Teaching Students About My Mad Fat Diary
My Mad Fat Diary, a British television series based on the book “My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary” by Rae Earl, has garnered acclaim for its honest depiction of mental health issues, body image struggles, and teenage life in general. As educators, we have an invaluable opportunity to use this relatable and compelling narrative as a springboard for important conversations about mental health in our classrooms.
Why Teach “My Mad Fat Diary”?
1. Relatability: Set in the 90s, My Mad Fat Diary follows the story of Rae Earl, a 16-year-old girl who deals with mental health issues, self-esteem struggles and teenage problems. The show’s realistic portrayal of common issues faced by teenagers can help students feel seen and understood.
2. Stigma Reduction: By discussing themes present in the series, such as therapy, psychiatric hospitalization, self-harm, and eating disorders, educators can create a safe and open environment for students to share their own challenges and ask questions about mental health.
3. Empathy Building: Using My Mad Fat Diary as a starting point allows students to explore multiple perspectives and develop empathy towards others facing similar situations. This understanding fosters a more compassionate learning environment.
How to Teach About “My Mad Fat Diary”
1. Encourage Media Literacy: Start by viewing select episodes or clips from My Mad Fat Diary with your class. Engage in discussions about representations of mental health in media and how the series tackles the subject.
2. Promote Open Conversations: Take this opportunity to initiate discussions around mental health without judgment or fear of stigmatization. Normalize conversations around therapy, medications, and self-care strategies.
3. Frame Questions Thoughtfully: Provide thoughtful prompts or questions that encourage students to engage with the material while maintaining their privacy. For example, inquire about their thoughts after watching a specific episode or ask how they think they would respond if a friend was in a similar situation as Rae.
4. Bring in Additional Resources: Supplement your exploration of My Mad Fat Diary with mental health resources, such as articles and videos that can provide further context and support for your students. Encourage students to share any resources they find helpful, creating a collective network of support.
5. Incorporate Creative Projects: Encourage students to express their thoughts and perceptions through creative means, like journaling or art projects. This can provide them with an outlet to safely express emotions and acknowledge their experiences without disclosing their own issues, if they choose not to.
Teaching students about My Mad Fat Diary presents a unique opportunity to open up conversations surrounding mental health and reduce stigmas attached to seeking help. By using the series as an educational tool, we can create an empathic, supportive learning environment that fosters understanding, self-reflection, and growth in our students.