It has been reported that one in five children suffer mental health disorders in the U.S. The mental disorders may range from ADHD to suicidal tendencies. Most schools do not have well trained or sufficient staff to identify these problems and to work them out. Here is what should be the ideal way to deal with promoting students’ mental growth in a healthy manner. Among many models, the multi-tiered system of supports which is like an inverted pyramid is of significance. The funnel like model offers support for everyone in general and then moves towards specialized and specific help to suit individual requirement.
The village model is a collective mission to create an environment that focuses on general well being to promote mental health. Amanda Aiken, Senior Director of Schools at New Orleans College Prep was a principal at one of their schools. As Principal she ensured that when the students arrived, staff would always be present at the entrances to greet them by shaking hands. At times, handshakes were even replaced by hugs. Luckily this practice was continued as a tradition by her successor. The students at this school are from a more challenging background and stand a higher risk of health problems. The children have suffered unpleasant neighborhoods, family problems and poverty.
A trauma informed school is one where all staff is trained to work with and identify students going through traumatic experiences. They follow a social emotional curriculum which includes yoga sessions after school that aims at lowering detentions through restorative justice. Schools have realized the limitations of teachers in this aspect. They may be able to identify traumatized students, but at a certain level will require professionals to deal with the students. Often schools hire a certified student counselor who is experienced and most suited to the role. They are also in a position to interact with students and to recommend clinical therapy if necessary.
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A Syrian film collective is producing short films to showcase the human side of war victims. The short films are now part of a gallery in New York. Any evidence or insight that the world has had about the civil wars in Syria has been through images and snippets of extreme violence and the fleeing of refugees to Europe. The Syrian film collective is attempting to show what lies on the inside. The group behind this effort, Abounaddara has been recognized and awarded for their work of more than 300 short documentaries that are an eye opener.
In English Abounaddara translates to “a man with glasses”. Each video is only 1 to 6 minutes long and tries to tell hidden stories of the war. The videos incorporate mystery to prick and prod at people conscience to raise their voices and concern for the victims of war. The stories are not biased by religion, labels or any kind of judgment, they are purely human stories that the media does not cover. The media has desensitized the view with an overload of violent images and people are left to think that it is the way of life in Syria. It would mean a lot more if it happened with one’s own kind.
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A study published in the PLOS ONE journal states that the benefits of talk therapy for depression have been overrated. Similar studies have been made in earlier years regarding effect of antidepressant drugs and with similar results. Both antidepressant drugs and talk therapy are effective; however, they may not be as great as it is portrayed to be. The researchers suggest that the exaggerations may be a result of exaggerated publication bias. Publication bias occurs when a positive finding supports treatment and is more likely to be published as compared to negative findings that stand a lower chance of publication.
Every treatment has its ups and downs. This is similar to tossing a coin and reporting only those that come up with heads and refuse to disclose the number of tails that turn up. Simply put, this kind of reporting only gives a distorted image of a particular treatment or method. The above mentioned study of talk therapy revolves around a review of 55 National Institutes of Health grants that were awarded from 1972 to 2008. These grants were allocated towards clinical trials of psychotherapy for depression. Sadly results from almost a quarter of the clinical trials were never published according to Erick Turner, psychiatrist and researcher at Oregon Health and Science University.
Turner along with his colleagues laid hands on the unpublished results of the clinical trials and realized that the unpublished data lowered the apparent efficacy of psychotherapy for depression by about 25%. The outcome of such an exaggerated result being published was that the advocates of talk therapy and critics of drug therapy joined hands at dissuading the use of antidepressants in order to promote psychotherapy. Turner and his team revealed that the criticism was unfounded; however it should not be affecting victims of depression. While depression is only one among research problems, the question lies in how much of the data available out there is trustworthy and reliable.
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