I wasn't prepared. I mean I was prepared and excited, but I wasn't prepared knowing the day it was and it's probably a good thing. It was Friday afternoon - Labor Day weekend and the teachers had a teacher in-service presentation on teen mental health and suicide prevention. Can you imagine how excited they were to be having this afternoon presentation going into a three day weekend? Could you imagine if I realized it was a Friday afternoon of Labor Day weekend and I had this audience?
Jeff Yalden speaks to Teachers, Counselors, and Administration at Burkburnett ISD
I got there early for my 1:30pm presentation. I got to meet the middle school principal, some middle school students, setup, and be well prepared. I was ready for this talk and I was honored and excited.
Early dismissal and the students had left the building. Teachers, counselors, and building personnel from the other schools were making their way over. The energy seemed upbeat, food was available, coaches made their way to the top balcony in the corner where coaches go to read the paper and do their game plans, etc. It was humid and hot in that auditorium and as each person entered they took up more of the cool air, but I know I'd be sweating anyways.
1:30pm was the start time as they're still entering the auditorium, but that didn't bother me at all. Hey, it's Friday afternoon and I am on their terms. When they're ready, so am I. But, I knew not to go over their contracted time otherwise, I'd be speaking to an empty auditorium.
About 1:45pm we started and I opened up telling them, "I didn't want to be there either." That drew some laughs from this incredibly fun group of educators I wasn't expected. I'm not the typical speaker I know, but I am real. I am honest, and straight-forward. I've learned my audiences like that. I'm not about research, textbook, or statistics, as much as I am about the relationships we have and the climate we create - the school culture.
I got right into it because I knew I had a lot to say about teens, teen mental health, teen suicide, and the relationships. They had a junior last year take his life leaving the community rocked and hurt. Unexpected. They didn't have a plan in place of how to handle this. The school administration scrambled - phone calls, reaching out to administrators they knew who had experience. They addressed it right away and as I spoke with the superintendent and other principals they felt like they did a great job and I agreed.
No administrator is ever given a certificate on how to handle the suicide of one of your students or a staff member, but I always say the first thing you want to concern yourself with is taking care of your staff and your students. Ultimately, that is number one priority and they felt they did a great job. A year later and the issue is still at the top of their thoughts, especially going into a new school year. They have new policies in place, plans in case they need to respond quickly for whatever emergency comes their way.
Teen Suicide is an epidemic and all schools need to have plans in place. They need to start talking more about this epidemic that is rattling communities. This epidemic is going to get worse before it gets better. What should our school communities be doing? First, we need to address this with our teachers and staff. Our teachers and staff are the ones that connect with teens every day in the classroom, on the athletic fields, in school clubs, etc. They're the "Trusted Adults." For many of our youth our school is the safest place they have where they get the attention, the inspiration, and the social and emotional cognitive learning that they should be getting at home, but that has become lost to parents busy working and too busy with their own lives that our teens are left to their smartphones and social media, internet, youtube, and social media platforms.
We are at a place in education where our teachers and counselors have to learn to do more with less. Mental health and mental illness is going to become a part of our school climate and curriculum and although our teachers and counselors aren't mental health professionals they are trusted adults that can see when something is wrong, they can intervene, be the trusted adult, question, persuade, and refer our teens to get the help then need. Our teachers and staff need to be comfortable talking about mental health and not be afraid to ask the questions about suicide and talk and encourage that it is okay to ask for help. It's part of our new responsibilities as teachers and staff members.
On this Friday, before Labor Day weekend, Burkburnett ISD invited me, (Teen Mental Health Motivational Speaker and Teen Suicide Prevention Expert), to speak to the whole district staff personnel. It was amazing. The Superintendent said, "Jeff, we've never seen our staff give anyone a standing ovation." My talk was really about us personally as well as us professionally. Knowing your 'WHY' and remembering our relationships are what create trust and respect. I had such a great time speaking and sharing. I believe that when you touch the heart the mind will follow.
I hope you enjoy the video recap. It was an honor and a pleasure to share my heart with the great people of Burkburnett ISD in Texas.
Jeff Yalden - Teen Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Speaker
Jeff Yalden is highly regarded as the number one Teen Mental Health Speaker in all of North America, Jeff is a Suicide Crisis Intervention Expert and Suicide Prevention Trainer working with hundreds of school communities every year.
He’s a best-selling author with his books and also his online course for Teen Suicide and Teen Life are highly popular used by hundreds of schools. His podcast: Mental Health & Motivation continues to attract thousands of new subscribers every month for his direct talk and influence on families and teens.
Since 1992, Jeff Yalden has traveled to 50 states and 48 countries delivering his message, "About Life.”
From 2005-2011, Jeff was a celebrity teen and family life coach on MTV’s hit realty show MADE.
As a celebrity teen & family life coach, Jeff gets the heart of the matter helping teens, young adults, families, and communities in their struggles together.
He’s a Gulf War Veteran and a two- time Marine-of-the-year recipient 1991-1992. He was Mr. New Hampshire Male America, 1990.
Every year over 1 million people are left inspired by Jeff Yalden's inexhaustible energy that permeates after he speaks.
For more information, please visit www.TheJYF.org.