Lesson 2: Getting Help

Caring Minds (Grades 7-12) > Well-Being, Health Care and Treatment > Lesson 1: Care and Treatment

Lesson 2: Getting Help

Starter: Coping with mental health stress  (15 minutes)

  • Ask students to think of a time when they experienced a stressful event (eg moving house, divorce, studying for exams, break-up of a relationship). How did they act during that time? What did they do or not do? How did they act towards friends, parents, teachers? How would people have described their behaviour at that time? How did they interpret their feelings and conduct at the time? How do they view them now, in retrospect? What might they do differently?
  • (Optional) Ask students to turn to a partner and share and discuss their stories.
  • Write the list of behaviours on the board. (Possible answers: stayed in my room, cried, avoided friends, was argumentative, had trouble sleeping, etc)
  • Highlight the healthy strategies (talked to someone, wrote in their journal, exercised etc) and the not so healthy strategies (ignoring/avoiding the situation, not talking about it)
  • Today they are going to take closer look at their strategies.

Discussion: When Do We Need Help? (5 minutes)

  • Discuss with the students how their reactions are typical or “normal” reactions to stressful events. It doesn’t always make them the best reactions, but they are what we would expect. After a while most people are able to overcome the stress and there is no need for concern. Often with a little time and help from friend, family member etc they stop acting out, are able to get enough sleep, their appetite returns etc. However, when the behaviours and feelings of stress, frustration, anxiety etc., continue for extended periods of time, get worse, and or start to interfere with their daily life, then this becomes a concern.
  • Most people bounce back from a stressful event or experience, however, it is important to be aware that prolonged stress or ongoing difficulty coping is a situation that needs attention from a helping professional such as a counsellor, a family physician, or a support worker.

Activity 1: Support Systems (15-20 minutes)

  • Ask the students to get into groups of four and ask them to discuss the following:
  • Many people turn to a friend or family member for support with mental health issues. If you were to turn to someone for help (many of you already have) what are things that person can do or say that would be helpful? What would not be helpful? Think of your past experiences.
  • Discuss the implications for helping a friend or for seeking help from some one. Would you seek help if you thought someone wouldn’t believe you? Would someone turn to you if you made fun of people with mental illness?
  • Having someone supportive to talk to is a key factor in preventing suicide. Many suicidal youth report feeling isolated and not having anyone to talk to about what is going on.
  • If you can’t support the person in the way that they need, then help them find someone who can (i.e. teacher, doctor, counsellor, nurse, etc)
  • Mention NEED Crisis and Information line and e-counselling
    • local crisis lines – supply students with numbers
    • www.youthspace.ca – Support online–chat, forum and email
  • Share with the class the resource “How to help a Friend” (RESOURCE 2A) Ask if there are any questions or comments.

Activity 2: What if Scenarios (20 minutes)

  • Explain to students that they will be engaging in a problem-solving activity where they will be discussing a range of situations involving young people and possible solutions.
  • Divide the students into groups and provide each group with a set of scenarios. (RESOURCE 2B)
  • Each student takes a turn picking a card and speculating what to do in that situation. Other students help out by providing their ideas, questions and challenges.
  • When finished ask the class to come back and discuss the activity.

Closure:  (5 minutes)

  • What would you do or who would you turn to for help if you or someone you know was struggling with a mental health problem?


2A Support Systems
2B What if Scenarios

Additional Resources