School-based Mental Health Promotion
Supporting mental health promotion in schools is an important strategy to improving mental well-being for all students. The Pan-Canadian Joint Consortium for school health advocates for a comprehensive ‘whole school’ approach to mental health where policies, learning, and the overall environment of schools work with families and community organizations to support the goal of helping students become healthy, productive members of society.
Mental health promotion programming can happen in a variety of ways, but should fit with the age, and learning level of students.
CMHA works with schools to support the planning and delivery of evidence-based mental health promotion programming for students.
Speak Up – Five Day Program
Mental health literacy, stigma reduction, and empowerment of help-seeking behaviours for youth ages 12 to 18.
What is Speak Up?
Speak Up is a school-based mental health literacy program recommended for grade 7, 9 and 11 students. Speak Up uses an evidence-based approach which works toward three goals; increasing students’ knowledge about mental health and mental illness, breaking down stigma towards people living with mental health diagnoses, and increasing students’ help seeking behaviours. Providing mental health literacy is an important foundation for young people in understanding mental health and mental health diagnoses, developing empathy, and knowing how to get help early if and when they need it.
Speak Up During COVID-19
We have adapted our facilitator training to a virtual format and the content of the training specifically addresses the current realities of you youth mental health. More than ever we are committed to getting more guidance counsellors, clinicians, and educators trained to deliver this critical information to students. CMHA Manitoba and Winnipeg continues to monitor, participate, and share the research that continues to inform our work on supporting student mental health and well-being.
Indigenous Enhancement Complete
In the spring of 2020, the Speak Up curriculum went through a robust examination to determine its current Indigenous competency with several community stakeholders, which included an Elder, Indigenous youth, and Indigenous practitioners. The result of this careful work was the exclusion of many pieces of artwork, rewording of activities, the creation of new activities that create an intentional foundation of Indigenous values and align with CMHA Manitoba and Winnipeg’s commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. We anticipate Speak Up becoming even more safe, relevant and engaging with these necessary additions and look forward to the feedback from Speak Up participants and facilitators.
How is Speak Up Delivered?
Speak Up is set up to be delivered to classrooms (in person or virtually) for one 50-minute class each day over a five-day period. The delivery over five consecutive days is important to build the knowledge and create the space for the conversation about mental health. The program breaks down as follows:
Day 1 – Students develop an understanding of mental health and stigma while incorporating teachings around the land and life.
Day 2 – Students debunk myths around mental illness while learning the power of words and journaling.
Day 3 – Students learn about different mental health challenges and illnesses and use this knowledge to support students through examining case studies.
Day 4 – Trained speakers with lived experience of a mental health challenge or illness share their personal story of recovery.
Day 5 – The final session helps youth identify their own resources, as well as providing resources available in their school and community, provincial and national crisis lines, as well as free apps to use when stress begins.
Speak Up uses a unique classroom delivery approach which includes contact-based education. This brings people who have lived experience with a mental illness into the classroom to educate students by telling their personal stories and allowing time for active discussion. Speaker Bureau Speakers will engage with classrooms via: video; virtual platform(s) or in person in accordance with all Public Health Orders issued by the Province of Manitoba.
CMHA has developed a Training for Facilitators model for delivery of Speak Up in schools. The model is intended to be delivered using a whole school-based approach to mental health promotion and will ensure guidance counsellors, clinicians and educators are supported by CMHA during implementation and beyond. This will also include access to CMHA’s Youth Mental Health promotion team for further coaching; access and coordination of guest speakers through our recently revised Speaker Bureau training and resources for parents including CMHA’s Service Navigation Hub as well as to support and hold a ‘parent night’ either in person or virtually.
Evaluation of Speak Up
Speak Up was evaluated in Manitoba with very positive results in the area of increasing knowledge, social acceptance (empathy) and decreasing stigma associated with mental illness. Evaluation was conducted by Dr. Heather Stuart of Queen’s University in 2014-15.1
Speak Up meets several learning outcomes that are set out in Manitoba’s Physical Education/Health Education curriculum. The specific outcomes are identified in Speak Up training materials and can be found here.
If you have any questions about Speak Up, access FAQs here.
For more information about Speak Up, contact:
James Welsman, BSc (He/Him)
Youth Mental Health Promotion Coordinator
Speak Up Program Lead
To access facilitator resources, click here.
The Canadian Mental Health Association would like to thank Telus for their generous support for the Speak Up project.
Classroom mental health promotion for children ages 9 to 11.
Thrival Kits™ was developed in 2017-18 through a partnership between CMHA and the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth in collaboration with Manitoba teachers.
Thrival Kits™ are personal and classroom resource containers that include a variety of materials and activities designed to encourage simple, yet effective, mental health promotion strategies aimed at students in grades 4-6.
There is much research to demonstrate mental health promotion as an important protective factor against mental illness. Thrival Kits™ incorporate evidence-based mental health promotion practices such as personal reflection, mindfulness meditation, stress reduction and coping strategies, and interpersonal skills development.
Children are introduced to six themes that feature a variety of mental health promotion activities led by their classroom teacher. The activities are done throughout the course of a school year and are designed to help children incorporate effective coping strategies into their daily lives, strengthen their self-esteem and sense of identity, and build greater empathy and understanding of one another.
Thrival Kits™ activities are evidence-based, everyday strategies that promote positive mental health practices. These activities can be customized to best suit individual classroom needs, cultural backgrounds of youth participants, and the skill-levels of teachers. The six themes that guide the activities of the Thrival Kits™ are:
- Understanding the importance of mental health promotion
- Celebrating your gifts, talents and strengths
- Empowering yourself with knowledge of your human rights
- Feeling Grateful for the Present and Planting Dreams for the Future
- Respecting yourself and others
- Living mindfully
Students will create their own personalized Thrival Kit™ that they can use for in-classroom activities, as well as take-home practice at the end of the school year. Each personal Thrival Kit™ contains meaningful materials children can use when practicing mental health activities. The personal Thrival Kits™ are also large enough so that children can add their own materials, such as personalized keepsakes and prompts.
Classroom Thrival Kits™ include all the materials, lesson plans, and activity instructions that the classroom teacher requires to facilitate each of the mental health promotion activities. Lesson plans and activity instructions are available on-line, accessible by teachers to use in audio and videotaped formats. Teachers can select the format that works best for them and their classrooms.
For more information about Thrival Kits™ please contact firstname.lastname@example.org