Parenting the Mental Health Generation

Talk About IT! End. The. Stigma.

May 12, 2022 CATCH, Community Action Together for Children's Health Season 1 Episode 6
Talk About IT! End. The. Stigma.
Parenting the Mental Health Generation
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Parenting the Mental Health Generation
Talk About IT! End. The. Stigma.
May 12, 2022 Season 1 Episode 6
CATCH, Community Action Together for Children's Health

One of the best ways to support our children's mental health is to talk about our feelings.  But that's easier said than done with a kid who doesn't want to share.  In this episode of Parenting the Mental Health Generation, we talk with three local school leaders about how they get kids talking.  This conversation takes place as we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month and work to reduce the stigma around mental health struggles.  Join Amy O. (aka the mom) and Dr. Lisa (aka the psychologist) as they speak with Coach Geo, a high school teacher and coach, Blake Zweig, M.A., a middle school psychologist  and Dr. Brian Wegley, a superintendent.

Visit the CATCH website to see the programming we are hosting throughout the month of May.

This is the conversation you aren’t having with your kids' doctors and teachers because time doesn’t allow it. Or, with your friends, because they just don’t get it. So put in your earbuds, 
take this 30 minutes for you and join our conversation because mental health matters.

Amy O. (aka the mom) is the founder and Dr. Lisa (aka the psychologist) is an active board member of CATCH, Community Action Together for Children's Health a nonprofit organization on the Northshore of Chicago with a mission to empower 
families to foster resilience and prioritize mental health and emotional wellness in their children through educational programming, access to resources, and peer support.

 © CATCH 2022

To find all of the resources CATCH provides to caregivers of young people struggling with their mental health, go to

Follow us on social media
Facebook/Instagram/YouTube: @catchiscommunity

CATCH, Community Action Together for Children's Health, is a 501(c)3 that provides support and education for families around mental health topics. Original content and materials from CATCH and its collaborators are for informational purposes only. They are provided as a general resource and are not specific to any person or circumstance.

Show Notes Transcript

One of the best ways to support our children's mental health is to talk about our feelings.  But that's easier said than done with a kid who doesn't want to share.  In this episode of Parenting the Mental Health Generation, we talk with three local school leaders about how they get kids talking.  This conversation takes place as we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month and work to reduce the stigma around mental health struggles.  Join Amy O. (aka the mom) and Dr. Lisa (aka the psychologist) as they speak with Coach Geo, a high school teacher and coach, Blake Zweig, M.A., a middle school psychologist  and Dr. Brian Wegley, a superintendent.

Visit the CATCH website to see the programming we are hosting throughout the month of May.

This is the conversation you aren’t having with your kids' doctors and teachers because time doesn’t allow it. Or, with your friends, because they just don’t get it. So put in your earbuds, 
take this 30 minutes for you and join our conversation because mental health matters.

Amy O. (aka the mom) is the founder and Dr. Lisa (aka the psychologist) is an active board member of CATCH, Community Action Together for Children's Health a nonprofit organization on the Northshore of Chicago with a mission to empower 
families to foster resilience and prioritize mental health and emotional wellness in their children through educational programming, access to resources, and peer support.

 © CATCH 2022

To find all of the resources CATCH provides to caregivers of young people struggling with their mental health, go to

Follow us on social media
Facebook/Instagram/YouTube: @catchiscommunity

CATCH, Community Action Together for Children's Health, is a 501(c)3 that provides support and education for families around mental health topics. Original content and materials from CATCH and its collaborators are for informational purposes only. They are provided as a general resource and are not specific to any person or circumstance.

Amy O. (00:02):

It's Mental Health Awareness month. And on today's episode of Parenting the Mental Health Generation, we are talking with three very special guests from our Northbrook, Illinois community about the most important thing we can all do to support our children's mental health. And that's to talk about it. Welcome I'm Amy O the Founder and Executive Director of CATCH Community Action Together for Children's Health based in Chicago's northern suburbs.

Dr. Lisa (00:30):

And I'm Dr. Lisa I'm a licensed clinical psychologist and as a CATCH board member, I'm the liaison between CATCH and the mental health providers in our community.

Amy O. (00:41):

Together. We are the hosts of Parenting the Mental Health Generation, a place where we discuss the topics that concern us as loved ones of young people, struggling with their mental health.

Amy O. (00:55):

Our guests today are educators from Northbrook, Illinois, Dr. Brian Wegley school, superintendent Blake Zweig, school psychologist. But we begin with Justin Georgacakis . High school teacher and varsity lacrosse coach affectionately known by parents and students as Coach Geo.

Dr. Lisa (01:18):

So put in your earbuds, take this 30 minutes for you and join our conversation.

Amy O. (01:25):

Geo, welcome to the podcast. We're really glad to have you here. And we invited you here today because we know that you've made it a mission to support and prioritize the mental health of the kids and the athletes at Glenbrook North. Why have you done this? Can you just share a little insight about why this is important to you?

Coach Geo (01:46):

Well, yeah, Amy, thank you for having me on and, and thank you for CATCH for hosting this and, and putting this information out. I guess it's a long process. It's been a long journey, you know, at 18 years of being at Glenbrook North, there was definitely windows of opportunity where I felt that maybe we, or I could have been doing something more earlier and missed. And then, uh, amongst other things that happens at the school, you know, we talk about generation or society and influence that we can make as, uh, educational leaders or as, just as adults that have constant contact with students, you know, six hours, seven hours of the day. You know, I feel that it is part of the responsibility as a teacher to make that, uh, classroom or environment, something that is safe, that they can be themselves, you know, where they, they feel freedom.

Coach Geo (02:32):

And obviously with COVID and everything we went through, uh, we had our season kind of taken away in 2020, and it was, you know, how can we deal with these individuals who put so much time and love into our sport, and now it can't play it. And the mental side of it was so key. I felt that we made the best of it. I think those, those players hopefully came out stronger. Um, and so that's been kind of, my coaching style has been not only physical, but the mental and how we can incorporate, you know, uh, mental health and, and success, uh, in, in as well as the sports. And, and it's been just a transformation, I think over the last 10 years, it's getting the information out and, and trying to be something for somebody at that moment that they need it.

Amy O. (03:17):

Are you willing to share a little bit about what you do or say in your classroom or on your team to make it a safe place for your kids?

Coach Geo (03:28):

Uh, I, I think we try and I try to lead by example, one of the first things we ask for lacrosse team is, you know, to, to define what a man is and what manliness is, and I will lead, you know, and I'll give my definition and, and kind of put myself out there. So anything that we ask the students or the players to do, you know, the coaches are doing as well. I think we try to build a circle of trust so that those players feel comfortable having conversations with those coaches, but understanding that if there's information that we've got to get out, we're gonna get that information out. So it's, self-harm harm to somebody else. Basically, if, if something falls in those categories, the players know we, we are gonna pass that information along. Um, but that they can come to talk to us and we're gonna listen with an, with an open mind and open heart and hopefully, you know, be there for them, uh, when they need us.

Dr. Lisa (04:21):

Do you find that the students are talking about it? Do you feel like mental health is a conversation that they're ready to have?

Coach Geo (04:31):

I think that some are, and they express it. I think some are trying to figure out what it is and, you know, using mental health to kind of maybe define or figure out who they are and they're struggling with it. Um, and I think that you do have students at the school that are very strong, um, in what they believe in and, you know, are, are quick to self reflect and understand like what mental health is. You'll both the, the good and the struggles with mental health. I think we, a lot of times equate mental health, always to the kind of the depression side, when you know, it is also about good mental health. And how do you prepare yourself to be resilient and what kind of skills can you learn that will help you through life later on? Because after high school and college life is no longer a four year span, it's like one long endless timeline, right, of just stuff that happens. And how do you maneuver through that? So I think that that's an important aspect of what here at Glenbrook North, you know, a lot of teachers and coaches, I think do emphasize that like the life preparedness, not just, you know, how can you win this game or how can you get an "A."

Amy O. (05:45):

Can I just follow up on one thing that you said, Geo, you know, I've had the pleasure of knowing you both as a teacher, for my kids and as a collaborator and mental health warrior in our community. And when you talk to your players about what manliness means, what does that mean to you?

Coach Geo (06:04):

So, you know, we define it or we try to encourage our players understand it's that the accountability it's the, um, standing up for what's right. You know, not being quick to anger. Um, you know, so basically I guess, like everything opposite that toxic masculinity is, you know, treating people fair and more importantly, it's just, I, I think we just talk about the accountability, um, aspect and understanding that like, mistakes will be made, you know, and nobody's perfect. So how are you going to then, um, react to that and how are you gonna work through some of those difficult times? Um, we put it out there and then the kids, a lot of times we get some really great answers and, you know, hopefully that starts them on their track to understanding like, you know, what is right versus wrong because like all that stuff could be subjective, you know, depending on how you look at it.

Coach Geo (06:57):

There's obviously a lot of things that are clear cut, and there's some things that are kind of like tow the line, but, you know, that's like kind of our, our building point to all the other things that we want to, you know, lead to. And when you tell them, you know, it's a, it's a line from, uh, Legacy, the book where they talk about the All Blacks is the New Zealand rugby team. And, um, the author says, you know, good people make good, All Blacks. That's like, we adopt it here. Like, if you're a good person, you're gonna be a good Spartan, let's start there. And then that'll all translate onto the field. And more importantly, the rest of your life that continues to translate to what you do or who you become.

Dr. Lisa (07:31):

Incredible to hear you say all that. And, you know, I wonder too, if that just gives these students an opportunity to reframe this idea of, you know, permission to feel, which, you know, when you talk about toxic masculinity, that's what I think about boys don't cry. We don't show our feelings, we don't emote and really giving them a space to change that narrative for themselves. And hopefully early enough on that they can be more in tune with their emotions and talk about it if and when and how they need to.

Coach Geo (08:05):

Yeah, absolutely. I think that was the biggest thing too, that came out of that the post COVID conversations was that exactly that phrase and that book, right. Permission to feel, you know, and, and understanding like bad feelings or if you feel like jealous or if you feel angry, it's okay. Like you have the permission to feel that way, but understand how you can, how you can either react appropriately to it, use it for guidance, whatever, you know, however it might be, but also understanding that like, that's okay. I think that we get that, that message a lot too, right? Like you, you shouldn't feel envious or you shouldn't feel angry. Like those are bad feelings, but they're all feelings that we have that that's, uh, Marc Beckett, that book Permission to Feel, my wife and I had a, like a little dual book club. And so we read a few of those books. I mean, it was really extremely eye opening to like psychology of it all.

Dr. Lisa (08:56):

Yeah. I'm curious, you mentioned the word resilience, which, you know, feels in many ways like a buzzword these days, but I think it is, it still remains at the heart of so much of what we're trying to instill in our students and our, in our kids, our teens. Do you find that there are certain traits or factors or whatever it may be that, that contribute to some of your students just seeming more resilient than others, um, or things that you try to coach into them to support their development of that critical skill?

Coach Geo (09:34):

I guess I would say like, in my experience, um, been very fortunate that the players I work with and the families that I coach and work with are like partnerships. And so I think in my experience with a lot of that, as we, as we, as we geared more towards that, like early on, we tried to teach life lessons. But when I was a younger coach, you know, you kind of say things because like, oh, it's the right thing to say. And then as you get more knowledgeable and engaged with it, I think that a lot of that stuff is very teachable. So, you know, we've had a lot of, lot of players that they might struggle and like, by no means, do we have any, like, you know, I, I know teaching like keys or unlock. If I say this, this is like the formula of the recipe, but I think it's just engaging in those conversations, you know, and then teaching those life lessons from the game, uh, Joe Ehrmann, one of the guys that I, I listened to a lot and he's got, he's got a saying where, you know, he talks about how a lot of coaches will say, like sports, teach character and resolve.

Coach Geo (10:30):

And he says, you know, basically good coaches teach it. This sport is a sport. So if you play football, you're playing football. If you play lacrosse, you're playing lacrosse. But the coaches, the parents, the adults that teach the character is where that character and that resilience comes from. So I think that every opportunity is an opportunity to learn and to grow. And so it's like those lessons that just need to be sometimes highlighted and addressed that the kids might not pick up on. Well, for sure because I know as a former student athlete high school kid, I didn't pick up on a lot of those themes ,um, until I got, I was a little bit older.

Amy O. (11:04):

I feel as though Lisa and I could talk to you all afternoon, <laugh> we really appreciate you coming on and sharing just a little bit of your insight into your own feelings about mental health and the way you approach being a teacher and a mentor at Glenbrook North. Is there anything before we leave Geo that you would like to share in addition to what you already have about the importance of talking and being heard?

Coach Geo (11:33):

Guess the biggest thing is I'm so blessed and thankful. I think, you know, the 2020 spring is when Amy, you and I really started kind of conversing about what CATCH is about and how we can use CATCH and the support that you gave us to maneuver through that COVID lost season. You know, I think having organizations like what you do and, and the mission that you are all about is really what, you know, makes this goal, uh, you know, it's resources for teachers, it's resources for people to understand like how they can make subtle differences or be there for somebody in their life, again, like when they need it, having that toolkit, um, and working with you all at CATCH has been, uh, you know, I've been very fortunate because as I've, like I said, try to learn and grow. It's just another resource. That's been a tremendous support.

Amy O. (12:20):

We feel the same way I'm gonna speak. But Lisa would say you can't retire for a very long time because her children are very young. So plan on sticking around for awhile.

Dr. Lisa (12:29):

A good 10 plus years. Geo <laugh>.

Amy O. (12:35):

Thank you so much for joining us today.

Coach Geo (12:37):

Thank you.

Dr. Lisa (12:38):

Thank you.

Amy O. (12:39):

Joining the podcast now is Blake's Zweig. School psychologist at a middle school in Northbrook, Illinois.

Dr. Lisa (12:47):

Well, welcome to our second guest today. And Blake, we are so excited to have you here. Thank you for joining us.

Blake Zweig (12:54):

Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Dr. Lisa (12:56):

Yeah. Like Geo, we invited you here today because you have truly dedicated your life and work to supporting the mental health of students. And we wanted to start by asking you as a school psychologist, have you seen changes in your students' mental health since the pandemic began?

Blake Zweig (13:14):


Dr. Lisa (13:15):

Not a surprising response so far,

Blake Zweig (13:17):

You know, I guess in a lot of expected ways, right. I talk to kids and teachers a lot about academic endurance and I feel like the time away and the pandemic kind of really, if you think about building skills and think of it as, from an endurance perspective, I think a lot of our students have to rebuild that endurance to, you know, make it through the school day and then go home and keep doing homework when for a long time they were at home, I think from an academic endurance perspective. Um, they're, they're still trying to adapt to like longer periods of time where they're required to focus and concentrate. And you see like kids sometimes every once in a while, need another need a mental health day, just like we do. I think in my opinion, that's a pretty direct, uh, correlation from the pandemic and, and how people's lives kind of completely shifted to a different routine.

Dr. Lisa (14:09):

I see that a lot clinically for sure. I mean, we're getting questions about, does my child have an attention disorder more than we've ever before? Um, and clearly, clearly there are those challenges there. What, what is that actually manifest in the classroom for these students who just don't seem available for learning anymore?

Blake Zweig (14:31):

Well, one of the first things I usually try to find out is if they're sleeping because kind of a tie into that new lifestyle of gaming and online group chats and all the things kids really no fault of their own got used to doing more and more often turned into being tired in school. And so usually the first question I try to find out is how many hours are you sleeping? Are you sleeping next to your iPad next to your phone? Because a lot of kids are still in that habit at school. We're seeing if you're not sleeping enough, you know, everything's more difficult, you know? Um, so that's one area, but I also think that the anxiety's increasing because our kids still have their own high expectations for themself. So when they're in an environment like school that they're used to, that they're trying to achieve, and then now their capacity is not as strong because of all these sort of new habits being formed. I think that creates sort of a incompatible like where their expectations are this high still, but now they, their skills are here and they have to like figure out how to get there. But a lot of times they're still really hard on themselves. You see a lot of shaming themselves and, and we're really trying to help them with like self-compassion work and, and treating themselves as they would a friend. And

Amy O. (15:46):

We talk a lot, you know, in the mental health world about developing resilience in our kids. And it almost sounds as though what you're talking about Blake is that there is this more omnipresent sense of failure because it's so difficult for them to be in the classroom. And they kind of are always not meeting their own expectations. Is that kind of what you're getting at?

Blake Zweig (16:07):

There are a lot of kids that are doing well. And then there are kids that are struggling when the kids are struggling. Now you might have kids that weren't pre pandemic and now they're readjusting for, for whatever reasons. It was more difficult for them to stay engaged online for a long period of time. When that happens for a year, then they come back and then they have to readjust not only to school's expectations to the teachers, to their own high expectations, even the simple things like walking in a hallway and how to interact with your peers, that you haven't seen a long time and readjusting readapting to their environments.

Dr. Lisa (16:45):

You know, it makes me wonder, we see this right. You're describing what you see in the school. I certainly see the same thing at work every day. Do you find that the kids see this too? Do they talk about it? Do they acknowledge it? Do they seem to have awareness that these things are harder and are they open to working on some of that?

Blake Zweig (17:09):

I think that, you know, when we, when we went back to like full time in person learning, it was easier to talk about it. And now it's been a while. So now you're back into the, here we are full-time school. I sometimes bring up the pandemic effect. A lot of times we're just targeting on whatever the unsolved problem is, whatever the concern is in that moment and trying to normalize more of, for whatever reason, this is difficult for you. And that's okay, but let's see this as a challenge and let's figure out why this is difficult for you. I'm a huge believer in kids do well, if they can and let's be okay that this is hard. And now let's try to figure out, you know, how to make this easier. And so it could be because sleep, it could be because the time away from school, it could be, because your friends are changing. You know, things like that.

Amy O. (17:59):

I don't know if I'm, if I'm spot on about this or not, but what you're describing is something that I wrestle with a lot because I think what we're seeing and hearing mm-hmm <affirmative> is that kids' ability to be in that zone where they are uncomfortable, where it is hard, where it is difficult, where they don't feel good. Mm-hmm <affirmative> that they're, they're not able to do that as well as they once were or maybe they, they feel it more acutely or I don't know exactly how to say it. But have you noticed that kids are kind of getting to the real freak out stage sooner or more quickly than they once did as you're thinking about that, the word that comes to mind for me is fragile. They just somehow feel more emotionally fragile.

Blake Zweig (18:49):

Yeah. Vulnerable.

Blake Zweig (18:53):

I think the tolerance is more difficult now. You know, I do think that they've just been faced with more and again, it's sort of like stacking when you're unpacking the challenges and trying to help them sort of learn new habits and, and, and sort of rewire their brains. And you know, Lisa will know like neuroplasticity, right? And so we do go back to like, Hey, you're, you're back in this school world. You were like just going and going year after year. And then bam, we do talk about, you know, how it's actually expected for this to be more difficult sort of permission to be vulnerable, but helping them know it's not a permanent helping them, like everything is so real and so forever. And so trying to help them understand temporary and giving them perspective and asking them let's think about what you were like when you were nine or five or did you think anything would change? You know, so just trying to build perspective,

Dr. Lisa (19:52):

I love that idea that reminder that a mood states are temporary and circumstances are temporary. I'm wondering if there are other tools or strategies that you use when working with kids on the day to day at school, especially the ones that just seem harder to reach. It's more uncomfortable for them to talk about these things or to acknowledge even that there is a problem

Blake Zweig (20:19):

Mm-hmm <affirmative> yeah. I mean some like, yeah, some kids come in and just start talking or some kids bring in their friends and start talking, you know, we try to empower the kids to, we call them first responders. They're usually the first ones that hear a problem about their friend. And so we try to encourage them to be the ones that come tell us and guarantee that it <laugh>, they will see you as a good friend. And we work on that, you know, the ones that have a hard time opening up. Um, I'm always a huge fan of the miracle question of just asking that if you were to wake up tomorrow and your biggest problem would be gone, what would your life be like? What would you experience? What would your day be like? And then I kind of try to jump in like, whoa, what do you, what is that problem? You're thinking of? How would things be different? I was good at math or something, you know, just what are we, what are, you know, my friends were all like hanging out with me again, you know? Or just, just trying to, trying to find an indirect way in.

Amy O. (21:16):

Can I ask you one thing before you continue? Yeah. When I, when a kid in middle school decides to come to Mr. Zweig's office mm-hmm <affirmative> or comes to Mr. Zweig's office, has he or she, or they decided to do that? Like, has that, is that of their own accord? Like they said, I need to go talk to Mr. Zweig or is it, do they come for a variety of reasons?

Blake Zweig (21:37):

All the above

Amy O. (21:39):

<laugh> okay.

Blake Zweig (21:39):

Parents, teachers, students, their friends.

Amy O. (21:45):

So they're not always there wanting to talk. You've got to sort of help them know that talking is important,

Blake Zweig (21:53):

Myself and our other psychologists in the building. Like we, we get out there so we know the kids we're involved. I'm a coach, you know, I run some clubs. I mean, we, we try to get out there so we're not, you know,

Dr. Lisa (22:05):

Not a stranger.

Blake Zweig (22:07):

Yeah. But yeah, they come for all kinds of, you know, any kind of referral, but a lot of, we really try to push kids, referring each other, but as far as getting them to open up, I try to give them all the examples I can think of, uh, as to why kids come and what I talk about <laugh> with students. So they can like tell me when I get close, you know, <laugh> uh,

Dr. Lisa (22:32):

And it a created dart board and just have them, right. You know, you know,

Blake Zweig (22:36):

That don't, that doesn't all, it gives them options, but it also makes them realize how many things everybody's talking about. Yeah. Yeah. And that's such a huge part of like forgiving yourself and not being so hard on yourself is to know that this is something that we're all struggling with. Right? Yeah.

Dr. Lisa (22:55):

Normalization, normal. I love that so much. So,

Blake Zweig (22:58):

You know, and, and I once also went to a mindfulness conference where the presenter talked about when you're speaking to anyone, that's, you need to focus on like, imagine there's just a spotlight on that student. And I think when you do that, they pick up on that, you know, there's a level of respect that you're just there for them in that moment. I think you have to respect kids, adolescence who like you gotta come in non-judgmental and listening.

Dr. Lisa (23:28):


Blake Zweig (23:29):

Um, their world is, is their whole world, right. They don't see 10 years from now. I'm a big fan of Ross Greene's "drilling strategies" that are, uh, really helpful for people when kids are saying, I don't know, it helps give them the language they need to describe what's going on.

Dr. Lisa (23:49):

Oh, thank you so much, Blake. We really, really appreciate you coming on here and sharing your, your thoughts and your perspectives with your boots on the ground in, in middle school.

Amy O. (24:00):

I hope, hope you find a place this summer to put your feet up for a long time and take deep breaths and relax. You deserve it.

Blake Zweig (24:07):

Oh, thank you. <laugh>

Dr. Lisa (24:09):

<laugh> thanks so much. I

Blake Zweig (24:11):

Think we all do at this point,

Dr. Lisa (24:13):

Right? It was a pleasure.

Blake Zweig (24:15):


Dr. Lisa (24:16):

Our final conversation is with Dr. Brian Wegley Superintendent for a Northbrook Illinois school district, our third guest on today's podcast. And we are thrilled to have you thanks for joining us today.

Brian Wegley (24:29):

Well, thank you for having me, like I said, moment, I should be interviewing you guys. <laugh> on this and I'm truly honored to work with you guys on this endeavor and, and thank you for all you do for our community. Um, you guys really are rock stars and, and doing a great service for our kids and for our families. So thank you.

Amy O. (24:49):

Well, we, we appreciate that. Thank you right back at you. We invited you here because you are a fellow mental health warrior and a leader and education leader in our community. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and clearly your job has never been more important than the last couple of years as we've navigated some of the most difficult that we all can remember.

Brian Wegley (25:12):


Amy O. (25:13):

We were just hearing from Blake that it is very hard for kids and adults to talk about mental health. Can you share with us why you think that is and how you might model or encourage people to do just that?

Brian Wegley (25:32):

Right. And probably one of the greatest challenges we face, right? That there's this need that was here certainly before the pandemic, the pandemic has only magnified that. And I, I reflect on what we've all gone through and we've all been impacted by this and touched by this in so many ways. I would challenge finding anybody who didn't lose somebody through this pandemic. And yet we've had almost no time to really process all that loss and challenge. So we have a long road ahead of us, but I, I think it just highlights how important it is to talk about mental health and two go after these things together. And I, I wish I knew the, the answer to overcoming that. We all know that there's a stigma about talking about it. Uh, I can only imagine, as I thought about that question, two things. One is that unfortunately, before mental health was really understood, there were a lot of misunderstandings and beliefs about what it is that created fear and discrimination and, and caution about that.

Brian Wegley (26:44):

And I think that's still in our, society's still in our community. And I also think we're all driven by this fallacy of being normal. You know, like I can remember growing up thinking every other family was perfect. Every other family was, was normal, whatever that is. And I, I know that kids especially, but I think all of us are driven by that desire to be normal. And, um, there's this perception that if you're dealing with mental health issues, that that's not normal. And of course we all know that is the biggest fallacy of all. We all have challenges that we deal with through life and certainly mental health challenges are part of that. So I think first least just recognizing that, that there's no such thing as normal and that these challenges are gonna face us all and recognize that those challenges can be our greatest strength.

Brian Wegley (27:39):

I think of a, a young man at, uh, GBS when I was there, who had ADHD and struggled with that and, and actually recognize that as a strength of his. And I think I have ADHD as well. I think, I think I have to because you juggle so many different things. Uh, I think it helps me. I think, I, I don't think I could do my job without that, but this young man was very open about this and we ended up having an elderly lady who turned her car onto the railroad tracks over on Chestnut and Lehigh just accidentally thought it was a turn and got stuck on the tracks. He and a friend came up on the car and there was a train coming. He didn't even think about it. He jumped out, did not process anything other than what needed to be done right now.

Brian Wegley (28:24):

And I, I, as he and I talked, he said, yeah, I think it was truly, I think it was my ADHD allowed me to not think that through. And that guy got out, opened the door, unbuckled her, she couldn't unbuckle herself, got her out of the car, saved her life. And I think that's just one example of how we fail to recognize that these challenges that we all face are also our greatest strengths. And I think that our society, when we think about why it's so difficult, I think it's because we look at the challenges and not the opportunities, not the, the impact that that has on us. It is normal to beyond a multiple spectrum <laugh> of behaviors and, and mental health issues. And it's all where you fall that defines who you are. That's the only thing I can think of because I, I think we, we really just, as a community need to recognize two things. One is that that's just part of life and two is that getting support for it and talking about it is the way to actually get these things under control. And I always talk to families and say, if, if we take those things that are our challenges and don't learn to control them, they will control us. Uh, I think there's so much truth in that. So we gotta recognize that that's just part of life, reach out and get help and, and get coached and get support and, and learn how to control these and benefit from.

Amy O. (29:59):

And if I could add to that, Brian, I would say, find community, find community and other people who are willing to talk and to accept and to, uh, grow with you. Right. Because you're not alone.

Brian Wegley (30:14):

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

Brian Wegley (30:17):

Go ahead.

Dr. Lisa (30:18):

I was gonna say what you're sharing is hitting so close to home to just in terms of my practice and it, I, I feel in some ways, even like the mental health professionals as a field can be partially to blame here that we are trained on a model of, um, diagnosis and identifying challenges, weaknesses, whatever you wanna call it. And it's, it's really been my work over the past several years to make sure that I am operating from a strengths based model. How do we actually capitalize on this individual strengths and how do we recognize these differences and the superpowers that come with them in a way that I don't think we are used to or do nearly enough of.

Brian Wegley (31:06):

Absolutely. You know, and I, and it's our differences that define who we are. Could you imagine if we're all the same? Yeah. I think in my own leadership team trying to get through this pandemic, oh my goodness. The, the challenges that we have faced, if I didn't have everybody coming at this from a different perspective, we, would've never been as effective as, as we are. And, and that's the way we process thing. That's what we value that is all the things that define who we are. And the older I get, the, the more I recognize that the true value in ourselves are the differences, not the things that make us the same as everyone else. That's a very good point. Very, very good point. And so

Dr. Lisa (31:49):

It makes me wonder too, you know, one of the first things you said is we don't always know exactly why and, you know, but there is this stigma and this history and maybe some misconceptions about mental health and mental illness. And one thing that I think about a lot is the idea that we seem to really personalize and individualize our mental health status as though it lives entirely within us, as opposed to thinking about it more contextually and how we have to frame anyone's mental health within the greater context of where they're growing up and the people around them and all of those other factors.

Brian Wegley (32:30):

Yeah. And life that we're facing. Right. Yeah. I mean, yeah. I think of the first thing that comes to mind on that is just to realize that just like any health, any health issue that you have, it's a, uh, a journey that sometimes requires community and help, right? To use your words. There are certain things that we're gonna face that are minor bumps and bruises. We can overcome those ourself. We can handle those ourselves. There are the things in life that hit us or other challenges we face that are those things that are our strengths and our weaknesses that we need to reach out to our community and get help from and, and recognize the benefit of that. The greatest thing you can do is reach out for help and support because that's a sign of strength and for us to get that message out, um, and to continue to pound that idea that reaching out for help is a concept of strength.

Brian Wegley (33:27):

It is a sign of your strength, not your weakness. I can only imagine, you know, I think of, of athletes like Michael Jordan, Michael Jordan was one of the best athletes ever, right. And yet he got better every year. And the reason he got better every year is because he allowed himself to be coached, supported, and he was able to vocalize and actually say, these are, these are my weaknesses. These are the things I want to work on. If we aren't doing that as a community and aren't, aren't getting together and supporting each other around that concept, then we're limiting ourselves.

Amy O. (34:03):

You know, what I'm thinking about as you both talk is, you know, and as I often do in these conversations, I'm thinking about the journey that my daughter was on. And I think it gets back a little bit to what both of you were saying. You know, I think if my daughter had been able or understood better that her, whoever she was, and, and she didn't that she didn't have to be anyone else that she could just have been comfortable in her own skin, rather than always trying to be the better, the best the next, then she may not have struggled as mightily as she has and does with her mental health. And I think you're both kind of saying that while it's an individual illness, it is affected and so compounded by your environment

Brian Wegley (34:58):

And what you're facing right at the moment, like right, what we're all going through right now, that's not a surprise, um, that we're going to have needs, but to your point, we wanna be the best. I wanna be the best me I can be. Right. I can't be what others are really good at. That's actually a tough lesson to learn as a leader that, that you, you, aren't perfect and you are gonna have flaws and you are going to make mistakes. And, um, and you're not going to be that other person that you look up to and want to be like, you've got to be yourself. And that generates the greatest you, you can be, um, by accepting that by recognizing those things in yourselves that are your, are the things you need to keep working on and recognizing when life gets to a point where you have to reach out for help. And, um, that is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Amy O. (35:56):

That brings us, uh, very nicely into one of the questions that Lisa and I really wanted to, to talk about with you. And that is this idea of building resiliency. I know that that's a very important pillar in what you believe as a educational leader. And, um, I'm wondering, how do you think we can most effectively effectively help our kids build that resiliency that allows them the space to fail, allows them the space to be themselves without judgment.

Brian Wegley (36:28):

You know, as I think of life, life is an amazing gift day in and day out. You know, I mean, it really is. I, I think of my own life of all the gifts that, and, and the amazing things that have happened through life. I have two kids Corin and Rob. They're 31 and 28. I don't know how that happened, but I, I witnessed their birth. I witnessed and was a part of their marriage. I am fueled by their lives and, and our relationship I'm fueled by all the gifts that people give me the grace and the kindness I get when I need help. And the grace and kindness I can give to others fuels me. So life has huge gifts, but I think in terms of building resiliency, I think we do a disservice if we say, that's what life's supposed to be all the time.

Brian Wegley (37:21):

That's life, life isn't that life contains that. And that's why life's such a gift, but life also contains challenges and we are all going to be confronted with them. And I think we need to talk more about that and say that that is part of life. That is what we need to expect. That there's going to be challenges in life. And like we said, there's sometimes when those challenges are things we can face and overcome ourselves, there are other times when we have to recognize, we're not gonna be able to overcome that ourselves. And we need to reach out for help. Again, that's a sign of strength. So being open with our children on that front, that, yeah, you, you fell down that hurt, or somebody said something and they hurt your feelings. And that's, that's part of life let's talk about how to process that.

Brian Wegley (38:11):

Let's see if we can repair that, but let's not pretend that's not going to happen. Let's not say that'll never happen. Again, those challenges are going to happen and be open with our kids about that and help be the bridge they need to the, to the level of support they need. Uh, and I think outta the goodness of our hearts, we try and save our kids from ever having pain, right? Mm-hmm, <affirmative>, that's not reality. And inadvertently, I truly believe when we reach in and we try and solve those problems, the ones they can solve, we actually inadvertently share the message that, that they can't. And we need to let them, we need to let them struggle and then be that bridge when they do need additional support. Um, so be really open to them about life and never leave out. The fact that life's greatest aspect is all the gifts it gives you and the joy it is to live and the relationships that we have, the, the joy of, of life, but the challenges we face are inevitable. And then how we face those challenges, how we respond to those challenges. That's the thing that's in our control. What's not in our control is that we're gonna face challenges. That is life. The more we can do to kind of get around that R factor, how are we gonna respond? How are you gonna respond to this issue? So, and again, there's that point at which you need coaching support medication, uh, you need counseling, you need other support that goes beyond, um, what you can do yourself. That's true with any medical issue, including mental health.

Dr. Lisa (39:49):


Amy O. (39:49):

When you're job hunting in 2023, you have a job.

Brian Wegley (39:54):

<laugh> <laugh> Well, you guys, uh, you are on my list to stay in touch with that's for sure. Um, I just, I think there's so much good. We can do to continue to share and build our ability to, to help our kids understand that really going after mental health and our community going after mental health is something that is, uh, it's all of our job. It is what we all need to be doing and remove that stigma from this cuz that's what gets in the way the challenge itself is that's going to be something we all face, but let's not let the inability to reach out for help be the problem that should never be the problem. We've got resources and great insights. And that's, I think the other thing is, is keep teaching what we know, right? Because I remember my own children facing some, some challenges growing up.

Brian Wegley (40:53):

And I, I always say with our parents when I work with them and they start to really realize there's a challenge that they weren't aware of, that their child is facing. I, I always call that being in the fog. You know, you you're in the fog, you, you have no idea how to help your child move forward, but there are people who do. And if you're smart enough to again, be that bridge, reach out and learn. I think part of our job as parents is to continue to learn part of the job that we're doing and that you're doing is helping teach all the things we're learning about the different opportunities to address mental health challenges when they're occurring, as they're occurring. And that's many of them are lifelong things that we're gonna continue to, to work through. That'll be our strengths and our weaknesses.

Brian Wegley (41:41):

But I think we need to continue to teach people that the resources that are available and the knowledge that we have about how to address these challenges are growing all the time. And we need to continue to grow. We need to continue to learn because that pulls us out of the fog. It gives us the clarity to really be there for our kids and help them become the people that they're meant to be if we're fighting with our kids, because they have a certain challenge. And we're actually adding to that story of, you're not meeting the expectation that I have for you, instead of saying, all right, you've got this thing you're dealing with. Let's go after it. Let's learn about it. Let's figure out how we can manage that. So it doesn't manage you. So it really does become your strength, not something that continues to be something that we handle ignorantly in a fog let's, uh, let's learn and become educated. So I think that's another thing we can do to build resiliency is keep educating ourselves, keep educating our parents and have our parents keep working with our kids. So they understand that too.

Dr. Lisa (42:52):

Yes, please.

Amy O. (42:53):

<laugh> Yes, please. <laugh>

Dr. Lisa (42:56):

Absolutely. Thank you for being here, Dr. Wegley. Thank you so much.

Brian Wegley (43:01):

Thank you guys. Thanks for all you're doing and thanks for being the, the warriors to help share that message and educate. And we gotta just keep doing that because there's so much good out there that we know that we can help our kids with and help ourselves with. Um, so thank you guys very much. Always a pleasure being with you.

Amy O. (43:21):

Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for tuning into our podcast about the importance of talking about our mental health. In another episode of Parenting the Mental Health Generation.

Dr. Lisa (43:31):

Stay current on all CATCH programming by liking us on Facebook @CATCHiscommunity or by visiting our website

Amy O. (43:41):

If you don't have your mental health, you don't have anything. There is a community of people out there that understands find it.