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New blog hopes to reach teens who struggle to cope with mental health, drug issues

With topics ranging from managing panic attacks to managing eating disorders, a new blog site for Issaquah- and Sammamish-area students already is covering a lot of ground.

“‘Mindfulness’” should have been the 2014 Word of the Year, because I’m seeing it everywhere. There’s even a new magazine called ‘Mindful,’ available on newsstands…”

In that blog entry for Mission Mental, Barbara de Michele, director of the Issaquah Schools Foundation Healthy Youth Initiative, goes on to say mindfulness is closely aligned, but not quite the same as meditation. Still, she talks about it helping reduce anxiety, aiding in physical healing and helping recovery from addiction.

Started about two months ago by the Healthy Youth Initiative, the Mission Mental blog doesn’t have a huge number of entries so far. But de Michele said the entries that have been posted each have received more than 200 hits in a fairly short amount of time.

“I had my first panic attack in seventh grade, while taking a science test. One minute, I was scribbling an answer to an essay question. The next minute, my heart was pounding, my skin was clammy, and I felt dizzy and numb.”

The author, identified only as “Kim K.,” is a professional writer with a background in mental health communications. She is described as having recovered from depression and an eating disorder as a teen.

In that blog entry, Kim K. goes on to talk about how to control, or at least ease, feelings of anxiety. She also has a long blog entry about the many myths regarding eating disorders.

“As with communities all over the country, Issaquah and Sammamish are in the midst of a healthcare crisis. In the last month or so, we have witnessed several fatal overdoses involving young adults, and even as a healthcare provider, I cannot begin to estimate how many overdoses have gone without response.”

A member of the chemical dependency faculty at Bellevue College, blogger Jerry Blackburn said the idea of Mission Mental is to provide accurate information about mental health and various related issues.

There has been much in the media recently about increases in heroin use all around Seattle and the Eastside. Blackburn agrees the hard drug is making a comeback. Why? Prescription drugs, particularly opiates, had become very popular among abusers, but they are becoming harder to obtain, he said. Also, Blackburn said, as you take more of a drug, you naturally become more immune to its effects. Heroin is a powerful, cheap, relatively easy to obtain alternative to prescription opiates, he said.

As he talks, Blackburn emphasizes addicts aren’t necessarily criminals.

“You’re dealing with people who are ill,” he said, adding that is something he hopes will come across in his blog. His approach decidedly emphasizes treatment over jail time.

As the blog moves forward, de Michele wants to get more writers, especially teens, involved. Comments are, of course, welcome and encouraged.

“It’s a way for us to have extended conversations,” she said.

As for student participation, de Michelle credited Liberty High School senior Jenna Purkis with designing and helping launch the Web page, which began as a blog run by a suicide prevention group.

So far, Mission Mental has three or four writers, plus a few who haven’t posted as yet. Still, de Michele seems more than confident the blog can fill a need.

“We’d been brainstorming on ideas,” she said, adding all involved agreed the blog should be able to help some people get the help they need.


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