Note to teachers: We recognize that everyone, including children and youth, may be feeling particularly anxious and unsettled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As teachers, you may only have access to your students online. We hope that you will find these activities helpful as you reach out to your students in this difficult time.
May 7th is National Child and Youth Mental Health Day.
In 2006, two concerned moms, one from British Columbia and one from Ontario, decided that Canada needed a Child and Youth Mental Health Day. They selected May 7th in 2007 and since then it has been recognized every year. In 2020, the theme is “Caring.”
Did you know?
Read more interesting facts here.
As disturbing as these facts are, it is also important to note that “Once depression is recognized, help can make a difference for 80% of people who are affected, allowing them to get back to their regular activities.”
When it comes to what teachers and students can do, there are many opportunities to make a difference. Opening up conversations can be the first step. In the January special days, we shared some strategies for the Bell Let’s Talk Day.
This special day in May gives us the opportunity to take mental health discussions a step further by cultivating resilience and self–assurance in students and helping them to recognize and appreciate their own strengths and abilities.
The FamilySmart 2020 theme for this day is “I care about you” (#may7icare). This is a wonderful opportunity to help children and youth demonstrate compassion, empathy and understanding in a world that is experiencing so much isolation, fear and loneliness.
If you are interested in ordering additional materials from the Family Smart organization for the 2018 Children and Youth Mental health Day, you can log on here.
Ask students to:
Invite students to listen to the video “Caring Song” by Have Fun Teaching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieJaojq68dk. Encourage dancing and singing along.
Do a group brainstorm about ways that they can show they care about others.
Play the video again and ask students to sing along. Consider practising the song and recording a class rendition of it to put on the school website. (Note: Be mindful of your school or board policies on sharing content online. It is best to avoid showing faces or sharing names. For example, the visuals could include student-made posters of the key words in the song.)
Close by reminding students that caring about others and about themselves is important every day!
Ask students to jot down their responses to the following question: If someone came up to you and asked you to name three things that you really care about, what would they be?
Ask the following questions and tally the responses:
Ask students how their answer would change if they could only choose one thing to care about. Discuss responses and then ask:
Explain that caring about tangible things like your bike or gaming device is normal. We all care about things that we can do for exercise, fun, and excitement. Ask what the difference is between caring for a thing and caring for a person and invite volunteers to share responses. For example, discuss the fact that ‘things’ can’t care back, and ask why that would be important.
Invite students to create some way to demonstrate to others that caring about people is important. Here are some ideas:
Close by reminding students that when they care about others, others will care about them, today, and every day.
Have students work with a partner to define the word “care.” Share the results.
Invite students to work individually or in small groups to brainstorm a list of ways that they can demonstrate caring— in their school, at home, with their friends, and in their communities. Alternatively, assign one of those four categories to each group. Have each group share and post their results.
As a class, select at least one practical suggestion and create a plan to effect positive change. Consider extending this idea to other areas in the weeks ahead. After implementing your plan, track the progress over several days or weeks.
Close by asking: