How Bibliotherapy Can Help Students Open Up About Their Mental Health

readingbibliotherapy126Mental health concerns, like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, can affect a student’s ability to concentrate, form friendships and thrive in the classroom. Educators and school counselors often provide Social and Emotional Learning programs (SEL) in order to help these students, as well as school-based therapeutic support groups. However, even in these forums, getting teenagers to speak about their problems can be challenging, especially when they feel like outsiders and worry about judgment from their peers.

For adolescents struggling with depression, anxiety and grief, the use of books as a therapeutic tool can be invaluable. Tweens and teens often get stuck in their narratives, believing that the fictional stories they tell themselves are accurate. Because of the insecurities that adolescence can bring, it’s easy for them to assume that being excluded from a peer’s birthday party or being left out of a group text exchange is a personal affront. Social media often fuel these beliefs, which can take a toll on a youth’s mental health. Shame and stigma often prevent students from speaking out and seeking the emotional support they need.

But reading about a fictional character’s experiences can normalize those feelings and give adolescents the courage to open up about their own struggles.

While studies show DBT is an effective form of psychotherapy, especially for young adults, bibliotherapy is a newer mental health intervention for youth. However, research suggests it can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, especially among adolescents.

Excerpted from “How Bibliotherapy Can Help Students Open Up About Their Mental Health.” Read the full article on KQED’s MindShift online.

Source: KQED MindShift | How Bibliotherapy Can Help Students Open Up About Their Mental Health, | Copyright © 2018

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