Comments by David Mielke, M.S.

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  • Thanks Jessica and Scott—

    I was teaching a high school “Health” class several years ago and it occurred to me that these kids had a very unhealthy day! To counter that we instituted a “daily walk” around the school track at the beginning of each period. Kids got a break, fresh air, time to yak with friends, a chance to appreciate the blue sky and white clouds, and 7 minutes of light exercise.

    You might think that this would be appropriate for a Health class, particularly for kids who are living their lives through a screen, but the school principal directed me to stop. This was “instructional time” and kids needed to be “on task from bell to bell.”

    As the local union president I contacted our lawyer and asked if this was not a teaching strategy that I should be free to employ. His opinion was that unless there was a specific school rule prohibiting it, that the walk was OK. I shared his opinion with the principal and invited her to join us whenever she could.

    When I moved on to teaching Psychology classes we continued the tradition. When former students come back to visit, they always ask if we are still walking every day. What a comment on the structure of the school day that we provide for our kids that a daily walk stands out as a highlight!

    As Scott reminded us in this interview, being outside and engaging in physical exercise are true anti-depressants. I was depressed yesterday at our high school graduation ceremony seeing one of my favorite students from a previous year. I knew that her family had started her on psychiatric drugs at the time but had not seen her in over a year. I did not recognize her. The weight gain that we often see with these drugs had literally transformed her. I wondered too if the gentle soul I had known was still alive somewhere under that large and seemingly hardened exterior.

    It was heartbreaking to see how she had changed.. Peter Breggin’s words came to mind again: “Feelings should be understood, not suppressed”, and “People need people, not pills.”

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  • Hi James,
    I’m writing to offer myself as a guest on your new podcast.
    I was the guest on the Peter Breggin Hour this past January 18.
    My contribution has to do with the challenges of teaching a High School Psychology class knowing that a certain number of kids have been diagnosed with ADHD and are taking stimulant drugs and another group of my kids have been diagnosed with “depression” and are taking anti-depressants.
    My challenge has been to teach my students to question the assumptions that have led to these diagnoses and medical “treatments” while recognizing that for some of my kids this critical examination of the medicalization of everyday life puts them in a difficult situation. They trust their parents, and their doctors, and many hope that the challenges of their lives are due to a biological condition that they cannot control, while at the same time having to acknowledge that the research suggests that these drugs are neither as safe nor as effective as psychotherapy and that there is no evidence for a biological cause for these challenges they are facing.
    My class makes them question those assumptions and forces them, unintentionally, to choose between the lessons of the class and the faith they have in their families and their physicians. Some remain in the class while others, with the permission of the administration, are allowed to drop.
    If you need a guest who addresses these issues on a daily basis, I’m your guy.
    Good luck with the new podcast. I absolutely believe that education is the answer!!

    david mielke
    [email protected]

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