Beacon Press: Mind Over Monsters
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Mind Over Monsters

Supporting Youth Mental Health with Compassionate Challenge

Author: Sarah Rose Cavanagh

An investigation into the mental health crisis affecting young adults today, and an impassioned argument for creating learning environments characterized both by compassion and challenge

Alarming statistics in recent years indicate that mental health problems like depression and anxiety have been skyrocketing among youth. To identify solutions, psychologist and professor Sarah Rose Cavanagh interviews a roster of experts across the country who are dedicating their lives to working with young people to help them actualize their goals, and highlights voices of college students from a range of diverse backgrounds.

Cavanagh also brings the reader on an invigorating tour of pedagogical, neuroscientific, and psychological research on mental health—one that involves her own personal journey from panic to equilibrium.

The result of these combined sources of inquiry indicates that to support youth mental health, we must create what Cavanagh calls compassionate challenge—first, we need to cultivate learning and living environments characterized by compassion, and then, we need to guide our youth into practices that encourage challenge, helping them face their fears in an encouraging, safe, and even playful way.

Mind over Monsters is a must-read for teachers, administrators, parents, and young people themselves.
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“Educators and caregivers alike will find plenty of ways to help young people thrive.”
Publishers Weekly

“This is an important book. It makes a valuable contribution to the literature on teaching and learning, tackling an urgent mental health crisis and how we can build the learning environments that will help students overcome that crisis and thrive. As a bonus, readers will find Cavanagh’s writing witty and imaginative, giving us insights that can transform college experiences.”
—Ken Bain, president of the Best Teachers Institute and author of What the Best College Teachers Do

“Most current rhetoric about teaching and learning tends to frame challenging students and acting with compassion as mutually exclusive enterprises. But, as Sarah Rose Cavanagh reminds us in this beautifully written defense of humane teaching, that dichotomy has always been a false choice. Challenge without compassion is simply hazing, but compassion without challenge atrophies the vast potential and possibilities in our students. Neither is sufficient for our moment, Cavanagh shows us. Rather, ‘compassionate challenge’ is the best way to do this work while still honoring and preserving our humanity. The crises we face are monstrous problems indeed. Mind over Monsters neither evades nor surrenders to this bleak reality but gives us the tools to create learning spaces offering both sanctuary and liberation. It is an essential book.”
—Kevin Gannon, author of Radical Hope: A Teaching Manifesto

“Sarah Rose Cavanagh makes clear the value diverse faculty bring to the classroom, student learning, and campuses, articulating constructs that are deeply aligned with the research on the excellent teaching practices of diverse faculty.”
—Chavella T. Pittman, PhD, founder of Effective & Efficient Faculty

“Like a conversation with a smart, hopeful, and passionate friend, Sarah Rose Cavanagh artfully shares her journey with anxiety and mixes in interviews with diverse students and experts. Educators, parents, and students will appreciate her call for learning environments that provide a sense of security and belonging so students can safely engage in risk and overcome their fears.”
—Kelly Hogan and Viji Sathy, authors of Inclusive Teaching: Strategies for Promoting Equity in the College Classroom

“Sarah Rose Cavanagh’s Mind Over Monsters is the book we need now—now, when the teen mental health crisis has reached alarming proportions. With thoughtful nuance, clear-eyed observation, and a sure grasp of the evidence, Cavanagh delivers a message to parents, teachers, and everyone else who cares about adolescents: what young people need from us is compassionate support and invigorating challenge. Her book is both reassuring and inspiring—a must-read for everyone who knows and loves a teenager.”
—Annie Murphy Paul, author of The Extended Mind

“There’s a lot of bluster and a lot of people convinced they have the ‘one true thing’ about how we should be supporting the mental health of young people. But these issues are complex, not simple. I personally count on Sarah Rose Cavanagh as someone who will grapple with these complexities, while still providing a clear pathway towards helping people thrive.”
—John Warner, author of The Writer’s Practice

Monster Night


Crisis and Complexities

Our Youth Need Compassionate Challenge


Infused with Eros—Embodied Mental Health

Unruly Bodies in an Unpredictable World


Seeking Oneself—Energy and Value

Determining Oneself—Direction and Expectancy


Arousal, Action, and Uncertainty

Play and Improvisational Learning

The Monster at the End of This Book


Mind Over Monsters

ISBN: 978-080700757-0
Publication Date: 5/2/2023
Size:6 x 9 Inches (US)
Price:  $30.95
Format: Cloth
Availability: In stock.
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