The Florida State Board of Education recently voted to require all students in the sixth grade and up to receive five hours of mental health instruction every year. Florida may have more than its fair share of questionable legislation, but this is highly commendable.

Florida isn't the first state to mandate such courses—New York, Virginia, and Maine all passed bills requiring mental health to be part of the required curriculum last school year, and more states are sure to follow suit.

It's a huge move in the right direction—and it's about dang time.

I taught in public schools fresh out of college, and even two decades ago I saw how much of a need there was for mental health education. Today, my thoughts on the matter are much more personal. Our oldest daughter spent much of her tween and teen years struggling with a mental health disorder called emetophobia—a clinical fear of throwing up. It got to the point in her mid-teens where she had a hard time doing normal, everyday things, like eating or being around people.

Keep Reading Show less
Most Shared

Each year that I teach the book "1984" I turn my classroom into a totalitarian regime under the guise of the "common good."

I run a simulation in which I become a dictator. I tell my students that in order to battle "Senioritis," the teachers and admin have adapted an evidence-based strategy, a strategy that has "been implemented in many schools throughout the country and has had immense success." I hang posters with motivational quotes and falsified statistics, and provide a false narrative for the problem that is "Senioritis."

Photo by Diana Leygerman, used with permission.

Keep Reading Show less
More

There’s been a lot of controversy around the safety and effectiveness of vaccines over the last decade, but a new study just put a big check mark in the plus column for the HPV vaccine.

The study involved 140,000 women and shows the vaccine that protects against the human papillomavirus has been effective in dramatically decreasing cases of the cervical disease later in life. Researchers claim the vaccine, recommended to girls when they are in their early teens, has cut the pre-cancerous cells by 90 percent, nearly eliminating cases of pre-cancer since they implemented the new vaccination program in 2008.

But that’s not the most interesting factor. This new research also found that being vaccinated at a younger age was associated with increased effectiveness.

Keep Reading Show less
Family

Teens have a knack for coming up with clever ways to rage against the system.

When I was in high school, the most notorious urban legend whispered about in hallways and at parties went like this: A teacher told his class that they were allowed to put "anything" on a notecard to assist them during a science test. Supposedly, one of his students arrived on test day with a grown adult at his side — a college chemistry major, who proceeded to stand on the notecard and give him answers. The teacher was apparently so impressed by the student's cunning that he gave him a high score, then canceled class for the rest of the week because he was in such a good mood.

Of course, I didn't know anyone who'd ever actually try such a thing. Why ruin a good story with reality — that pulling this kind of trick would probably earn you detention?

Keep Reading Show less
More