Monica L.’s Story, Digital Identity and Mental Health

I was touched and moved by this video. I appreciated the candidness of Monica’s sharing. 

It takes incredible courage and strength to come to a place of readiness to be able to openly share one’s journey in the ways she has with others.

She said It had taken her many years to become ready to share her story. She said that she shares it in the hopes that it will help others. And she does it so she can be strong in her own truths.

She said she was deeply affected by her online takedown, which occurred synonymously with the rise of social media. She suffered from the rumours, the gossip, the destruction of reputation and character. “Don’t most 22-year olds make a few mistakes that they regret in their life?,” she asks. I have to agree that she is right.

Why do we people think it is okay to be so mean, so cruel, so judgemental, so dehumanizing to others? Why does the anonymity of the internet bring out the worst in people?

Whether it is from the effects of cyberbullying, in person bullying, or other psycho-social conditions, our students are at risk. We must always remember this.

Our students are always at risk of experiencing deep levels of hurt. 
We are in a place to help them. We can change lives. We can save a life.

The truth is these deeply interwoven aspects and layers of mental health extend beyond just one realm of online or offline – some kids will be prone to emotional challenges no matter what their level of online safety practices and digital literacy. And some yet will be more likely to engage in risky online behaviour despite every heed and warning we could ever give. Still, it is our job to educate them. And further still, we must always be ready for potentially rising mental health crises in children and adolescents.

Mental health crises' can sneak up upon them - and us - so quickly.
We can make a choice to speak up. We can try to help.
We can make a difference. Do not ever forget it.

We can do an incredible service for our kids by truly familiarizing ourselves with the online platforms of which they become so well-acquainted to themselves. We can help to educate them to protect themselves. And we can support them along the way – connecting with the kids themselves – as well as with parents and the community.

Reaching out to colleagues, friends and counsellors is necessary to keep ourselves healthy. We must take the time to debrief. To seek all of the support that we need. Holding space for other’s suffering – witnessing their difficulties, and intervening in the ways that we may – can be difficult, painful, and cause our own suffering.

Some of these kids may have already had many struggles before we met them. There are limits to the ways we can support them. Coming to terms with these limits is challenging work. I believe we must always try – to be present, to offer our best selves- caring, supportive, empathetic. 

And ultimately, our job as teachers is to help guide them to become the best humans they can be – kind, caring, empathetic. Holding space for them matters. And just being there for them teaches them all of these values.

We can teach them that the world of communication and the ensuing responsibilities of this, falls not in one place – online or offline – but rather along the whole spectrum – in the realm of these mixed and complicated spaces.

Kids Help Line

Bell Let’s Talk

Crisis Services Canada – Suicide Prevention – Support

6 thoughts on “Monica L.’s Story, Digital Identity and Mental Health”

  1. Hey there,
    This was a very touching blog post. I completely agree with what you said about our ultimate job as teachers. I also really liked how you incorporated links to Kids Help Line, Bell Let’s Talk, and a Suicide Prevention support line. It is so important for us as educators to know about these resources and ensure that our students know about them too.
    – Ashley

    1. Hi Ashley,
      I completely agree- we need to be ready to step in at a moment’s notice to help a student in crisis. It is good to be prepared in advance by knowing which resources exist. It is reassuring to know that most schools have counsellors and other supports in place, so you never have to do it alone! But creating the space of support matters!
      And taking the time to be prepared for those moments (as much as we wish they do not happen) will go a long way to help.

  2. Thank you for sharing this post and highlighting key points that educators need to uphold while teaching students in the field of digital identity. Each day more and more online platforms are being released that students could start using, but also face the impacts in their daily lives. This may be difficult to keep up with, but as you highlighted we have the chance to reach out to colleagues and work with different resources, such as Kids Help Phone.

    1. Hi Andrew,
      Thank you for taking the time to read and share your thoughts. As students, and future educators, staying connected with each other, and having a regular dialogue about mental health is one of the biggest keys to sustaining mental wellness in our schools.
      Take care, Dani

  3. I absolutely loved your post! Coming from the perspective of mental health and digital literacy is an important aspect of being a teacher. Educating our students of the risks regardless of their online behavior is not only a teacher’s responsibility of educating about safe online practices but also about the layers of mental health that extend beyond online or offline. That was a beautifully written statement! Supporting students on their journey of growing and learning about themselves and who they are, digitally and IRL, becomes the real staple have education. Thank you so much for your posting this and the links!

    1. Hi Jenn, Thank you so much for taking the time to read and share your thoughts. I agree that mental health is so complex and has so many layers. It is so important for educators, and education students to be engaged in sustainable – long-term – dialogue – about this topic. We can all make such a difference when we work together.
      Take care,

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