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August 20, 2014

21st Century Interdisciplinary Theme

Health Literacy

According to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, schools should not only focus on mastery of core subjects, but also promote understanding of academic content at much higher levels by weaving 21st century interdisciplinary themes into core subjects. One of these themes is health literacy, which includes understanding preventive mental health measures as well as obtaining and interpreting mental health information and services and using such information and services in ways that are health enhancing.

Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse often start in adolescence and then peak in young adulthood. Here are some ideas to help your students understand mental health issues and obtain mental health services when needed.

Identifying Warning Signs

Teenage depression isn’t just bad moods and the occasional melancholy—it’s a serious problem that impacts every aspect of a teen’s life. Teen depression can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, self-loathing and self-mutilation, pregnancy, violence and even suicide. But as a concerned parent, teacher or friend, you can help teens with depression in many ways. Talking about the problem and offering support can go a long way toward getting a depressed teenager back on track.

The nonprofit HelpGuide.org offers two free online resources:

Teen Depression: A Guide for Parents is intended for caregivers who want to learn what the signs and symptoms of depression are and how to help a depressed teenager, including tips for talking with the teen and supporting him or her through depression treatment.

Teen Depression: A Guide for Teenagers is intended for a teenager struggling with depression or a teen who would like to learn how to help a depressed friend.

Preventing Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is more than a health issue, and its lessons should extend beyond health classes. English and language arts classes can provide students with stories and personal narratives of the harmful effects of drugs. History and social studies lessons can teach the effects of drug addiction on government policies and international relations. Math classes can look at the statistics surrounding drug use and abuse in various communities, and science classes can study the health effects of drugs.

When students are educated on the “big picture” of drug use and abuse, they are better prepared to make responsible decisions on drug use in their own lives.

With this life preparation in mind, Educator Labs offers free integrated addiction prevention lesson plans that use a cross-disciplinary approach to drug abuse prevention by grade level.

Providing a Lifeline

As an educator, you often identify students in your classroom who, for one reason or another, seem vulnerable or at risk. But how do you know if what you’re seeing is part of the normal ups and downs of adolescence or something more severe?

The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide (SPTS) has developed a two-hour suicide-awareness training program, entitled Making Educators Partners in Suicide Prevention. This free interactive series is designed to be completed at the viewer’s own pace. It provides two hours of professional development credit to New Jersey educators but is open to anyone who is interested in reviewing current strategies for youth suicide prevention in schools.

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