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Mental Health Corner

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10 tips

When Focus is Fleeting and Painful.


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 What is School Phobia-School Refusal?   refuse

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                        The Case for Teaching Human Literacy

                                     By Thomas R. Hoerr

Imagine education as a forest. We love to identify and categorize trees. We try to determine which kind will grow best in this kind of soil, which tree will  provide the most shade, what kind of wood will be strongest, which tree will grow the most rapidly, and when a deciduous is preferable to an evergreen tree. Every week, it seems, there’s a debate on why we should plant this kind of tree versus that kind of tree, and what trees will be most useful in the  future. We focus so much on trees that we ignore the context, the forests, in which they grow and the regions in which they live.

Of course, trees aren’t the issue, but there’s a reason why this analogy is so apt. It’s natural to give attention to discrete areas that we can seize and understand, but we ignore the larger and more complex issues when we do this.

We educators fall into this forest and trees trap when we focus incessantly on the scholastic skills that students will need in the future, and fail to consider the larger question of how problems are solved. I’ve been reading about digital literacy, workplace-oriented literacy, general   literacy, and classical literacy (that would be the 3 R’s). And how long will it be until there is a plea for citizenship literacy?

There’s a good reason for these pronouncements. As the economic world becomes globalized, competition for many jobs transcends political boundaries and continents. We have to wonder whether tomorrow’s technological advances will enhance our ability to solve problems or if they will render our human, carbon-based efforts superfluous. These questions have enormous implications for what schools include in their curriculum.

But if we step back and look at the big picture—if we consider what is essential in every situation, regardless of what technology or the   workplace may require—it’s the ability to know oneself and work with others, our human literacy, that is essential for success. Today and tomorrow, people with strong intrapersonal and interpersonal success skills will be better able to solve just about every problem.

On that rare occasion when a problem truly is best solved solo, a strong intrapersonal intelligence provides the self-control needed to focus and fuels the grit required to persevere through frustrations and failures.


If the problem is being addressed by a team, group, committee, or task force—all slightly different configurations that each require people to work together—the group will be more effective when people listen to one another, work to understand each other, and appreciate the  differences we possess in background, status, and perspective. Character matters, too. We want to work with honorable people who are motivated to do the right thing because it’s the right thing.

The qualities I call the “formative five”—empathy, self-control, integrity, embracing diversity, and grit—comprise these intrapersonal and interpersonal success skills and become human literacy.

These success skills must be consciously taught, included in the curriculum at every grade level and in every subject matter. The difference between empathy and sympathy—embracing the feelings held by others and seeing things the way they do versus simply mourning their condition—should be taught to elementary grade students, for example. High school students should investigate when protagonists in literature have exhibited honesty but not integrity. Self-control should be a focus in every class, as students work to improve by identifying and changing habits that are counterproductive to their learning.

Teachers and principals should look for opportunities to help children understand their backgrounds and biases as a first step in appreciating and celebrating others who are different than themselves. A school’s halls and walls should highlight student growth and positive trajectory, not just displaying perfect papers or the art work of the top 20 percent of the students. And everyone appreciating the role of good failures in learning—working to make new mistakes—creates a learning organization.

Teachers and principals sometimes agree that these success skills should be taught, but they add that they don’t have enough time to address them. It’s true that we do a much better job of adding expectations than discarding responsibilities, but these success skills are too important not to be directly taught throughout the curriculum. When we teach empathy, self-control, integrity, embracing diversity, and grit, we are developing people who will make a positive contribution in every situation, whether solving a problem at work, coaching a 3rd grade sports team, or being a good friend.


What is ADHD?

The difference between ADD and ADHD

ADHD - The Basics


What is Addiction?

Addictive Behaviors

Topics on Addiction


What is Anxiety?

Symptoms and Causes

Bipolar Disorders

What is Bipolar?

Causes & Symptoms

Bipolar Disorder

Topics on Bipolar


What is Bullying?

Stop Bullying Facts

What you can do

More on Bullying

What does bullying mean?

Bullying or Unkind?

Bullying or Drama?

What is NOT Bullying

It’s mean, Is it bullying?


Teen Depression

What is Teen Depression

Symptoms and Causes

Parents Guide to Depression 


Tips for Parents

Positive Effective Discipline

Managing Middle School Behavior


Parents and Homework

Homework Without Tears

Internet Gaming Disorders

Internet Gaming vs Internet Addictions

Neuroimaging Studies

Education on Internet Gaming Disorders

Mental Health Overview

Learn about Mental Health Conditions

Learn about Mental Illness


What make kids resilient?

Raising Resilient Kids

Ideas for Teaching Your Kids Resilience

Resilient Children

What not to do?

Self - Confidence

Self - Confidence in Teens

Self - Confidence & Self - Belief


Boost Your Self - Confidence

Self - Esteem 

Self - Esteem in Depth

Building Confidence & Self Esteem

How to Raise Your Self-Esteem

Self - Esteem in Teens

Self harm and Cutting

Signs of Self Harm

Self Injury Symptoms

Self Harm  and Treatment

Social and Emotional Learning

Social-Emotional Learning: What Is SEL and Why It Matters 

Social-Emotional Learning Activities You Can Try at Home

Teen Girls and The Pressures of Social Media

Teen Boys and The Pressure of Becoming a Man

Raising Good Men: How parents can talk to boys about relationships


Teen Suicide

Tween and Teen Health

What is Know About Teen Suicide

What Research Shows


Random Acts of Kindness

The Science of Kindness

Volunteering Can Help Mental Health

Benefits of Volunteering

What is Kindness? Teens Respond



Mental Health











California Youth Crisis Line 


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Info 

800-CDC-INFO (4636)

Child Abuse Hotline (24 Hours) 


Eating Disorders Helpline


Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health (24 Hours)

800-622-HELP (4357)

National Domestic Violence (24 Hours)

800-799-SAFE (7233)

National Prevention Lifeline (24 Hours)

800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

National Runaway Safeline

800-RUNAWAY (786-2929)

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN)

800-656- HOPE (4673)

American Association of Suicidology

American Social Health Association

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Futures Without Violence

Lavender Youth Recreation and Info Center

National Eating Disorders Association

NSTeens – Making Safer Online Choices

Planned Parenthood

Stop Bullying


(secondary/vicarious trauma info)