Updated: Apr 11, 2018
It's really noteworthy how teachers are now recognizing the need of helping children and teenagers with achieving overall wellness. I recently wrote a blog post about a teacher implementing mindfulness practices in her own high school classroom. Another educator, who is a very good friend of mine, is very passionate about bringing awareness to mental and emotional issues among youth. Nicole specializes on working with kids and teens who learn differently than how school wants them to learn. From her experience with these students, she has found that they also have to cope with external pressures, such as parents', teachers' and societal expectations.
Nicole has a powerful message about mental and emotional health of youth that is so worth sharing. It takes guts to speak her own truth on the need for a paradigm shift in the institution of education, which evidently hasn't changed in forever. But I think the key takeaway is a simple one: listen to your kids... like, really listen to them.
Transcript from Nicole's Facebook Live Stream March 22, 2018
Hello! This is my first time doing this Facebook Live thing... Today I went to a benefit for children's mental health and learning, and I got to a point where I can no longer not say something because I care so much and I'm so pissed off.
We need to listen to the children... We keep letting the older professor types be part of the solution to this mental health crisis, and what they're doing isn't always helping and no one is saying that.
What really got me was this one MD, UC Berkeley professor. Everyone was so excited about him. He spoke about stigma, and he was very assertive. He said, "The biggest issue is stigma." But when I listen to him, I was actually a little offended by some of the things he said because of my own experiences and also the work I do with children. I don't think it is just stigma. It's not stigma. It's that the mental health system does not understand these kids we're trying to help. They do not understand what mental disorders are. The DSM is flawed. We know that. There's article after article, and yet that's still the bible.
The treatment we offer these kids has a lot of issues. I'm not anti-treatment or anti-medication, but I literally can't hear one more story of a Silicon Valley stressed out teen who is anxious and depressed... the treatment is to give them medication that has a black box label warning that may increase suicidal thinking and behavior... And then they go to the hospital because they're suicidal, and they get locked in the hospital. What I hear from the children is that they often feel shamed and blamed by the nurses. Then sometimes the parents come and pick them up and say, "How dare you? How DARE you try to commit suicide?!" This is how we're supporting children.
I just don't see anyone talking about this. At this mental health benefit, it was just professors talking up here [hand motion of a high pedestal]. There were no children. The children were missing. They have things to say, and we're not listening. There were also note cards on the table — little cute bubbles — that said, "Therapy works." My first thought was... I have heard from so many kids that therapy didn't work for them. And I'm not anti-therapy. I'm not here to attack therapists. There are a lot of amazing therapists, but the thing is, some kids are screaming... We're not listening that therapy doesn't work for them. The treatment of being locked in a hospital and feeling shamed and blamed doesn't work for them, and we're not talking about that.
We're just talking about sigma and all these high level things that honestly I have yet to see translate into supporting a child in the here and now. I asked a question after the event. We had to write on paper, and I wrote... "I think we're missing something here. How about we understand mental health and how we treat it?..." Conveniently my question wasn't answered, so I went up after to the moderator who is a psychologist. I said, "Hey, my question wasn't answered. Can we talk about it?" And he said, "That was a good question. You know, we do need to look at this stuff."But then why aren't we talking about it at this event? Why are we talking about things that aren't as relevant?
If you acknowledge that your child may need personalized learning and feel that Nicole could help, check out her site for further inquiry: http://www.nicoleconnell.com/