Mental Health

What does mental health mean to you?
What do you do to promote and maintain your mental health?
Do you know someone who has strugged with their mental health? (If you’d prefer, you can talk about a fictional character from a movie or TV series.)

How many ideas can we think of that might help someone suffering from each of the above issues?

by levels: Breaking News English
NOTE: For a higher level class, skip to the reading below.

Role 1- A Canadian person in need of social services
Role 2- A 211 Operator

Most people know that if they need immediate, emergency assistance, they can call 911 (like our 123 here in Colombia). But did you know that in some countries, like Canada, people can also call 211, for lots of other types of help? Anyone can dial the number, to find a place to sleep, a meal, financial support, training, educational or employment opportunities, and even support with their addiction and mental health issues.

Let’s take turns playing the roles of an operator and a person calling for assistance.

High Level Reading and Activities:

Please read the following abstract:

It has become common to say psychiatric illnesses are brain diseases. This reflects a conception of the mental as being biologically based, though it is also thought that thinking of psychiatric illness this way will reduce the stigma attached to psychiatric illness. If psychiatric illnesses are brain diseases, however, it is not clear why psychiatry should not collapse into neurology, and some argue for this course. Others try to maintain a distinction by saying that neurology deals with abnormalities of neural structure while psychiatry deals with specific abnormalities of neural functioning. It is not clear that neurologists would accept this division, nor that they should. I argue that if we take seriously the notion that psychiatric illnesses are mental illnesses we can draw a more defensible boundary between psychiatry and neurology. As mental illnesses, psychiatric illnesses must have symptoms that affect our mental capacities and that the sufferer is capable of being aware of, even if they are not always self-consciously aware of them. Neurological illnesses, such as stroke or multiple sclerosis, may be diagnosed even if they are silent, just as the person may not be aware of having high blood pressure or may suffer a silent myocardial infarction. It does not make sense to speak of panic disorder if the person has never had a panic attack, however, or of bipolar disorder in the absence of mood swings. This does not mean psychiatric illnesses are not biologically based. Mental illnesses are illnesses of persons, whereas other illnesses are illnesses of biological individuals.

by Jeffery Bedrick, PMID: 26444362, DOI: 10.1515/folmed-2015-0012,

Conversation Practice:
-High level based on the reading:

1.) Clarify any vocabulary that you are uncertain about. Spot check! Try to define the words I pick out of the text.
2.) Summarize the reading. What is the author trying to say?
3.) Does the author believe that serious mental health problems are caused by diseases of the brain?
4.) What other factors might contribute to someone suffering mentally?
5.) A common argument for claiming that serious mental health problems are purely biological is that it reduces stigma, because it implies that the patient has no control over their thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
5a.) Is swaying public opinion, even if well-meant, a valid reason to part with the idea that Science is a rigorous pursuit of the truth?
5b.) Do you think that it’s necessarily less stigmatizing to be labeled as permanantly brained-diseased rather that temporarily disabled by internal and external factors that are within a person’s control, even if it means that the person isn’t doing what they need to do to recover?