Giving Compass’ Take:
• Stan Kutcher, professor of psychiatry at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, offers insight as to why it’s essential for students to have a comprehensive mental health education that provides a clear understanding of stress and depression.
• How will misunderstanding concepts of mental health impact students later on in life? How can schools address both mental health issues?
Ask a student how he or she feels after a hard test and they may respond that they’re depressed. To Stan Kutcher, that’s unfortunate. The professor of psychiatry at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and founder of teenmentalhealth.org, believes students need to understand that life is not always a series of daisy chains and rainbows. Instead, there are down times and hard moments — and that isn’t the same as clinical depression.
“It’s like knowing the difference between a cut finger and cut off finger,” he said in an interview. “Kids feel upset and say they’re depressed. Kids have a test, and they say they’re anxious. We have copied the language of pathology to describe normal human behavior, and we now see kids using words of mental health disorders.”
In a time of increased attention to students’ mental health needs, teachers also need to understand the difference between the two areas as well, notes Kutcher. Kutcher said that mental health literacy has to be presented to students in a way that is both contextually and developmentally appropriate for them to understand.
Like Kutcher, Patricia Kostouros, who co-authored a 2017 study, “Caring About Post-Secondary Student Self-care,” believes that teachers should not try to teach a strategy or method that they do not understand on their own, she said in an interview.
Kutcher thinks it’s important for educators and students to recognize that stress is not always a negative feeling. Just as students need to learn the difference between sadness and depression, they also need to uncover the difference between normal and toxic stress, as well. Kutcher said that 80% of stress is actually coming from normal, positive stressors around them.
Read the full article about mental health education by Lauren Barack at Education Dive
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