I am a long-time fan of Associate Professor David Bennett, Head of the NSW Centre for the Advancement of Adolescent Health.
We first met back in 2006. At the time, I was combining part-time work developing Enlighten Education with a senior role as an Education Officer responsible for developing enterprise education in Catholic Schools. I had just written a 60-hour one-unit Higher School Certificate (HSC) course suitable for Year 11 or 12 called Applied Enterprise Learning. The course, approved by the Board of Studies NSW, has a strong practical component; students apply their core learning to find local solutions to local community problems and contribute to community renewal. (An independent evaluation of the course is available here should you be interested: project-evaluation-report-no-course-outline.) This type of learning, which not only enhances a participant’s skills and knowledge base but also adds value to their community, is known as service learning.
David was also keenly interested in exploring innovative ways of engaging young people in their learning and was a member of the National Youth Careers and Transitions Advisory Group (NYCTAG). We were both invited to deliver presentations at a national conference exploring the merits of service learning. The final report, commissioned by the Department of Education, Science and Training, voiced our hopes for the service learning model. We bonded instantly as we shared an obvious enthusiasm for young people and passion for our work.
Since that time, I have had the opportunity to connect with David at various points in my career. He was an early supporter of Enlighten’s work with girls in schools. He is also the co-author of one of my favourite books on parenting teens, You Just Can’t Make Me. Recently, David was generous enough to act as a “critical friend” and read the draft of my own book on parenting teen girls (to be published by Random House Australia in September) and kindly agreed to write the foreword, too.
With this history of deep admiration and respect between us, you can imagine how excited I am to report that David has a second book, due to be released this month. This work has been co-authored with Associate Professor Leanne Rowe AM (the former chairman of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners) and Professor Bruce Tonge (Head of the Centre for Development Psychiatry and Chairperson of the Division of Psychiatry at Monash Medical Centre, Melbourne).
The book’s media release follows:
In the lead up to National Youth Week, three specialists in the fields of teenage psychiatry, general practice and adolescent health broach the difficult and often underestimated subject of teenage depression in this new guide for parents, carers, teachers, social workers and doctors.
The Facts of Teen Depression…
· 1 in 5 teenagers will experience major depression before they are 18
· The chance of a child developing depression has tripled in the last 30 years
· Hundreds of thousands of prescriptions of antidepressants are written for under 18’s each year
· Those aged 15-24 have the highest prevalence of depression of any age group
· Hospitalisations for self harm by teenagers are escalating dramatically
One of the most challenging and problematic issues facing Australia today is the increasing rate of youth depression and the high rates of self harm by our young people. But these things can be prevented, identified and managed and I Just Want You To Be Happy is a much needed, practical, clear and highly accessible guide to show you how.
I Just Want You To Be Happy describes the factors contributing to the increasing depression in young people and discusses why our search for constant happiness is setting our children up for problems. It is important for all parents to know that, contrary to popular myth, depression can be prevented and treated. Alongside expert specialist advice, I Just Want You To Be Happy contains an invaluable contact list of mental health organisations, support groups and websites where parents and carers can seek further help.
Every school and every parent of a teen should read this important book. It combines solid research with practical, doable advice and, as always, reflects the writers’ deep affection and high regard for young people.
In fact, I love this book so much I really want to help generate a groundswell of support for it. I am going to offer a free copy of the book to a school or community group that can show me they have recommended it to their wider circle via their school website or newsletter. Simply email me a link or scanned copy of your recommendation, along with your postal address, and I shall randomly pick one submission and send them this book for their reference library.