Typically, when it comes to most children and youth textbooks on mental health, they too heavily revolve around diagnostic criteria, say a group of Alberta educators.

That gap drove Patricia Kostouros, Michelle Briegel and Brenda Thompson to take a different approach with two books launched on Nov. 22 at Mount Royal University.

Kostouros and Briegel teach in the department of child studies and social work at Mount Royal University, while Brenda Thompson teaches at MacEwan University.

“We could not find something that really allowed for more context and there just didn’t seem to be anything that was helpful for frontline practitioners, like really talking about the context that they might be working in and how that is different,” says Kostouros, who along with Thompson, edited the textbook, Child and Youth Mental Health in Canada: Cases from Front-Line Settings.

“We brought into the forefront some more environmental factors in play as opposed to just focusing on diagnosis,” says Kostouros.

Co-editor Thompson says another reason why the textbook is different than others is that it gets away from labeling by using rich narratives written by people in the field.

book launch celebrationWEBMental health is a complex topic, especially in children and youth. Alberta educators Brenda Thompson, Patricia Kostouros, and Michelle Briegel get readers to understand each mental health issue by using specifics-based scenarios, in their newly launched books. Graphic courtesy of Mount Royal University Faculty of Health, Community and Education.

“We have taken the different settings that our students would find themselves working in, like elementary school, high school, working with families in their homes, and working in secure treatment facilities,” she says, adding, “At each setting, looking at what kind of things that you are going to be faced with, within terms of the behaviours and struggles from the kids and what kinds of things you can do to help.”

The other book, Child & Youth Care Practice: Collected Wisdom for New Practitioners, is a collection packed full of advice from students, practitioners and agency supervisors. Edited by Kostouros and Briegel, the collection invites students and those new to the field of child and youth care to feel more confident and prepared when starting their practicums and careers.

Briegel adds that the practitioner-focused book is about breaking information into “bite-sized pieces,” with “examples coming from people who have worked in the field that allows students to see themselves in the writing.”

The three authors noted an absence of these types of resources when they studied in university and say such material would have made a big difference for them.

Editor: Colin Macgillivray | cmacgillivray@cjournal.ca 

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