A Small Gem

Well, Friday was officially my last day of teaching. This weekend I was organizing and copying some files in my Google Drive. I happily stumbled upon this presentation from my education coursework.

Scenario: Bobby and Suzie make fun of Ned because he likes Pokemon.
Ned cries because he feels embarrassed and that he can’t like Pokemon anymore.
What can Ned do?
Strategy: Ignore them! Be your own person. Remember that what other people think doesn’t have to affect what you think.
How we handle things determines how they affect us.
Half-empty: It’s half gone! Sad, down, worried
Half-full: I have half! Happy, excited, relaxed
Strategy is to look at the positive side of things because situations aren’t necessarily good OR bad– they’re what you make them.
What are some situations where this might help to look at the positive side?
MOST IMPORTANT ONE (in my opinion)
YOU have to care about yourself.
I know this is serious and can be weird to talk about—but if nothing else this is what I want you all to remember. YOU have to care about you.
Strategy: Reflection- thinking about the specifics.
Activity example before students complete their own.

While the intended audience for this presentation is children ages 9-10, I feel that that the overall message and suggested practices are applicable to any age group.

I must stress how important it is to talk about mental health with children and adolescents. My OCD first reared its head when I was only six years old. It subsided for a while and came back fully fledged at age eleven. Children need to know that they have the power to self-regulate their emotions and thoughts. They need to be taught these skills.

I was happy that at the school where I worked, they taught coping strategies in their counseling lessons. I also enjoyed doing yoga with my students during a brain break, practicing a fun breathing exercise, or simply stretching. That alone is not enough. I hope that positive mental health practices and discussion will become a regular part of every classroom in our country. From elementary schools to universities across our country, there is a general disparity of learners’ mental health needs and an institutions’ resources.

I found my own university, Penn State, lacking in this department. I even wrote a speech about it for my CAS 100 class. I was happy to learn that an option in voting for our senior gift was to increase funding for the counseling and psychological services (CAPS). Well, that vote was a no brainer. I was not surprised when the results were announced, and that option won. See more details here:
https://news.psu.edu/story/375232/2015/10/14/campus-life/class-2016-supports-fellow-students-enduring-gift-caps

https://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2016/05/08/Penn-State-sees-increase-in-self-injury-suicide-cases/stories/201605080069

I had personally sought help from CAPS. After a pre-screening, I found myself on a 6 week waiting list. Um. No. I need help now. I ended up seeing a therapist in downtown State College instead–which was actually for the better since she was incredible at her job. I saw her the rest of the way through college. I was never okay with it though. What of the others who went to CAPS, were told to wait 6 weeks, and perhaps could not afford to see a therapist downtown? A university as large scale as Penn State should have increased their mental health services long before 2016.

Don’t get me wrong– I love Penn State. I believe it’s a nationwide, if not worldwide, problem. I don’t think people outside of the realm of mental illness understand its scope. OCD alone affects 1 in 40 people. Think about that number, and then remember that OCD is just one of many common mental health conditions. As I grow older, I find that more and more of my friends also suffer from mental health conditions. Mental health disorders are not uncommon.

I am not an expert in healthcare or counseling services by any means. I don’t have an answer of how to remedy this problem. I just know it’s not enough. Not yet. I hope to see that in my lifetime.

One thought

  1. I love this! One of my long term goals in life is to bring awareness to mental health and to support schools to bring awareness and support for children!

    Like

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