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May - mental health action month!

Dear Clients, Colleagues and Friends,

Happy May! April was a wonderful whirlwind of travel so this update includes two months worth of important tidbits, so bear with me.

May has traditionally been “Mental Health Awareness” month. At this point, I think we are plenty aware and what we really need is “Mental Health Action” month. We need ACTION. What action are you going to take for your mental health?

What changes are you going to make in your daily family life and schedule to improve well-being? How about scheduling (screen-free) downtime, getting together with friends, time in nature, saying no (to others or yourself!) or trying a new activity? Can’t wait to hear.

There are SO many good things happening out there now – and so many excellent recently-published books addressing the root of the struggles many families (parents, children, teens and young adults) are facing. I’m personally feeling super hopeful and relieved. I’m including just a few here, with links to recordings, live webinars and podcasts.


I was thrilled to co-sponsor a local presentation by Linda Flanagan, athlete, former coach and author of "Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania are Ruining Kids’ Sports – And Why It Matters."

If you have a child that plays sports, I invite you to watch the recording of the event. Even if you attended, I highly recommend you listen to our district superintendent's introduction where he shares, with vulnerability and truth, his own experience raising five kids in sports. Change will come with one family at a time and together we will shift the culture. This is a discussion and book about the reality of youth sports, scholarships for college and how the current way it is hurting, and not helping, our kids.

I still have three copies of her book to give away so let me know if you’d like a copy!


In partnership with Wilton Youth Council, Wilton Public Schools and Wilton Library, I am delighted to (virtually) welcome author Jennifer Breheny Wallace for a special conversation about her highly anticipated new book “Never Enough: When Achievement Culture Turns Toxic, and What We Can Do About It” on Monday, May 8th from 7-8pm ET via zoom (so all can join!). The event will be moderated by Dr. Kevin Smith, Superintendent of Wilton Public Schools.

Jennifer Wallace is an award-winning journalist and social commentator covering parenting and lifestyle trends. She lives in New York City with her husband and their three children.

This free event is recommended for all parents and anyone working with families. Registration is required.


For parents who feed their kids, have picky eaters or kids who love to eat I have THE book for you. Tremendous. Brilliant. Needed. A must read for every parent (and since last night, on the New York Times Best Seller list!).

Over the last three years, I have learned much more than I ever imagined about eating disorders, diet culture and how doctors and us parents can make things worse even with our best intentions.

Want to know more?


And speaking of disordered eating and diet culture…a powerful, brutally honest Dove Commercial. Dove’s new awareness campaign, "Cost of Beauty" highlights the impact of social media use on mental health with this very real video on body appearance and eating disorders. (Dove collaborated with the National Alliance for Eating Disorders, Dani Bryant, MS, LMHC, RDT, Project HEAL and Active Minds.)

If you are thinking about getting your kids a device, you need to watch. If they already have one, watch it with them and start an important conversation. Be curious about their experience. The reality is that social media is one of the biggest threats to young people’s mental health. No one is immune.

I have signed the petition organized by Dove, Common Sense Media and Parents Together Action to protect the next generation by supporting the 2023 Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) for legislative change to make social media safer. Please consider signing too.


And just one more…

"The Emotional Lives of Teenagers: Raising Connected, Capable and Compassionate Adolescents" is Lisa Damour, Ph.D’s latest book and it is an “urgently needed guide to help parents understand their teenagers’ intense and often fraught emotional lives - and how to support them through this critical developmental stage.” Bonus if you are local to me, Dr. Damour will be at the Darien High School Auditorium on Wednesday, May 10th, 2023 at 7 PM with her “Ask Lisa” Podcast co-host Reena Ninan. As of this writing, there is still room to register.

I know your time is precious and I thank you for your trust.



PS I will have reduced availability over the summer (June-August) to devote to some special projects, so best to reach out now to book any sessions.

About the Author

Vanessa Elias is a mental health activist, certified parent coach, speaker, and writer featured on NPR, PBS, and in the WSJ. She is the founder of Thrive with a Guide, LLC and serves as a group facilitator for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Block Party USA is her passion project. Vanessa helps parents achieve healthier family relationships and lasting, meaningful connections.


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