Tomorrow is Bell Let’s Talk Day. Through powerful stories and campaigns on social media, now more than ever individuals are working towards ending the stigma surrounding mental illness. When we begin these conversations in classrooms, we start to help students develop empathy and who become more aware and eager to join the fight. It’s during this time every year that I wanted to ensure that if on no other day – and the conversation needs to happen on other days – we spoke about mental health.
In years past, as a class we worked towards understanding different strategies that help to improve our mental health and wellbeing. And while particular strategies worked best for some, each person really needed to work on identifying what tools or strategies worked best for themselves. By exposure to a variety of tools – mindful colouring, journaling, emotion check-ins, meditations, and more – students were asked to consider how each of these tools or strategies made them feel and whether or not they found them useful as a means of helping them through challenging situations. The strategies that worked, they were asked to keep and the others could be discarded. Through conversations, students were able to understand the importance of mental health and that sometimes without being aware of our levels of stress and/or our abilities to handle the stress, we are all susceptible to experiencing challenges with our own mental health.
With this background knowledge, I found that students were the ones who would often initiate the work we did in the school and classroom to support initiatives like Bell Let’s Talk Day. Using some of the resources in the Toolkit, students: hung up the posters and created their own; modified the PSAs and included facts that they found; used the template to create powerful poems and other writings in support; and with my help used this template to draft tweets that we posted.
Students want to have a positive impact on the world. Using issues that are current and relevant as part of the learning happening in the classroom allows them to have a platform to share their thoughts and ideas with others and to see themselves as real change makers. Tomorrow is #BellLetsTalk. How will you and your students get involved in this very important conversation?