Follow by Email

Monday, October 9, 2017

Transforming Stigma

What do we do with a kid who has severe behavior issues and problems—a kid who gets kicked out of school three times and attempts suicide by the age of ten?

Are these “just puberty” issues or is there something more? How does one handle the behavioral problems as a teacher or parent? 

I often see cases of kids with anger problems or who may cuss out a teacher or parent, and that child is written off as a bad seed who will never amount to anything. In fact, in fifth grade I was written off as a bad kid who would never amount to anything because I hit a kid in school and then lied about it. In retrospect, I was living with untreated mental illness and I had few positive role models in my life. Stigma around mental illness prevented me from getting the treatment I needed. I shouldn’t have gotten a free pass, nor should any kid with behavioral problems—what I should have gotten, in addition to treatment, was extra attention and mentorship. We need to take these kids under our wings, teach some coping skills, and then provide them or show them they can channel their energy into something healthy or meaningful. 

Mike Veny, the kid who was kicked out of school three times and attempted suicide at age ten, is a glowing example of someone who needed extra attention and an outlet for his energy. I interviewed Mike on the podcast, and he talks about how mental illness and drumming saved his life as a young man (much like theatre did for me as a young person)—and how he presently uses drumming to talk about mental illness and mental health to make sure young people don’t suffer the way he once did. 

Mike’s interview is full of tidbits of wisdom and practical skills and tools to deal with the difficulties life throws our way. He’s funny and insightful… and his spirit animal is a goat (you’ll find out why when you listen… ha!).


Mike is doing great work as a speaker and thought leader with Transforming Stigma. His website is www.transformingstigma.com. Mike’s episode is embedded above, is downloadable, and can be found on iTunes. I hope you enjoy :)