Chemainus Secondary School students rock out to ReachOut

Students in Chemainus learned more about psychosis prevention and intervention during a recent presentation by the ReachOut Psychosis tour.

Keyboardist Mike Young of Proud Animal plays during a recent presentation by the ReachOut Psychosis tour at Chemainus Secondary School.

A touring band with a twist recently paid a visit to Chemainus Secondary School (CSS).

Proud Animal dropped by the school recently to back up Barbara Adler, Gavin Youngash and Mike Young, spokespersons for the ReachOut Psychosis tour, as they spoke to students at CSS regarding psychosis prevention and intervention.

Through music, humour and student participation, Adler and Youngash stripped away students’ misconceptions about psychosis ­— defined by Adler as a “cluster of symptoms that include hallucinations, behavioural and personality changes, paranoia and delusions”— before teaching them how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental illness and obtain help for themselves or their friends.

After a comical exchange of novel high-fives between Adler and a student volunteer, the band rocked out during one of several musical interludes. Youngash then invited a handful of teens to participate in a demonstration designed to convey to students what someone suffering from psychosis might experience. He asked one volunteer to play the role of the afflicted person and had them tell the audience about their day. Meanwhile, the remaining volunteers were asked to dance around the “victim,” touch them on the shoulder or whisper in their ear to mimic the effects of visual, tactile and auditory hallucinations.

When asked how someone might feel after coping with these types of distractions for a day or even a week, Youngash said students often answer with “exhausted,” a reaction echoed by the day’s “victim,” a student named Elizabeth.

Adler put the exercise into context following its conclusion.

“We like to point out,” Adler said to the audience, “that even though that demo is often very funny — we see some amazing dance moves — if this were happening in real life, if all of these hallucinations were real, it obviously wouldn’t be funny.”

She segued into a discussion regarding the signs and symptoms of psychosis, referring to the exercise to help draw answers out of students.

Adler then reviewed a variety of ways in which students can help maintain a healthy balance in their lives, sharing the stage with Young as he disclosed the risks to a person’s mental health posed by drugs and alcohol.

The show concluded with a review of support and intervention services available to students, and judging from the number of students approaching the stage following the show, it was well received.

Adler has been involved with ReachOut for “six or seven years,” she said. They tour for six weeks each school year and play additional shows while at home in Vancouver. Touring as extensively as they do has helped their message reach a multitude of students.

“We hit our 100,000th student last February,” Adler added, “and since then, we’ve seen a few more thousand people.”

“We start the presentation asking if anyone’s heard of psychosis,” she added. “A lot of them put their hands up. We ask them if anyone wants to define it and that’s when we get answers like ‘It’s being crazy’ or uneducated answers. Some kids don’t want to talk about it, but by the end, you can feel them loosening up. We get a lot of students coming up to us after the show to tell us that they’re going through it themselves or that they’re concerned about a friend. It can really make a difference.”

Proud Animal has toured with the program since “the end of the school year last year,” Adler said. The band consists of Adler on vocals and accordion, Youngash on guitar, James Meger on bass, Skye Brooks on drums and Mike Young on keyboards.

More information on psychosis prevention and intervention is available on ReachOut’s website.

Just Posted

High temperatures in Ladysmith break century-old records

Maximum high Sunday at the airport edged out a temperature record that had stood since 1892

Foundation being built for the new Chemainus library to become a cornerstone of the community

All the services and amenities in keeping with the modern age

Ladysmith Cancer survivor not giving up fight

Kim Angell grows from advocate and blogger to the face of national campaign

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

Horvat scores 16 seconds into OT as Canucks beat Blackhawks 3-2

Pettersson sets rookie scoring record for Vancouver

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

Alphonso Davies doubtful for Canada game against French Guiana in Vancouver

Canada will be without injured captain Scott Arfield and veteran Will Johnson

Watchdog called after man who yelled racial slurs at B.C. vigil hurt during arrest

BC RCMP say man was ‘acting suspiciously’ at prayer vigil for victims of New Zealand mosque shootings

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh steps into the House of Commons, making history

Burnaby South MP becomes first visible minority to lead a federal party in the House of Commons

Most Read