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About


We Re-Think Mental Health…


In 2018, We're Talking About Grief & Loss...


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In 2018, We're Talking About Grief & Loss.
As you know, rarely do the chapters of our everyday lives conclude with a "happily ever after", a magical ride in a gigantic bus-shaped Cat, or the manifestation of our once dormant superpower to soar through the clouds.

Instead, themes of grief and loss fill the volumes of stories we read or personally live through.

Grief is universal in our human experience.

Strangely enough...we don't often talk about it.

After all, you're likely not surprised how difficult it is for many of us to openly and freely talk about Death, Divorce, Depression, or Dark Nights of the Soul.

Whether it's facing our own grief, or supporting the grief of another, it can often feel awkward, uncomfortable and tempting to hide our "big" and "small" losses, crucibles and crosses in our unique life stories.


We Break Through Grief Taboos...


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For example, in our own lives, families, local communities, and global societies today, we've somehow learned that the ideal solution is to "keep quiet" or else "fix the problem" and "move on".

However, these are suggestions that don't often help in the domain of our mental and emotional wellness.

For example, we sometimes say or hear unhelpful (but well-meaning) consolations like,*

"Don't feel bad, they lived a good life at least"
"Keep your chin up, it'll get better",
Or the infamous cliché: "there's plenty of fish in the sea"
While likely spoken with kind intentions, the prevalence of these attitudes--silence or demonstrating strength/success--have diminished our capacity to develop resilience, hope and courage through the darkest moments when we most need glimmers of light.

As a result, it leaves us stranded without sufficient coping skills or adequate support, as if widening our already deep wounds. It also compromises our ability to best support the grieving experiences of others.


We Believe in Hope, Grit, Courage and Compassion...


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But if you love such stories as much as I do, I'm sure you'd agree that the most inspiring tales stories of textured fictional characters or details of incredible real-life individual who learned:

  • Hopefulness amidst the shadow of hopelessness;
  • grit and resilience through deep sufferings;
  • courage against great fear; and
  • compassion, when mercy is in short supply
  • The courage to honour these important words: It's okay to not feel okay.

These themes resonate in the stories of people who, if they feel ready to, choose to a) (re)discover the surprising gifts from grief and explore b) how we might create a profound life through our most painful losses.



What We Do...


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Since opening dialogue on grief and the art of mourning are on our minds, our year's theme addresses the following topics:

  • Grief, Grit & Growth Mindset;

  • Death, Divorce, Resilience & Creative Transformation;

  • Intergenerational Trauma, Post-Traumatic Growth, & the Impacts on Individuals and Communities

Grounded in empirical research insights, and our own personal experiences of mental health, we write / curate articles and offer online education courses.

We also offer limited 1-to-1 coaching and organizational consulting services.

Whether you're here for yourself, your loved ones, your organization, or the communities in your care, I'd be glad to hear your story.




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Hello, I'm Nathan.


I'll be honest with you.

Through nearly 4 decades of my life, I've personally lived with what some might label as persistent depressive episodes (formerly known as dysthymia), generalized anxiety, and a high emotional sensitivity as well. I've also experienced significant losses, including the death of my lovely mother in 2005 and a pretty tough, recent divorce.

Now, I'll tell you something that other folks on the internet may not tell you while talking about their personal story, content or courses. I'm not a guru. I haven't attained the secret to 24/7 happiness. and I don't have the sacred juice from a unicorn's horn that forever "fixes" the mental health challenges I've grown up with.

But, despite my personal challenges, I have been able to do some incredible work with others, and in my own mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.


In my quest to better understand both my own story and the grief experiences of others, I dedicated nearly 10 years of my life in both education, research and consulting work about grief, trauma and our resilient human capacity to create meaning and transformation through dark moments when it feels almost impossible to try.

As a result, I believe in sharing with you the wisdom I've learned so far about the many seasons of life, even while I'm still humbly trying to learn its lessons.

The soul of our conversations here with the CounterStory Initiative are ones of inclusivity, thoughtful dialogue, and respectful debates about the issues that concern us in our lives and society.

If you wish, I kindly invite you to join our conversation.

Best,

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Nathan

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“The more we talk about death and grief, and the more people share their experiences of what does and doesn't work for them, the less awkward we will all feel about the whole death thing”

-Annie Broadbent



Dr. Nathan M. To has dedicated 3 interdisciplinary psychology degrees and devoted nearly 10 years of his life researching intergenerational trauma, grief, and our human capacity for grit and resilience--not just how we survive our painful losses, but how we thrive, create, and transform our lives on a new path.

He's also researched how societal culture, popular media and our family histories influence and impact our mental wellness, emotional wellbeing and identity formation across generations.

Nathan's unique background allows him to offer actionable, researched-backed insights on mental health, emotional intelligence, culture and human experience that any curious person and complex organization can apply.

Nathan has consulted for a diverse range of clients including social enterprises, socially conscious technology startups, B2B eCommerce, arts community organizations, charities serving the homeless, and independent arts galleries who champion mental health, and served on the founding teams of educational video game startup Worldtribe Media and the Civil Rights & Freedoms March.

He's also presented internationally at leading universities including The University of London, The University of Westminster, University of British Columbia, Fordham University (New York), and the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University (Toronto).

The name CounterStory Initiative is a fond homage to Worldtribe Media's now inactive online game: Counter/Story, that promoted mental/emotional/spiritual wellbeing and a resilient, transformative identity formation for at-risk children and youth.

The research and process that Nathan uses to empower the mental/emotional wellbeing of individuals, organizations and global communities is found in his articles, publications and courses.

Through the serious and urgent dialogues around mental health, Nathan speaks with words infused with hope, seasoned with practical and useful wisdom, earnest candor, and occasional flavourings of his own quirky humour (e.g. references / fond allegiances to fantastic felines aren't far in any given page).

Any time spent with Nathan will empower you to imagine bold, innovative possibilities for your life, workplace, or community you serve.


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