How Teachers Can Help Depressed and S.E.D. Students


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How to Help
Depressed and S.E.D. Students:

 Must-Know Tips and Tools



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Workshop Helpers needed to attend our Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth Workshop 100% FREE while helping with workshop logistics. Plus, helpers can earn 10 Clock Hours free, as well as optional college grad credit. Call 1.800.545.5736 to grab a helper slot or to get more details. Workshop Info




Workshop Helper Registrations!

for Seattle on May 5-6, 2016

Details immediately below or call 1.800.545.5736

free teacher workshop


Before we give you some fantastic tips on how to teach and counsel depressed children and teens, would you give us a bit of a helping hand? We have a fairly big group coming to our Seattle Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth Workshop on May 5-6, 2016, but for the first time in two decades of hosting this workshop, no one has signed up for our Work Study Helper Scholarships. We are looking for two people who would like to attend the workshop totally, 100% FREE and in exchange, help with workshop logistics. It's easy work in exchange for waiving our usual $169 tuition. Would you please let your co-workers know about this awesome professional development conference at an awesome price? Helpers get the same workshop as everyone else and can also earn 10 free clock hours and optional college grad credit too. Call 1.800.545.5736 for details and to sign up. Workshop details are here.


How to Help
Depressed and S.E.D. Students:
 Must-Know Tips and Tools


teacherIt can be tough for teachers to know exactly what is the best way to help children who are severely emotionally disturbed (S.E.D.) Working with sad and depressed students can often be particularly difficult and delicate. Even counselors who specialize in assisting children and teens with depression and sadness, can find these youngsters very hard to help. So, if you are not a counselor, be sure to immediately seek help from a mental health professional or your supervisor if you have any safety concerns at all. This sampler of intervention strategies is not a substitute for that. The strategies offered here for S.E.D. and depressed students give you just a tiny look at of our more comprehensive offerings provided in our workshops, online courses and books— and this peek at our resources is definitely no substitute for consulting a clinician and our full professional development resources for additional guidance.

If you do want more than just a tiny taste of our innovative methods for children and teens with S.E.D. and/or severe depression, be sure to consider coming to our upcoming Seattle, May 5-6, 2016 Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth Workshop, where we will cover S.E.D. students in great depth. As you probably have noticed, we have two no-charge Workshop Helper slots open, meaning you can attend completely free and earn clock hours and college credit too. Call 1.800.545.5736 to sign up or get more details on this fantastic opportunity, and be sure to pass on the information to any colleagues who might want to participate for free in this information-packed classroom behavior management workshop.

SED studentStrategies for Depressed and S.E.D. Students

Yesterday Once More
When children and youth spend a lot of the present being very upset about problems from the past, ask them to "bloom where you're planted."

Power Walk
Vigorous exercise can have a powerful effect on depressed children and teens. Studies have consistently shown that exercise is one of the top three things that can help a child or youth stay ahead of depression.  New research in the past decade, indicates that mindfulness, yoga and meditation are hugely effective methods to help students cope with depression. However useful, exercise, meditation and mindfulness are not miracle workers. Don't forget that if you are not a clinician, be sure to immediately seek mental health guidance if you have any safety concerns about a depressed child. It is always better to play it safe as the severity of a youngster's depression is often not readily apparent.

Power Talk
Talk is the other intervention that studies have shown to be potentially quite useful to help depressed children and adolescents moderate the amount of sadness they are experiencing. We recommend that you combine this intervention with the preceding method– exercise. For example, you and the student can walk rapidly around your site while the child gets to talk about any issues that may be of concern. You can "Power Talk while you Power Walk". Children who "talk it out", are far less likely to "act it out". They are also less likely to "act it in"– to hurt themselves with behaviors such as self-harm, self-endangering, substance abuse or other similar self-destructive actions. Depression can be both acted out and acted in. We tend to think of depression as just being acted in, but it can be either.

For Right Now
For children who are sad about things from the past or future, ask them "What's wrong with this moment?" If they say that nothing is wrong right now, then ask them "Why would you waste the present worrying about what's done…or what may never happen?" Assist students to avoid squandering the present moment for a problematic past or potentially problematic future. This intervention reflects mindfulness concepts beautifully if you are helping your students learn to be more mindful.

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student with SEDDepression Solves What?
For children and adolescents who are often mired in depression, ask them to tell you exactly what depression solves. Assist the students to understand that depression solves nothing, and can make things worse when the child neglects responsibilities or shirks work due to sadness.

Cancel Stinkin' Thinking
Now that you have your students realizing that depression never solves anything, teach them to notice and stop depressing thoughts by thinking "Cancel" whenever they notice negative thinking. You can call the negative thinking "stinkin' thinking." If students protest that they will never be able to turn off all the negative thoughts, reassure them that just noticing the negative thinking is a huge first step. "Sell" the idea of reducing negative thinking by emphasizing that students will be probably more comfortable and experience less pain by simply reducing the amount of negative thoughts.

Take Action
Train depressed students to take an action rather than just wallow in sadness. This intervention is the perfect follow-up to the two approaches shown immediately above.

Depression Time
For students who really hesitate to take steps to stop their negative thoughts, suggest to these youngsters that they simply try to reduce the number of minutes spent on negativity. Next, point out that there will always be plenty of time to be depressed later, that students aren't giving up anything, they can always choose to be sad again later. Alternatively, have students determine how many minutes per day they spend dwelling on sad thoughts, then have them reduce the time by a percentage that is acceptable to them.

Important Reminder for Non-Mental Health Professionals: Please be sure to remember this article is no substitute for consulting your site's mental health professionals if there is any possibility of safety issues with a student who appears depressed or to be S.E.D. If you aren't sure, always immediately consult your mental health staff or your supervisor. These strategies are innovative techniques that may help this population, but these methods do not in any way replace immediately consulting a clinician with any and all safety concerns a child or teen may present. To learn more than this small strategy sampler offers, come to a workshop, enroll in an online course, or check out our books.


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About Ruth Herman Wells

Author/Trainer Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. is the director of Youth Change Professional Development Workshops. In 2011, Ruth was rated as a Top 10 U.S. K-12 educational and motivational speaker by Speakerwiki and Speakermix. She is the author of several book series, a columnist, adjunct professor for two universities, and a popular keynote speaker and workshop presenter. Ruth's dozens of books includes Temper and Tantrum Tamers and Turn On the Turned-Off Student.