descendents of dinosaurs.
  8. Sometimes we try hard to be people we are not.
  9. Advice for dogs: most of the things you know are wrong, and most of the decisions you make are bad.
  10. There are times we feel good about ourselves for thinking we might do good things and for stopping ourselves from doing bad things.

Brosh reminds us that being healthy is more than physical well-being, it’s also mental well-being. Read Brosh’s blog at HyperboleandaHalf.Blogspot.com.

Remember that humor, social connections, animal friendships, and a good work-life balance are important for everyone.

Three ways to celebrate books, music, Star Wars, and comics

Posted April 30, 2019 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Books, Community, Family

Tags: , , , , ,

This Saturday, May 4, fans of books, music, Star Wars, and comic books can indulge in a trio of celebrations.

May 4th (and 5th) is the Hawaii Book and Music Festival. This free celebration of books and music is fun for people of all ages, backgrounds and tastes. In addition to author talks, book swaps, keiki entertainment, storytimes, and musical performances, there are presentations and panel discussions about Hawaiian culture, Humanities/Breaking News, and Wellness.

May 4th is also Star Wars Day, “May the Fourth Be With You”. “May the 4th be with you.” What started as pun shared by fans has become a full-fledged Star Wars holiday: Star Wars Day, a special once-a-year celebration of the galaxy far, far away. Have a fan-tastic day by dressing up as your favorite Star Wars character, indulging in “Yoda Soda” with “Wookie Cookies,” and watching your favorite episode or reading your favorite Star Wars book.

And May 4th is Free Comic Book Day, the biggest celebration of comic books and a great time to discover new types of comics! It’s the perfect time to read new comics, get kids involved in reading, and have fun as a community. This year, there are 51 comics to choose from, including titles from Minecraft & Disney’s The Incredibles, Little Lulu, Bob’s Burgers, The Amazing Spider-Man, My Hero Academia, Star Wars Adventures, and more. Tag your photos #FCBD19 to help get Free Comic Book Day trending.

Here’s a list of participating public libraries:

  • Oahu – Aiea, Aina Haina, Hawaii Kai, Kailua, Kalihi-Palama, Kapolei, Manoa, McCully-Moiliili, Mililani, Nanakuli, Salt Lake-Moanalua, Wahiawa, Waikiki-Kapahulu, Waimanalo, and Waipahu. At select Oahu libraries, costumed characters from the Pacific Outpost of the 501st Imperial Legion, Rebel Legion Hawaii, and Costumers Guild of Hawaii will be appearing. Check your local library for appearance times.
  • Hawaii Island – Hilo, Kailua-Kona, and Thelma Parker. At the Hilo Public Library, 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm, kids can make their own comic book and playing card.
  • Kauai – Hanapepe and Princeville.
  • Lanai – Visit the Lanai Public & School Library’s booth at the Saturday Market (front of Cafe 565) from 8-11 a.m.
  • Maui – KahuluiKiheiLahaina, and Makawao. At the Kihei Public Library, 10 am to 12:30 pm, meet comic book artist and author of Draw-a-Saurus James Silvani.

I plan to pick up a free comic book and volunteer at the Book and Music Festival (first time!), so maybe I’ll see you this weekend. Which celebrations will you choose?

Celebrating Earth Month 2019

Posted April 23, 2019 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Community

Tags: , , , ,

On April 22 we celebrated Earth Day 2019, a day of action that changes human behavior and provokes policy changes.

This year, the focus is on “Protect our Species.” Earth Day Network reminds us: “A vast number of animals and plants have gone extinct in recent centuries due to human activity, especially since the industrial revolution. Many others are in serious decline and threatened with extinction, which affects genetic variation and biodiversity, among other issues.”

We only have one earth. Especially here in Hawaii, we understand how precious and fragile the earth can be.

There is still time to get involved, help out, or give back to the earth. Here are a few events throughout the rest of Earth Month 2019 in Hawaii:

* April 23: UH Manoa Earth Day Festival, 10 am to 5 pm, UH Manoa Campus Center Courtyard and iLab,  Oahu. “He Aloha Ka Mauli Ola O Ka ʻĀina: Aloha is the lifeforce of the land” features over 40 campus and community organizations, live music, repurposed art, sustainable business, activities, speaker series, and more. Free and open to the public.

* April 23: Earth Day in the Park, 4 pm to 6 pm, Riseley Field on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Oahu.

* April 25, Hanauma Talks Seminar, 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm, Hanauma Bay, Oahu. This free seminar is about “Caring for O‘ahuʻs manu-o-kū: it takes a hui!” with Rich Downs, Hawai‘i Audubon Society.

* April 26: UH Hilo Earth Day Fair, 8:30 am to 1:30 pm, UH Hilo Campus Center Plaza and Library Lanai, Hawaii Island. The Earth Day celebration will include educational videos, informational exhibits and science demonstrations, guest speakers, a food sustainability panel, environmental science skill-building workshops, dances, hula, storytellers, face painting, campus garden tours, an environmental career fair, unmanned aerial vehicle flight simulators and more.

* April 27: Going Green, 9 am to 12 pm, Nuuanu Congregational Church, Oahu. This is a free collection event of unlimited e-waste, including computers, monitors, printers, recyclables, gently-used items, canned goods, and more.

April 27: Aloha Aina, 9 am to 12 pm, Kalihi Waena Elementary School, Oahu. This is a free recycling drive hosted by the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, accepting all types of scrap metal, electronics and computers, used cooking oil, gently-used household items, and more.

* April 27, Pūpūkea Paumalū Community Work Day, 9 am to 11 am, Sunset Beach Elementary School, Oahu. Join North Shore Community Land Trust  to help maintain the trail. Meet at the hiking trail entrance at the Sunset Beach Elementary School lower parking lot. Wear closed toe shoes, bring a reusable water bottle, and wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. All tools, gloves, snacks and water refills will be provided. Contact tim@northshoreland.org to RSVP.

* April 27: Earth Day Manoa Stream Cleanup with the Surfrider Foundation, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm, 2645 Dole Street, Oahu.

* April 28: Kōlea Farm Volunteer Workday and Dinner Potluck, 1 pm to 6 pm, Kōlea Farm, Oahu. Come prepared with working pants, long sleeves, a hat for sunny days, garden gloves, bug spray, and your happy soul. Potluck Dinner is open after the work time; bring a side dish or pupus to share. RSVP online at Kolea-Farm.com.

And here’s one more way you can help:

* Volunteer for the Marine Debris Solutions Project. B.E.A.C.H. sorts macro and micro plastic marine debris in order to find solutions to the problem of marine debris. Volunteers are needed from now until August, Monday to Friday, 9am – 12noon or 2pm -5pm and some Saturdays and Sundays. No experience is needed. Volunteers are welcome on any day in Kaneohe. To register, call 808-393- 2168 or email beach_org@yahoo.com with the date/s you would like to help, at least 2 days before.  This hands-on activity is suitable for ages 15 years and older.  Service learning and internships are also available.

How do you celebrate Earth Day? What small changes can you make today to reduce, re-use, recycle, re-plant, and re-purpose?

Hope, help, and healing to prevent suicide

Posted April 16, 2019 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Community, Family, Health

Tags: , ,

Anyone can be at risk for suicide. We all have sources of strength. And it’s strong to get help.

These messages of hope, help, and healing are what I took away from the Prevent Suicide Hawai‘i Statewide Conference last week, April 11-12, 2019.

Organized by the Prevent Suicide Hawai‘i Taskforce (PSHTF), the Conference was sponsored by organizations such as EMS and Injury Prevention System Branch of the Hawai‘i State Department of Health, the Department of Psychiatry under the John A. Burns School of Medicine, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Hawai‘i Chapter.

I work for a local mental health nonprofit, and I was fortunate to be a resource table volunteer. During the Conference, I spoke with passionate advocates, educators, and service providers. I learned about the resources that are available for people in crisis. And I was inspired by West Oahu and neighbor island youth who are committed to prevent suicide in their schools and communities.

The Conference opened with a keynote by Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Dr. Moutier emphasized that the stigma of mental distress is going down and talk saves lives – for those at risk and for survivors of suicide loss. “Everyone struggles,” she stated. “It’s strong to get help.”

There were five breakout sessions and five different “tracks,” covering Hope (primary prevention), Help (intervention and treatment), Healing (postvention and survivor supports), Special Topics and Populations (Micronesian, Military, Filipino, and LGBTQ populations), and Culture (Hawaii and Pacific Islands).

For me, the most moving point came at the Fight For Each Other (F4EO) break-out session. Speakers for the F4EO Project share how suicide affects the lives of military members, their friends, family, and co-workers. Col. Robert Swanson shared his personal story of healing and recovery. “It always gets better – but only if you stick around,” he asserted.

The most impressive part of the Conference was the Youth Leadership Council. These motivated youth shared some of the results of their training, including identifying sources of strengths – such as family support, positive friends, and healthy activities. Youth facilitator Deborah Goebert, DrPH summed it up when she said, “Go out and inspire each other.”

The Conference closed with an address by Lieutenant Governor Dr. Josh Green, who shared his personal story as a survivor of suicide loss. “It took us years to realize we shouldn’t blame ourselves for missing the signs,” he revealed. Dr. Green concluded with words of encouragement: “We have an incredible capacity to help each other.”

Suicide Prevention Resources:

  • ANYONE in crisis can call the 24-hour National the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
  • Veterans, call 800-273-TALK (8255) and press “1” to reach the Veterans Crisis Line or text to 838255.
  • Teens in Hawaii can text ALOHA to 741741or call 832-3100 for 24-hour crisis support.

Libraries=Strong Communities

Posted April 9, 2019 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Books

Tags: , ,

What do I love about my local library? I’ve been able to read so many books that I wouldn’t have been able to read without the library. My son was entertained by storytime, puzzletime, puppet shows, plays, movies, and author talks. And let’s not forget summer reading programs, Free Comic Book Day, and Star Wars Reads Day!

This week is National Library Week, an annual celebration highlighting the valuable role libraries, librarians, and library workers play in transforming lives and strengthening our communities. It’s a chance for us to show our appreciation for our public libraries, who educate and entertain us.

This year’s theme, Libraries = Strong Communities, illustrates how today’s libraries are at the heart of our cities, towns, schools and campuses. They are a public space where all community members, regardless of age, culture or income level, can come together to connect and learn.

You can get involved by posting photos, videos, or stories on social media highlighting what you love about your library. Use the hashtag #MyLibraryMyStory on Twitter or Instagram or on the I Love Libraries Facebook page for a chance to win a $100 VISA gift card (contest ends Saturday, April 13 at noon CT).

Here are a few of ways Hawaii public libraries are celebrating National Library Week:

On April 9, 2019 at 1 pm, the Aina Haina Public Library will reopen after completing extensive repairs and renovations caused by flooding a year ago. At 3 pm, there will be cake, refreshments, and goodie bags for keiki provided by Friends of the Aina Haina Public Library. At 6 pm, there will be congratulatory remarks by State Librarian Stacey Aldrich, elected officials and musical performances by special guests. As part of this reopening celebration, the Aina Haina Public Library is launching a new lending collection of ‘ukulele, in partnership with the Music For Life Foundation and Jake Shimabukuro, co-director of the ‘ukulele sponsorship.

On April 9, 2019 at 2:30 pm, the Kalihi-Palama Public Library will sponsor a make-and-take color your own bookmark activity for young adults. All week long, there is a “Name that Book” contest for young adults (ends April 13).

On April 11, 2019 at 6 pm, the  Nānākuli Public Library is celebrating their first birthday. There will be cake and refreshments, a special performance by the Hawaii Opera Theatre, and congratulatory remarks by State Librarian Stacey Aldrich, architect Glen Miura, and Kapi‘olani Baber, Executive Director of the Nānākuli Housing Corporation.

On April 12, 2019 at 3 pm, the Ewa Beach Public Library is concluding National Library Week with a free program on Iris Folding. a paper craft technique that involves laying folded strips of colored paper to form a design, of which the center forms an iris reminiscent of a camera lens. Even though it looks complex, creating these works of art is simple. You can find out how yourself at this program. The library will provide the supplies.

On April 13, 2019 at 9:30 am to 4 pm, the Makawao Public Library on Maui is hosting their 50th Anniversary Celebration. There will be poetry by Betsy Knight and Wade Garcia, a concert by the Kalama Intermediate School ‘Ukulele Band, face painting, a keiki book giveaway, nostalgic Hawaiian music with The Hawaiian Serenaders, and more.

What do you enjoy most about your local library?