August 29, 2013
So, before we begin, we just want to state how hesitant we were to talk about this topic. It’s a sensitive topic, and I know that some keyboard warriors get very defensive when we talk about issues in Korea. We saw this topic come up a few times in the questions you send us, and we figured that now, after we’ve done a couple lighthearted topics, we could tackle this subject, without our TL;DRs seeming too overwhelmingly serious. Serious topics are great at times, but put up too many in a row and people will start thinking of you differently. More awkward stories and fart jokes are needed to water down the severity.
Back to talking srsly: what surprises us the most about discussions on mental health in Korea is the lack of talk about it from Korean teachers. ADHD is a fairly open topic to discuss, from our experiences at least, as teachers in Canada. In Canada, before we stepped into any classroom we taught we’d be given a list of all of the special needs of the students in the class. For instance, I once had a student in Canada who needed all of his handouts to be printed on blue paper. In Korea, we weren’t given any such reports. We were just warned about bad students. That’s it. The students who we saw had ADHD weren’t accommodated by teachers, just ignored, or thought of as bad seeds. Students with autism were also just left to their own devices. Any talk about special needs for students was met with blank stares. Maybe it was just our schools. Maybe things have changed since then. I hope they have, because there are students in Korea who need help and aren’t getting it.
Outside of the classroom, though, this is a topic that we have very little experience with in Korea. We haven’t experienced any counselling services here, and so we can’t compare them to the ones we received ourselves while we were in Canada. When we asked people here in Korea who have friends in universities, though, we were told that very little in terms of services are offered. Is that the case for all universities? I’m not sure. Hell, I’m not even sure if all universities in Canada offer counselling services. We do know that they were really important to us when we needed them. In our video Martina talked about her use of counsellors. I was going to a counsellor right up until I met Martina as well. Both of us benefitted greatly from our counsellors, and we wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for the help we got. Especially considering the high suicide rate in Korea, a more open and accepting approach to counselling wouldn’t hurt. Soo Zee says it’s starting to happen in morning shows more. Hopefully we can see the topic approached more broadly from now on.
Since we don’t know that much more about it, and can’t really say more about the topic, if you’ve got anything to share, any info you can give, now’s the time to share. Any places you know of that are useful, any services that you know that are offered now, let us know, and hopefully other readers here can use that info if they need it.
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