What Is Mental Health?

Overview
Teacher and Staff Training and Education
Integrating Mental Health Literacy and Social Emotional Learning into Student Health and Physical Education
2020 Virginia Mental Health Standards of Learning
A Sampling of Student Education and Activity Resources (Social Emotional Health and Mental Health)

 

Overview

There is an Epidemic of Anxiety among Today’s Students. By high school and college, many students have run out of steam. Anxiety – the mental-health tsunami of their generation – has caught up with them. 

Are Schools Ready to Tackle the Mental Health Crisis?  Many schools and communities [are] beginning to think about mental health early. “We’re seeing progress that hopefully will continue. We can’t wait until a student is at a crisis state.  Like diabetes or cancer, you should never wait until stage 4 to intervene.”

 

Student mental health is of critical importance. Mental health wellness is comprised of emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Mental health influences an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. In the school setting, a student’s mental health affects their energy level and optimism, concentration, dependability, and performance; and determines how students handle stress, relate to others, and make choices  

 

Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including biological factors, life experiences such as traumaabuse, or racism, and family historyThere are several prevalent mental health disorders that present in students in the school setting: mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder); anxiety disorders.; personality disorders; psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia); eating disorders; trauma-related disorders (such as post-traumatic stress disorder); and substance use disorders. Unaddressed, these mental health issues can become emotionally, psychologically and socially disruptive and life-threatening. With help, however, individuals with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.  

 

The following resources are provided for school faculty, staff, and students to become educated about the signs and symptoms of mental health concerns; to promote mental health wellness; and to provide support to reduce stigma and assist students in obtaining necessary help. Refer to Health Smart Virginia’s Trauma Informed, Now What? section for additional trauma-informed and trauma-responsive educator resources. 

 

Teacher and Staff Training and Education

Resources to support staff training and education in the areas of Mental Health Knowledge, Mental Health Promotion, Providing Support, and Reducing Stigma are provided below.

Mental Health Knowledge:  Learn about the signs and symptoms of mental health concerns and the appropriate treatments.

  • Common Mental Health Disorders in Adolescence  
  • Mental Health Warning Signs  
  • Mental Health Conditions  
  • Mental Illness Prevalence
  • Supporting Student Mental Health: Resources to Prepare Educators is a resource offered by Mental Health Technology and Transfer Center (MHTTC) that identifies several trainings and resources to increase educator mental health literacy, including online courses, websites, and workshops.  
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) (eight hours). The goals of YMHFA are to increase mental health awareness, reduce stigma around mental health, help people at risk of self-harm or suicide, and refer them to helping professionals (a virtual training is being developed as well). The Council for Behavioral Health is also working on a virtual training. Local Community Services Boards (CSB) offer YMHFA free of charge to Virginia schools. You may also contact the Office of Behavioral Health Wellness at the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services for more information on Mental Health First Aid Trainings and trainings to be Trauma Informed at gail.taylor@dbhds.virginia.gov
  • NAMI Ending the Silence for School Staff (one hour). The presentation for school staff is designed to be conducted by both a leader and a young adult with a mental health condition who details their experience. The presentation includes information about signs and symptoms, approaching students, and working with families, while allowing time for questions and dialogue. Your local NAMI affiliate offers this presentation free of charge to schools. 
  • Kognito At-Risk for Educators (one hour). The virtual format allows for role-play simulations developed for elementary, middle, and high school educators that aim to increase knowledge about children’s mental health. The platform is customizable to include a local list of mental health resources. There is a charge for this platform. 
  • Classroom Mental Health (varies). This website aims to be a guide for teachers starting from when they notice mental health concerns or are approached by a student for support. The site addresses common concerns (e.g., Can I help? Should I help?) and provides resources for improving classroom atmosphere and exercises for teachers. This website is free. 
  • Notice.Talk.Act (American Psychiatric Foundation)  teaches about warning signs (NOTICE); how to TALK About Mental Health; and how to ACT appropriately in referring students to resources. The program involves an E-Learning Module (30-40 mins); Classroom Module Designed to be Tailor to your School; Online Assessments; and 18-months of Learning with New Courses based on your Schools Assessments. 
  • For Educators | MentalHealth.gov – the US Department of Health and Human Services provides information on what educators should know, look for, and do. 
  • Racism affects Mental Health
  • COVID-19 Pandemic – Impacts on  Children’s Mental Health are emerging in recent studies and the implications are being discussed in numerous articles

Mental Health Promotion:  Promote positive mental health in the classroom and across the whole school.

  • Supporting Student Mental Health: Resources to Prepare Educators is a resource offered by Mental Health Technology and Transfer Center (MHTTC) that identifies several trainings and resources to increase educator mental health literacy, including online courses, websites, and workshops.  
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) (eight hours). The goals of YMHFA are to increase mental health awareness, reduce stigma around mental health, help people at risk of self-harm or suicide, and refer them to helping professionals (a virtual training is being developed as well). The Council for Behavioral Health is also working on a virtual training. Local Community Services Boards (CSB) offer YMHFA free of charge to Virginia schools. You may also contact the Office of Behavioral Health Wellness at the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services for more information on Mental Health First Aid Trainings and trainings to be Trauma Informed at gail.taylor@dbhds.virginia.gov
  • NAMI Ending the Silence for School Staff (one hour). The presentation for school staff is designed to be conducted by both a leader and a young adult with a mental health condition who details their experience. The presentation includes information about signs and symptoms, approaching students, and working with families, while allowing time for questions and dialogue. Your local NAMI affiliate offers this presentation free of charge to schools. 
  • Kognito At-Risk for Educators (one hour). The virtual format allows for role-play simulations developed for elementary, middle, and high school educators that aim to increase knowledge about children’s mental health. The platform is customizable to include a local list of mental health resources. There is a charge for this platform. 
  • Classroom Mental Health (varies). This website aims to be a guide for teachers starting from when they notice mental health concerns or are approached by a student for support. The site addresses common concerns (e.g., Can I help? Should I help?) and provides resources for improving classroom atmosphere and exercises for teachers. This website is free. 
  • CDC Healthy Schools provides numerous resources on promoting healthy behaviors through the use of the Whole School, Whole Child, Whole Community model. 
  • Mental Health Promotion in Schools provides tips for school integration of mental health promotion. 
  • Promoting Student Mental Health through SEL  Social emotional learning is critical for student mental health. Health Smart Virginia  provides numerous lessons and resources to support school health, including resources for social emotional health and prevention of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use

Providing Support:  Identify students in need of support and link them to appropriate services and supporting students with mental health problems at school.

  • Common Mental Health Disorders in Adolescence  
  • Mental Health Warning Signs  
  • Mental Health Conditions  
  • Supporting Student Mental Health: Resources to Prepare Educators is a resource offered by Mental Health Technology and Transfer Center (MHTTC) that identifies several trainings and resources to increase educator mental health literacy, including online courses, websites, and workshops.  
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) (eight hours). The goals of YMHFA are to increase mental health awareness, reduce stigma around mental health, help people at risk of self-harm or suicide, and refer them to helping professionals (a virtual training is being developed as well). The Council for Behavioral Health is also working on a virtual training. Local Community Services Boards (CSB) offer YMHFA free of charge to Virginia schools. You may also contact the Office of Behavioral Health Wellness at the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services for more information on Mental Health First Aid Trainings and trainings to be Trauma Informed at gail.taylor@dbhds.virginia.gov
  • NAMI Ending the Silence for School Staff (one hour). The presentation for school staff is designed to be conducted by both a leader and a young adult with a mental health condition who details their experience. The presentation includes information about signs and symptoms, approaching students, and working with families, while allowing time for questions and dialogue. Your local NAMI affiliate offers this presentation free of charge to schools. 
  • Kognito At-Risk for Educators (one hour). The virtual format allows for role-play simulations developed for elementary, middle, and high school educators that aim to increase knowledge about children’s mental health. The platform is customizable to include a local list of mental health resources. There is a charge for this platform. 
  • Classroom Mental Health (varies). This website aims to be a guide for teachers starting from when they notice mental health concerns or are approached by a student for support. The site addresses common concerns (e.g., Can I help? Should I help?) and provides resources for improving classroom atmosphere and exercises for teachers. This website is free. 
  • Notice.Talk.Act (American Psychiatric Foundation)  teaches about warning signs (NOTICE); how to TALK About Mental Health; and how to ACT appropriately in referring students to resources. The program involves an E-Learning Module (30-40 mins); Classroom Module Designed to be Tailor to your School; Online Assessments; and 18-months of Learning with New Courses based on your Schools Assessments. 
  • Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools program is a school-based, group and individual intervention.  It is designed to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and behavioral problems, and to improve functioning, grades and attendance, peer and parent support, and coping skills. CBITS has been used with students from 5th grade through 12th grade who have witnessed or experienced traumatic life events such as community and school violence, accidents and injuries, physical abuse and domestic violence, and natural and man-made disasters. CBITS uses cognitive-behavioral techniques (e.g., psychoeducation, relaxation, social problem solving, cognitive restructuring, and exposure). 
  • For Educators | MentalHealth.gov – the US Department of Health and Human Services provides information on what educators should know, look for, and do. 
  • With studies identifying the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on student mental health and schools struggling to provide mental health services as a result of the resulting reduced in-person contact, virtual resources that may help are: Partnership to End Addiction Virtual Recovery Resources for Families and SAMHSA Virtual Recovery Resources List and Resources to Support Adolescent Mental Health

Reducing Stigma:  Improve attitudes about mental health and mental illness across students and school staff and providing support in ways that do not increase stigma.

  • Mental health: Overcoming the stigma of mental illness - this article by the Mayo Clinic outlines the harmful effects of stigma and offers steps to address stigma. 
  • NAMI Ending the Silence for School Staff (one hour). The presentation for school staff is designed to be conducted by both a leader and a young adult with a mental health condition who details their experience. The presentation includes information about signs and symptoms, approaching students, and working with families, while allowing time for questions and dialogue. Your local NAMI affiliate offers this presentation free of charge to schools. 
  • The Make It OK campaign aims to eliminate stigma and encourage talking about mental health.  
  • Mental Health 101- Understanding Stigma is a free 20-minute tutorial offered by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health.  
  • Break the Stigma - a video by the Children’s Hospital of Colorado that suggests ways to break stigma and give support.  
  • Changing the Culture on Mental Illness  provides insight into the value of school-based initiatives to take away shame and stigma and promote help for students  
  • The Stigma of Mental Illness | Sam Cohen | TEDxYouth@SRDS – a TED Talk given by a high school sophomore that “implores us to treat mental illnesses as the illnesses that they are, and to move forward as a culture in an accepting and nurturing way in treating these illnesses. In her talk, she explores what it means to be mentally ill in our society."  

 

Integrating Mental Health Literacy and Social Emotional Learning into Student Health and Physical Education 

 

2020 Virginia Mental Wellness/Social Emotional Skills Standards of Learning

The Virginia Health Education Standards of Learning (SOLs) were updated and adopted in 2020. The new 2020 Mental Wellness/Social Emotional Skills standards for Virginia K-12 schools are available HERE.  The full set of 2020 SOLs also identifies standards related to body systems, nutrition, physical health, disease prevention/health promotion, substance abuse prevention, safety/injury prevention, and violence prevention; each of these areas influence and are influenced by mental health wellness and social emotional health. 

 

A Sampling of Student Education and Activity Resources

  • Health Smart Virginia’s Social Emotional Health Resources  section provides numerous SEL resources as does the searchable grade-level content provided on the site.
  • Numerous links to mental health-related instructional resources and videos are offered below. 

Mental Health Wellness Resource Links

Lessons and Activities
3 Activities to Help Kids Manage Anxiety
9 mental health activities to do with your children - BelievePerform
10 Free Lesson Plans for Mental Health | SEL Social Emotional Learning for Schools
10 Therapist (and Child)-Approved Activities to Support Kids with Anxiety — Family Therapy Basics
28 Mental Health Activities, Worksheets & Books for Adults & Students
ActivityBook-NationalChildrenMentalHealthAwareness.pdf
Canadian Mental Health Association Lesson Plans
Child Mental Health Week Toolkit 
Children's Mental Health 
Children's Mental Health Week Resources - Mind Moose 
Children’s Mental Health Week Activity Book 
Children's MH Awareness Week Activities for Youth  
Childhood Depression Screening Test for Children to Complete on Own 
Classroom Activities - MACMH | MACMH 
Classroom Physical Activity Helps Students with Mental Health and Anxiety 
Fun Activities for Kids that Encourage Mental Health – Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia U 
Giving Tuesdays - The Youth Mental Health Project 
Healthy Minds 3rd Grade 
How to Teach Kids Mental Fitness – Healthy Learning Paths 
Interactive Games in Support of Mental Health | Mental Health Delta Division 
Lessons We Missed as Kids: Practicing Mental Health | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness 
Mental Health Activities for High School Students - The Truthful Tutor 
Mental Health Awareness: Free Resources & More | Share My Lesson 
UNICEF Kid Power Videos for Children and Families 
Walk In Our Shoes Lesson Plans 
World Mental Health Day Lesson Plans  
Personal, Mental, and Emotional Health | PBS LearningMedia 
Psychoeducational Handouts, Quizzes and Group Activities | Judy Belmont | Belmont Wellness 
Mental Health Benefits of Exercise in Children | Psychiatric Times 
Study: Kids who participate in team-based extracurricular activities have better mental health 
Mental Health | Ripple Kindness Project 
Mental Health Awareness – Kids Living Well 
Mental Health and Wellbeing - Teaching Resources - BBC Teach 
Mobile Device Applications to Help Manage Child Anxiety and Stress 
NIMH » Children and Mental Health 
Programs Address Need for Youth Mental-Health Resources - The Atlantic 
Sadness and Depression - Kids Health Self-Help Guide for Kids 
Strategies and Activities for Children to Calm Anxiety and Cope 

Other 
Activity: An Inventory of Mental Health Consultation Activities in Our Program 
Anxiety Resources- Anxiety Canada 
Anxiety and Teens -WebMD 
Anxiety and Depression Association of America 
Depression-TeenMentalHealth.org 
Depression Resource Center, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 
Five Mental Health Resources That Can #BeTheDifference - Mental Health First Aid 
Good mental health for children: 3-8 years 
How to #BeTheDifference For People With Mental Health Concerns During COVID-19 - Mental Health First Aid 
How to support your child's mental health during COVID-19 and beyond | World Economic Forum 
Mental Health & Stress Relief | City of Milpitas 
Mental health experts race to help children cope with stay-at-home life amid coronavirus closures | The Seattle Times 
Mindfulness for Teens – Apps and Other Resources 
Mount Cedar Sinai Teens Helping Teens Line 
NAMI Infographic on Youth Mental Health 
National Eating Disorder Association 
Physical Activity in Nature and Children’s Mental Health 
Recognizing Mental Health Problems In Children | Mental Health America 
Talking To Kids About Mental Illnesses 
Self-Care for Kids: 8 Practical Ways to Promote your Child’s Mental Health on a Daily Basis | HealthyPsych.com 
Take A Course - Mental Health First Aid  
Teen Depression, National Institute of Mental Health 
What Are Childhood Mental Disorders? | CDC 
What Every Child Needs For Good Mental Health | Mental Health America 
Why Sitting For Long Periods Can Affect Teens' Mental Health : NPR  
Your child’s mental health - Caring for Kids 

Mental Health Wellness YouTube Videos

FEATURED VIDEOS:

OTHER VIDEOS:

5 Warning Signs That A Child Has Mental Health Problems - YouTube 
5 Do's and Dont's of Dealing with Other's Mental Illness - YouTube 
10 Middle School Movies for Teaching SEL in the Classroom - YouTube 
10 Facts About Teens and Mental Health - YouTube 
25 Amazing COPING SKILLS Everyone Needs - YouTube 
A to Z of coping strategies - YouTube 
Anger Management for Kids (and Adults) - YouTube 
A Student with Mental Illness - YouTube 
Burnt Pages (Youth Mental Health Documentary) - YouTube 
Confronting Stigma Towards Youth Mental Health - YouTube 
Depression: A Student's Perspective - YouTube 
Dr. Sue Varma shares the "four M's" of mental health - YouTube 
Elementary School Mental Health PSA - YouTube 
Fight Flight Freeze – Anxiety Explained For Teens - YouTube 
Fight Flight Freeze – A Guide to Anxiety for Kids - YouTube 
Grounding Techniques in Trauma Therapy - YouTube 
Health Smart Virginia – Alcohol, Tobacco, Drug Use – High School 
Health Smart Virginia – Alcohol, Tobacco, Drug Use – Middle School 
Health Smart Virginia – Alcohol, Tobacco, Drug Use – Elementary School 
Health Smart Virginia – Mindfulness – High School 
Health Smart Virginia – Mindfulness – Middle School 
Health Smart Virginia – Mindfulness – Elementary School 
Health Smart Virginia – Social Emotional Health – High School 
Health Smart Virginia – Social Emotional Health – Middle School 
Health Smart Virginia – Social Emotional Health – Elementary School 
How stress affects your body - Sharon Horesh Bergquist - YouTube 
Increasing Mental Health Awareness in Schools- YouTube 
Living with a Mental Disorder – You Tube 
MCPS Moment - Mental Health and Wellness - YouTube 
Mental Health Awareness - YouTube 
Mental health literacy can be taught in grade school. | Wendy Smith | TEDxLincolnSquare - YouTube 
Mental Health Lesson - “Tennis Ball Toss” Resiliency - YouTube 
Mental Health: The Basics - Introduction - YouTube 
Mental Illness Education for Kids - YouTube 
Module 1.3a What is mental health? - YouTube 
Overcomer Animated Short | Hannah Grace - YouTube 
School Mental Health Literacy Program - YouTube 
School Mental Health Toolkit - YouTube 
Self-Care in Middle School - YouTube 
Self-Care in High School - YouTube 
Supporting Learning about Mental Health in Elementary Health and Physical Education - YouTube 
Talking Mental Health - YouTube 
The Eight Dimensions of Wellness - YouTube 
We All Have Mental Health - YouTube 
What are the 5 Ways to Wellbeing? - YouTube 
What causes anxiety and Depression - Inside Out - YouTube 
What Is Mental Health First Aid? - YouTube 
What Social Distancing Actually Is & What it Means for Mental Health - YouTube 
What is depression? - Helen M. Farrell - YouTube 
What is Social Health? - - A middle school health resource. - YouTube 
Why run mental health sessions in your school? - YouTube 
Why Support Mental Health in Schools? - YouTube