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.
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.
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.
Get students thinking about their skills and achievements by asking:
Raise your hand if:
What else can you do?
Read “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper, or watch the video.
Prepare a classroom bulletin board with the title, “I think I can…” Invite the students to select something they would like to learn how to do and print that word on a piece of lined paper. They may add illustrations if they choose. Post the results under the title and take turns sharing the answers.
Raise your hand if you ever heard the saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
Do you think that believing you can do something and trying over and over again to do it is important?
How do you feel when you get better at something after working hard and believing that you can do it?
Close by reminding the students that there will be some things that they will not be able to do because they are dangerous, they don’t have permission, or it just not possible. The important thing to do is to think about what you CAN do and just keep trying hard until you achieve your goal!
Note: For other engaging books that teach perseverance, click here.
Watch the video.
Explain that sometimes we don’t think about or appreciate our strengths. For example, you might be a really good friend and you don’t even realize it, or you might be good at baking but none of your friends know that so you don’t think it’s important. Remind the students that not everyone will appreciate their strengths but what is important is that they feel good about their own accomplishments.
Give each student a strip of lined chart paper (or several). Ask students to complete their own version of these sentences:
“I like being me. No one can_________like me, __________like me, _________like me. I like being me!”
Have each student sign and share his or her entry. Collect the strips and post them around the room.
Close by reminding students that no matter what anyone thinks, recognizing that we are all unique and all have talents is really important. Remind them that helping others to feel appreciated is important too.
Watch this video, asking students to look for important messages.
Explain that younger students, siblings, or teammates often look up to students their age. Tell them that like the story of the girl in the video, they can make a positive difference for someone else if they make the effort.
Invite students to write a letter to a younger brother or sister, or a younger student in the school and give them a message to keep trying when they feel they can’t do something. They may add illustrations or decorations if they wish.
Suggest that they may want to use a computer or hand-print their letter, to ensure that a younger child can read it easily. Share some of the letters of inspiration and deliver them.
Close by reminding students that mental health is just as important as physical health. Their actions today helped a younger person to feel good about themselves and bounce back to try again when things don’t work out—and that is such a positive message!