There are many statistics and studies that show the effects of reactive education, counseling and treatment for those who experience a negative life experience, including those who participate in self destructive behaviors and/or who are suffering from depression. Additionally, in light of the fact that the average life expectancy in the United States is currently 78.8 years, it seems imperative to address quality of life issues early in life in order to facilitate the longest possible quality of life experience.
An article published by the World Health Organization (WHO), “Depression, A Global Public Health Concern”, confirms the work of the Time to Play Foundation, a not for profit organization that encourages everyone to enjoy life. In the WHO report, it was noted that over 350 million people in the world suffer from depression, which, at its worst, could lead to suicide. The article noted that almost 1 million lives are lost to suicide yearly, which equates to approximately 3,000 deaths by suicide per day.
It is our position that treatment, provided reactively after development of the symptoms of depression, is less effective than a proactive approach.
Further, the WHO article did emphasize that that the prevention of depression is an area that deserves attention.
In our society it is common knowledge that those in their mid to late life experience the proverbial “mid-life crisis” to search for their life purpose, quality of life and life enjoyment; but, today, it is evident that many of our youth are plagued with self-destructive behaviors, depression and /or suicidal ideation, translating to a painful and displeasing life experience. In response to these, the self-help industry has exploded to an over $11 billion a year industry that preys on those experiencing a negative life experience. For so many there is a need for counseling, encouragement, and education to assist them in recovery of their mental health status.
The Time to Play Foundation’s intention is to encourage people to enjoy life in a proactive manner, and believes in a proactive approach and the concept of PREinvention® vs. REcovery.
It is evident in our society today that the focus is more reactive than proactive and utilizes the practices of REinvention and REcovery vs. the concept of PREvention and PREinvention®. In 1855 Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”. While the background behind this statement was not solely in reference to creating a mentally healthy and stable population, it can be utilized to emphasize this proactive idea of PREinvention® that could be easily implemented into our population today.
Therefore, it may be emphasized that an enjoyable life experience starts with a healthy thought process and healthy self-perception. In the reactive recovery process we utilize today through our current self-help industry, we hear over and again how people cannot let go of their past and see how self-destructive behaviors are developed in response to lack of life skills and coping skills. This thought process is what feeds our self-help industry, where we try to unravel past damage and unhealthy thoughts that cause the underlying motives behind self-destructive behaviors.
With this more proactive approach it seems to be possible to eliminate so many who spend much of their lives without life enjoyment and that we can facilitate a better life experience for a longer period of time.
The Time to Play Foundation’s team acknowledged the importance to look for a root cause that may provide insight as to why people are not enjoying or not able to enjoy life. In April, 2015 the Foundation conducted a survey entitled PREinvent YOUR Life® to high school students in grades 9 – 12 at the Comsewogue High School in New York. There were 727 voluntary, anonymous respondents out of 1131 students present, a statistically significant survey that represented the whole. The findings were mind-blowing and provided valuable PREventive insight, as well as a “key” concept that may not only eliminate self destructive behaviors, but provide an opportunity for us to implement an easy strategy while raising our children that will provide them a lifetime of success and life enjoyment.
The findings showed that 90.65% of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that “how to be happy as myself” was the most important “how to” in order to have an enjoyable life experience.
The survey was developed by Doreen Guma, an expert in quality improvement and the Founder of the Time to Play Foundation, who researched many reactive processes and experts in the self-help industry and compiled data for the survey over a 2 ½ year period. The survey was developed by a team selected by Mrs. Guma to create a streamlined inquiry.
Following the survey, the insight gleaned was validated through discussion with students and young adults. There was agreement supporting the idea that, if the students had learned preventive, positive coping skills, they may have chosen a different way with dealing with life situations they had encountered thus far in their lives. It stands to reason that these positive skills, learned early, would have impact on overall life satisfaction throughout an entire lifetime.
The study findings were most telling, and potentially provide a KEY to quality of life. Considering the implications behind the skill of “how to be happy as myself”, it is may be safe to summarize that, if a person is happy as themselves, and loves themselves, there is potential to eliminate self-destructive behaviors adopted to fill a void and/or hide some type of personal pain; for example, self-harm, suicide, or alcoholism. Further, it could be deduced that if a person is happy as themselves, they may not adopt these types of hurtful actions. It may be safe to go a little further to note that, if a person loved themselves, they will protect themselves.
Therefore, if we can encourage and educate our children in a proactive manner how to “be happy as myself”, we have the potential to create a population of persons with self-esteem, self-confidence, self-love, and self-worth.
Based on the findings of the survey, Dr. John Salvarodos, a member of the Time to Play Foundation’s Business Advisory Board with 30 years experience as a school psychologist, educator, mental health therapist and crisis intervention counselor, noted that, “Creating programs that educate new parents and community workers to find common language that supports the development of critical reasoning and decision-making skills benefits all children.” Further, he summarized that, “Efforts that promote healthy outcomes are fundamental in understanding ways that we can reduce the quantity and effects of adverse childhood experiences.”
In summary, based on the preliminary findings of the PREinvent YOUR Life® survey, it can be suggested that early intervention programs for ALL children, beginning with parents, support the possibility of the prevention of the development of depression, self-destructive behaviors and an adverse life experience.
The Time to Play Foundation is in final stages of development of the proactive PREinvent YOUR Life® programs for expectant parents and early childhood intervention programs and educators, spurring further research on the effectiveness of this approach.
Dr. Salvarodos’ essay overview of the findings from the PREinvent YOUR Life® survey, incorporating his years of direct observance of students entitled Developmentally Making the Right Choices, is available at Developmentally Making the Right Choices. Dr. Salvarodos is also a founding member of the Gardner Massachusetts Suicide Prevention Task Force created in response to the per-capita rate of suicide in his area. He is a strong supporter of the PREinvent YOUR Life™ concept.
The PREinvent YOUR Life® survey is available for your review in its entirety at http://timetoplay.com/preinvent-your-life-survey
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Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC is a board certified healthcare executive, a certified professional life coach, the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit corporation inspiring everyone to enjoy life and author of If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life. The concept behind time to Play and the Time to Play Foundation was absolutely created out of LOVE. Please see http://www.timetoplay.com/ for more information.