Category "Lifestyle"


28 per cent of men believe they could lose their job if they discuss mental health at work: study – National

by BBG Hub

Suicide remains the biggest cause of death for Canadian men under the age of 44, but new research by the Movember Foundation found that men still struggle to talk about mental health — especially in the workplace.

Researchers at Ipsos MORI surveyed 1,000 Canadian men between the ages of 18 and 75, and the results are astounding.

Twenty-eight per cent of Canadian men said they believed their job could be at risk if they discuss mental health issues at work, and more than 33 per cent of men worry they could be overlooked for a promotion if they mention a problem.

READ MORE: ‘Depression meals’: How diets connect to mental health

As well, 42 per cent of men surveyed said they are also worried about colleagues making negative comments behind their backs.

For men like Peter, these results are completely unsurprising. (Global News has agreed to use a pseudonym to protect his identity.)

The 29-year-old marketing manager struggles with anxiety and panic attacks. “I’ve dealt with anxiety and panic my entire life, but I only began to acknowledge and treat it when I was 26,” he told Global News.

WATCH (Sept. 5, 2019): Prioritizing mental health as students head back to school

Earlier this year, Peter started a new job — a change that made his anxiety difficult to control.

“Starting a new job is one of the most stressful things you can do… What was supposed to be a career-shifting move turned into a never-ending episode of panic, stress, worry and fear,” he said.

Peter lived with this intense anxiety about his career and his job for three months, and the whole time, he felt like he was “walking on eggshells.”

READ MORE: Becoming a father can negatively impact men’s mental health: survey

The workplace culture didn’t help. According to Peter, it was “fear-based with top-down leadership.”

“The primary motivator was fear of losing your job. Because this leadership style came from the top down, it wasn’t a collaborative environment. It was every person for themselves,” he said.

Peter felt like he was stuck in a vicious cycle with no one to talk to about his mental health.

WATCH (Sept. 9, 2019): Suicide kills one person every 40 seconds, says World Health Organization

“(I felt that) if I said the wrong thing, I would lose my job and never be able to find a new one, and not be able to pay rent, and never be able to afford a down-payment on a house and I would spend the rest of my life on my parents’ couch,” he said.

“I’m a very healthy individual. I run marathons, eat vegan and meditate daily… but when employers are the cause of stress, anxiety, fear and uncertainty, short of leaving your job, I don’t think there’s much you can do.”

Ultimately, a particularly bad week forced Peter to confront his illness and see a doctor. At that point, he thought it would be appropriate to make his employer aware of his mental health — and ask for some leniency as he underwent treatment.

READ MORE: Doctor-prescribed addiction: How these Canadians got hooked on opioids

“All I needed was their support, understanding and patience,” Peter said, but that’s not what he was given.

“Things went on as normal. In fact, it was reiterated to me that I was in a performance-driven position and no accommodations could be made,” he said. “If I had broken my foot, accommodations would’ve been made. If I had pneumonia, accommodations would’ve been made.”

Four weeks later, Peter was terminated. His employer cited “performance issues,” and during his exit interview, he was made to feel ashamed about his illness. “They alluded to me lying about the illness to (explain my) poor performance,” Peter said.

The misconception that men aren’t affected by mental illness

Peter firmly believes that there is a lasting stigma around men who have a mental illness.

“We’ve come a long way with the stigma around mental health, but we clearly have so much further to go,” he said.

Movember spokesperson Alexandra Wise lost her father to suicide just three weeks after her mother died from ovarian cancer. In her opinion, stigma played a huge role in his battle with mental illness.

WATCH (Aug. 28, 2019): Back to school⁠ — UBC president’s personal mental health struggle

“He struggled with his mental health for most of my childhood, and as I got older, his mental health seemed to decline and things got worse,” she said.

“It was something that my family and I really didn’t understand. We didn’t understand the extent of what he was dealing with, and we weren’t really sure how to help him.”

Wise said her father lost his job when she was just a baby, and that the loss really affected him.

“He didn’t have any social connections and spent a lot of time inside the house, alone. He isolated himself more and more,” she said.

READ MORE: ‘I couldn’t believe it’ — why disability claims for mental health are often a struggle

At first, Wise struggled to understand why he would do such a thing. “It was really difficult to understand why he would do that,” she said. “My mom had no choice. My dad seemingly had the choice to live, or that’s what I thought.”

Since then, Wise has made an effort to learn more about mental health. Now she knows that her father didn’t feel like he had a choice.

“I think, really, in his mind, he felt like that was the only solution to end his pain and his suffering,” she said.

Employers need to do more

The workplace is commonly regarded as a space crucial to forming one’s identity. “It creates purpose,” said Dr. Ashley Bender, occupational psychiatrist and professor at the University of Toronto.

“Anything that is a potential threat to the loss of work or… their work status is something that could contribute to (someone) not coming forward with mental health issues.”

According to Bender, silence is seen as “the safe route” even though it puts people at risk by leaving their illness untreated.

WATCH (July 25, 2019): Doctor who termed “selfie dysmorphia” explains condition

This pressure could be compounded by the stereotype that men should always be working and that they shouldn’t talk about their feelings.

“Traditionally, a man’s role has been centered around employment and being productive and having work as a core source of their life and purpose,” said Bender.

To better support men with mental illness, Bender has three recommendations for workplaces.

“One of the ways is to launch anti-stigma campaigns… to impart knowledge and change attitudes about mental health,” he said. “This is really quite impactful, but it’s work that has to be done continuously.”

Manager training is also a big component so that “when it’s time to have those critical conversations, the individual who’s coming forward doesn’t feel stigmatized,” said Bender.

Finally, confidentiality is key. “Is there a workplace culture that respects confidentiality, particularly around (mental health issues)?” Bender said.

Ultimately, actions need to follow words.

“Attempts to change attitudes by creating awareness but then providing inadequate resources (like low coverage for psychological treatments) says, ‘we’re acknowledging that we have a problem, but we don’t care.’ That drives people into silence, because what’s the point?”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Heartburn, saggy breasts and loose skin: How bodies change after giving birth – National

by BBG Hub

“The stretch marks, the nothing-fits attitude… I am currently going through [a phase of] hair in a messy bun, no make up, yoga pants and tank tops,” the 35-year-old told Global News.

“[There’s] no time for personal care for myself — it’s all about getting my kids ready and out the door.”

The mom from Toronto’s story isn’t unique. Many women not only feel mentally, emotional and physically different after giving birth, but there are significant changes to their bodies than can be longer-lasting.  

READ MORE: Triplet gives birth to her own set of triplets: ‘I have fallen in love’

These can range from smaller (or bigger) breasts to losing hair and, more commonly, bladder issues.

Hunter gave birth to her fifth child, a daughter, in June.

“[It was] definitely harder at 35,” she said. “The aches and pains and health issues that arise, like high blood pressure, difficult deliveries [and] recovery.”

Getting your body back

But the idea you need to get your “body back” is something that comes up often.

“I would tell new moms it takes time to get your body back, but sometimes, even when you get to your pre-pregnancy weight, your body shape changes,” she said. “It’s OK… your body is beautiful no matter what for what it is able to do.”

Credit: Getty Images 

Denise Chiriboga, founder and creator of Strong Mom, a fitness class targeted at moms, hears this sentiment often.

“Unfortunately we don’t give a large thought to recovery and what post-partum recovery actually looks like, as this is not something most doctors talk about,” she told Global News.

“Recovery isn’t just resting at home and waiting for your six or eight week checkup — it’s learning how to retrain the deep core and pelvic floor muscles to regain their strength and their function.”

READ MORE: Wait, There’s More podcast: Young, pregnant and in crisis

Chiriboga says most people want to feel “normal” again, but often can’t accept their new bodies. They also compare themselves to celebrities or others on social media, she said.

“We always want that, “I never had a baby look” like the celebrities do.”

But she says it goes beyond self-esteem and confidence. New moms need to accept that our bodies took nine months to grow a baby, so it’s going to take time to lose the weight.

“Thankfully, people like Meghan Markle have stepped out and she in her post-baby body has been applauded for taking time and being confident in rocking her post-baby body and taking it slow in her recovery,” she explained.

“The biggest thing we need to do is appreciate ourselves more.”

Women share the biggest changes

But for some women, it’s the learning curve of going into motherhood, not knowing which parts of your body will change.

For Jenny Rodrigues, a communications professional in Toronto, it was pain in her hands hands and wrist.

The mom of a 20-month-old says most of it was the result of trying to support her newborn’s wobbly head and neck.

“I was also breastfeeding and the recommendation was to do ‘compressions’ to squeeze out the breast milk faster. That also put such a strain on my hands. I was wearing sports tape around my wrists for a long time.

“I had to do physio and acupuncture on my hands to get better.”

For Vanessa Perkins of Brampton, Ont., it was her pelvic floor that was the biggest change post-birth. Sitting was uncomfortable and when her period came back, it was hard to use tampons again.

She also had heavy, saggy breasts and had loose skin around her stomach.

“I was so unhappy with my body,” she continued. “I gained so much weight from stress eating because my son was colicky and I was unhappy with how I looked. It was terrible [for my] mental health.”

READ MORE: Baby bumps aren’t the same size — here’s why

Perkins knew her mental health was suffering.

“With my first son I lost myself,” she continued.

“I was no longer Vanessa, I was only Jeremy’s mom.”

Gina Létourneau, of Toronto, said each pregnancy can feel different — she had more difficulty breathing with her second child than the first.

She also dealt with heartburn, a heavier period and pelvic floor issues. But when it comes to losing baby weight, she urges new moms not to feel bad about it.

“I am so much more than my appearance now — I am responsible for two beautiful boys and it keeps me busy and happy enough,” she told Global News.

Credit: Getty Images 

“Don’t let anyone reduce you to how you look… you are fine, you are loved, you are important to this little being who needs you and loves you unconditionally.”

Jennifer Francis-Smikle, a mom in Markham, Ont., adds one of the biggest things new moms (or any mom) who still feels unsure about their bodies can do is avoid social media.

“‘Snapback’ culture is basically the celebrities or Instagram influencers coming on social media showing their body right after having a baby,” she said.

“Most times it looks like they didn’t have a baby or better than they did pre-baby. It can be disheartening to see especially if you’re not comfortable in your own skin.

Not feeling like yourself

Chiriboga says while it may be hard to grasp, it’s important to remember to honour and respect the body post-birth.

“For moms not feeling like themselves, is it a physical or emotional thing?” she asked. “It all affects a mom emotionally and physically and these are the hard things to control.”

And most importantly, take time.

“Don’t be so quick to go back to the gym and do the exact same exercise you did before you had your baby or before you got pregnant,” she said.

“Avoid the ‘harder, faster, stronger, no pain no gain’ mentality or classes promoting this type of exercise for now. You are not ready for this yet.”

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Imaginary friends can have ‘real life’ benefits for your child, experts say – National

by BBG Hub

Whether it’s an alien from another planet, a stuffed teddy bear come to life or just a play pal from summer camp who lives far away during the school year, it’s very common for children to have imaginary companions in their lives.

In fact, a study by psychologists at the University of Washington and the University of Oregon found that, by age seven, 65 per cent of kids have had one.

And, according to parenting expert Alyson Schafer, they’re also completely normal. “Oh, the beauty of a young mind that’s still fresh and open and creative!” she told Global News.

READ MORE: ‘You’re going to see a different kid’: Why sleep should come before activities

“Play is the language of understanding for children. They learn through play and they’ll turn anything into play, if you give them the opportunity,” said Schafer.

For some kids, this could mean “typical” play activities, like building blocks or dolls. For other kids, their creativity is so strong that they create a brand new persona out of thin air.

“This is a creative choice that they make… they don’t need a physical object, much like a favourite stuffed bunny or a love blanket,” Schafer said.

“There’s nothing abnormal about it — it’s really brilliance, because they’re not constrained by other social norms.”

WATCH BELOW: Children with headaches: these are the symptoms parents need to look out for

Jillian Roberts, child psychologist and professor at the University of Victoria, agrees. “Kids are highly imaginative… one of the wonders of childhood,” she said.

According to Roberts, a child’s capacity for imagination increases a great deal in the pre-kindergarten years (roughly between the ages of two and four).

“It actually helps to eventually build the foundation for abstract thought, which comes to fruition in the tween to early-teen period of time,” said Roberts.

“Imaginary friends give [kids] an opportunity to practice their budding social skills in a safe environment they can control.”

However, there’s no reason to worry about your child’s imagination if they don’t have a pretend friend. “All sorts of children with varying levels of creativity may develop imaginary friends,” she said.

Should I be concerned if my child has an imaginary friend?

In Schafer’s view, imaginary friendships are to be encouraged.

“If you watch how they interact with their imaginary friend, a lot of times, because they have to play both themselves and create the world of their imaginary friend, they’re learning different perspectives,” she said.

READ MORE: Meet the parents who homeschooled their kids while travelling the world

“They’re problem-solving and learning to deal with one another, because the imaginary friend often takes a different perspective.”

In situations when the imaginary friend gets in trouble or plays cooperatively, your child is actually rehearsing real social situations.

WATCH BELOW: Why training your child like a dog may be a bad idea

“That’s wonderful practice for social skills in life and trying on different outcomes,” said Schafer.

“They’re getting these enriched experiences through this form of play… it’s something to be celebrated.”

However, Roberts believes there could be cause for concern if your child struggles to make friends in “real life.”

READ MORE: Caring for the caregiver: Raising children with a disability or chronic disease

“If that were the case, I would work to build their social network and also work on the development of social [and] friendship skills,” she said.

“Scouts and Brownies and Beavers… are all good programs for that purpose. You can also speak to the school counsellor.”

If your child has an imaginary friend beyond the age of 10, Roberts recommends a psychological consult “to ensure that overall development is on track,” she said. “But overall, I wouldn’t worry.”

Pay attention to the content of the play

Imaginary friends offer endless opportunity to your child: opportunity to practice playing nicely with others, to flex creative muscles and to deal with confusing emotions.

Schafer encourages caregivers to pay attention to the content of a child’s imaginary play, because if they’ve been traumatized, it will likely come through in their play.

WATCH BELOW: Screen consultants are coaching parents on how to raise screen-free children

“For example, children who have been traumatized [by] seeing [things like] domestic violence or sexual abuse,” said Schafer. “You’re going to see that in their play. That’s something that would set off alarm bells.”

She also warns that sometimes, children can use imaginary friends as a means to manipulate parents or caregivers — and that’s when a line needs to be drawn.

“It can get in [the way] of relationships in the family,” said Schafer. “If a child wants to bring an extra chair to the table and feed their imaginary friend, I’m fine with that. What I’m not OK with is wasting food.”

READ MORE: The cost of raising a child? Now there’s a calculator for that

In her view, if the imaginary friend starts to disturb the family order, something needs to change.

“You don’t want to give the child so much power for the reality of their imaginary friend that their imaginary friend is no longer being a co-operating member of the family,” she said. “They can’t be used as an alibi.”

How to treat your child’s imaginary friend

There are some things parents can do to further encourage curiosity and imaginative play.

For Roberts, this means not making a big deal out of the new imaginary friend.

“If your child wants to talk about their imaginary friend, fine,” she said. “But don’t force them to.”

WATCH BELOW: Should dodgeball be banned from schools?

Schafer takes this one step further and recommends asking questions about the imaginary friend.

“Tell me about your friend. What do they look like? What does your friend like?” she said.

“There’s no right or wrong.”

[email protected]


© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Student bullied for wearing same clothes every day, so two classmates donated theirs – National

by BBG Hub

Part of “fitting in” at school often means wearing the latest trends, an expectation that Tennessee student Michael Todd knows all too well.

Unfortunately, his mother couldn’t afford to continue buying new clothes because of how fast he was growing.

Sadly still, students at MLK College Preparatory High School bullied him for wearing the same clothes every day.

“I really don’t have clothes at home. My mom can’t buy clothes for me because I’m growing too fast,” Todd explained to Fox 19. “I’ve been bullied my entire life.”

READ MORE: Batman walks bullied three-year-old girl to school so she feels safe

But it wasn’t just Todd who was feeling the effects of this unfair treatment from his bullies.

When peers and high school football players Kristopher Graham and Antwan Garrett saw what was happening, they just knew they had to step in and help.

“When I saw people laugh and bully him, I felt like I needed to do something,” Graham told the local broadcast station.

Instead of going out and buying new clothes, the athletes took to their own closets, picking out items just for their down-and-out friend.

WATCH: Back to school⁠ — How to protect your kids from bullies

In a touching video, Graham and Garrett can be seen giving Todd bags of clothes — new shoes, shirts, shorts and more.

“He wasn’t smiling or anything and I was like, ‘I think this is going to make you smile,’” Graham explained of the moment they surprised him during third period. “I told him, ‘We’re in the same third period and I apologize for laughing at you and I want to give something to you to make it up.’”

According to Fox, Todd had been bullied for three weeks straight before the good deed happened.

“The best day of my entire life basically,” Todd said. “I was very happy. Shocked completely.”

“You guys are the best guys of my entire life,” the high school student can be heard saying to his two new friends.

READ MORE: Bullied for homemade shirt, Florida boy’s design becomes official merch

The act of kindness isn’t going unnoticed, either.

Graham and Garrett’s big hearts have inspired other people in the U.S. to give back to Todd.

The college prep school has been accepting clothing and monetary donations that will go on to help other students in need, including Todd.

One person took to Twitter to express how important these acts of kindness are, writing: “Best thing is, they all will pay it forward! When the time comes to help someone else, none of them will second guess their ability to uplift another human with a small act of kindness!”

“Being kind to someone costs us nothing,” another wrote, while one Twitter user responded: “Our world is better for having them. That’s what America is all about.”

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Yes, take that nap: Study says daytime snoozing is good for the heart – National

by BBG Hub

Here’s another excuse to take a mid-day nap.

A new study published on Monday in the journal Heart suggests those who take daytime naps a few times a week have a lower risk of heart attack or stroke.

The study, which looked at 3,462 people in Switzerland, noted that this was the first population-based cohort study that looked at the link between frequent napping and cardiovascular disease (CVD).

And no, this doesn’t mean taking daytime naps every day. The authors found one to two naps per week was ideal.

READ MORE: A look at our bad sleep habits and how to fix them

“Nap frequency may help explain the discrepant findings regarding the association between napping and CVD events,” authors noted.

The study looked at participants aged 35 to 75 over a five-year period. None of them had previous heart problems and none of them were sleep-deprived, noted.

Sleeping behaviours

In an accompanying editorial for Heart not linked to the actual study, authors noted that we spend a third of our lives in sleep.

“One of the most common yet understudied sleep behaviours in human beings is daytime napping..

“While napping is traditionally viewed as a countermeasure to sleepiness and as a strategy to boost performance, especially in healthy younger adults or among shift workers, the effects of napping in middle-aged to older-aged populations are largely unknown.”

Authors noted that previous studies in the 1980s found taking a 30-minute afternoon nap could lower your risk of CVD by 30 per cent.

READ MORE: Sleepy at work? Toronto student designs a sneaky nap solution

Other studies have shown a 60-minute nap can increase alertness for up to 10 hours, the Guardian reports.

Regardless of these numbers, authors argued there are several limitations when it comes to measuring naps.

“Are they planned or unplanned? What is the purpose of the naps? Are they taken occasionally when needed or habitually as a cultural practice? Are they taken to compensate for insufficient or poor night-time sleep, or do they indicate underlying ill health?” authors of the Heart study wrote.

Getty Images 

“Is night-time sleep quality taken into account? What is the timing, duration and frequency of the naps? Do we count a five minute ‘dozing-off’ as a nap? What is the best way to measure naps? Until we get to the answers to some of these questions, the implications of napping cannot be fully addressed.”

READ MORE: Canadian companies are using nap time as a perk to spur work

Dr. Neil Stanley, an independent sleep expert and author of How to Sleep Well, previously told Global News a short nap of 20 to 30 minutes — or a power nap — can be helpful.

“[It] can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents,” he said. “The increase in alertness following a nap may persist for a few hours.”

He says naps have limits and they should not be more than 90 minutes long.

“Sleep inertia is the feeling of grogginess and disorientation that can come with awakening from a deep sleep and can last for approximately 15 minutes to two hours,” he said. “Also, if you nap too long or too late in the day this may affect your nighttime sleep.”

Tips for all nappers

Previously speaking with Global News, sleep expert Alanna McGinn said to avoid interrupted 60-minute naps.

“That is when you are in the deepest phase of sleep in your cycle,” she said. “If you have difficulty falling asleep at night or sleeping through the night then you want to avoid daytime sleep as it will rob you of the restorative sleep you need at night.”

READ MORE: Power naps are ideal, but experts say don’t sleep more than 90 minutes — here’s why

A full sleep cycle is typically 90 minutes and throughout this snooze time, our bodies go through light and deep sleep phases.

“You want to avoid napping past 30 minutes as that’s where you begin to enter a deep phase of sleep. You’ll likely feel like you have a ‘sleep hangover’ if you wake up past this point, so limit your nap to 15 to 20 minutes,” she added.

If that isn’t enough, try the full 90.

“This time frame is perfect for shift workers who may be chronically sleep-deprived and really need the daytime sleep. Don’t forget to set your alarm with an extra five minutes for falling asleep.”

Mini naps, even 10- to 20-minute naps, can boost energy and alertness.

“However, if you experience chronic insomnia or poor sleep quality at night, napping might worsen these problems. Long or frequent naps might interfere with nighttime sleep, [but] overall, napping can benefit most people, even if you get a full night of sleep.”

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Why more teens are turning to pornography to learn about sex

by BBG Hub

When you walk by a high school, or even many junior highs, you’ll notice a trend. Students with cellphones in hand.

Technology has made almost anything and everything easily accessible. Including pornography.

“I felt very disconnected to my own sexuality just seeing porn for the first time,” said Teela.

Teela was 13 years old when she first watched pornography. Global News has agreed not to use her last name. She says she was curious about sex, and the information she was seeking wasn’t being taught in school or talked about at home.

“There’s a communication barrier between a lot of parents and teenagers,” Teela said. “Pornography shouldn’t be the first place teens go to to find education, which they often do because it’s so accessible.”

Talking with your kids about porn: how to do it and what to mention

Teela is not alone. A 2014 study by MediaSmarts surveyed students Grades 7 to 11. It found 23 per cent of teens — nearly one in four — were seeking out pornography online. And 88 per cent of boys who look at porn do so at least once a month. Some studies show the numbers are even higher.

“We can sensor teens all we want as parents,” said Mark Lenyk with Mankind Project.

“But in the end there’s going to be some friend or some point where they’re going to have access to the internet and they have questions nobody is talking to them about.”

Another study found adolescents who watch pornography are sexually active at an earlier age, have higher numbers of partners and have increased casual sex. It also found girls who watch pornography feel less attractive than the women portrayed in pornographic material and boys are afraid they will not measure up to the performers in the media.

“It causes teens to make decisions – reckless and shallow decisions – about their sexuality,” Teela said. “Boys feel like they have to have this sort of stigma. They have to be tough and emotionless, and girls have to be submissive.”

Teela eventually went to see Sabrina Souto, the owner of Fertile Way. Souto works with people of all ages struggling with their sexual well-being.

“When you watch something over and over again it becomes familiar,” Souto said. “So as a woman you learn how to act a certain way, how to talk a certain way, how to sound a certain way. As a man, the same exact thing.”

WATCH: What to do when your kids stumble on sexual content online

Souto believes it all comes down to having open and honest conversations with your children.

“Talk to your teens. Getting educated in what intimacy really looks like is key.”

Souto says it’s the lack of communication that is the biggest issue and she knows it’s not an easy topic to discuss. She recently held a screening of Brain, Heart, World a documentary looking at the harmful effects of pornography.

In 2017, another documentary, Over 18, was released, also looking at the porn industry and how easily children can become addicted.

WATCH: Documentary dealing with the effects of pornography on children and youth in Canada

Teela is now 17 years old and when she talks to her mom, nothing is off limits.

“When you tiptoe around difficult topics like sex it becomes a forbidden topic. You can’t expect the teen to come forward and be honest with you if you’re not being honest with them.”

It’s a message she hopes other parents will take to heart.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Dating too young is still taboo, but some experts say ‘connection’ matters more – National

by BBG Hub

Divorce can be ugly and dating after a long-term relationship isn’t easy, either.

Often, people turn to dating apps to find companionship or love again, and for some, this could mean dating someone years younger. While there’s still a stigma for men and women who date younger — women are often called “cougars” — others believe it could be a sign of a mid-life crisis.

Natasha Sharma, relationship and parenting expert and creator of The Kindness Journal, told Global News a mid-life “crisis” occurs when one or a series of decisions are made in or around the midpoint of someone’s life, usually over the age of 50.

“This could be based on changes like divorce, job change or retirement, children moving on, etc, or nothing at all,” she explained.

“Sudden onset of existential angst around the awareness of one’s own impending death/mortality and these feelings of angst and insecurity lead to poor decisions.”

Some say it is ‘liberating’

But in a recent column in The Telegraph, author Lauren Libbert said dating someone younger after divorce could be liberating. 

“What those near me hadn’t realized, was that after years of being trapped in a failing domestic relationship, I had now discovered a new, more confident, midlife self. It was sad our marriage hadn’t lasted, but I also felt liberated and free,” she wrote.

READ MORE: Sex hygiene — Best ways to stay fresh when getting frisky

Exiting an ailing marriage and moving into a new dating lane is quite the opposite of a crisis. It’s like finally Marie-Kondo-ing a comfy cardigan that has shrunk in the wash and lost a few buttons.

“It no longer fits. It no longer sparks joy. It’s time to move on.”

Libbert continued she wasn’t looking for a father for her children, she was looking for someone for herself. “As people we grow and change with the years and, if a marriage can’t grow and change with us, is it such a bad thing to find new relationships that do?”

But there is still a stigma that exists when people date people “too young.” You often see examples in the celebrity world, like singer Katharine McPhee, 35, marrying David Foster, 69, earlier this year.

More famously, there’s the example of the 15-year difference between Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. The two divorced in 2013.

Sharma said there is still a legitimate concern over dating someone who is “too young,” beyond being the legal age of consent.

“I believe many people still find it to be a social faux-pas for ridicule and joke-jabs,” she said. “We are definitely loosening some of the strict traditional views of relationships that don’t make much sense today, but we still hold some conventional ideas close at hand, whether we are aware of this or not.”

But for some, it can just come down to attractiveness and desirability. As a previous New York Times piece noted, one study of online dating found women “peak” at 18, when men peak at 50, making it hard for some older women to find men their age.

But is it a midlife crisis?

But would this be considered a mid-life crisis? Sharma doesn’t think so.

“In fact, the entire idea behind the prototypical ‘midlife crisis’ is something I challenge in general,” she continued. “Experiencing a period of adjustment, transition, and hopefully, subsequent growth after significant changes to one’s life around the ‘mid-point’ hardly constitutes a crisis.”

She adds people at mid-life are much more aware of who they are and what their individual needs and boundaries are.

“They are better equipped to make more informed life choices at that stage versus when they were younger,” she said.

“In addition, our needs themselves have often changed. The decisions we did make in our late teens or early 20s may have been perfectly suitable at that time, but don’t necessary fit at midlife or beyond, and there is no shame in that.”

READ MORE: ‘An experience like no other’: Finding love and intimacy as a trans person

When we are young, she argues, we try to fit into society’s standards or social norms, but when we are older, we are financially and socially equipped to make decisions that work for us. A mid-life crisis is also often the case when someone buys a fancy car or a luxury item.

“This may include purchasing a certain item, making over one’s appearance, just feeling more liberated to be free to choose as one wants. The only problem I see in this is if the choices one makes are unaffordable, or cause harm to oneself or others.”

And when it comes to dating, Sharma believes it can be a result of connecting with someone positive — which often isn’t the case in a older dating pool.

“Connection is connection, and as long as the two  people who are involved in the relationship are of legal age, one is not vulnerable/being taken advantage of, and they both have the capacity to consent to said relationship, it should not necessarily be written off as a crisis,” she said.

READ MORE: ‘Can I fully commit?’: The millennials who have never been in a relationship

“Sometimes you just want physical and/or emotional connection to someone, [and] this should not be boxed into a certain age bracket.”

She argues women in particularly are subject to this judgment when dating younger men, whereas men tend to be applauded for it.

“That said, I do believe that we are more likely to experience deeper success and satisfaction in a longer-term relationship with someone who is in or about our age group, for the purposes of experiencing the journey of life together, and it’s moments, at or around the same times,” she explained.

“Shared experience is part of what deepens and strengthens connection and relationships. However this does not necessarily hold true in each and every case. Every relationship is unique and independent.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Depression meals’: How diets connect to mental health – National

by BBG Hub

Catherine was formally diagnosed with depression at 13 years old and anxiety at 17. Both have severely impacted her relationship with food.

“When I’m in a depressive episode, I tend towards disordered eating,” she told Global News. “Maybe I’ll have one meal instead of three. [I often] eat too much or too little.”

Catherine, whose last name has been withheld to protect her identity, also works as a line cook.

“I spend all day cooking for other people [and] I find it really hard to take care of myself in the same way,” she said.

READ MORE: Suicide kills one person every 40 seconds, WHO says

When she feels depressed, she tends to opt for things like a handful of crackers or ordering a pizza — “something that requires little to no food prep.”

“My ‘depression meal’ a lot of the time is ordering food out, but because that’s expensive, I also eat a lot of cereal.”

Catherine believes the food she eats when she’s depressed, which typically lacks any real nutrition, reinforces her symptoms, furthering her depression and contributing to poor health overall.

WATCH BELOW: The physical symptoms of being depressed

“I feel noticeably better when I eat something good and healthy, but it’s really tough to find the spoons to do that sometimes,” she said. “The junk food makes me feel worse.”

It’s more common for people with depression to experience a decrease in appetite, but research also shows that as many as 35 per cent of people may experience an increase, said Dr. Simon Sherry, a registered psychologist at CRUX Psychology in Halifax.

“Changes in appetite may very well be part of how depression is expressed within a given individual, and we cannot assume uniformity in response,” Sherry said.

Eating while depressed

Global News asked Twitter users to share their go-to “depression meals,” and the response was overwhelming.

The answers varied. A lot of people reach for junk food (“usually a tub of icing or peanut butter,” said Natalie Preddie), while others find it hard to even think about eating.

“My depression meal is no meal. I just can’t find the energy to make a meal and I lose all appetite and feel repulsed by the thought of eating,” Aqsa Hussain said.

However, most responses had two things in common: when people feel depressed, they often go for foods that are easy to procure and provide them with comfort.

For example, Emmie Harrison-West said she always goes for a treat her late grandfather used to buy her when she was a child.

“Whenever I’m depressed, I genuinely go to the nearest shop and buy a pork pie to eat on my way home,” she said. “Even though I shouldn’t eat pastry (hello gall stones at 14), it makes me feel a strange sort of comfort.”

WATCH BELOW: Advice for parents as students balance school pressure, anxiety and mental health issues

It’s common to use food as a coping mechanism for depression, according to Sherry.

“Depression can have appetite-promoting effects… and [these people will] describe something like an eating-to-cope pattern. This is sometimes known as emotional eating,” he said.

“They’re eating to try and regulate the often difficult emotions that go along with depression.”

Sherry also says eating can satisfy an “escape motive” for some people.

Food can be “escape from the intense self-criticism [and] the negative self-view that often characterizes depression,” Sherry said. “The experience of eating may help wipe out a higher order of negative thoughts of self.”

WATCH BELOW: How to reduce the risk of food allergies for babies

Depression is also a problem of “low motivation and low energy,” which can muddle a person’s desire to cook or make healthy dietary choices. Sherry says this could explain why some people crave junk food or takeout during depressive episodes.

“[Depression] often involves a massive challenge of self-regulation,” said Sherry. “It becomes hard to establish a routine, and absent a routine, regular sleeping, healthy eating and proper exercise become extremely difficult.”

How depression can change your diet

To understand how depression can affect one’s appetite, one needs to understand how depression may influence mood.

“When your brain is depressed, it may be that the reward circuitry within your brain is hyperactive,” said Sherry. “That could influence how your brain responds to food.”

For people who experience decreases in appetite, their brains may respond to food cues differently.

“In their case, you may not see the hyperactivity but the hypoactivity of the insular regions in the brain, and these insular regions within the brain are responsible for regulating your body’s physiological state,” he said.

READ MORE: Why aren’t Canadians cooking anymore?

An expert in eating disorders, Sherry often sees mental health disorders like depression co-existing with disordered eating.

A high percentage of women with an eating disorder have an accompanying mood disorder, “usually some sort of serious diagnosable form of depression,” he said.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 32 to 39 per cent of people with anorexia nervosa, 36 to 50 per cent of people with bulimia nervosa and 33 per cent of people with binge eating disorder are also diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

WATCH BELOW: How cooking helps ease symptoms of anxiety and depression

“You’ll see depression and unhealthy eating involved in a vicious cycle,” Sherry said, although researchers have yet to determine which typically comes first.

“Some people have argued that… depression and unhealthy eating may have a reciprocal influence on one another, where they can lead to each other over time.”

Things you should remember

During a depressive episode, just finding your appetite can be difficult. For registered dietitian Abby Langer, simply eating is a step in the right direction.

“I would rather you eat [a box of macaroni and cheese] than nothing at all. That’s called harm reduction,” she said.

“The worst harm is not eating at all. The second worst is eating a bag of chips or [a box of macaroni and cheese]… They may not be the best thing for you, but they’re better than the alternative.”

READ MORE: Stop obsessing over weight loss — focus on these 4 goals instead

If depression suppresses your appetite, Langer says to focus on choosing “what feels good or looks good to you in the moment.”

However, there are some things you can keep in your kitchen at all times so you’re prepared for the next time a depressive episode hits. First, she suggests protein bars.

“They’re quick, they’re easy, they don’t need preparation and they’ll give you a boost without giving you too much sugar,” she said.

“We want things like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, but even unsweetened dried fruit is fine.”

WATCH BELOW: New trend sees Canadians switch from meat to plant-based diets

Langer also recommends whole-grain cereals that are either unsweetened or sweetened very lightly, oatmeal with a tablespoon of peanut butter in it or popcorn with peanut butter on it.

Registered dietitian Andrea Falcone also suggests keeping your pantry stocked with things like cans of tuna or oatmeal “to support a balanced intake.”

“Peanut butter or another type of nut or seed butter is a great item to also have, enjoyed on whole-grain crackers, a slice of whole-grain toast or with fruit,” she said.

“Simple is best… The key is to aim for a balanced meal including a protein, complex carbohydrate and healthy fat.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide PreventionDepression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Suicide kills one person every 40 seconds: WHO – National

by BBG Hub

WARNING: This article contains explicit information related to suicide and mental health that may not be suitable for all audience members. Discretion is advised.

One person dies by suicide every 40 seconds, according to a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The report, released Monday, also revealed that more people die by suicide than in war every year. Hanging, poisoning and shooting are the most common methods.

The WHO urged governments to adopt suicide prevention plans to help people cope with stress and to reduce access to suicide means.

“Suicide is a global public health issue. All ages, sexes and regions of the world are affected (and) each loss is one too many,” the report said.

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Suicide was the second leading cause of death among young people aged between 15 and 29, second only to road injury.

Among girls aged 15 to 19, it was the second biggest killer after maternal conditions. In teenage boys, suicide ranked third behind road injury and interpersonal violence.

Overall, close to 800,000 people die by suicide every year around the world — more than those killed by malaria, breast cancer or homicide, the WHO said.

Global rates have fallen in recent years — there was a 9.8 per cent decrease between 2010 and 2016 — but declines were patchy. In the WHO’s Americas region, for example, rates rose by six per cent between 2010 and 2016.

WATCH BELOW: What is a suicide watch?

The report also found that nearly three times as many men as women die by suicide in wealthy countries, in contrast to low- and middle-income countries, where the rates are more equal.

“Suicides are preventable,” said the WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We call on all countries to incorporate proven suicide prevention strategies into national health and education programs.”

Reducing numbers worldwide

The WHO said restricting access to pesticides was one of the most effective ways of reducing suicide numbers swiftly.

READ MORE: Restless leg syndrome linked to higher risk of self-harm, suicide, study says

Pesticides are commonly used and usually result in death because they are so toxic, have no antidotes and are often used in remote areas where there is no nearby medical help.

The WHO pointed to studies in Sri Lanka, where bans on pesticides have led to a 70 per cent drop in suicides and an estimated 93,000 lives saved between 1995 and 2015.

Organizations like the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) want to encourage people struggling with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues to speak up.

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“It’s far too often we are tragically impacted by suicide,” Marion Cooper of the CMHA previously told Global News. “The importance of talking about suicide and lifting up the shame and secrecy related to suicide is critically important.

“Every day needs to be about creating space that feels safe for everybody to talk openly and honestly about how they’re feeling.”

Here are four simple steps the CMHA is spreading as a guide to use when in doubt, for neighbours, workmates, friends or family to help prevent suicide.

  • A- Ask: ask how they’re doing
  • L- Listen: listen to what they say
  • E- Encourage: encourage support and action
  • C- Check in: keep in touch with where they’re at

Cooper encourages anyone struggling with their mental health, or who knows someone who may be at risk, to look at resources that can make a difference. The CMHA’s Canadian Centre for Excellence called the Centre for Suicide Prevention is a place people can go online to learn more about suicide.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide PreventionDepression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

— With files from Kate Kelland, Reuters and Global News

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Vegans, vegetarians may have higher risk of stroke — but experts argue balance is key – National

by BBG Hub

People who have plant-based diets may be more likely to suffer from a stroke.

A recent study published in the British Medical Journey, however, found vegan and vegetarians still had a lower risk of heart disease overall.

“Vegetarian and vegan diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, partly due to perceived health benefits, as well as concerns about the environment and animal welfare,” authors wrote in the study.

READ MORE: Is a plant-based patty always better for you than beef?

“Evidence suggests that vegetarians might have different disease risks compared with non-vegetarians but data from large scale prospective studies are limited, because few studies have recruited sufficient numbers of vegetarian participants.”

The study looked at data from more than 48,000 people in the U.K. over an 18-year period. And while they tracked participant’s eating habits, they could not directly link their diets with their heart disease or stroke risks, the BBC added.

Participants were asked about their diets, medical history, smoking habits and how much they exercised.

READ MORE: Alicia Silverstone says a vegan diet prevents illness, but is she right?

“Future work should include further measurements of circulating levels of cholesterol subfractions, vitamin B12, amino acids, and fatty acids in the cohort to identify which factors might mediate the observed associations,” authors concluded.

Shahzadi Devje, a registered dietitian and creator of The Desi~licious Den: Dietitian on Demand, told Global News these findings don’t surprise her. But we shouldn’t jump to conclusions so soon.

“Let’s not forget, the science of nutrition can be messy and we must learn to dig for the facts — beyond the headlines,” she said. “Just because one observational study suggests that those on plant-based diets have a risk of stroke, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the case.”

Eating a balanced-meal

But Devje says when it comes to changing your diet (or adjusting your current vegan and vegetarian one), it all comes down to balance.

“For newbie vegans, there’s certainly some learning that needs to take place,” she explained. “After all, it’s the strictest form of vegetarianism.”

Devje says, in general, more people are considering plant-based diets. Young people are concerned about the planet, and with more vegan-friendly options on the market, it’s easier for people to access meals and ingredients. But the popularity and arguable trendiness of the diet also means people don’t have access to the best information.

For example, vegan-based recipe accounts on social media are often run by influencers or people without the credentials.

READ MORE: Is access to vegan food a human rights issue? Experts weigh in

“Like with any other diet, there are drawbacks,” Devje said. “It’s important to actively plan your meals, otherwise there’s a chance you’ll lack variety, and increase the risk of nutritional deficiencies. Not to mention, lack of planning can lead to a greater chance of boredom.”

Vegans and vegetarians need to make sure there is a balance of protein, vitamins and minerals, as well as carbs.

READ MORE: Vegetarian and vegan ‘meats’ are more popular than ever, but are they good for you?

“If you’re following a vegan diet, you may want to be a bit more careful to ensure you don’t miss out on sufficient iron, zinc, vitamin D, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids,” she continued.

“Vegans are at high risk of Vitamin B12 deficiency, which can lead to anemia and nervous system damage. B12 is naturally found in animal foods, and the only reliable sources of B12 for vegans are foods fortified with B12 (for example some plant milks, and some breakfast cereals) and B12 supplements.”

Starting a new plant-based diet

Below, she shares some tips for people interested in trying a plant-based diet.

Ease into it: A healthy diet is a sustainable diet. “There’s no need to overhaul your diet overnight. Be kind to yourself, and take it slow. That way, it feels enjoyable and not burdensome. Simple steps, such as embracing meatless Mondays or swapping out meat for a vegetarian meal in your week will go a long way in setting you up for success.”

Do the work: To achieve a healthy balanced diet, that’s sustainable requires work. “Take the time to meal plan, explore different foods and build your cooking skills.”

READ MORE: Is it healthy to put children on a vegan or gluten-free diet?

Veganism doesn’t equate to the healthiest diet: “Don’t forget, a plant-based diet is typically rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes. But that’s not always the case. If you’re fueling up on mostly refined carbs full of sugar, saturated fat and salt, you’re not doing your health any favours.”

Mix it up: No one food provides all of the nutrients you need to be healthy. “Eat different types of plant foods (beans, lentils, tofu, nuts and seeds, wholegrain, fruits and vegetables) daily to ensure you don’t miss out on any important nutrients.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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