Safer Schools Info for Students The Center for Safer Schools has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) of interest to students. To access this information, please select from the following list of topics. Bullying/Mental Health What is the difference between being rude, mean, and a bully? Rude Being rude is when someone says or does something unintentionally hurtful and they do it once. For example, Have you ever thought of coloring your hair? It would look much better another color. Rude behavior can come from anyone; family, friends or strangers. Mean Mean behavior is when someone says or does something intentionally hurtful and they do it once or twice. Are you seriously wearing that again? Didn't you just wear it last week? Get some new clothes. Mean behavior should not be ignored. It can easily escalate to bullying. Bullying Bullying is repeated aggressive behavior that results in an imbalance of power. Kids who bully use their power — such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity — to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people. Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose. Online bullying is known as cyberbullying. How to be an upstander instead of a bystander? Be helpful by not encouraging the bully by standing by, record on your phone, or pass by without helping the victim of the bullying. Some upstanders directly intervene, by discouraging the bully, defending the victim, or redirecting the situation away from bullying. Other upstanders get help, by rallying support from peers to stand up against bullying or by reporting the bullying to adults. If I am being bullied, what do I do? Don't stay silent or think you can handle this alone. Bullying cannot be resolved as easily as a conflict. If the first few people you seek help from do not help, never give up on yourself- keep advocating for yourself! (ex. If your bullying situation does not get resolved after speaking to a parent/guardian and teacher, continue to report it to higher levels until a resolution is obtained). Follow this reporting hierarchy. Parents or Guardian Teachers Principal, Counselor Police if needed (Assault, Weapons, Threats, Criminal Behavior) County Superintendent Local Board of Education Person at the State Level — NC Center for Safer Schools (email Karen Everett or call 919.807.3494) What should you know? Stand tall, be proud of who you are and know that you deserve respect. Tell an adult you trust what is going on. Avoid being around a person that you know is a bully. Say NO to the bully from the start. Develop healthy friendships, stand up for each other. Resilience. What is mental health? Everyone has mental health, very much like we all have physical health. It is the state of wellbeing in which the individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with normal stressors of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community. What is good mental health? Having good mental health is important for everyone! It helps you face life's challenges, overcome hardships, and deal with day to day stress and decision making that are positive and constructive in nature. How can I have or maintain good mental health? Just like our physical bodies need exercise and healthy food to be healthy, the same goes for our brain. Here are a few considerations toward obtaining and/or maintaining a healthy (good) mental health: • Good practical habits: Get enough sleep, eat healthy and stay active/exercise • Connect with others: bonding with others and having a trusted adult • Learn to ask for help: be unashamed for advocating for yourself and your needs • Be informed: know who, what, when, and where you can find help. (Ex. Know what signs and symptoms of poor mental health and resources available for help) • Be resilient: The more protective factors the more resilient you can be. These include strong family and/or positive social supports, spirituality/faith, routines, consistent school attendance and academic performance, healthy habits, etc. • Learn healthy coping skills: managing bouts of anger or sadness with healthy practices such as biking, running, walks, and positive thinking or self-talk • Avoid bad habits (poor choices): These include staying away from drugs and alcohol. Poor sleep patterns, poor eating and poor physical activity are also bad habits. What is the difference between mental health and mental disorder/mental illness? • Mental health is the overall psychological (emotional) well-being of a person. • A mental disorder, also known as mental illness, is a diagnosable mental condition that impacts a person's thinking, emotions, behaviors which in turn impacts their daily activities and relationships Can a person with mental illness recover? • Absolutely! Mental health treatment helps people gain skills and coping strategies to overcome and lead normal and happy lives. • Effective treatment is available and can help persons with mental illness lead normal lives, whether their mental health symptoms are mild or lifelong (APA). • What is critical, however, is the sooner a person receives effective treatment, the better the outcome! There is hope and help! What is stigma and how does it impact mental health treatment? • Stigma is a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person • Stigma acts as a barrier (makes it difficult) for people seeking help. • Often, others look down or are unsympathetic to the needs and hardships of a person's suffering from a mental illness or their seeking professional help. This lessens their ability and comfort to seek help and treatment, and increases their loneliness and difficulty in carrying out day to day activities. • By destigmatizing mental health, a person or community will understand that there is no shame in having a mental illness, that they are common and there is effective treatment available. Such a shift enables a person suffering from mental illness to ask for help! How can I recognize if I or a friend/peer is experiencing a mental illness/crisis? Most teens and preteens assume what they are experiencing is a normal part of adolescence or are afraid they are the only ones going through something, which leads them to reject help. Recognizing signs or symptoms is key to seeking or connecting someone to help. • A sign is an action or behavior that is identified by someone other than the person affected • A symptom is experienced by the person affected. These can include thoughts, feelings, visions, voices and even touch.