Watch as Ellen Page helps a man come out as gay to his mother.

In the first episode of her new docu-series, Ellen Page helps a young man.

Ellen Page and friend Ian Daniel are doing a little traveling to learn more about global gay culture.

It's all part of their new Viceland docu-series "Gaycation," following the two around the world as they interview people and interact with other cultures to learn more about what it's like to be gay in these countries, and to generally shine a light on global gay rights.

The first episode takes a look at Japan.


All GIFs from Viceland/YouTube.

At first glance, Japan seems like it might be a pretty gay-friendly.

While the country doesn't recognize same-sex marriages, it does accept civil unions, there haven't been laws explicitly prohibiting same-sex relationships since the late 19th century, several cities throughout the country have nondiscrimination ordinances, and its predominant religions aren't anti-gay (relative to what we're used to here in the U.S.).

Still, it's not all that gay-friendly overall. It's kind of odd, really.

A 2014 study found that nearly 70% of the country's gay, lesbian, and bisexual students had experienced bullying on the basis of their sexual orientation, and 30% had considered suicide.

Even so, the homophobia in Japanese culture is, for the most part, pretty subtle.

Kanako Otsuji, Japan's first out gay politician, explains what prevents gay people from feeling comfortable: fear and shame.

While we're used to really blatant (sometimes even violent) forms of homophobia in the U.S., it's different in Japan. That is, being gay is a path to being ostracized by friends, family, and coworkers. It's faint, but present. Coming out is met with shame.

During the episode, Otsuji explains that climate and demonstrates why she's a total badass for pushing to make gay rights part of her political platform in spite of pushback.


All that is what makes this next part so powerful.

Page and Daniel were asked to tag along and provide support as a man came out as gay to his mother.

The young man wanted a friend there to support him during the difficult conversation, only he didn’t have any. So Page and Daniel came along as a show of solidarity.

In a culture where coming out is seen as shameful, the young man's bravery is stunning.

The whole scene is really touching and might just make you cry.

His mother briefly left the room, saying, "I'm sorry." Soon enough, she was back, and she did what any loving mother would do: She offered her son support and pledged to "accept it and gradually understand it."

It's important to be authentic. That's why coming out can be so crucial to one's own self-esteem and overall happiness.

Here. Let Ellen Page explain why she felt she had to come out:

It's through coming out that we can change minds and change the world.

Page ends the episode talking about the importance of coming out, and how that's the most surefire path to long-term social acceptance. (And she's right.)

"I think the interesting thing about ... people who have a hard time with [the LGBT community] ... when someone in their life comes out, the change is fast," says Page. "It’s not always super easy at first, but I feel like people evolve quite quickly. I think it’s because we all obviously understand love and desire it, and can understand what that means for other people."

Watch the entire episode of "Gaycation" below (the story of the man coming out to his mother starts at about 33 minutes).

Can't wait for episode two!


Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

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"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

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