Choosing featured videos for this issue was challenging. There is so much quality material to choose from. HERE is a wonderful lecture for Dr. Robert Sapolsky at Stanford University. He discusses both the biology and the psychology of depression. The only problem is that it is nearly an hour long. We know a lot of our readers don’t have time for that.
Andrew Solomon is a writer for The New York Time, The New Yorker, etc. who writes on psychology, culture, and politics, and who suffers from depression. Perhaps because he is a professional writer, the story he tells in Depression, the Secret we Share paints a picture that makes the feeling of despair clear.
But we decided to go with Santa Ono’s Tackling the Mental Health Crisis in our Youth as the lead, because it tells the story that we are trying to lay out in this issue. Dr. Ono was president of the University of Cincinnati, Ohio. Now he is president of the University of British Columbia, one of the top-ranking universities in the world. Ono tells the sad story of one of his students, a popular, accomplished athlete and coach. That student committed suicide. He also talks about another young boy. Something of a nerd (think of the high school “audio-visual club”). That student tried to commit suicide. Twice. That boy was Ono himself.
This video provides insight into depression and the mental health crisis so common among students. One in five students will struggle with mental health in university. He pleads for use to destigmatize talking about depression and other mental health issues. He points out that, “more people have to talk about this” (talking about mental health problems being normal). That is important for our own students, and ourselves as teachers. It is one of the main goals of this issue.
Ono refers to the children’s story The Little Engine that Could, linked here for readers who are not familiar with the story.
While the Ono video doesn’t deal with brain science directly, a science YouTuber Ali Astrocyte’s Neuroscience of Depression deals with it in a clear and accessible way. Her video is part of a series of short Youtube.com videos designed to make brain science understandable.
Alie Astrocyte’s bio is far more than you might expect from a Youtuber. She is a neuroscientist and science communicator at the University of Chicago Medicine. Using the stage name Alie Astrocyte, she is co-creator, writer, and host of Neuro Transmissions, an award-winning educational YouTube channel. She received her BS in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from MIT and her PhD in Neuroscience with a Specialization in Anthropogeny from UC San Diego in 2019. Her dissertation research focused on how a particular brain cell, called the “astrocyte” affects the way neurons grow, connect, and communicate.
Marc Helgesen is the guest editor of this issue. He has been part of the Mind, Brain, & Education SIG since the beginning. He’s author of over 180 ELT articles, books and textbooks including English Firsthand (Pearson) and English Teaching and the Science of Happiness (ABAX), which may be surprising since he also has a long-standing interest in depression. (Gotta have a reason to study something, no?).