because the struggle to talk about mental health, and be mentally healthy, is real.

Well hey there!  

Vanessa and Kalee here.

We think that talking about mental health should be as easy as talking about the weather. So we've created a series of videos and podcasts dedicated to helping you become the most mental health savvy human you can be. What kinds of things do we talk about? That's a great question... I knew you were smart. Some of the topics we cover are how to better relate to mental health problems, how to have a conversation about mental health, and how to best support a friend who is having a hard time.

Also - news flash!! - you don't have to have a mental illness diagnosis to struggle with your mental health. We want you to be the most mentally healthy person you can be! So to help you get there we're going to cover topics like how to have an assertive communication style, how to have the healthiest relationships, warning signs and helpful tricks for dealing with anxiety and depression, and what to do if you feel like you're being bullied. 

Do you have some ideas about a topic you wish we would cover? I knew you would! Send us an email at thementalhealthstruggleisreal@gmail.com. 



Hey friends! The Struggle is Real has completed its first season! 

Hopefully you learned a lot and enjoyed listening to us! We threw a lot of information at you about how to be mentally healthy! If you forget, no sweat.  It a few college tries to develop healthy habits, so go back to listen or watch our material if you are feeling stuck.

This season we started to discuss the stigma around mental health and how to start having conversations about it. One barrier to feeling comfortable is having the wrong information about various mental disorders. Starting this summer we will run a series to help people better understand what these disorders actually look like.  Our goal is to 1) help you appreciate the incredible difficulties people experience when navigating a serious mental illness , 2) help you empathize with the person behind the illness, because remember mental health is on a continuum and we can all relate in some way. 

If you think there is a specific mental disorder that you feel is misunderstood (all of them, lol!) and would like us to feature it, please email us thementalhealthstruggleisreal@gmail.com 

See you in the summer!


I wish we could go back to communicating through cute drawings of dogs and horses on cave walls, but unfortunately, we’re stuck with these damn words. And it turns out that being able to communicate yourself clearly and assertively is super important for your mental health!! It’s the only healthy way to communicate in a relationship (and relationships are super important for mental health!!), it’s essential for communicating your mental health needs to friends, family, and partners, and it’s the only effective way to call people on their sh*t when they’re using stigmatizing language. But what the heck is assertive communication?? And how the heck do you do it?? Lucky for you we’ve dedicated a whole episode of TSIR to different communication styles, and how to communicate yourself clearly, calmly, and assertively! 


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What Happened When I Replaced Sorry With Thank You


"Effective communication is one of the most important life skills we can learn—yet one we don’t usually put a lot of effort into. "



Remember how we told you that healthy relationships are wonderful and act as a shield?  Well the flip side of that is a destructive relationship. This past week people wore pink to stand up to bullying and today we want to talk about bullying in adulthood. It is a real thing and has serious mental health consequences for both the people who experience it and witness it. We are joined by Dr. Wendy Craig, an expert on relationships and bullying across the life span. She discusses with us what bullying in adulthood looks like, what are the effects, and how we can take action.




Hear one person's personal experience with adult bullying and how they overcame it:


Check out this great piece outlining one of the worst forms of bullying in adulthood: Cyberbullying



What the heck is a healthy Relationship?

Months ago, we established that supportive relationships have big impacts on our mental health because they get us through tough times. We're here today to talk more about relationships, specifically what makes them healthy!  And we're talking relationships of all kinds: romantic partners, friends, family members, and the most important, your Costco sample lady. Because while healthy, wonderful relationships do magical things for our physical and mental health, unhealthy relationships cause us stress and mental health problems! But how do you know whether your relationships are meeting your needs?? And are you meeting the needs of the people in your life?? 




Sometimes you may worry that once a conflict begins, that it may never end! Here are some tips about how to move forward and through a conflict while respecting your partner!


"You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf." John Kabat-Zinn


i should  be sleeping

It’s 11pm, bedtime….the perfect moment for your brain to present you with your top 10 most embarrassing memories. Fast forward to 3am... We have a complicated relationship with sleep. We want so desperately to be in a long-term relationship with it but then do things to push it away. Today we talk about how sleep (or not sleeping) impacts our mental health! Having one bad sleep might leave you feeling groggy but weeks and months of bad sleep can seriously affect our mood. Jackie Huberman, a PhD student in Clinical Psychology, is here with us to discuss the connection between sleep in mental health, debunk some sleep myths, and share with us the small steps we can take to have better sleep!


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Sleep: no longer a symptom, but a contribution to sleep disorders as a whole. Read more through the Harvard Health Publications:


"Curing insomnia in people with depression could double their chance of a full recovery", wouldn't ya know our mind and body are so connected!




We all have that one aunt that just keeps telling us that "if only we went out and tried the yoga, we'd feel so much better!" They're the worst. But, unfortunately, there's a bit of truth to what she's saying (don't worry, we won't tell her). It turns out that our brains and bodies are NOT completely separate, just YOLOing off on their own. They're very connected! When we move our bodies, our brain finds out. AND because of pesky evolution, it seems that our brains are happiest when we're movin' & shakin', and busting out the Macarena. Because we evolved to move (and quite well, I must say), our brains perform best when our pedometers are hitting those high numbers. Most importantly for us, this means that movement is actually one of the best ways to fend off mental health problems and prevent them from occurring in the first place!! Check out the video to find out what kind of activity you should be doing, how much of it, and how to know if you're doing it right. 




"If you're skeptical about the benefits of yoga breathing you might want to give it another shot." Yoga Breathing Benefits Include Reducing Depression, http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/01/04/yoga-breathing-benefits_n_13952956.html

"why-exercise-is-important-for-mental-health-and-how-you-(yes-YOU!)-can-start-an-exercise-program." From the POV of a Queen's Graduate Studies Student with a "pet" in Physical Activity and Psychology. 



The Holidays are HARD

They are stressful. You spend a lot of money, you eat and drink too much, and who knows what is going to come out around the dinner table! Politics, your single status, religion, unwarranted advice from Aunt Susan about how to cure your so called millennial blues? The holidays can be a wild ride and not necessarily the fun kind at Disney land. Things can get all kinds of stressful... which we know (because we have said it a million times) can affect our mental health. 

This is why you need a plan. A Holiday Mental Health Plan. WE LOVE PLANS

As our gift to you this holiday season we are going to help you make your Holiday Mental Health plan and spoiler alert we are going to bring back some of the topics we’ve covered in our previous videos/podcasts.

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"Even when we don't have high expectations, we often have hope - ... it can become overwhelming very quickly" 

Advice from psychologists on dealing with holiday stress:


Treat Yo' Self

Let’s face it. We’re almost always WAY nicer to our loved ones (or even strangers!) than we are to ourselves... And it turns out that being super mean and critical of yourself can put you at risk for mental health problems! Today we want to talk about a kind of thinking style (or cognitive lens for all you fancypants out there!) that acts like a protective shield against, well, ourselves! And how crappy we can be to ourselves! We’re talking about SELF-COMPASSION and how important it is for you and your mental health to give yourself a break every now and then. 

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Why Self-Compassion Works Better than Self-Esteem: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/05/why-self-compassion-works-better-than-self-esteem/481473/

Everything You Could Ever Want to Know About Self-Compassion:



SO, you’ve decided that it might be helpful to get some professional mental health support. AWESOME! 100 bonus grown up points for you. But how do you actually do that!? Where do you go?? Who ya gonna call?? Certainly not the ghost busters. This week we’re all about how learning how to actually get help. Because the worst thing you can do is wait until you need help to try to figure out how to navigate this confusing system! We cover the difference between the services you can get from your family dr, a community counsellor, a clinical psychologist, and a psychiatrist, as well as some other mental health supports you should know about. 

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Getting help is hard!

If you’ve been following along week by week you’ll know that we’ve been throwing a LOT of information at you so far about the things you can do to improve or protect your mental health. Talk about mental health! Be aware of your emotions! Manage your emotions in a healthy way! Make sure you have enough (and the right kind of) social support! We sound a bit like a naggy mom (no offense mom..). So this week we wanted to change gears and focus on what someone else can do to help you with your mental health! And no, we’re not talking about the guy who says he will heal your mind for five easy instalments of $19.99. Seeking professional mental health support is hard for so many reasons… There’s a lot of stigma around needing help with your mental health, and with being “in therapy”! There’s also just the scary question of “When do I actually need to seek professional help?” To help you understand the benefits of seeking help, when you should actually pick up the phone to make that call, and some of the most common misconceptions or barriers to seeking help, we interviewed a phenomenal clinical psychologist here in Kingston, Ontario.

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The barriers to seeking help (stigma, knowing when is the right time, etc.) and how to over come them: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/01/14/what-prevents-people-from-seeking-mental-health-treatment/

Five signs you should be seeking professional support:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201303/5-signs-its-time-seek-therapy


Who's got your back??

Having good support in our lives is amazing… It means someone is there to pick you up when you’re feeling down, make you laugh when it’s hard to smile, and to feed you pizza when you’re too hungry to move. But sometimes we have to step back and make sure that the people supporting us are actually giving us the kind of support that we need! Check out our latest video, podcast, and articles to learn more about how social support actually changes your body’s way of handling stress, how long this has been beneficial, and the kinds of faux-supporters you may have to watch your back around. 

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what we see depends on what we're looking for

Whenever we're experiencing a big emotion, our brains try to do us a big favor by looking for evidence to support us (your brain's got your back). But, the problem with this is that it prevents us from seeing anything in our environments that would contradict how we're thinking and feeling. Psychologists call this phenomenon a "confirmation bias" and we're here this week to talk about what the heck that means, how to recognize when YOU'RE using it, and how to kick this bias in the face when it's getting in your way. 


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How anxiety warps your perception:  http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160928-how-anxiety-warps-your-perception

Confirmation Bias (seeing what you want, or maybe don't want, to see): https://www.verywell.com/what-is-a-confirmation-bias-2795024