Mental Health Awareness Month begins on May 1st and runs through the end of the month. This is such an important topic for teachers as they navigate the struggles involved with the mental health of their students and their own children. Nobody wants to see a child suffer, yet youth anxiety and depression are on the rise. May is a great opportunity to take positive steps toward promoting mental health awareness. We have a few suggestions on how to do that.
Schedule an Assembly
This may take some planning, but the results can be huge. Having a speaker address your student body in an informative and relatable way can have just the sort of impact you are hoping for. The speaker can be a nationally recognized one. Or maybe a locally based speaker that has an effective communication style and a good message. The assembly can spur conversations afterward and encourage students to seek help in areas in which they are struggling. If you’re interested in booking Curate Hope, we’d love to talk with you.
Posters can be a great way to raise awareness. There are two routes a teacher can take with this. We at Curate Hope have created some posters you can download for free! Feel free to use them in your school to get conversations started. The second option is to involve your students and have them create their own posters. Not only does it get them involved, but it can also give you insight into their views on the topic and on themselves.
Teachers can have writing exercises and use prompts based on a mental health topic. For example, one thing the student is thankful for on “Thankful Thursday”. If you’re worried you won’t have enough ideas, there are low-cost materials that can help. This not only gives you some insight into what your students have going on in their lives but how they see themselves at this point.
Few things will mean more to a student than knowing that you are listening to them or that they are valued. The Seen Book website has some free resources that can help you plan exercises that will communicate to your students that you do hear them and that they do matter. The exercises are easy to do and take little to no materials. The most important material is a caring teacher…you.
Guide, don’t tell
Sometimes we find ourselves taking the easy route and telling a student why they feel what they’re feeling. While it may be a quick fix for the moment, it doesn’t help the student develop their own coping strategies to use when we’re not around. The Feelings Wheel discussed in the Seen Book is a great tool to help equip a student with a way to identify their feelings and get to the root of them. Print out the free download and show the students how to use it for themselves so they can use the wheel when you’re not there to help.
This is just the start
These are just a few ideas for Mental Health Awareness Month, but there are so many more possibilities. What if we made mental health awareness a year-round practice? Imagine the lives that could be changed if we did.