from spring, 2013
My email has been overloaded with courses lately. I’m not sure why. Are the trainers and higher-educators getting desperate for business? I know few of us are taking extra courses or earning higher degrees now because we can’t afford it and because additional training and education no longer pays.
But reduced pay scales aside, this offer came through recently. There’s a lot of public attention to mental illnesses these days, so I actually read it instead of hitting delete.
Dealing with Metal Illness in the Classroom
I could have used this a few years ago, or a few years before that, or – the list goes on. Or could I? Let’s look more closely.
This course is designed for teachers, support staff and school counselors.
Okay, the focus is good. School counselors have been cut way back, though, due to the usual and customary budget constraints. When a student needs counseling, the teacher is the first and sometimes the last to handle it. If the student is lucky, his/her teacher will have had at least some counseling training. Next, please.
Participants will learn about the diagnostic characteristics of the various types of mood disorders and the other types of mental health disorders that mimic the symptoms of each.
Now they’ve lost me. Teachers can’t and don’t diagnose illness, whether physical or mental. We may recognize head lice and flu, and we might be the ones monitoring behavior that suggests attention deficit disorder, but we do not diagnose. Training us in “diagnostic characteristics” isn’t the right direction at all.
If we teachers are to help students with possible mental illnesses, we need to have opportunities to refer these students for real diagnosis and treatment. We need to have the connections with medical professionals, and we need permission to contact them. We need administrators who take our concerns seriously, and we need time – yes, time – to meet with and call parents so we can work as a team. We need school psychologists who take our concerns seriously, school social workers who do more than push papers, and most of all, administrators who care about our safety and well-being.
We need coworkers and support staff that will work with us. We need the public to respect our knowledge, our experience, and our observations.
Most of all, we need this because the students, the ones who need help, need us.
This is an encore from 2013. All, for better or worse, is still very true. Public trends are leading toward the need for more services in schools, but budgets don’t match the need. Until then, we teachers will still be the front line for those kids who need help.