Posts Tagged ‘mental health’

Light bedtime reading

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Nickelodeon Needs to be Educated – Chrisa Dieterle Hickey. This is a link to a brief post by mental health advocate, Chrisa Hickey, from Chicago. Chrisa’s post describes the concerns that many mental health advocates shared regarding the stigma-inducing stereotypical portrayal of patients with mental illnesses on the most recent episode of iCarly, “i Lost My Mind.”

I hope you will read the brief post and consider taking action to help fight the stigma associated with mental illness. This is of serious concern to teens who are more likely to die from suicide associated with mental illness than they are to die from any other illness or disease.

Bullying on IRFE in March 5, 2007, the first c...

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The below is excerpted from the “Consultation Cadre Listserv: A weekly forum for sharing and interchange.” A service from the UCLA Center: Mental Health in Schools: Program and Policy Analysis. May 23, 2011 Newsletter.

What do we do when it is the coach/teacher who is the bully?

“No child should ever be bullied by any adult, whether that adult is a coach, teacher, group leader, volunteer or parent. The pathways for dealing with each of these people in a child’s life are different, however. I’ll start with the coach. In the community where I live and work, coaches may be volunteers, part-time employees (hired to coach a specific sport) or teachers. They may be employed by the school district or they may work for a community athletic organization. There’s a different chain of command for each of these organizations. Here’s what I’d suggest:

1. Make sure that your child is truly being bullied. A single critical remark does not a bully make. While some coaches, especially volunteers, may not have the best communication skills, they may not be intentionally harassing your child. I’d suggest that the parent have a calm, reasoned conversation with their child and get details of what was said, how often this happens, and who the remarks were directed toward.

2. Once you are sure that this is a bullying situation, first talk to the coach or teacher. They may not be aware that their remarks seem like bullying and they’ll want to change.

3. If you’re not getting anywhere with the coach, move up the ladder. Schools should have an athletic director or someone in administration who’s in charge of athletics, or try talking to the building principal. This may take some persistence to find the right person. Once you find the right person, stay calm and reasoned in your discussion. Be prepared to provide details like what was said, how often the remarks were made, who else might have heard them. Athletic Associations have directors, too. Find out who it is and go to them.

4. If you’re still getting nowhere, keep moving up the ladder. Again, prepared to have a calm, reasoned, factual conversation with the school superintendent, school board, or the athletic association board of directors. If necessary, move beyond the local group to the regional or state-wide athletic oversight group. Always remember that this needs to be fact based.

5. Work on prevention at the same time as you work on redress. Volunteer to be an assistant coach or support the team in some other way. Your kid is less likely to be the target of bullying if you’re around. You’ll also have the chance to both witness the situation and to document it if needed. In some communities, you may be able to find an alternative way for your child to be involved in the sport. For example, if there’s a problem with a community association team, your child may be happier playing on a school team.”

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Update from “Dad” regarding testimony before MN senate.

The above is a direct link to the Facebook page, “Different, not Diseased” that I co-moderate. The link details the back story and impact of the proposed legislation, S.F. 348.

Here, I will describe my personal reflection regarding the event. It was somewhat surreal because everything happened so quickly: I was notified on Friday that our “story” had been distributed to the state legislators. At that time I was also informed that legislation retaining a small amount of PCA services for those serviced due to one ADL (activity of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating, etc) or Level I behaviors (broadly, “violent” behaviors related to mental health concerns) had been passed by the state legislature.

Considering that just a few weeks ago we were notified that all PCA services for our sons, serviced under level I behaviors, would be eliminated come July 1, 2011, the above news was cause for some jubilation…until I researched and read S.F. 348, the specific details of which can be read at the above link. Nevertheless, even a small victory, which I am told and believe is the most we can hope for this legislative session in Minnesota, is better than a complete defeat.

During my weekend research, I discovered that the bill was scheduled for hearing today rather than this upcoming Friday; however, I am also aware that these schedules can change. I made contact with the NAMI state office and heard back that indeed the hearing had been rescheduled for today. I made arrangements to head to St. Paul post haste and arrived in the nick of time as the topic was slated second on the agenda but had been moved forward. Due to the time-wrangling, NAMI’s state director, Sue Abderholden could not make it to the hearing on time, so mine became the “big gun” testimony, and I had not had much time to prepare. Fortunately, my years in the classroom and having to “wing-it” when a lesson flopped paid off, and I felt that my testimony was effective, especially when coupled with the story distributed to legislators last week.

There was no vote today, but I will post an update as soon as I know the outcome. For Minnesotans who would otherwise lose all PCA care services, I can only hope for passage of the bill. For all of us, I hope for better economic times ahead so that necessary programs and services will not continue to be cut at both the state and federal levels.

03.15.11 UPDATE: I have located an MP3 including my testimony and will upload when possible.

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On February 5, 2011, NBC Sports blogger Rick Chandler made a bad call with the following article: You crazy! Mental health advocates in uproar over high school dance teams’ “psych ward” routine. Many mental health advocates, led by blogger Amy K. in her February 8, 2011 blog post titled, Mocking Mental Health Advocacy: Take Action Now!, are calling for a retraction by Chandler, who also uses the Twitter handle, @rickchand.

While Chandler should know better than to support the weird dance performed by the Waunakee, WI dance team, what is most surprising is that, according to Chandler’s post, the dance coach claims that although the dancers were dressed in uniforms intended to resemble straitjackets with the words “Psych Ward” clearly visible on the front of each girl’s uniform, they didn’t “intend to offend anyone or make any reference to mental illness.” REALLY?!

While I cannot imagine that anyone actually tried to offend people suffering with mental health conditions, any reasonable person should have been able to anticipate that the dance routine would be offensive and perpetuate the stigma that goes along with mental health disorders.

This isn’t just about being “politically correct” though. It is about combating a stigma that has persisted in western society for many years. It is about being sensitive to the fact that 20% of Americans suffer with mental illness. It is about the reality that there is nothing funny or exciting about wearing a strait jacket, and most of all, it is about the kids who suffer silently and go untreated, often committing suicide because of the stigma surrounding MI.

My Twitter friend, @Chrisa_Hickey, who also writes a blog called The Mindstorm: Raising a Mentally Ill Child was among the first to address the topic on February 5. On February 6, 2011, she featured a guest post on her blog by an amazing 15 year-old girl named Erika. If you haven’t read Erika’s heartfelt letter to “the coach,” you should. Erika relates her own struggle with mental illness, including visits to the “psych ward,” and addresses how damaging this performance may be to teens struggling with mental illness who may fail to seek treatment because of the stigma surrounding mental illness. It must here be noted that most children and adolescents who struggle with mental health disorders go undiagnosed and untreated. Is it any wonder why when society freely and openly mocks mental illness?

Kudos to Erika, Chrisa, Amy and all the others out there who are taking a stand against this outrage. Won’t you please join us in fighting the stigma associated with mental illness –Tell NBC they are WRONG! See vlog from @abeeliever and take action NOW!

UPDATE 4:00PM, 2/11/2011: Some good news has come out of this situation today. The principal of Waunakee High School, Brian Kersten, is working with NAMI Wisconsin to create awareness of mental illness in the school. Kudos for doing the right thing Mr. Kersten! Now, we’d just like to see the same from NBC! Read more at The Mindstorm, Chrisa’s blog.


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I have always wanted to write. I guess that’s why blogs appeal to me. A couple of years ago I overshot and applied to be an expert. I knew it was a long shot as the area of expertise was law, and I was a student in paralegal studies, but you never know unless you try, right?

Shortly thereafter I came across and have had it in my mind since to apply to write there. Well, after two years, I finally mustered the initiative to apply, and I did apply. Just found out today that I have been “accepted”. Of course, being accepted to write and writing for web publication are two separate issues…. Suite101 is a professional site and as such employs editors for each of the specialty areas they support. That’s exciting because I will be able to develop my voice as a writer with professional guidance and support. It’s also intimidating because whatever I write will have to meet professional standards and be original enough to warrant “clicks” in order to receive payment.

Nevertheless, I am excited to begin this new journey. I am not setting my expectations too high: I won’t be quitting my day job! Yet, I will be setting some short and long-term goals for writing and publication.

My intent is to write on those topics with which I am most familiar: education, mental health, and the impact of law on both of those areas. If you have a suggestion for something you would like to see researched and written about, please let me know…I am always interested in feedback and input!

Bullying…the “cause du jour”

Posted: December 22, 2010 in post
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I hope that the current focus on bullying isn’t just another educational fad or phase. Bullying is serious and it is real. In our wired world, there are so many new ways to bully and there have been many sensationalized stories. I;m posting a link to an SFGate article regarding bullying. I confess to not having read it fully yet, but I think it is important to know what is being said about bullying from a variety of resources.

So, Ed writes and posts about education, and one critical part of the educational picture is mental health…. Ed wants YOUR vote for CABF, the Child and Pediatric Bipolar Foundation, a group devoted to educating families and the public about a misunderstood and under diagnosed disorder in children and adolescents. I’m voting, and I hope you will too. See the link to follow.

Trends in the Prescription of Antipsychotic Medications to Young Children
Prescriptions for antipsychotic medications to young children have doubled in the past 10 years.  With recent data showing that less than half had received a mental health assessment, there is growing concern among researchers and clinicians that many children may be misdiagnosed and overtreated.

TeenScreen Scientific Advisor Mark Olfson, MD, MPH, professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University and one of the nation’s foremost experts on the issue, highlights the latest research on the controversy, the risks of overmedication to young children and adolescents, and the confluence of factors that have produced these trends.

He proposes alternative strategies that could help ensure that the behavioral and mental health needs of children and adolescents continue to be met as effectively and safely as possible.

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I’m an educator by training and by practice. I also struggle to maintain mental health. What began at the end of 2010 as a place to discuss education issues, education reform and policy has, as I suppose is natural with any personal blog, become a place to post my random musing on many topics; however, I aim to stay as true to the course as possible, focusing on issues of import to education. That said, you will find mental health, literacy, and technology discussed here.

If you tweet, follow me on Twitter: @Ed_Advocate (I’m a bit more random there, and more inclined to tweet about mental health and literacy)

I also write for Suite101.

Thanks for looking. I encourage comments and feedback. While comments are moderated, I will approve any comment that directly refers to the topic; however, I reserve the right to edit. Approval of comments does not imply endorsement or agreement.