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03/12/2018 11:30 EDT | Updated 03/12/2018 11:30 EDT

A Teacher Asked For Mental Health Books And Started A Movement

She wants to prioritize mental health education in schools.

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Anyone who's been following the news on school shootings and the debate on gun control would be well within their rights to feel overwhelmed, depressed, helpless, or angry.

But an Indiana kindergarten teacher who says she's been "losing sleep" over the issue has decided to take matters into her own hands, and along the way she started an entire movement. Tina Robinson DuBrock's wish list for mental health books for her students — so she could start her own curriculum that prioritizes mental health education in schools — not only went viral, but teachers across the U.S. are using the books in their own classrooms.

DuBrock, who wrote in a Facebook post that she gives out over 100 hugs a day, decided hugs weren't enough to help her students anymore and that it was time for action.

"I am not on here to blame anyone. I am here to do my part to start a movement to prioritize mental health education in schools. It needs to be a part of our day. Self management, growth mindset, social awareness, respect, and responsibility need to be taught in the schools," DuBrock wrote.

"Due to budget restraints and lack of school funding from the state it is an item that gets pushed to the side. So this is why I am putting a plea out to the community for support to aide this movement. Have you been looking for a way to make a difference?"

Within 90 minutes of posting her book list online, people purchased 54 books for her classroom, DuBrock told Today.

As all the 86 books (which cover topics such as empathy, inclusion, compassion, and how to regulate emotions) on her list started being purchased off Amazon.com, DuBrock added titles covering a wider range of topics including diabetes, cancer, food allergies, and cystic fibrosis.

"Kids should have support not just academically, but they also need the support mentally," she told Today. "Some children don't feel good about themselves. You can't learn if you don't feel good about yourself."

There are calls for mental health curriculum in Canada's schools, too

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It's estimated that 10 to 20 per cent of Canada's youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). About five per cent of males and 12 per cent of females age 12 to 19 have experienced a major depressive episode, the CMHA added, and 3.2 million youth are at risk for developing depression.

Suicide is second only to accidents as the leading cause of death in youth age 15 to 24, but only one in five Canadian children who need mental health services will receive them, the CMHA said.

Introducing mental health instruction early on in the classroom is a great way to help students take control of their own wellness, Katy Kamkar, a psychologist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, told the Globe and Mail in 2017.

Several of Canada's private and independent schools have found ways to add mental health and wellness to their curriculum, according to the Globe and Mail. Meanwhile, as just a few examples, P.E.I. public schools are incorporating a new mental health curriculum; schools in parts of Vancouver are putting its Grade 9 students through a mental health literary course; and two elementary school girls in London, Ont. have started a movement to get MPPs to add suicide-specific materials to Ontario's school curriculum.

A growing movement

By the beginning of March, just over a week after DuBrock posted her mental health reading list, people had purchased 175 books for her class, according to the Chicago Tribune. And now teachers across the country are using the book list as a guide for their own classrooms, Today reported, and the local library is using the list as a resource guide.

"I hope the movement to support social and emotional education continues to spread," DuBrock told the Chicago Tribune.

"I want them to succeed not just for a test score, but as a person."

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