’13 Reasons Why’: If your kids are watching it, parents should watch too

By Dr. Angelique Jenney
Wood’s Homes Research Chair in Children’s Mental Health

‘13 Reasons Why’ is a series about suicide that is available for viewing on Netflix. The story is based on the 2007 novel ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’, written by Jay Asher. It is about a female high school student who kills herself because of several problems with other students at her school.  She leaves behind cassette tapes for a friend that she recorded before committing suicide.  And there are 13 reasons why she did.

This show would be very difficult to watch if you have experienced any similar hurting  in your life as it could trigger memories or other difficult feelings.

One of the things we know is that parents are often just a few moments behind their trend-savvy kids – and when you mention this show you are likely going to find out they’ve already watched it through to the end. If that’s the case, ask if they would introduce you to it; perhaps they would be willing to introduce you to the first and last episodes.  If they feel strongly about a particular episode in between they might also choose to share it with you – and that in itself could be telling. The most graphically disturbing episodes come with a viewer warning which should prompt a parent to gently state:

Hmmm, do you think we are ready to see this part? We can skip it entirely or stop it if it gets too upsetting.”

Children under 14 years should probably not view those episodes at all.

If nothing else, watch the 30-minute Netflix addition called ‘13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons’– which has the creators, the novelist and the show’s characters talking about what they hoped viewers would take away from this show. It provides an excellent opportunity to educate yourself and have a great conversation with your kids about all of the timely and important topics introduced.

Here are 13 reasons why parents or caregivers should watch (and tips for discussion starters):

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Mental health: A lifetime journey

By Dr. Jane Matheson, Wood’s Homes CEO

It’s Mental Health Week in Canada, and I am thinking about my children and grandchildren being born.

In those first moments, we count fingers and toes, check Apgar scores and marvel at the wonder of the body – everyone carefully evaluating physical health. In those first moments, we do not think about that wonderful infant’s mental health – it is invisible and to be determined.

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National Volunteer Week spotlight: Ashley Mananquil

BEAM Foundation Founder Jenna Galloway (left) and Ashley Mananquil (right)

By Ashley Mananquil, Wood’s Homes volunteer

I reached out to Woods Homes in the summer of 2016 to provide free yoga classes to youth accessing their programs. At first, it was just a way for me to complete my practicum hours as a new child and youth yoga instructor. After I taught a class with the youth who attended Wood’s Homes 2016 Fitness Day, I really wanted to continue to teach yoga on the campus on an ongoing basis. That’s when the partnership between the BEAM Foundation and Woods Homes was formed.

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Family retreat in the mountains

By Doreen Chin, Wood’s Homes Family Support Counsellor

The Exceptional Needs Program (ENP) recently held a retreat to provide families in the program an opportunity to spend time together, learn and share together, and hear effective parenting strategies.

Ten families, along with ENP staff, a clinician and the program manager took part in this inaugural weekend getaway to Banff.

Parents were provided effective parenting tools and learned ways to best support their child’s mental health needs. They also were given the chance to share their individual journeys and, as some testified, it made them feel less alone.

Each family also created a skit pertaining to a recent family conflict (ENP counsellors acted it out) and participated by helping counsellors practice their newfound skills and strategies to work through the conflict. Families then participated in an ENP Amazing Race, emphasizing the strengths of each family and how they worked as a unit to piece together clues until they finished the race!

Overall, this retreat was a chance for families to unite and be together in a setting that may have not have been available to them otherwise. Here’s what some of them had to say when we asked them about the experience:

What were the top 3 moments of the retreat?

  • The skits
  • The clinician presentation
  • The children and youth outdoor games, and spending time with family

How was this time beneficial to your family?

  • We got to spend quality time together
  • We got to learn more about each other
  • We learned how to communicate better

What was unique about this part of your mental health journey?

  • Getting to connect with other families who struggle with similar issues
  • Not feeling so alone

Some motivations for attending the retreat:

  • Opportunity to spend time with my family in Banff
  • Learn effective strategies
  • Gain new tools to use with our family

What would you tell other families about the retreat and your experience

  • The staff was warm, friendly and helpful
  • The retreat was educational, healing and affirming

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If you are experiencing a crisis and need to speak to someone, please call our counsellors at our 24/7 Crisis Counselling Line: 403-299-9699 or toll-free line: 1-800-563-6106.