Melanie is available for readings, classroom visits and workshops. She offers interactive presentations on mental health for youth and young adults, presentations for parents, teachers and youth workers and creative writing workshops.

Melanie’s book Heads Up: Changing Minds on Mental Health won the Lane Anderson Award for best science writing for young readers and was a finalist for the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize. Melanie has a Master of Social Work and a Master of Fine Arts. Her poetry collection, Deepwater Vee, was a finalist for Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award.

Melanie taught creative writing in the University of Victoria Faculty of Fine Arts for 10 years. She has experience leading creative writing groups through the RJH Psychiatric Day Hospital, Island Health Mental Health and Substance Use services and in the community. She has presented at high schools, colleges, literary festivals and professional conferences.

Melanie is comfortable delivering presentations virtually. And she is available for in-person events as Public Health Orders allow. A few presentations are described below but feel to be in touch as topics can be tailored to your group’s needs.

Heads Up: Getting Real About Mental Health

Drawing from her award-winning book HEADS UP, Melanie shares the real-life stories of youth who have struggled with their mental health. This presentation highlights how our ideas about mental health are embedded in science, history and culture. It explores the often-overlooked impact of trauma and oppression. And it features diverse paths to healing, such as Indigenous cultural approaches, trauma-informed yoga and hip hop, peer support and many others.

Through discussion and activities, students will go away with an increased understanding of mental health and trauma, more empathy for those who struggle, and solid strategies for responding to their friends and supporting their own mental health.

  • Suitable for Grades 7 – 12
  • This presentation can be offered to small or large groups of students.
  • Time: 60-90 minutes

Heads Up: Professional Development for Teachers and Librarians

School teachers, librarians and administrators are frontline responders to the mental health needs of youth. Grounded in interpersonal neurobiology and the science of protective and adverse childhood experiences, Melanie brings a nuanced, trauma-informed and anti-oppressive approach to understanding mental health. This training will increase your capacity to respond to students who are struggling and to build a more trauma-informed school.

  • Suitable for teachers, librarians and school administrators
  • Time: 60 to 90 minutes

Working with Big Emotions: Emotion Coaching 101

When a youth’s emotions are big and unruly or when they are locked down tight, it can be hard to know how to respond. Our usual tactics and good intentions can fall flat. Drawing from interpersonal neurobiology and Emotion Focused Family Therapy, this workshop will teach you the basics of emotion coaching. These skills will increase your confidence and effectiveness in the face of anxiety, explosive anger, grief, depression and even stony silence.

  • Suitable for parents, caregivers, teachers and youth workers
  • Time: 1 to 3 hours

Creative Writing Workshops

Students will engage in writing exercises and explore how to write captivating work, either poetry or narrative nonfiction, from their own experiences and observations. This dynamic workshop encourages maximal creativity in a super supportive atmosphere.

This workshop is best offered in person or virtually where each youth is logged on via their own computer, either from home or in a computer lab. Best for a small group of single class.

  • Suitable for Grades 7 – 12
  • Time: 1 to 3 hours