As we focus on the Canadian Mental Health’s Association’s Mental Health Week, it is no secret that it has been a challenging year in many ways for students and teachers. The theme for the 71st annual Canadian Mental Health Week is #GetReal. It is about how to help friends, family, and others by understanding and demonstrating empathy.
Did you know?
Read more interesting facts from the Canadian Mental Health Association.
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 week 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 that it is okay to talk to someone about how they are feeling.
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.
Visit the CMHA’s toolkits for Mental Health Week for more materials, including fact sheets, downloadable social media visuals, additional readings, and more.
Ask students to:
Invite students to listen to the video “Caring Song” by Have Fun Teaching. 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 learning how to name their feelings and sharing those feelings with others is an important way to help them manage their emotions. They are developing strategies that will help everyone, including themselves, get through the good times and the bad.
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. That is why it’s important to be honest about our feelings and accept the feelings of others — in other words, “Get real about how you feel!”
Have students to define the word “care.” Share the results.
Invite students to brainstorm a list of ways that they can demonstrate empathy and caring— in their school, at home, with their friends, and in their communities. Share results.
As a class, select at least one practical suggestion and create a plan to effect positive change by performing a caring act. 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:
Vocabulary, Critical Thinking, Self-Awareness, Oral Communication
Discuss the 2022 theme for CMHA’s National Child and Youth Mental Health Week: #GetReal about how to help.