Chilliwack Secondary School’s psychology teacher is attempting to close the gap in mental health care community-wide through a series of workshops dedicated to helping people reach their full potential.
Steve Anderson has been teaching teens for nearly 30 years, so he’s well-versed in the challenges people face as they transition from adolescence into adulthood.
“I love this age bracket,” said Anderson, while sitting in his classroom’s ‘calming spot’ during assessment week. “And I love the idea of emerging adults and helping them with the issues they face, which have changed over the years.”
But after spending years in the classroom with young adults he knew were going into the world perhaps burdened by adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), he knew he had the ability to not only help his students, but the community at large.
From that, the Rehabilitative Education and Comprehensive Health (REACH) Trauma Response Consulting Ltd. was born.
“It’s a counselling group,” explained Anderson, “but its point of reference is education.”
Composed of himself and his wife, Catherine, who has a background in education and social justice, their daughter Courtney, who’s currently working toward a Master’s degree in clinical counselling, Joel Ogmundson, who has an extensive counselling background, Josh Daley, who’s certified in suicide awareness and stress management, and Dr. Temitayo Sodipo, whose area of interest is in mental health for the younger generations, Anderson says REACH offers a holistic approach to mental wellness.
“The science behind (ACEs) is tight … intense, and thorough. It’s hard science,” said Anderson. “We’re a comprehensive health group that will work with you … and help (you) come up with plans to deal with each of your issues.
“We’re thinking about thinking,” Anderson continued. “To be a person is to have a story, and (a person’s) story is what it is: you can’t rewrite history, but you can (revision) your future or rewrite your understanding of your past.”
To help members of the community begin the healing process, REACH is hosting a series of workshops at Chilliwack Secondary School during the last three weeks of February that will deal with child, adolescent, and adult ACEs and hopefully help people “write a first-rate version of themselves … that brings peace.”
“It’s a mess out there,” said Anderson. “We’re being overrun by myths devoid of fact, in particular, about mental health. It’s time to start bringing information to the public.”