Introduction

Mental health refers to a person’s mental and emotional well-being. In recent years, it has become apparent how important mental health is because it affects all aspects of an individual’s life, including how they feel, think, and act. There is often a stigma surrounding mental health, but by teaching students about mental health awareness and the month which commemorates it, there will undoubtedly be less of a stigma. Additionally, students may learn some strategies for improving their own mental health and information they can use to better understand themselves and those around them.

Resources

There are many resources available online for teaching students about Mental Health Awareness Month. Raising awareness about mental health is so important, and the resources below will help you to do this in your classroom!

Lesson Plans

  1. Mental Health: edutopia provides an abundance of resources which will help educators “foster school environments that promote psychological well-being and support students experiencing behavioral, emotional, or social challenges.” The articles and videos offered are geared towards helping students through the challenges that covid-19 has posed and giving students materials to meet their mental health needs. Though these resources won’t necessarily “teach” your students about mental health and raising awareness about it, they will help you to support students in need, make your classroom an emotionally safe space, etc.
  2. Mental Health America: Mental Health America offers the 2020 Mental Health Toolkit, which includes printable handouts, worksheets, social media and web components, media materials, and other resources which were created to raise awareness on mental health and spread the message that everyone should care about mental health. The toolkits from 2013-2019 are also available for educators to use, so feel free to take a look through these great materials!

Articles

  1. May Is Mental Health Awareness Month: Teaching Tolerance has shared a few different articles for destigmatizing conversations about mental health.
  • Demystifying the Mind is a written piece which discusses how educators across the nation are integrating mental health literacy into the classroom. 
  • Washed Away is a story about a boy named Max whose OCD is interfering with his daily life and friendships, which will help educators and students understand the gravity of mental illness on a deeper level.
  • Broken and Healing: Normalizing Mental Health Issues in Our Classrooms touches upon the question of whether educators should be open about their own mental health journeys in order to help their students feel safe and accept their own mental health issues. 
  1. The Importance of Mental Health Awareness in Schools: This article talks about the importance of mental health awareness in schools. The author, Nancy Barile, first discusses seeing the signs of mental health issues in one of her students before remarking on understanding the impact of the mental health of students and how educators can spread mental health awareness across the nation.
  2. Are Schools Ready to Tackle the Mental Health Crisis?: neaToday has published an article revolving around the question of if schools are ready to tackle the mental health crisis. The author, Tim Walker, starts off this piece with recounting the experiences which educator Melodie Henderson has had with students who struggle with mental health issues. He goes on to describe the stigmas around mental health and the culture shifts which need to occur in order for schools to implement successful mental health programs. This article may give educators some insight into the obstacles they may face when trying to make their schools more mental-health friendly.

Informational Sites

  1. National Institute of Mental Health: The NIH offers an abundance of information, including an overview, signs/symptoms, risk factors, and treatment/therapies of various mental illnesses. Students will be able to learn about Anxiety Disorders, Autism, Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD, Eating Disorders, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, OCD, Schizophrenia, and more topics from this site.
  2. MentalHealth.gov: MentalHealth.gov provides basic information about mental health, what individuals should look for depending on the type of disorder, and the warning signs of suicidal ideations and/or tendencies.

Conclusion

Teaching your students about mental health and its significance is a very important task. It is necessary to be aware that certain students may have a mental health stigma or preconceived notions about mental health and illness depending on their religious beliefs and their family’s views, but that’s okay. Your job is to provide students with the information and ultimately what they do with all that they’ve learned is up to them. The resources above will help you to give students the mental health information they need!

Additional Resources

  1. May is Mental Health Month – #4Mind4Body: Psychology Today has published an article on raising awareness about mental health and eliminating the stigma surrounding it. Readers will learn more about mental health and its presence in the population, how to change their mental, emotional, and physical health by changing their habits, etc.
  2. The State of Mental Health in the U.S. – Improving Awareness: Regis College provides readers with an article on the state of mental health in the U.S. and information on improving awareness. By reading this piece, students will get a snapshot of the mental health crisis, learn about different mental health conditions, understand the benefits of Mental Health Awareness Month, and recognize the opportunities out there in the world for fundraising, community outreach, and raising awareness about mental health.
  3. Mental Health Awareness Month 2020 – Highlighting Stories of Key Athletes to Raise Awareness: ESPN highlights various athletes’ stories, with the hope that these stories will “The hope is that these stories help raise awareness, provide information and improve understanding about mental health, how sports figures seek treatment and the approaches that work for them.” Swimmer Michael Phelps, Dallas Cowboys player Randy Gregory, tennis player Noah Rubin, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, and more offer their insight on mental health and its importance.