Since the start of the pandemic, mental health and wellness have been brought to the fore in the classroom. How do we know? Governments are adding substantial funding into schools specifically for this. The US federal government just announced they will be providing $122 billion for K-12 to provide the means for “strategies to meet the social, emotional, mental health and academic needs” of students. In Canada, provinces and territories are addressing the need for greater mental health support for students. The Manitoba government, for example, is investing $230,000 for support programs and services focused on mental health in schools.
“40% of Canadians say their mental health has deteriorated since the onset of the pandemic.”Canadian Mental Health Association
As mental health becomes an even greater priority for governments and educators, it’s important for you to access resources to support mental well-being inside the classroom and out. We’ve put together links to resources, free courses, toolkits, frameworks, and more for you and your students.
Mental health resources to use in the classroom
For Mental Health Week, the Canadian Mental Health Association created a toolkit specifically designed for teachers. Find more information and a list of specific activities to utilize in the classroom.
Mindful Modules focused on mental health and well-being are free for students and teachers through the ChatterHigh platform. These cover a variety of topics such as Mental Health and Wellness, Substance Use, and Mental Health Disorders. Educators and students across North America have access through their ChatterHigh account. Log in or sign up for free today to get started! Book a demo for more information.
Open Mind BC has provided a selection of resources for both teachers and families, focused on mental health for youth. Find information on teaching students who may be struggling with depression, and other practical resources to apply in the classroom.
Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence and Coursera is currently offering a free course to help educators better manage their emotions and create supportive learning environments for students. Learn more here!
Social and Emotional Learning
Bringing social and emotional learning (SEL) into the classroom helps students build the tools they need to “develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.” (CASEL)
The framework focuses on five key areas including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Applying these skills not only in the classroom, but also throughout the school grounds, at home, and within the community has been observed to promote student achievement, neuroscience, health, employment, psychology, classroom management, learning theory, economics, and the prevention of youth problem behaviours. Download CASEL’s SEL framework here to learn how to administer it in the classroom.
Name those feelings–the good, the bad, and the ugly
The term affect labelling means putting what we’re feeling into words. This can be as simple as saying or writing down how we feel. ‘I’m happy,’ or ‘that made me feel sad’ are examples of affect labelling. Learning how to communicate our emotions is valuable to our emotional development and well-being. Students connecting with one another through communication can help break down barriers.
Think about hosting a Cross-the-Line day, where students participate in an activity that helps identify and eliminate the barriers between them. Through this activity, children become aware that they are not alone in facing insecurities, fears, and challenges. Read more on the Crossing-the-Line Activity here.
Virtue or emotion trees can put names to the feelings that students experience. Creating one of these and having it accessible, or providing a list of different emotions (the good, and the bad) can help remove the stigma that makes students hide what they feel. Journaling is another great way to express emotions! We’re human–we’re designed to feel!
Find these great national and provincial resources to use in and out of the classroom:
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR