The Florida State Board of Education recently voted to require all students in the sixth grade and up to receive five hours of mental health instruction every year. Florida may have more than its fair share of questionable legislation, but this is highly commendable.

Florida isn't the first state to mandate such courses—New York, Virginia, and Maine all passed bills requiring mental health to be part of the required curriculum last school year, and more states are sure to follow suit.

It's a huge move in the right direction—and it's about dang time.

I taught in public schools fresh out of college, and even two decades ago I saw how much of a need there was for mental health education. Today, my thoughts on the matter are much more personal. Our oldest daughter spent much of her tween and teen years struggling with a mental health disorder called emetophobia—a clinical fear of throwing up. It got to the point in her mid-teens where she had a hard time doing normal, everyday things, like eating or being around people.

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All good parents want their children to live happy and healthy lives. But for parents of sick kids, particularly those with chronic and congenital health conditions, that's a much more difficult goal to achieve.

Unsurprisingly, anxiety is ever-present in both these parents and kids' lives.

As a mother of two children with congenital health conditions, I know first-hand how scary it can be when you’re worried and trying to process the “what if” or expected eventuality of surgery.    

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The field of trauma treatment is rapidly growing, which means that, as a trauma-informed strength coach, I spend a lot of time studying different clinical approaches. And as I do, I witness countless yoga teachers, therapists, somatic therapists, massage therapists, and physical therapists telling the stressed out to take a nice deep breath to get grounded.

To this I say: STOP!  Please stop telling folks to "take a deep breath."

On the surface, it makes a lot of sense to tell people to take a deep breath. We commonly think of deep breathing as a way to slow down time, our breath, and ultimately our autonomic nervous system.

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Samuel Bardwell had a bad anxiety attack, so his father took him to the emergency room.

Samuel was playing basketball when he noticed the signs of an impending attack. He had been prescribed an as-needed anti-anxiety medication, but he didn't have any on-hand.

And as his symptoms got worse — vomiting, loss of consciousness — it was clear he needed medical intervention.

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