October is National Bullying Prevention Month. In an effort to support the cause, we held a special interview with Tracey Maxfield, author, speaker, and advocate for mental health awareness and bullying. Her philosophy is to engage children and teenagers, educate them about mental illness and bullying, and empower them to develop the confidence and skills necessary to move ahead in their own life journey. Her story is powerful and holds true value for everyone – especially those close to someone experiencing their own mental health struggles.
Facing The Darkness
Tracey first experienced her own battle with depression while in her twenties. After a lifelong struggle, she decided to share her story through blogging and eventually wrote her own book. She shared her experience with bullying in the workplace, a major depressive episode, and how she pulled through. However, what started as a way to heal soon turned into a much larger movement.
After publishing her book (Escaping the Rabbit Hole), in 2018, Tracey appeared as a guest speaker at a high school to talk about her experience as an author. Her session quickly became a discussion focused on mental health. Tracey’s personal experience with depression resonated so intensely with the teens that she discovered the importance of addressing these issues with our younger generations. These teenagers deeply desired a space to talk about everything they were facing. They needed to know they were not alone.
The Terrifying Truth
When it comes down to it, our kids are dealing with bullying and depression at an alarming rate. Today’s challenge is that bullying isn’t just happening in the schoolyard or classroom. It’s happening when kids are at home, on their phones or using social media. It’s such an all-consuming problem, and it expands far beyond the physical aspects we may have been more accustomed to hearing. Social bullying, religious bullying, and emotional bullying are just as destructive. This is a serious problem, and it’s painfully true that bullying, depression, and suicide in our kids is a global epidemic. We need to stand up and fix this. This work is Tracey’s focus.
Tracey stresses the importance of compassion and validation when it comes to reaching out to those dealing with depression. There is still a major stigma associated with mental health awareness, so it always requires deep care and compassion. The main focus of a parent, educator, or trusted adult should be to open the door for communication. First and foremost, a child needs to feel trust. The vulnerability involved in opening up about depression is intense. It’s our job as adults to make ourselves available and open. We simply need to show up and show love.
Every single person wants to know that they're loved and cared for and valued in the world.
Some of Tracey’s Suggestions on How to Get Involved this Month:
- Learn more about National Bullying Prevention Month here.
- Go to your school or child’s school and ask them about their bullying prevention process.
- Ask what it is they do when somebody reports bullying.
- Talk to your kids. It opens the door to then discussing how to be an upstander, not a bystander.
Other Resources Mentioned in Tracey’s Interview
Data and Statistics on Children’s Mental Health
Gratitude Journal: Shift Your Focus
More About Tracey:
Tracey’s book, Escaping the Rabbit Hole, describes her journey through the trials of depression and her ultimate battle to live. She shares her story of courage and hope as she reclaimed her life and climbed out of the rabbit hole of darkness. Find more information about it here.
We encourage you to check out Tracey’s website. It not only offers a way to read Tracey’s work and inspiring message, but it also provides tons of resources related to mental health and bullying. There is information for children and teens as well as parents and educators. It really is a wonderful place to learn more about something that impacts so many.
Connect with Tracey:
Tracey also has a fantastic YouTube channel, Engage, Educate, Empower. Additionally, she invites us all to connect with her via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.