Archive for the ‘Depression’ Category

Education New Year’s Resolutions 2020

January 1, 2020

 

Below are some New Year’s resolutions I suggest the broader Education sector should take on for 2020 based on an article I wrote a few years ago:

1. Schools Should Become More Involved With Cyberbullying –  At present many schools have opted to turn a blind-eye to cyberbullying.  As the offence occurs out of school hours, a growing number of schools have been only too happy to handball the problem to the parents of the bully. Whilst I believe that parents are ultimately responsible for the actions of their children, I ask that schools do more to help deal with this ongoing problem.

The reason why I feel schools should involve themselves more actively with this issue is that most cyberbullying cases result from pre-existing schoolyard bullying.  Having started in the playground and classroom, the bullying then gets transferred online. Whilst the school isn’t liable for what goes on after school, the problem is often a result of what started during school hours.

To me, the best schools are the ones that work with the parents in a partnership for the wellbeing of their students.  For a school to excel it needs to show that it cares about its students beyond its working hours. That is why a teacher or staff member that is aware of cyberbullying must be able to do more than discuss the issue with the class.  They must be able to contact parents, impose sanctions and actively change the situation at hand.

2. Schools Should Address Mental Health Issues from a Young Age – Youth suicide has become an epidemic, and now that we are more familiar with the problem, schools should make children aware of the pressures they may face before facing them. They should be made aware of the options they may encounter should they fall on hard times, and the places they can go to discuss issues affecting them. Some will argue that teaching children about depression makes them more likely to become depressed. “Don’t give them ideas,” they may say. Well, those people clearly haven’t lost someone to suicide.

3. Schools Should Teach Climate Change Very Differently – This is loosely connected to the previous point. It is quite apparent that a growing percentage of children are feeling extremely anxious about predictions concerning our planet. This is harming our kids. I would like to see climate change taught as an opportunity to motivate children to make good personal decisions and inspire them to lessen their own carbon footprint. I don’t think it’s helpful to have them lie awake at night fearful about what politicians are doing or failing to do. Just like we would never teach young impressionable children about the dangers caused by regularly consuming the treats in their own lunchboxes, I don’t think it’s helpful to make them fearful about what a Government’s environmental policies.

4. It’s Time To Stop Blaming Teachers For Everything – Education is supposed to be a team effort.  All parts of the system are supposed to work with each other and for each other.  Yet, it always seems to be that the teachers get singled out for blame.  Poor testing results – blame the teachers, a bullying problem – blame the teachers, lack of classroom control – yep, let’s blame the teachers for that too.

The question has to be asked: At what point do we focus our attention on the administrators when handing out the blame? It seems to me that whilst there is always going to be poor teachers in the system, nowhere near enough focus is directed to policymakers as well as those in management positions and on school counsels.

5. More support for kids floundering in the classroom – Differentiation is an essential practice in a modern classroom, but it doesn’t completely address the issues at hand. When a child is 3 class levels below their peers, what does one do? If the school can’t get funding for that child, what then? The same goes for children on the spectrum. They require a more controlled and traditional classroom set-up. The new, more chaotic and interactional style of teaching and learning doesn’t seem to be doing them wonders. How does a teacher give them what they need without stifling other learners who are embracing group learning and creative and engaging lesson planning? These issues need to be dealt with to support teachers.

 

I must stress that these resolutions don’t necessarily apply to my own workplace, but from what I am discovering, are very big issues that should be considered over the course of the year.

 

Michael Grossman is the author of the hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

11 Mental Illness Myths

March 29, 2014

mental illness

Courtesy of The Huffington Post:

 

You Are Not Sick
MYTH: Bipolar disorder just means mood swings
FACT: Bipolar disorder is an illness with severe mood swings. Often, bipolar can interfere with one’s daily functioning, and sometimes can even lead to suicide, according to Dr. Prakash Masand, a psychiatrist and president of Global Medical Education.

Am I Cured?
MYTH: Once you feel better you can stop taking your medication
FACT: Almost all patients with psychiatric illness need maintenance treatment for a while, even if they start “feeling better.” Masand says this is to prevent relapses and recurrences, similar to diabetes and heart disease patients.

Your Relationship Is To Blame
MYTH: Psychiatric illness is a result of bad relationships
FACT: All psychiatric illnesses have a genetic component and an environmental component, Masand says. A bad relationship, for example, is only one of several factors.

You Can’t Handle It
MYTH: Psychiatric illnesses are due to weak character or inadequate coping skills
FACT: Psychiatric illnesses are medical illnesses with several origins like all other illnesses, Masand says. Just because you cry easily or can’t cope with personal problems, it doesn’t make you weak or more likely to be mentally ill.

It Will Go Away
MYTH: Depression is just sadness that will go away
FACT: Depression is a serious medical illness with morbidity and mortality, Masand says. Not all people show obvious signs of being depressed either. While some seek medication or go to therapy to cope, Masand says others try exercise, yoga or meditation. On the flip side, if someone is often sad or emotional, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are depressed.

You Won’t Have A ‘Normal’ Life
MYTH: Once you have depression or bipolar disorder, you will never achieve your full potential or live a ‘normal’ life
FACT: Some of the most successful people in various fields have had depression or bipolar disorder, including Isaac Newton, Beethoven, Brad Pitt and Oprah Winfrey, Masand says. People who go through a mental illness may also feel they can’t ever get back to a “normal life.” This is another myth. Someone with a mental illness can still function, go to work, raise a family or perform any other task.

Suicide Isn’t Really A Big Problem
MYTH: Suicide is not a big problem in our society
FACT: You may not know someone who has committed suicide, but this doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. In 2009, for example, suicide accounted for 3,890 deaths in Canada among both genders, and according to Statistics Canada, mental illness is the most important risk factor. In the U.S., Masand says suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in 2007.

If You Seek Help, You Are Weak
MYTH: Treatment for psychiatric illness is a cop-out for weak people
FACT: Treatment is necessary for psychiatric illnesses like it is for other medical illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease, Masand says. This myth is also commonly believed because finding help or telling people close to you about your illnesses can also lead to shaming and embarrassment.

They Are Just ‘Crazy’
MYTH: All patients with schizophrenia are dangerous
FACT: If you’ve ever seen schizophrenia or mental health portrayed in mainstream media, you might just think everyone who is mentally ill is “crazy.” Only a small proportion of patients with schizophrenia can be violent and this is usually because they are untreated, Masand says.

Just Get Over It
MYTH: Talk therapy is just whining
FACT: Several types of talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, can be just as effective as medication in treating depression and anxiety disorders.

 

Click on the link to read Discussing Mental Illness with Children

Discussing Mental Illness with Children

September 29, 2013

 

mental

 

Valuable information courtesy of aacap.org:

 

Kids are naturally curious and have questions about mental illnesses. Understanding mental illnesses can be challenging for adults as well as for children. Myths, confusion, and misinformation about mental illnesses cause anxiety, create stereotypes, and promote stigma. During the past 50 years, great advances have been made in the areas of diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. Parents can help children understand that these are real illnesses that can be treated.

In order for parents to talk with a child about mental illnesses, they must be knowledgeable and reasonably comfortable with the subject. Parents should have a basic understanding and answers to questions such as, what are mental illnesses, who can get them, what causes them, how are diagnoses made, and what treatments are available. Some parents may have to do a little homework to be better informed.

When explaining to a child about how a mental illness affects a person, it may be helpful to make a comparison to a physical illness. For example, many people get sick with a cold or the flu, but only a few get really sick with something serious like pneumonia. People who have a cold are usually able to do their normal activities. However, if they get pneumonia, they will have to take medicine and may have to go to the hospital. Similarly, feelings of sadness, anxiety, worry, irritability, or sleep problems are common for most people. However, when these feelings get very intense, last for a long period of time and begin to interfere with school, work, and relationships, it may be a sign of a mental illness that requires treatment.

Parents should be aware of their child’s needs, concerns, knowledge, and experience with mental illnesses. When talking about mental illnesses, parents should:

  • communicate in a straightforward manner
  • communicate at a level that is appropriate to a child’s age and development level
  • have the discussion when the child feels safe and comfortable
  • watch their child’s reaction during the discussion
  • slow down or back up if the child becomes confused or looks upset

Considering these points will help any child to be more relaxed and understand more of the conversation.

Pre-School Age Children

Young children need less information and fewer details because of their more limited ability to understand. Preschool children focus primarily on things they can see, for example, they may have questions about a person who has an unusual physical appearance, or is behaving strangely. They would also be very aware of people who are crying and obviously sad, or yelling and angry.

School-Age Children

Older children may want more specifics. They may ask more questions, especially about friends or family with emotional or behavioral problems. Their concerns and questions are usually very straightforward. “Why is that person crying? Why does Daddy drink and get so mad? Why is that person talking to herself?” They may worry about their safety or the safety of their family and friends. It is important to answer their questions directly and honestly and to reassure them about their concerns and feelings.

Teenagers

Teenagers are generally capable of handling much more information and asking more specific and difficult questions. Teenagers often talk more openly with their friends and peers than with their parents. As a result, some teens may have already have misinformation about mental illnesses. Teenagers respond more positively to an open dialogue which includes give and take. They are not as open or responsive when a conversation feels one-sided or like a lecture.

Talking to children about mental illnesses can be an opportunity for parents to provide their children with information, support, and guidance. Learning about mental illnesses can lead to improved recognition, earlier treatment, greater understanding and compassion, as well as decreased stigma.

 

Click on the link to read Tips to Help Parents Control Their Kids’ TV Habits

Click on the link to read 10 Steps Parents Can Take if their Child is Being Bullied

Click on the link to read School Holidays are Very Hard for Many Parents (Video)

Click on the link to read 20 Reassuring Things Every Parent Should Hear

Click on the link to read 10 Tips for Nurturing Independence Among Children

Click on the link to read 4 Tips for Getting Your Kids up in the Morning

Click on the link to read Seven Valuable Tips for Raising Your Child’s Self-Esteem

Click on the link to read Top Ten Compliments Your Children Need to Hear

 

 


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