Sunset Park Seniors May Lose Mental Health Services

Posted on 3 June, 2016  in Conditions, News
(Photo by Atelier Ying, Creative commons license)

(Photo by Atelier Ying, Creative Commons license)

To Chinese people, mental health problems are a cultural taboo that few would like to talk about. Some people have no knowledge of depression and other psychological problems. And even those who are aware of these diseases are often too shy to go to the doctors. In the U.S. the suicide rate among women 75 years and older is higher for Asians than for any other ethnic group.

But a new mental health services program for seniors that the city’s Department of Health is launching doesn’t include the Chinese concentrated neighborhood Sunset Park in the priority neighborhoods that need services.

The Program to Encourage Active, Rewarding Lives, or PEARLS, will replace GMHI (Geriatric Mental Health Initiative), the current senior mental health services program offered by the DOH. [Editor’s note: PEARLS is a depression management program developed at the University of Washington. It emphasizes in-home counseling to help seniors control their depression. The program has been adopted by many local governments nationwide.]
Wai Yee Chan, director of the Brooklyn branch of the Chinese-American Planning Council which provides mental health services to seniors in Sunset Park, said the new program could affect seniors in the area profoundly. Chan said every year his program provides services to nearly 800 underserved seniors in Sunset Park. But the DOH’s new program didn’t list Sunset Park as a neighborhood that’s underserved. As a result, it will not only be more difficult for seniors in this neighborhood to get mental health services, but the funding for current cases could also be stopped. “Our social workers have been dealing with hundreds of cases. If we lose the funding in July, the seniors we are serving now will be left in a dire situation,” said Chan.
Carolina Rodriguez, spokesperson for the DOH, said after PEARLS is in place, seniors in Sunset Park will still be able to get services through the program, or they can get services via the Mental Health Service Corps. She said the DOH selected PEARLS because evidence has shown the program can effectively alleviate depression among seniors. Also the program provides culturally competent in-home counseling that can be helpful to people from different cultures, including new immigrants.
But Chan didn’t agree. He said the evidence that supports PEARLS was collected among English speaking seniors in Washington State, and it may not apply to a racially diverse city like New York. And that is especially a concern among the Chinese. In Chinese culture, mental illness is often synonymous with “crazy.” So Asian seniors rarely seek help voluntarily. The mental health services program at CPC often has to start with some mental health related workshops or via the process of helping seniors to apply for welfare. Service providers only start discussing with seniors their mental health issues after they build up trust with the seniors.
PEARLS doesn’t include education and awareness raising and only provides funding for in-home counseling. Chan said that won’t work in the Chinese community. “We often tell our seniors to not open the door for strangers. How can you expect them to open the door for counselors they don’t know, let alone discuss their mental health problems with them?” said Chan.
Carlos Menchaca, the Council member representing Sunset Park, wrote a letter to the DOH recently, asking the agency to reconsider adopting PEARLS. In the letter, Menchaca noted the program doesn’t fit the needs of multiracial New York, and asked the DOH to maintain the current mental health service program in Sunset Park.
If PEARLS is adopted, the current mental health service program in Sunset Park will be terminated in July.

This article, Sunset Park Seniors May Lose Mental Health Services, first appeared on Voices of NY.

Similarities Among Restrictive Eating Disorders

Posted on 22 May, 2016  in Conditions, News
Research Study at the Massachusetts General Hospital
Eating Disorders Clinical and Research Program

When most people hear the term “restrictive eating disorder,” they probably think of anorexia nervosa (AN). But there are other eating disorders beside AN that involve either limiting food intake, or trying to avoid it entirely. Our team at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) is currently carrying out a study, to understand the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, of individuals with restrictive eating disorders and to see how these are related to brain functioning and hormone levels. The overall goal is to understand what restrictive eating disorders have in common, what distinguishes them, and how underlying similarities might help clinicians develop new treatments.

Restrictive Eating Disorders – Not Just Anorexia Nervosa

Restrictive eating is the core symptom of a wide variety of feeding and eating disorders. Here are just a few examples:

Anorexia Nervosa (AN). AN is an eating disorder characterized by food restriction and body image disturbance. Individuals with AN also describe an intense fear of gaining weight or engage in behaviors such as under-eating, compulsively exercising, or purging – that prevent them from gaining weight, even though they are underweight. Those with AN often have a distorted view of their body and appearance, judge their self-worth mostly on their body shape and weight, and/or are unable to recognize the seriousness of their low weight. Interestingly, AN is probably the rarest eating disorder in the general population, despite being the best known.

Atypical Anorexia Nervosa. Some individuals have food restriction, body image disturbance, and fear of weight gain even though they are not underweight. Although these individuals do not meet criteria for AN as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-5), they still have an eating disorder. As discussed in Dr. Thomas’s book Almost Anorexic: Is My (Or My Loved One’s) Relationship with Food a Problem?, atypical AN can be just as severe as full-syndrome AN in the areas of eating pathology, physical complications and other mental health problems (e.g. anxiety, depression), and is equally deserving of recognition and treatment.

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is newly included in DSM-5 and describes individuals who have difficulty meeting their nutritional or energy needs without co-occurring weight and shape concerns. Thus, individuals with ARFID may be underweight like those with AN, but they also may be normal weight or overweight. A key difference between those with ARFID and AN is that those with ARFID do not worry about gaining weight. Individuals who meet criteria for this disorder may limit the amount of food they eat or the types of foods they consume because they have a low appetite and do not feel hungry, find the textures or tastes of certain foods are very intense or unpleasant, or feel afraid of choking or vomiting.

Dangerous Consequences of Restrictive Eating Disorders

All three of these restrictive eating disorders are very serious mental and physical illnesses. Families can feel powerless to help their loved one. Some individuals must put their lives on hold (either to engage in disordered eating behaviors or access much-needed treatment), and many feel isolated from friends and family. In addition and most frighteningly, more people die per year from (AN) than from any other psychiatric illness. Various reasons account for lethality of this condition including psychological disturbances like depression and suicidality and dangerous medical complications associated with low weight and starvation (e.g., heart failure). Because these medical problems are associated with low weight and undernourishment, they can also impact individuals with ARFID and atypical AN. Although 22-year outcome data from our team at MGH suggests that the majority of people with AN do recover with time, some individuals develop a chronic form of illness Moreover, no evidence-based treatments exist for ARFID at present.

Searching for the Causes and Maintaining Mechanisms of Restrictive Eating Disorders

Our team at MGH is interested in understanding more about what causes and maintains low weight eating disorders. For instance, why do some people develop an eating disorder, while some don’t, even though their life circumstances may be very similar? Are there biological differences in the brain that make some people more susceptible? Why do some people have AN, atypical AN, or ARIFD for a long time, while others recover quickly? Why is it that some people who are underweight restrict their eating entirely, while others engage in bingeing and purging? Ultimately, we believe that finding the answers to these questions help improve treatment and outcome for individuals affected by these disorders and their families.

The study team at MGH

The study team at MGH

That’s why our team is currently in its second year of a five-year longitudinal study of adolescent females with restrictive eating disorders. The study, led by MGH investigators Drs. Madhu Misra, Elizabeth Lawson, and Kamryn Eddy, is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. The study has two main goals: The first is to examine two types of food motivation pathways in the brain: regulatory pathways and reward pathways. Regulatory pathways function to help the body balance hunger and fullness cues so that an individual can maintain a healthy level of food intake. These are the cues that help us to eat when we are hungry, and stop when we are full. In contrast, reward pathways involve the amount of pleasure people experience when eating. Consistent with the adage that “there’s always room for dessert!”, reward pathways are activated when an individual experiences a particular food as pleasurable, regardless of whether the body is experiencing hunger. Different people find different foods pleasurable and people also differ in how much pleasure they receive from eating their favorite foods. The study seeks to discover whether individuals with restrictive eating disorders have greater difficulty recognizing hunger and perhaps find food less rewarding, in comparison to individuals without eating disorders.

Adolescence is an important time of rapid growth and transition, making it a high-risk period for the development of eating disorders. Fortunately, research has shown that early detection and treatment is a strong predictor of making a full recovery from restrictive eating disorders. Because the study uses a longitudinal design, we follow our participants over 18 months, and hope to determine whether regulatory and reward pathways normalize with weight recovery, and/or predict longstanding difficulties with restrictive eating.

Participant Recruitment is Key to Developing Findings

One of the most exciting and rewarding parts about conducting the study is interacting with participants. Our participants range from 10-21 years old, and all share an interest in contributing to science and helping others who also have an eating disorder. Participating in research is a way for them to give back and to feel connected to a prevention and treatment cause. Many participants – even those struggling in their own recovery – say that they hope no one else has to go through the same suffering they have endured.

Study Coordinator Chris Mancuso

Study coordinator, Chris Mancuso, monitors an fMRI scan in progress.

Participating in a research study can also be meaningful for individuals without a disorder. We also recruit healthy volunteers, who don’t have AN or ARFID, to participate in our studies as the healthy comparison by which we compare those with an eating disorder. Without this valuable information, we would not be able to start answering questions related to neurobiological vulnerabilities to eating disorders or neurobiological changes that occur during the course of the illness.

While healthy volunteers may not have a personal connection with the disorder itself, they report enjoying being a part of the scientific process. Many volunteers have interest in pursuing science as a career, and enjoy experiencing research firsthand. Sometimes, potential research participants who express interest in being a healthy volunteer realize that they are struggling with mental health issues of their own throughout the course of the screening process. For example, after completing the questionnaires and speaking to study staff during the clinical interview, they may become aware of behaviors, thoughts, or feelings that they did not know where dangerous or problematic for their physical and/or mental health. Thus, participating as a healthy control can increase insight and self-awareness. If this occurs in our studies, we provide participants with resources and encourage and support them in seeking help that they might not otherwise have sought.

Interested in Participating?

Participants in our research study attend a screening visit and 3 main study visits. The screening visit involves a medical examination that includes an x-ray scan. The main study visits each involve a series of questionnaires and computer tasks to assess symptoms and various different thinking styles. The main visits also includes brain scans using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to observe how the brain responds in certain tasks and when certain pathways are active. If they are interested, participants are welcome to take home a picture of their brain.

The research team at MGH is delighted to be working with our participants to answer important questions about the progression and neurobiological features of restrictive eating disorders while also identifying new questions to ask. Our hope is that this work will reveal important information regarding the diagnosis and classification of disordered eating and will help improve treatments for these conditions.

If you will be in the Boston area and might be interested in participating in our study, we would be happy to share more information with you. To contact us, please email, or complete an online screening form.

Follow this link to learn more about other study participation opportunities in eating disorders at MGH.


Return To Causes Of Eating Disorders

Return To Home Page




Additional Reading:

To learn more about restrictive type eating disorders that do not meet criteria for AN or ARFID, check out Dr. Thomas’s book, Almost Anorexic.

About The Authors:

By Kathryn Coniglio B.A., Kendra Becker M.S., and Jennifer J. Thomas, Ph.D., Eating Disorders Clinical and Research Program, Massachusetts General Hospital.


Thomas JJ, Schaefer J. Almost Anorexic: Is My (Or My Loved One’s) Relationship with Food a Problem? Center City, MN: Hazelden/Harvard Health Publications; 2013.
Keshaviah A, Edkins K, Hastings E, Krishna M, Franko DL, Herzog DB, Thomas JJ, Murray HB, Eddy KT. Re-examining premature mortality in anorexia nervosa: A meta-analysis redux. Compr Psychiatry 2014; 55: 1773-84

Mehler, P. S., & Brown, C. (2015). Anorexia nervosa–medical complications. Journal of eating disorders, 3(1), 11.

Eddy KT, Tabri N, Thomas JJ, Murray HB, Keshaviah A, Hastings E, Edkins K, Krishna M, Herzog DB, Keel PK, Franko DL. Recovery from anorexia and bulimia at 22-year follow up. J Clin Psychiatry. In press.

Written – 2016

This article, Similarities Among Restrictive Eating Disorders, first appeared on Eating Disorder Help.

Memorial for the win! Memorial awarded first place in regional MoodCheck Challenge

Posted on 22 May, 2016  in Conditions, News

With 1,049 participants and 142,093 points, Memorial University won first place in the MoodCheck Challenge.

Memorial will receive a $1,500 donation to be used toward a campus mental wellness initiative.

Approximately 1,650 students from across Atlantic Canada participated in the MoodCheck Challenge from March 14-25.

Memorial’s St. John’s campus, Grenfell Campus and Marine Institute collaborated to compete in the challenge. A campaign to encourage students to participate began the week prior to the challenge, with various printed and digital materials describing the challenge, in-person outreach from student volunteers from the Student Wellness and Counselling Centre, and a launch event on March 15.

Katy Warren, a fifth-year student in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, also helped launch the challenge with a video, inviting students to participate.

Participating universities included Acadia University, Dalhousie University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Mount Allison University, Mount Saint Vincent University, NSCAD University, St. Thomas University, University of King’s College, University of New Brunswick and University of Prince Edward Island.

Check the app

For two weeks, students used the MoodCheck app to track their moods. Twice a day, at random times, their phone prompted them to check in and enter their mood, the activity they were taking part in, where they were and who they were with. Students gained points each time they checked in on the app, and gained bonus points the more often they checked in.

The aim of the challenge was to motivate students to be mindful about how the things they do affect the way they feel. This increased awareness is known to be a strong predictor of improved mental health and well-being.

“This challenge has shown us that students are ready to take ownership of their mental health.” — Dr. Peter Cornish

While the challenge was not a scientific study, the data revealed that students felt best when they were completing duties, such as working or doing chores (23 per cent), participating in quiet activities, such as relaxing or enjoying the outdoors (18 per cent), or using technology, such as playing a game or listening to music (19 per cent). Students felt the worst when they were worrying or feeling sick (35 per cent), completing duties such as studying or homework (29 per cent), or participating in quiet activities such as thinking or reading (13 per cent).

Memorial co-chair

The MoodCheck Challenge was initiated by the student mental health working group of the Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU), which is co-chaired by Dr. Peter Cornish.

“This challenge has shown us that students are ready to take ownership of their mental health,” said Dr. Peter Cornish, director, Student Wellness and Counselling Centre, Memorial University. “That’s what this is all about. The online environment is an exciting new space to make tools available to our university communities. There is so much room for growth and innovation in this area. There is much more to come.”

Presidential partnership

Dr. Gary Kachanoski, president and vice-chancellor, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and Dr. Eddy Campbell, president and vice-chancellor, University of New Brunswick, partnered to lead this challenge, and invited universities across Atlantic Canada to join them in this student mental health initiative.

“It’s encouraging that we had 10 universities participate in this challenge, and I believe this collaboration has set a foundation for continued partnerships on student mental health and wellness initiatives,” said Dr. Kachanoski. “We’ve identified student mental health as a priority at Memorial and, with our AAU partners, we’ve now established support for students across Atlantic Canada.”

“It has been heartening to see the response to the MoodCheck Challenge within our university communities,” said Dr. Campbell. “There is a greater awareness of the importance of mental wellness as part of overall health. Conversations around mental health are being pushed out of the shadows.”

Online tools

The MoodCheck app is part of a larger program called WellTrack, which was developed by Dr. Darren Piercey, a psychology professor at the University of New Brunswick. The program provides students with a number of online tools and resources aimed at helping them manage stress, anxiety, depression and some phobias.

More information about the MoodCheck Challenge can be found here.

The challenge video can be viewed here.

Article retrieved from Memorial University Gazette, and written by Laura Barron

This article, Memorial for the win! Memorial awarded first place in regional MoodCheck Challenge, first appeared on Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health.

#MHYALit: Its Okay Not to Be Okay, a guest post by author Claire Legrand

Posted on 18 May, 2016  in Conditions, News

Some Kind of Happiness is one of those books that grabbed me from the first page and didn’t let go. I was a child with anxiety and Finley Hart is the first time I have ever seen an accurate representation of my mental state in childhood. We desperately need more middle grade stories that deal frankly with mental illness. Kids with anxiety and depression need to see themselves in stories so they can understand what they’re feeling and how to deal with it. Some Kind of Happiness is a special and important book, and it’s going to mean a lot to many, many kids and families. – Ally Watkins


In fifth grade, I had my first anxiety attack.

I don’t remember what prompted me to ask my teacher if I could use the restroom, but I remember huddling in the stall, hunched over on the toilet, as nausea seized my tiny ten-year-old body. My skin broke out in sick chills. I scratched my arms and legs until they were covered in red marks.

My thoughts raced with fear; I could not quiet my brain. I tried going to the bathroom, I tried throwing up. Nothing helped. I simply sat there and endured it until I felt well enough to go back to class.

Part of me was terrified by what had just happened. But I rallied and got through the day, dismissing that scary moment in the bathroom as . . . something. I had no idea what to call it.

I decided I was fine. I was still breathing, still standing.

I was fine. (I wasn’t fine.)

In high school, I was busy. The depressive swings and anxiety attacks that had come and gone through middle school—that I had resolutely ignored—receded. Looking back, I honestly think my high school self sublimated my anxiety and depression into a ferocious, obsessive fixation on grades and achievement. If I couldn’t figure out my algebra homework, I sobbed and shook with panic, and stayed up late agonizing over my failure until I felt sick with exhaustion and self-loathing.

I remember sometimes pinching myself, hard—even slapping my own face—when I failed at a task. I remember feeling how completely my entire worth as a human being was tied up in achievement.

Because those things meant I was okay. That I was fine. That the sluggish middle school phase—those blue days, those spiraling thoughts—had passed. If I was an achiever, then I wasn’t sick or weird or broken.

I was fine. (I wasn’t.)

In college, depression hit me like a fist to the gut. The writing bug bit me and changed my life. I stopped studying music, leaving behind beloved friends and professors to forge a new path in life. I knew I wanted to write books, but beyond that I had no idea what the future held.

It became hard to get out of bed. I stopped taking care of myself. I stayed up all night, hardly slept, and even more rarely made it to class or work on time. I binged on salty, fatty foods one day and then barely ate the next. I got dressed in the dark and avoided mirrors so I wouldn’t have to look at my face or my body, both of which I despised.

Sometimes I would think about the effort required to get through another day and feel my whole self shrink and shrivel. I would retreat into my thoughts, curl up in a fetal position in bed, and not move for hours.

But I was fine. Honestly. (Or not.)

Despite the perpetual tardiness, I still got As in school. I wrote killer essays in my literature classes. I had an apartment, a job, friends. I figured out that I wanted to be a librarian. I got into graduate school.

There was nothing wrong with me. I thought: Doesn’t everyone have days when they can’t get out of bed because the thought of doing so makes their body clench up with fear? Doesn’t everyone low-level hate themselves pretty much all the time?

Sure, I thought. This is normal. This is fine.

(I was so far from fine.)

It took me years to put a name to what was wrong with me. It took me even longer to seek treatment—to see a therapist and finally, only a few months ago, start taking medication to help manage my mental health.

And it took me that long because I kept convincing myself that I was fine. Throughout everything—the panic attacks, the constant anxiety, the crushing depression—I wrote books, kept up with friends, started a serious romantic relationship. I worked out, cracked jokes, called my grandma on her birthday.

These are things, I thought, that normal people do. Therefore, I thought, I am normal.

(I am fine.)

It’s so easy, when someone asks you the question:

“How are you?” asks the sales clerk, the neighbor, the friend.

And you say, “I’m fine.” Society expects it of you. Nobody actually wants to hear what kind of messed-up emotional issues you’re struggling with (so we think). It’s not seemly to be seen on social media opening up about your depression, your anxiety, your self-loathing (so we are told).

And so you convince yourself you’re fine, even when you’re not: “I’m good! Busy, but can’t complain!” (I’ve been on the verge of tears all day.)

And so you craft lies: “My boyfriend’s car died, gotta go pick him up.” (I can’t get out of bed. The thought of doing so makes it hard to breathe.)

Because you can still function, after all. You can still smile and meet your deadlines, you still buy your groceries and make your bed (when you can get out of it). You’re not that sick. You’re not one of those people who really need help. I mean, sure, sometimes you let the dishes pile up because you feel so overwhelmed by literally every thought that runs through your head that all you can do to keep from totally losing it is curl up on the couch and try to hold yourself together.

But isn’t that how it is for everyone? (No. It’s not.)

Shouldn’t I be able to handle this without burdening others with the knowledge of my pain? (You don’t have to do that. You are not a burden to your friends. I promise you.)

In Some Kind of Happiness, Finley feels guilt and shame regarding her own anxiety and depression, which she has not yet named, or even fully acknowledged, because she doesn’t understand that it’s okay to reach out, to ask for help:

                I have no right to my sadness when there are dead families and burned houses.

                The memories of all the sadness I have ever experienced come rushing back to me in a stream. Days when I could nto smile, when I felt heavy and pushed down. nights when I could not sleep. Mornings when I could not wake up.

                These moments of sadness seem so small, now. They seem pathetic.

That was me. I was Finley. I thought that since I was (mostly) fine, then I didn’t have to—and shouldn’t—speak up about what I was feeling. That it was best dealt with on my own. That people would scorn me if I opened up to them, tell me I had no real reason to complain.

That was me, for so long. But no longer.

Lately I’ve been trying more and more to be honest with my friends about what I’m feeling—and not just my safe, core group of friends who understand anxiety and depression because they experience it themselves.

All my friends. My family, too. When I’m not fine, I try to tell them, even when it feels scary or embarrassing. I don’t always find the courage, but I always at least think about it. And when I do open up to them, I don’t couch what I’m feeling in “safe” terms. I want to tell it like it is:

My throat and chest are tight with panic. I’ve barely moved from this chair all day.

I’m moving under the weight of an ocean today. It’s hard to think, hard to focus. My mind is fuzzy and dim.

My thoughts are spiraling faster and faster. They’re all I can hear.

I want them to understand what it feels like, as much as they can without experiencing it themselves. I want them to hear me describe how ugly anxiety and depression feel. I want them to experience discomfort when they hear me speak so frankly—and then I want them to push through that discomfort and come out the other side with a greater understanding of what I and so many other people around them experience on a daily basis.

Honesty paves the way for discussion, and discussion breeds empathy. The more people speak frankly about mental illness, the faster it will become part of the everyday conversation.

When more and more people candidly describe what it feels like to endure a depressive swing, to experience the quiet agony of constant anxiety, social taboos regarding mental health and mental illness crumble and fade.

When someone suffering in silence sees another human being opening up about their own struggles, they feel a little less alone and, maybe, a little more hopeful.

I won’t always talk about my mental health on social media. It’s important to keep certain things between myself, my family, and my close friends.

But sometimes things need to be said and discussions need to happen. Sometimes standing up to speak is the most important thing you can do to make a difference in others’ lives, and I am going to try my best to do that—for myself, and for my readers, especially my kid and teen readers who, like Finley, may not yet understand what they’re feeling. And maybe if they see me speaking frankly about mental illness as part of my everyday experience—right alongside my tweets about unicorns and Tumblr gifs from my favorite TV shows—they’ll find the courage to do the same.

Because sometimes all a person in pain needs to hear is this:

I’m not fine. Not always. I’m afraid to say it, but I’m going to say it anyway: I’m not fine, and it’s okay to say so.

(And it’s okay for you to say so, too.)

About SOME KIND OF HAPPINESS by Claire Legrand


• Her parents, who are having problems. (But they pretend like they’re not.)
• Being sent to her grandparents’ house for the summer.
• Never having met said grandparents.
• Her blue days—when life feels overwhelming, and it’s hard to keep her head up. (This happens a lot.)

Finley’s only retreat is the Everwood, a forest kingdom that exists in the pages of her notebook. Until she discovers the endless woods behind her grandparents’ house and realizes the Everwood is real–and holds more mysteries than she’d ever imagined, including a family of pirates that she isn’t allowed to talk to, trees covered in ash, and a strange old wizard living in a house made of bones.

With the help of her cousins, Finley sets out on a mission to save the dying Everwood and uncover its secrets. But as the mysteries pile up and the frightening sadness inside her grows, Finley realizes that if she wants to save the Everwood, she’ll first have to save herself.

Reality and fantasy collide in this powerful, heartfelt novel about family, depression, and the power of imagination. (Simon and Schuster, May 17, 2016)

Meet Claire Legrand

Claire Legrand is the author of books for children and teens, including The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, The Year of Shadows, Winterspell, Some Kind of Happiness, and Foxheart. She is also one of the four authors of The Cabinet of Curiosities. When not writing books, she can be found obsessing over DVD commentaries, going on long walks (or trying to go on long runs), and speaking with a poor English accent to random passersby. She thinks musicians and librarians are the loveliest of folks (having been each of those herself) and, while she loves living in central New Jersey, she dearly misses her big, brash, beautiful home state of Texas.

This article, #MHYALit: Its Okay Not to Be Okay, a guest post by author Claire Legrand, first appeared on Teen Librarian Toolbox.

Dyslexia Success Story: Princess Victoria of Sweden

Posted on 15 May, 2016  in Conditions, News

Dyslexia Success Story Princess Victoria

Life isn’t always a fairy tale for real-life princesses.

Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, knows this truth all too well. Victoria Ingrid Alice Desiree was born July 14, 1977, and is the daughter of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. She is the heir to the Swedish throne and has spent her entire life preparing to take on that role.

Being bullied

But being the princess of her country didn’t make her immune to the bullying she faced at school because she is dyslexic. As a child, her classmates would laugh and tease her when she read aloud, questioning her intelligence over and over again.

Over time, she came to believe these lies and her self-confidence plummeted. “I used to think I was stupid and slow,” she recalls. As a teenager, she suffered from an eating disorder and sought treatment for it and other mental health issues related to her low self-esteem. It was during this treatment that she first began to understand herself and finally accept her learning disability. Armed with new coping skills and determination, she found the will to recover and the strength to overcome her personal difficulties.

Growing up largely in the public eye, Victoria heavily felt the demands and pressures that came along with her family and title. Everything she did was under scrutiny. She says of her childhood, “There are times when you wish you were somewhere else, and someone else.”

She was expected to excel academically, but continually struggled with reading and understanding. She remembers, “For me school was fun, but it was also very demanding. When one has reading and writing difficulties, it can be tough sometimes.”

A dyslexic King and Prince

But Victoria had the important support of her family; her father, King Carl, and her brother, Prince Carl Philip, have a special understanding of her academic difficulties because they, too, are dyslexic.

Prince Carl Philip has himself faced his fair share of bullying, even as an adult. When he misspoke while reading aloud at a charity event, local media labeled him “stupid and unintelligent.” The burden of the pressure she felt, coupled with her difficulty in learning, led her to battle a very serious eating disorder for several years. But with the support of her family and her determination to overcome, Victoria’s treatment was successful. She learned to rely on herself and her loved ones for help and worked hard to overcome her struggles.

Finding success

Victoria has gone on to be very successful in her studies, despite being dyslexic. She pursued coursework in political science at Yale University, and has taken special courses in Swedish parliament. She has even attended and participated in United Nations sessions.

Victoria also completed basic soldier training with the Swedish Armed Forces, a feat that is both physically and academically challenging. She studied abroad in France, Germany, and the United States, all in preparation for the political role she will take when she becomes Queen.

Over time she has truly blossomed into an admirable and qualified princess of Sweden who has earned the respect of her country’s people.

Helping others

Her unique experience with dyslexia made Victoria determined to spread awareness and understanding of it, so that others with learning difficulties can reach out to find the support they need to succeed.

Her comfort in speaking publicly about her experiences in itself is important for the many children coping with feelings of inadequacy. She hopes her sharing will help spark conversations among others. Victoria says, “It can sound like a simple problem, but it isn’t. I know.”

Spreading awareness

What she knows is that lack of awareness of learning disabilities can cause serious ramifications for a child: bullying, low-self esteem, depression, and other mental health issues, among other things. Her goal is to enable others to recognize and understand dyslexia so that children, families, and educators can work together toward success. Victoria was able to learn to strategies to help her succeed at school, and she hopes to be an encouragement so that others to succeed as well. She is an advocate and a helper for those with learning disabilities, and her ability to overcome encourages so many others worldwide.

More dyslexia success stories:

Dyslexia Success Erin Brockovich

The post Dyslexia Success Story: Princess Victoria of Sweden appeared first on Homeschooling with Dyslexia.

This article, Dyslexia Success Story: Princess Victoria of Sweden, first appeared on Homeschooling with Dyslexia.