This site has now been up since 2010 and I wanted to add a piece to it that would offer ongoing, up-to-date information for educators who are interested in learning more about Nonsuicidal Self-Injury and best practices in response and prevention. I plan to write short blogs to present meaningful and useful information on an ongoing basis and may occasionally share personal stories and thoughts at other times. So- welcome to my first blog!
There are two quick resources that I want to share today that I believe are relevant to this topic. One is focused on appropriate intervention in the school environment and the other is about prevention.
In terms of intervention, I want to make sure that you are all aware of the PENT website (Positive Environments, Network of Trainers). This website is a part of the California Department of Education and has historically focused on behavioral planning. Over the past couple of years, PENT has begun to distinguish between emotionally driven and socially mediated behavior. They now offer a Direct Treatment Protocol for use in situations where behavior is emotionally driven and requires mental health attention.
The specific protocol for any specific mental health issue would need to be research-based and carefully selected, but the emphasis on the need for a mental health response to mental health issues is crucial. Regarding self-injury, the Treatment Plan might include the school site using an evidence based approach such as manual based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and include a coordination of response between school, outside providers, and parents. The new form on the PENT website could be used to document the response plan. You will also find a wealth of resources regarding mental health issues under the Mental Health tab on PENT’s website.
Prevention: Race to Nowhere
I have a passion that I share in every presentation I give. I believe that every student deserves to know that his or her best is exactly what they need to be doing and nothing more. For some of our students, that may mean getting Cs in basic classes. I cannot possibly emphasize enough how important it is to provide a way for students to excel in their areas of strength while not forcing them into a “Harvard doctor or nothing” mold. Most students in our schools feel the pressure of honors and AP classes and the expectation that they will achieve high SAT scores and be admitted to a prestigious university. Children should be taught that professions such as trash-collectors, hair-dressers, and cashiers are honorable and not less-than. Additionally, the emphasis on extracurricular activities (which can be beneficial) can also result in a student who is busy for 12 hours almost every day. This does not promote mental health and it results in a lack of school-life balance. For some of our students, these emphases may provide that “perfect storm” where self-injury and even suicide may occur. The director of the film “Race to Nowhere” shares the following:
“Several months into the film’s development, without any warning signs, a 13-year-old girl in our community committed suicide after getting a poor grade on a math test. This local tragedy added yet more urgency to the need for change.”
Race to Nowhere helps bring focus to the fact that our children need BALANCE. They need down time. Ban Busy: Time to Thrive is another very meaningful catch phrase on the site. Please review the website and look for times to view the film locally or purchase it for your school site or district to review.
I hope you find these resources valuable and look forward to your feedback.