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  #1  
Old 28th June 2015, 21:27
nosilencenostigma nosilencenostigma is offline
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Default No Silence, No Stigma Wants YOUR Input for a New Mental Health Curriculum

This is an SAUK-sanctioned survey about what people would want to see included in a K-12 health curriculum in terms of mental health and mental health issues. Replies will help to inform and support No Silence, No Stigma, a grassroots advocacy project that aims to develop quality, publicly informed mental health curriculum and advocate for its implementation in public schools.


Our question:

What mental health topics and skills do you most think grade schools should teach in health class, and why?


Some sub-questions you *may* want to consider:

-What are the mental health lessons that come most directly out of your own lived experience?

-What have been the mental health lessons that have helped you the most personally?

-What kind of mental health education do you feel it would have served you to have received in grade school. (Or, if you are in grade school, what kind of mental health curriculum do you feel it would serve you to be learning currently?)


A summary of your responses will be posted in a sister thread on the No Silence, No Stigma website (any names, usernames, and other identifying information will be removed). We encourage you to visit the sister thread to A. make sure it captures the essence of what is being expressed here, B. see what other voices have to say about it, and C. to advocate for the inclusion of your favorite ideas from the thread in curriculum by supporting them with research, reasoning, and your own lived experiences.

The sister thread is here.


Many thanks to all who participate!

**And many thanks to SAUK for stickying this!**
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  #2  
Old 28th June 2015, 22:18
Nat36 Nat36 is offline
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Default Re: Input for Mental Health Curriculum Project

Mindfulness. As children, we are not taught from a young age that our thoughts are not always to be believed or trusted and mindfulness/meditation is one way of weakening/challenging the power of emotions and thoughts. Would it have helped me if I'd have known then what I know now? It's difficult to say, but I would have liked to have had the option, and the knowledge that it existed, as a child.
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  #3  
Old 29th June 2015, 00:11
Nat36 Nat36 is offline
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Default Re: Input for Mental Health Curriculum Project

I meant to add assertiveness classes as well as a preventative and empowering measure.
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  #4  
Old 29th June 2015, 01:33
nosilencenostigma nosilencenostigma is offline
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Default Re: Input for Mental Health Curriculum Project

@Nat36: Mindfulness is indeed a wonderful tool, especially for PREVENTING mental health issues (making it especially important to teach to young people). And I liked your point that being given an option to do something is meaningful even when there is no guarantee that it will change anything (or even be pursued). What this brings up for me is the feeling that teaching students ABOUT certain skills, i.e. teaching that they exist and providing students with resources so they can be pursued outside the classroom is an important alternative to keep in mind rather than thinking only in terms of either teaching and practicing skills extensively in class or else totally neglecting to teach them.

I was wondering if you could say a bit more about assertiveness classes as a preventative and empowering measure? I am not very educated about assertiveness classes, and I also be curious what an ideal assertiveness class would look like to you. Is there a particular modality you would want to be taught or a particular way you would want assertiveness to be taught? Also, what do you mean when you say assertiveness classes would be a "preventative" measure?
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  #5  
Old 29th June 2015, 08:47
Nat36 Nat36 is offline
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Default Re: Input for Mental Health Curriculum Project

Quote:
Originally Posted by nosilencenostigma
@Nat36: Mindfulness is indeed a wonderful tool, especially for PREVENTING mental health issues (making it especially important to teach to young people). And I liked your point that being given an option to do something is meaningful even when there is no guarantee that it will change anything (or even be pursued). What this brings up for me is the feeling that teaching students ABOUT certain skills, i.e. teaching that they exist and providing students with resources so they can be pursued outside the classroom is an important alternative to keep in mind rather than thinking only in terms of either teaching and practicing skills extensively in class or else totally neglecting to teach them.
Yes I agree entirely with this.


Quote:
Originally Posted by nosilencenostigma
I was wondering if you could say a bit more about assertiveness classes as a preventative and empowering measure? I am not very educated about assertiveness classes, and I also be curious what an ideal assertiveness class would look like to you. Is there a particular modality you would want to be taught or a particular way you would want assertiveness to be taught? Also, what do you mean when you say assertiveness classes would be a "preventative" measure?
I would argue that assertiveness is one antidote to anxiety, panic and depression. In my own experience, and from hearing other people's experience, assertiveness is something that people experiencing these states have difficulty with or else have limited knowledge about in its application. I include my past self in this category. Assertiveness is something my therapist has been helping me with. Before we started, I had almost no awareness of my needs. I ignored them and allowed others to trample of them due to fear of being assertive. I am much more able to set boundaries with others now but it's still a work in progress. I haven't been in a school environment for years now so I do not know exactly what is taught nowadays, but I had no education on anything to do with assertiveness or learning about social skills. It was just assumed kids would pick them up and be ok. This clearly is not always the case and even people without mental health issues could probably do with a little education about social and communication skills. I'm not sure exactly would form the classes could take but role play could be used to make it more fun and practical.

A lack of assertiveness keeps people trapped in a victim mentality, which then feeds the anxiety, panic and depression. As with the mindfulness, it could very much be a preventative measure for reducing the incidence and severity of mental health episodes for people.
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  #6  
Old 29th June 2015, 12:02
flumpsy flumpsy is offline
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Default Re: Input for Mental Health Curriculum Project

I never suffered at school so the main thing that would have been useful would be a way to recognise when things aren't quite right in the future and feeling there is somebody to talk to or at least info to read up on. This seems so much better now than when I was at school. The thought of discussing thoughts and feelings or my mental state with the school nurse just wouldn't cross my mind.

I never had issues with panic attacks myself but knew a few people that did, as they are quite easily recognised anxiety reduction when you spot a panic attack coming could be useful to teach, it would help others be more understanding too.

As my issues would have been unlikely to be recognised at school age I don't really have any more suggestions. As an over thinker I do feel it better not to give people too many things that may be wrong with them, I didnt think at all about my health when I was at school age though. Most of my significant "total failure" periods have been after discovering about SA, I think I may have achieved a lot less if I was starting to wonder about it in my earlier years.

Just my personal take, anybody clearly going through it during school should get support and advice. Anybody with tendencies like I had at that age, well it may not be so clear cut. But having an idea where to find out if I needed to would have been useful.

I always used to joke about emotions and the best thing to do is bottle them up deep inside until they force their way out as a stroke or tumour. All boys were taught to bottle everything up. Some ended up nutjobs like me, and some ended up having fits of rage and getting in fights or going off the rails. There must be a better way without one of those awful "lets go around the class and everybody point out an emotion" type things.
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  #7  
Old 29th June 2015, 17:47
nosilencenostigma nosilencenostigma is offline
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Default Re: Input for Mental Health Curriculum Project

@flumpsy: Good points. I especially like your point about combatting the issue of people and particularly boys bottling up their emotions, and how doing this may actually require a concerted effort to target the demographic being taught rather than settling for cheesy token BS at the problem.

I am a little unclear about your point about "giving people too many things that may be wrong with them". Are you more concerned about students being exposed to to many ideas of what mental health problems are out there, or is it more you are worried that some issues might be pathologized/taught as disorders when they are really more like tendencies? Or are you worried about students receiving actual diagnoses in class? Or none of the above?
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  #8  
Old 29th June 2015, 19:34
flumpsy flumpsy is offline
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Default Re: Input for Mental Health Curriculum Project

What age group are you talking about and is this for people who have chosen to study mental health or just general classes for all students ?

As you can see from the forum there is a lot of intelligence in SA sufferers, often cynical, BS aware and willing to go defensive if they feel an unnecessary social event looming, like "Hi my name is flumpsy and I like reading and swimming",anything like that and I am gone before I even hear what the talk is about.

I have overstated this a bit and I know mental health is far more accepted these days but somebody with slight OCD tendencies (for example) may well end up reading all the bumf twice studying their own habits and ending up becoming more of the disorder, or focusing more on that than their normal abilities.

People who need help should be knowing where to get it but I think if I was given all the data I now have about SA when I was 14 I would have spent a lot of my 15/16 years worrying about it, or worrying that other people were thinking it about me.

Perhaps that is the lot of an over thinker, not specifically SA, who knows

Many SA sufferes, like me, will never speak in person to anybody about it without having to do a great deal of fixing on their own or via forums, txt, email first. These channels are REALLY important to have available, in the SA bods own time. The friendly face, cup of tea and a chat is just as bad as pulling teeth without anesthetic for me.
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  #9  
Old 3rd July 2015, 04:58
nosilencenostigma nosilencenostigma is offline
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Default Re: Input for Mental Health Curriculum Project

@flumpsy

Quote:
What age group are you talking about and is this for people who have chosen to study mental health or just general classes for all students?
The curriculum is K-12, though it is worth noting that at least where I live public schools are only required to have two semesters of health class, one in middle school, and one in high school. So in reality we would be fighting to implement a single middle school unit and high school unit if we did this any time soon. The hope would be that some schools might actually WANT to implement the curriculum, which is when a whole K-12 curriculum might be used.

Quote:
People who need help should be knowing where to get it but I think if I was given all the data I now have about SA when I was 14 I would have spent a lot of my 15/16 years worrying about it, or worrying that other people were thinking it about me.

Perhaps that is the lot of an over thinker, not specifically SA, who knows
I think that is a valid concern. I know I have had experiences learning about health on the internet that have fed strong suspicions that I had some specific health disorder. I have also heard this is something a lot of people go through in med school due to the sheer amount of information about health and the different things that could be/go wrong with you.
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  #10  
Old 10th July 2015, 11:07
Serephina Serephina is offline
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Default Re: No Silence, No Stigma Wants YOUR Input for a New Mental Health Curriculum

I have social anxiety and i'm also a parent to a child who has adhd and social communication issues. In regards to what should be taught,it depends on the age of the child and the nature of the condition. In general,mindfulness,assertiveness and self confidence building would be really useful. I know in my own life experiences assertiveness and self confidence would've really helped me. Social skills would also be useful.

I attened a workship earlier this week which was to do with neurofeedback and diet and nutrition. I personally didn't find the neurofeedback section very useful however we had a speaker come in to do a presentation on how what we eat or even don't get enough of in our diets can make issues such as anxiety,depression,sleep deprivation a lot worse and harder to manage effectively. They have a website which might be worth a look just to get an idea of the kind of thing that I mean www.foodforthebrain.org. I think this is something worth raising.

Also on another note,I know from my own experience and from speaking to other parents with children with a mental health condition,that people don't always know where to go for help. I feel it would be a good thing to have some kind of pamphlet/leaflet to make people aware of what support there is in a particular area,just something with telephone numbers and addresses on.
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  #11  
Old 14th July 2015, 03:40
nosilencenostigma nosilencenostigma is offline
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Default Re: No Silence, No Stigma Wants YOUR Input for a New Mental Health Curriculum

@Serephina It is definitely important and helpful to consider what lessons students might need to hear the most at specific ages. If you have any particular lessons that you think would be important to teach to a particular age group, I would be interested to hear them.

I also like the idea of teaching the interaction between mood and diet. What strikes me about this is idea is that it could be taught both as part of a mental health unit and as part of an existing unit on diet, which could potentially be even more impactful.

I think distributing information about the mental health resources that exist in the area is essential, something I have thought a lot about. I know we probably don't live in the same place, but out of curiosity, what are examples of mental health resources you might put in a flyer for schools in your area?
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  #12  
Old 14th July 2015, 11:05
Johnny88 Johnny88 is offline
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Default Re: No Silence, No Stigma Wants YOUR Input for a New Mental Health Curriculum

Hmmmm.. this idea of teaching young people about mental health, in an informative manner, in order to prevent against it seems like an oxymoron to me.

Wouldn't it be more beneficial to indicate, generally, the triggers to falling into stress and how if we ignore the factors it can have a long-term impact on our mental health.

I'm not sure if there is even a clear enough understanding of Mental Health these days in order to introduce it to the classroom. We know what the symptoms are, we can identify varying degrees-varying traits, that indicate different types of mental illness.
We know the impact it has on people's lives but in terms of overcoming these mental problems there doesn't seem to be much evidence to support the efficacy of a particular treatment. So it seems that people with mental health problems have to guess in order to see what will bring about an easing of the problem and that doesn't come with any guarantee either.

Neuroscience is coming up with new interesting discoveries that give us new insight as to how our brain-mind functions and I feel in the medical profession it assumes from a 20th century psychological perspective which doesn't give much clarity as to how the brain operates.

I would think rather than advising on mental health, schools should be organised so as to give pupils a good quality of life. Where they are able to exercise, where they are able to be themselves, a place they can go if they feel stressed, healthy eating, .....rather than making mental health a specific lesson integrate the idea of mental wellbeing into other lessons. I.e. if you do cookery make people aware of health benefits of certain foods, psychology or sociology-gives an understanding of some of the mental problems....

Employ teachers that not only have the experience, qualifications to teach-embed in the school a teaching format that is both enlightening and not mind-numbing, a relationship between teacher-pupils that isn't rigid and breeds respect on either side. Encourage school morals that discourage certain behaviour that can impact on a child and encourage behaviour that is cooperative and not competitive and we might start to see a transformation in society not just mental health and schools.
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Old 14th July 2015, 11:14
Johnny88 Johnny88 is offline
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Default Re: No Silence, No Stigma Wants YOUR Input for a New Mental Health Curriculum

There should be a bilateral compromise between a pupil and some guardian. There could even be a trilateral meeting where parent, teacher and pupil can discuss any problems, gives the child a voice rather than just people dictating what they do. A relationship that will enable the child to entrust in being able to discuss problems they may have rather than burying them underneath the carpet.
A relationship so that the pupil is able to voice their opinion and feel like the school provides an open and supportive service rather than an authoritative fashion.

I think Martial Arts could also be a part of the school system too. Martial Arts teaches respect and decency, it also teaches people confidence. Those that want to be aggressive can compete; those that want to defend themselves can just participate.
It is also an outlet for emotions and a way of expressing and disciplining ones mind and life.
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Old 14th July 2015, 17:57
nosilencenostigma nosilencenostigma is offline
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Default Re: No Silence, No Stigma Wants YOUR Input for a New Mental Health Curriculum

@Johnny88

Quote:
Hmmmm.. this idea of teaching young people about mental health, in an informative manner, in order to prevent against it seems like an oxymoron to me.

Wouldn't it be more beneficial to indicate, generally, the triggers to falling into stress and how if we ignore the factors it can have a long-term impact on our mental health.
Issues around stress and its health effects are actually some of the things I am most passionate about teaching, as they are a huge part of my own story and because it seems outrageous to me for a compulsory, stress-inducing system to not touch on these issues. If you are at all interested, I wrote a bit about it here.

Quote:
I'm not sure if there is even a clear enough understanding of Mental Health these days in order to introduce it to the classroom. We know what the symptoms are, we can identify varying degrees-varying traits, that indicate different types of mental illness.
We know the impact it has on people's lives but in terms of overcoming these mental problems there doesn't seem to be much evidence to support the efficacy of a particular treatment. So it seems that people with mental health problems have to guess in order to see what will bring about an easing of the problem and that doesn't come with any guarantee either.

Neuroscience is coming up with new interesting discoveries that give us new insight as to how our brain-mind functions and I feel in the medical profession it assumes from a 20th century psychological perspective which doesn't give much clarity as to how the brain operates.
I think you are right to be concerned about teaching children a subject that it is still to a large extent mysterious to us. Personally I believe that there are some things about mental health/mental health issues that it would serve students to know, or at that at the very least would be better than continuing to leave mental health out of health class entirely. I would like to make clear that there is no built-in guarantee that the curriculum that eventually comes out of this will spend much or any time discussing neurochemical explanations of mental illness or pushing specific treatment options. It might, it might not. It depends on the conversation that unfolds around the issue, online and in the real world.

This conversation, by the way, has started here, if you are interested.

*You are more than welcome to participate on the forum by talking about your concerns about the project or about things you WOULDN’T want to see taught in grade school.

Quote:
I would think rather than advising on mental health, schools should be organised so as to give pupils a good quality of life. Where they are able to exercise, where they are able to be themselves, a place they can go if they feel stressed, healthy eating, .....rather than making mental health a specific lesson integrate the idea of mental wellbeing into other lessons. I.e. if you do cookery make people aware of health benefits of certain foods, psychology or sociology-gives an understanding of some of the mental problems....

Employ teachers that not only have the experience, qualifications to teach-embed in the school a teaching format that is both enlightening and not mind-numbing, a relationship between teacher-pupils that isn't rigid and breeds respect on either side. Encourage school morals that discourage certain behaviour that can impact on a child and encourage behaviour that is cooperative and not competitive and we might start to see a transformation in society not just mental health and schools.

There should be a bilateral compromise between a pupil and some guardian. There could even be a trilateral meeting where parent, teacher and pupil can discuss any problems, gives the child a voice rather than just people dictating what they do. A relationship that will enable the child to entrust in being able to discuss problems they may have rather than burying them underneath the carpet.
A relationship so that the pupil is able to voice their opinion and feel like the school provides an open and supportive service rather than an authoritative fashion.

I think Martial Arts could also be a part of the school system too. Martial Arts teaches respect and decency, it also teaches people confidence. Those that want to be aggressive can compete; those that want to defend themselves can just participate.
It is also an outlet for emotions and a way of expressing and disciplining ones mind and life.
I like all of this. Sadly, I feel it may fall somewhat outside of the scope of this project. If you ever wanted to try and advocate for some/all of these changes I would definitely want to be kept in the loop//help support the effort if at all possible!
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  #15  
Old 14th July 2015, 18:02
nosilencenostigma nosilencenostigma is offline
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Default Re: No Silence, No Stigma Wants YOUR Input for a New Mental Health Curriculum

@abc Good point. I wonder, since you seem passionate about this and because you seem to have had some (rather awful) experiences with shame and lack of compassion, if you have any ideas about what the best ways to reduce shame and increase compassion around these issues might be?
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Old 2nd August 2015, 22:32
tryinghard tryinghard is offline
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Default Re: No Silence, No Stigma Wants YOUR Input for a New Mental Health Curriculum

Mindfulness, absolutely.

But if a child was showing signs of mental health disorder at a young age I would advocate for family therapy (it's probably not the child, basically...but family therapy is less blaming than social services).

As for reducing shame and stigma, I think this is about not labeling. Diagnostic labels are often a well-intentioned way to legitimate distress, but I think it contributes to an 'us' and 'them' attitude in which there are 'normal' people and 'people with mental health problems'. I don't believe this categorisation exists, personally, and I think the line is far too blurred between what is and isn't a disorder for that categorisation to exist. I think talking about emotions early with children and talking about mindfulness and being aware of what is going on inside of us - with all children as a normal part of life for everyone rather than those seen as being disabled - will be both non-shaming and preventative.
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Old 2nd August 2015, 22:57
Amplexor Amplexor is offline
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Default Re: No Silence, No Stigma Wants YOUR Input for a New Mental Health Curriculum

What is K-12?
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Old 3rd August 2015, 23:56
nosilencenostigma nosilencenostigma is offline
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Default Re: No Silence, No Stigma Wants YOUR Input for a New Mental Health Curriculum

@tryinghard Fair points. I've definitely been thinking a lot about these sorts of issues and whether or not and if so how to include diagnostic language in the curriculum. I think it makes perfect sense to question whether it is ethical to teach young people a language that we know can induce self-stigma and may or may not refer to anything real. On the other hand, this is the language our society currently uses. Insurance companies and people in helping professions use it, but most importantly it is the most common language that PEOPLE use to describe persistent issues with extreme states. Personally I believe that the ideal is not to shelter young people from this language (which they will likely find out about anyway, especially if they are dealing with significant mental health problems), but to teach them to ground the language in reality, AKA understand that it is an artificial, utilitarian, regularly updating language created by the APA, and that it has advantages and disadvantages.
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Old 3rd August 2015, 23:57
nosilencenostigma nosilencenostigma is offline
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Default Re: No Silence, No Stigma Wants YOUR Input for a New Mental Health Curriculum

@Amplexor Kindergarten through 12th grade. It's the full spectrum of ages American public schools have to teach.
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Old 4th August 2015, 00:21
firemonkey firemonkey is offline
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Default Re: No Silence, No Stigma Wants YOUR Input for a New Mental Health Curriculum

I would like to see an anti bullying and accepting children who are mentally or physically different component to the curriculum and an emphasis on better responses by schools to bullying.
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  #21  
Old 29th September 2015, 06:54
Richard Ingate Richard Ingate is offline
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Default Re: No Silence, No Stigma Wants YOUR Input for a New Mental Health Curriculum

I agree with all the positive comments about mindfulness training in schools - if done properly it benefits the teachers as much as the children if they can open their minds to it (speaking as an ex school teacher), I also think the work in the 3 principles / innate health is very useful - or has been to me - and at least in the UK there is work going on bringing this into schools. If it useful for your survey I can offer some links for this approach.
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Old 22nd March 2016, 21:24
laracroft laracroft is offline
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Default Re: Input for Mental Health Curriculum Project

I think teaching kids how to recognise mental health issues in themselves and others and how to deal with them in a positive way and ask for help. Depression, anxiety and social anxiety are so common, everyone is likely to be touched by these issues, yet nobody seems to know what they are. I am 43 and i have just found out that I not only suffer from anxiety but social anxiety. I wish someone had told me when i was a teenager. Some one close to me has had depression for years, yet i didnt really know it was depression. I know so many people with anxiety and depression, but i really dont think they know they have it! More education please.
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  #23  
Old 1st April 2016, 22:31
laracroft laracroft is offline
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Default Re: No Silence, No Stigma Wants YOUR Input for a New Mental Health Curriculum

Also, more awareness in the workplace. How can SA and depression be so common, yet people arent aware that their collegues are struggling with these issues every day. I keep reading the messages on the SA forum from people who are too sick with SA to go to work, or that there careers arent going anywhere because of their sa issues or that they feel friendless as their collegues think theyre odd or hat they want to quit their job because they are so unhappy. I personally will never have a proper career despite my degree and when I did have a job involving other people, thry thought I was stuck up and odd.
I would like to see education in the workplace to recognise and support people with depression or SA.
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