Design a Global Encounter: Mental Health Awareness
What social issue will your video conference address? This video conference will address the social issue of mental health, the associations of poor mental health, and how to overcome this issue.
What subject(s) and grade level(s) would be appropriate for students to be involved?
I believe mental health can be taught in any grade-level but there are different ways to touch on the subject (e.g. using words for feelings for younger students and coping mechanisms for older students. Mental health should be taught in health class for middle school/ high school, but for the younger grades it is a good idea to talk about it in a class meeting aspect. In preschool/ kindergarten, students are taught to identify their feelings by giving words such as sad, mad, angry, happy, tired, etc. Younger students in that age are often very blunt and will express themselves as to why they feel that way. It is okay for the teacher to talk about feelings and teach them words to express themselves or using pictures of faces for younger students. In early elementary school, students often tell stores in order to open up. I feel as if talking about feelings and the anticipations of different anxieties is okay at this age since they are coming to the age where they are getting more work in school, and experiencing big changes. In middle school students are hitting big changes biologically and mentally, so this is where they may start seeing some symptoms of mental illness (anxiety, depression, etc). It is appropriate for them to learn about the types of mental illnesses, due to the fact that their brain is not fully developed. It is important students in middle school and high school can understand and identify signs of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, panic disorders, and ADHD. They may be able to recognize these signs in themselves or a friend in order to help somebody or themselves.
Who would be your ideal guest speaker? Demi Lovato is a big celebrity advocate for mental health. She is somebody many teenagers look up to due to her presence in tv, movies, and music. She has overcome numerous struggles in regards to her mental health that started for her at the age of 7. Demi had depression at the age of 7, even though she was a TV star and had a great life. People need to understand no matter how happy you may seem, depression is a real thing that you cannot control. Demi also battles with anxiety and bipolar disorder and has overcome an eating disorder from when she was a teenager. Some of her stories may be too graphic to share with high school students, but I feel as if she can give some insight on how to seek help and how to identify if you show any signs of mental illness. She also shares her story in hopes it will help others in order to shy away from the “negative stigma” of mental illness. Her experiences are real and it may have students realize how serious mental illness is.
Would you seek to involve other schools from your community, across the country, or from particular countries or regions around the world to foster the ideal conversation?
I think it is crucial for other students to be a part of this conversation and project. Mental health affects people of different races and cultures. In some cultures, poor mental health is not recognized, therefore it is important to bring this conversation to other regions in order for people to recognize signs of poor mental health in order to help themselves, friends, and loved ones.
What type of activity would students complete before the video conference session that they could share during the conference?
Before the video, I would have students complete a KWL chart about what they already know about mental health struggles, what they want to learn, and what they have learned. Students will be able to identify their own experiences with mental health but identify what they would like to learn in order to better educate themselves on the struggles of poor mental health. Students will also complete a mental health quiz https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/programs/ps-7344-introducing-kit.pdf
This will help them identify any anxieties or struggles with mental health they may have as encourage a healthy classroom conversation to end the negative stigma of mental health. It is crucial for students to build each other up in order to encourage students to engage in positive mental health. A great activity would be for students to go around with pieces of paper, and they would each write encouraging words and what they like about their peer in order to build the other person up. This encourages positive classroom conversation and will help students feel more welcome in their class. Students will also create posters with positive sayings in order to display around their school. They can be quotes of their choice that they research, or quotes they can brainstorm as a class! Some examples are “you got this!”, “every moment is a fresh beginning”, “you will do great things” and many more!
Would there be a follow-up action that students would take to deepen their learning?
Students would fill out the “L” portion of their KWL chart in order to assess what they have learned. Students will also engage in a class discussion as to how they can be nicer to their classmates as well as how they can end the negative stigma to mental health. Students will share what mental health means to them especially after listening to guest speaker Demi Lovato and her experiences. It is important to bring awareness to mental health, so students are better educated on this topic and how they can help themselves or somebody else.
How would you assess their participation?
Student participation will be assessed by their contributions of the class discussion they partake in where students share what they learned about mental health topics as well as ways they can spread mental health awareness and positive traits to help people with mental health issues. Students will also research a mental disorder that they learned about and come up with facts about it as well as ways to help the mental disorder. Students will share about what they learned and ask questions to their classmates about mental disorders they share. Students will also come up with their own ways of coping skills in dealing with depression and anxiety. As a class, we will reevaluate in a couple of months to see how students are doing with the coping skills they have created.