Brett.Ullman

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Brett Ullman: Topics for your Church, Conference, School or Camp

Hi Everyone,

I hope you all enjoying your summer. As we begin planning another school / ministry year I wanted to send out a blog with information on all of the talks that I do. Below is a list of the topics that I offer:

(1) The Walking Wounded – This talk is looking at how we as Christians can have a practical yet Biblical approach to help people struggling with mental health. It includes my own journey struggling with anxiety as well. It answers the question “What do you do when you or someone you love is struggling with Anxiety?”
Promotional Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzLLIMTHz1I
Designed for: I do this talk for many Sunday morning church services as well as special nights for parents / students. In schools I do this for High School age.

(2) The.Sex.Talk (Parents Edition) is a version of my sex talk designed for parents. It is NOT a talk about the new Health Curriculum but a talk about how we as parents can help our kids create a Biblical worldview in the area of sex. It is meant to be very practical to help parents in this bridge these topics with our kids.
Promotional Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8VI7Acaj6w
Designed for: Parents & a similar version for High School Students

(3) media.faith.culture – the disconnect – This is a fully re-done talk. This talk is a broad talk looking into how we connect our faith with our culture (music, movies, social media etc). Answering the question of how do we connect our ancient faith with our modern world.
Designed for: Grade 7-8 (Could be 6-8). High School & Parents. This is my most common talk for Sunday morning services, youth groups as well as Schools (Elementary and High School)

(4) The Porn Project – is my brand new talk on pornography. It is less about pornography and more about how we as Christians can break free from our struggles with this and how to help our kids in this journey as well
Designed for: Parents & High School Students

(5) Dating.for.life: The Questions – In this new update of my dating for life talk I have gone back to the basics. In this new talk I answer 8 questions on dating: What is dating? When should I start dating? How do I start dating? How do I break up? etc.
Designed for: High School Students

(6) The Man Talk – The Man Talk is what it sounds like – a discussion about what it’s like to be a Man today. It’s a real talk, a meat and potatoes approach to issues pressing us from all sides. In this talk I challenge men to be better husbands, fathers and boyfriends.
Designed for: Men’s Breakfasts or special events at church

If you are interested in any talk please let me know. you can find more information on each talk off of my www.brettullman.com website.

Thanks for your time,

Brett Ullman
Executive Director
Worlds Apart
www.brettullman.com

P.S. I also have a large resource blog on my website www.brettullman.com. You can just go to the site and click on the headings and find hundreds of great resources I have posted this past 2 years in categories like mental health, sex and porn, media, spiritual disciplines, parenting and many more.

Quit social media | Dr. Cal Newport | TEDxTysons

Great Ted talk. Well worth the time to watch. I am NOT saying we all need to quit social media. I do think we need to engage in social media carefully and not just with indifference.

… constant exports from your friends constant curated, positive portrayals  of their life. can leave you to feel inadequate and can increase rates of depression.

Fundamental mismatch between the way are brains are wired and this behaviour of exposing yourself to stimuli with intermittent rewards throughout all of your waking hours. Its one thing to spend a couple of hours at a slot machine in Las Vegas, but if you bring one with you, and you pull the handle all day long, from when you wake up to when you go to bed; we’re not wired from it. It short circuits the brain and we’re staring to find it has actual cognitive consequences, one of them being this sort of pervasive background hum of anxiety.

Love to hear your thoughts.

 

Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone?

One of the best TED talks I have heard in years. Please take a few minutes to watch this.

So just to take some quick examples: People text or do email during corporate board meetings. They text and shop and go on Facebook during classes, during presentations, actually during all meetings. People talk to me about the important new skill of making eye contact while you’re texting. People explain to me that it’s hard, but that it can be done. Parents text and do email at breakfast and at dinner while their children complain about not having their parents’ full attention. But then these same children deny each other their full attention. This is a recent shot of my daughter and her friends being together while not being together. And we even text at funerals. I study this. We remove ourselves from our grief or from our revery and we go into our phones.

When I ask people “What’s wrong with having a conversation?” People say, “I’ll tell you what’s wrong with having a conversation. It takes place in real time and you can’t control what you’re going to say.” So that’s the bottom line. Texting, email, posting, all of these things let us present the self as we want to be.We get to edit, and that means we get to delete, and that means we get to retouch, the face, the voice, the flesh, the body — not too little, not too much, just right.

How do you get from connection to isolation? You end up isolated if you don’t cultivate the capacity for solitude, the ability to be separate, to gather yourself. Solitude is where you find yourself so that you can reach out to other people and form real attachments. When we don’t have the capacity for solitude, we turn to other people in order to feel less anxious or in order to feel alive. When this happens, we’re not able to appreciate who they are. It’s as though we’re using them as spare parts to support our fragile sense of self. We slip into thinking that always being connected is going to make us feel less alone. But we’re at risk, because actually it’s the opposite that’s true. If we’re not able to be alone, we’re going to be more lonely. And if we don’t teach our children to be alone, they’re only going to know how to be lonely.

There’s plenty of timefor us to reconsider how we use it, how we build it. I’m not suggesting that we turn away from our devices, just that we develop a more self-aware relationship with them, with each other and with ourselves.

 

’13 Reasons Why’ holds many important lessons for parents of teenagers

As a full time speaker who spends 1/2 of his life speaking to high school age students I think this article is a great wake up call for parents. I find that many students today seem to be raising themselves with parents who are so busy with the downward spiral of their own lives that they have little time / capacity left to be actual parents to their own children.

Successfully parenting today’s teens requires close supervision, effective limit-setting and SM monitoring. Identifying symptoms of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal thoughts is imperative for early intervention and improved outcomes. But what is most important for parents — and lacking in 13 Reasons Why — is curiosity. Curiosity about teens’ friends, hobbies, homework or hairstyle choices. Parents too often dismiss their teens’ emotions as entitled, or their school-related struggles as trite, which leads to a feeling among teens that they are misunderstood and alone. But adolescence isn’t trite. High school experiences and the decisions made during those formative years shape teens’ mental and emotional development for life.

Please take a few minutes to read this article.

Click here for the entire article.

13 Reasons Why… Some thoughts

13 Reasons Why.

The New York Times best seller by young adult novel writer Jay Asher that came out way back in 2007 has sold over 3 million copies to date.

I read this book a few years ago and found it … I find it hard to find the correct word: riveting, eye opening, scary, sad, hopeless and yet necessary in bringing out a conversation we seem to refuse to want to talk about as a culture.

Since reading the book I have heard very little on this topic. No conversation on social media about it. No growth in conversations on the problems of suicide in our culture today. Then suddenly 13 Reasons Why is released on Netflix and presently I have had over 500 messages, emails and conversations from parents all over asking the simple question: “Should I let me kid watch this?” or “Should I watch this with my teenager?”

As a 45 year old I have watched thousands of hours of TV in my life. This would rank as the most powerful show I have ever watched. I have watched countless hours of mindless entertainment in those 45 years and this show WAS different.

It was different because it touched on so many topics: sex, drugs, alcohol, relationships, peer pressure, divorce, bullying, self-harm, isolation, loneliness, disconnection from adults, lack of supports and of course suicide.

If I had to give you a very quick review of this series I would say:


Everything Affects Everything

You are responsible for yourself

You are responsible for your actions

You are responsible when you do nothing

We need to start talking about all the stuff no-one wants to talk about

This show starts us talking….


“You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything.”
― Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why

In almost every review I have read comments that this show is triggering. It shows too much for students, glamorizes suicide, over sexualized, too much language, and deals with too many issues. I would say that the show is a great conversation starter for people of all ages. It is raw and tough to watch.  The suicide scene was brutal and one of the hardest things I have ever watched on TV. Maybe the fact is that suicide is brutal for everyone and this scene is meant to bring that home.

I do find it hypocritical that people are upset at some of these topics in this show. I don’t see most people talking about triggering when there is self harm (including suicide) in music videos, TV shows, movies and much of todays music is laced with sex. Yet the scenes in this show are too much? Are teens not triggered daily by just being a teen in our modern day culture?

If we are going to say this is too much for students I don’t seem to see many people offering any better way to talk about these tough issues.

I wonder when is the right time?

What is the right way?

I find that this is one of the first things I have seen that has people (especially teens) talking about suicide amongst other issues. We cannot just go back to ignoring this conversation especially the conversation around suicide.

There is no place that is immune to this.

So here is the tough question.

How do you talk about a tough conversation without triggering people and increasing the risk of a suicide contagion and copycat behaviour?

I think we need to be honest where we presently sit as a society with this conversation. I think people are already triggered by this topic with or without this TV show. Do a quick google search:

Canadian Stats:

  • 22% of teens thought of suicide this year  (Click here for the article)

Myth: Young people rarely think about suicide.
Reality: Teens and suicide are more closely linked than adults might expect. In a survey of 15,000 grade 7 to 12 students in British Columbia, 34% knew of someone who had attempted or died by suicide; 16% had seriously considered suicide; 14% had made a suicide plan; 7% had made an attempt and 2% had required medical attention due to an attempt.
Canadian Mental Health Association (Click here for the article)

U.S. Stats

  • Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24. (2015 CDC WISQARS)
  • More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED.
  • Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 5,240 attempts by young people grades 7-12.
  • http://jasonfoundation.com/prp/facts/youth-suicide-statistics/

Parents are asking if we should watch this show with our kids but I cannot answer this for you. Will I be watching this with my Grade 9 daughter or my Grade 8 son? If they are interested – Yes. I will also NOT be showing either of them the suicide scene in the last episode. With that being said is this the first conversation I will have had with my children on conversations on these topics … no. These are conversations we have been having for years in our home. If the first time you talk about suicide, mental health issues, sex, drugs, bullying etc is this TV show then I would not suggest watching this show before you have conversations in your home about these tough topics.

You might need to check as a parent and see if they have already watched the show. Many parents who have emailed me have said my kid already watched the show what do I do now. If this is you then I would sit down and talk to them about the show. Ask their thoughts and feelings.

What did they like about the show?
Do they think that the show fairly represented current teen culture in High School?
What did they dislike about the show? If they have watched it I would highly suggest watching the 13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons which is on Netflix as well. It is the cast & creators with conversation on all aspects of the movie and why they did the certain scenes like they did.

Be very direct with your kids and let them know that there is nothing in the world that could change how you love them. You want them to know that if they are ever struggling with these topics in this show that you hope they could come and talk to you. And then together you would look at getting supports in place for them (doctors, counselling etc).

I would also suggest you be really careful if your son/daughter is struggling with suicidal thoughts, depression, bullying etc. This show could act (I am not saying will) as something that might make suicide look like a good way out for their struggles they are having. If you were going to watch it I would suggest watching it with them.

If as a parents you are thinking “I have failed in these conversations” you can start having them now. Just to mention some of the main themes in the show again:

  1. Sex
  2. Multiple rape scenes
  3. Drug & Alcohol use and abuse
  4. Dating relationships
  5. Peer pressure
  6. Divorce
  7. Bullying
  8. Self-harm
  9. Isolation
  10. Loneliness
  11. Disconnection from adults
  12. Lack of supports
  13. and of course suicide

These are conversations that you need to be having in your home, school, and church environments.

Are there some things I wish this show had done better. Yes, for sure:

  1. I wish there was more shown on how to help people if they are struggling. What do you actually do if you are struggling (Talk to an adult you trust, medical doctor, counsellor etc) We need to talk about where we can turn for help. In my mental health talk called The Walking Wounded I talk about addressing tough issues like this from 3 fronts: Body (Doctor), Mind(Counsellor), and Soul. Each of these areas can be pursued simultaneously.
  2. They showed such a disconnected youth culture from parents, teachers and other adults. This is not always the case.

    In tone and style, it resembles a more serious, grimmer cousin of Freeform (formerly ABC Family) series like “Pretty Little Liars” and “Twisted.” Like them, it literalizes the idea that teenage life is a mystery, one that adults can’t hope to solve. (New York Times article)

  3. I did not like that they showed the physical scars from people struggling with Self Harm. As someone who speaks on this we do know that this is triggering for people who struggle.
  4. I don’t like the fact that with this story it seems that you can sort of reach out from the grave after suicide and take revenge on people. It did a good job of showing the destruction that suicide leaves with the friends and family who are left after a suicide.
  5. I wish that with all the pain they also showed that there is hope. There is always hope. You might not see it, but that also does not mean it is not there.
  6. I wish they had not been so graphic with the suicide. I think it is unnecessary and is the one major scene that might make people NOT watch a show that could have been for a larger audience if not for the graphic scene. I also realize that the brutality of the suicide was done for a reason to show … to show how brutal suicide is.

In my talks a line I use when speaking about suicide is:


Suicide is a permanent solution for a temporary problem.


If you are having suicidal thoughts I beg you to do a few things

  1. Go tell an adult immediately. If that adult does not listen then tell another. Get parents and teachers and doctors and counsellors and any other people you trust surrounding you as you walk through these tough times
  2. Hold on.
    Dr. Dan Siegel says “We need to help children understand that the clouds 
of their emotions can (and will) roll on by.”
    What you are going through is a season … and seasons change.
    Please hold on.

In the last episode Clay Jensen (one of the main characters) says “We can all do better.” I agree.
So how can you do better?

I end with the simple summary I gave at the beginning

Everything Affects Everything

You are responsible for yourself

You are responsible for your actions

You are responsible when you do nothing

We need to start talking about all the stuff no-one wants to talk about.

This show starts us talking….

Love to hear what you thought of the TV show if you watched it? Did it help? Did it hurt?
Love to hear your thoughts on this.
Love to hear any great resources for people who are struggling.


13 Reasons Why Official Website
http://www.thirteenreasonswhy.com/

Other articles on 13 Reasons Why:

  1. http://www.altpress.com/news/entry/twlohas_founder_pens_blog_in_response_to_13_reasons_why
  2. https://cpyu.org/2017/04/17/13-reasons-why-looking-for-true-north/
  3. https://cpyu.org/resource/episode-36-13-reasons-why-a-discussion-with-amy-flavin-and-kara-twining/
  4. https://themighty.com/2017/04/should-i-watch-13-reasons-why-review-suicide/
  5. http://www.vox.com/culture/2017/4/18/15275846/13-reasons-why-male-gaze-voyeurism-rape-suicide-contagion
  6. http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/25/health/13-reasons-why-teen-suicide-debate-explainer/index.html
  7. https://www.nasponline.org/
  8. http://www.cmha.ca/news/cmha-national-statement-responding-netflix-series-13-reasons/#.WQPswUFE2Ef
  9. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/30/arts/television/netflix-13-reasons-why-tv-review.html
  10. http://www.pluggedin.ca/tv-reviews/13-reasons-why
  11. http://www.cbc.ca/news/entertainment/13-reasons-why-criticism-1.4091960
  12. http://www.averageyouthministry.com/average-youth-ministry/13-reasons-why-youth-workers-must-be-at-the-top-of-their-game
  13. https://www.popsugar.com/entertainment/Differences-Between-13-Reasons-Why-Book-TV-Show-43404725

Prince William And Lady Gaga FaceTime To Talk About Mental Health

Great article and video. Check it out!

The video — a partnership with Heads Together — shows the prince and singer FaceTiming with each other — he in his study at Kensington Palace, she in her kitchen in Los Angeles — as they discuss the importance of being able to have conversations about mental health, an issue they are both passionate about.

“There’s a lot of shame attached to mental illness. You feel like something it’s wrong with you,” Lady Gaga said to William.

“I should be so happy, but you can’t help it when in the morning you wake up, you are so tired, you are so sad, you are so full of anxiety and the shakes that you can’t barely think,” she continued.

Prince William replied, “It’s OK to have this conversation. It’s really important to have this conversation. You won’t be judged. It’s so important to break open that fear and that taboo which is only gonna lead to more problems down the line.”

Click here for the entire article.

Another article from the Toronto Star can be found here.

Parents and Screentime. . . A Surprising Infographic . . .

So often we as parents are talking to out kids about their time spent on screens while taking little time to examine our own screen time. Great blog from Walt Mueller.

Then, I took the next step. It’s a step that hushes the parental gasps. In case you’re wondering where our kids learn this stuff, we need to look no further than ourselves. Late last year, the folks at Common Sense Media  released the data on parents. . . and it’s 9 hours and 22 minutes.

Click here for the entire blog. This is another blog I would highly challenge parents and youth workers to sign up for. Amazing content sent to your inbox for free each week.

 

Theft is Theft is Theft. No excuses.

Ever have one of those weird conversations?

Last week I am having dinner with my family and the waitress asked if we had a Scene points card (movie rewards). We talked briefly as she scanned my card and she said we could also use the points for food. She then went on to say “Why would you pay for a movie anyway” and explained how she has one of those Android boxes at home and just streams movies for free. She said she just watched Lego Batman (which is still in the theatres) and then went on to talk about how much she loved Fifty Shades Darker (again still in theatres).

It seem everywhere I look I see people getting these Android boxes (and other versions of the same thing). Now people might not like my opinion on this but I want to ask …

When did downright theft become normal?

I have asked people who have these boxes how they justify NOT paying for current movies, TV etc. There responses are all very similar:

  1. People complain about how much the cable companies are making or that they are being forced to pay for channels they don’t want
  2. People tell me that they are not downloading movies (which is illegal in Canada) but streaming them
  3. People tell me that movies are too expensive
  4. People tell me that everyone is doing it
  5. People tell me that they just don’t care

None of these comments change the fact that you are NOT paying for something that people have created.

I love Marvel superhero movies. If you are a Marvel fan you know that if you want until all the credits are completed there will be a small bonus scene. Each time I wait for the end of the credits I am amazed at the hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of people who created the movie I just watched. The job these people have is to do something to support the creation of the movie you just watched.

In a quick search online I found this list (click here for the entire article):

It is a weird expectation that I see many people have today.
They want to see amazing movies with great affects but not pay for it.
They want great music but will not pay for an album or subscribe to a streaming service (Apple Music, Spotify etc)

When we just stream a movie and no money goes back to the people who created the movie what we will start to see is less movies being made. It is the same with music. If everyone just downloads free music and no money goes to the musicians then we can expect to see more artists leaving music. As someone who loves seeing what people create (movies, music, video games etc) I am happy to pay for their services.

We all need to work and make money to support our families.
Why do people in the entertainment industry matter less to us?