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As we settle into a new school year, we are grateful to largely be returning to safe, healthy in-person learning. Beyond just a ‘return to normal,’ though, we hope to demonstrate that we have emerged from the pandemic stronger than before. One of the significant issues we, as an education-focused community, have confronted over the past year and a half is mental health. Going forward, we want to offer better support and encouragement to students, teachers, and staff who may be experiencing lows or struggling with their mental health. 

Many IB schools offer an excellent selection of in-school resources, not to mention equipping students with many of the skills they need to articulate their own mental health struggles and support their peers. That said, every individual is unique, and we wanted to share some resources that young people, and the adults who work with them, could use at their own discretion to address mental health struggles and cultivate a deeper understanding of how these issues affect us all. Below you will find some great online mental health resources that can be used throughout the year. 

1. Mindful.org

In addition to encouraging young people to discuss their mental health, it is always valuable to empower them with quality resources that they can explore independently. This allows them to better understand how they are feeling and comprehend the world of mental health a little better. Mindful.org is a website that shares content, training, courses, and more – all around the topic of mental health. From meditation to mental health in professional settings, they cover a wide range of topics in a thoughtful and accessible way.

2. Change to Chill

This is a resource website that provides mental health articles, activities, and lesson plans. A valuable springboard for teachers looking to incorporate more mental health material into their lessons plans, these resources are free and designed specifically for students who require support in confronting anxiety and incorporating healthy habits into their routine. They also have a stress quiz to help figure out the root of stress and how to manage it best.

3. Calm Harm 

Calm Harm is an app designed to help people resist or manage the urge to self-harm. It was developed for teenage mental health charity stem4 by Dr. Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist. It was created using the basic principles of an evidence-based therapy called Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), and it is private and password protected. As they state clearly on their website, though, the app can aid in treatment but does not replace it. Here is an additional list of resources for anyone who is struggling with the urge to self-harm and for teachers who want to support their students. 

4. Students Against Depression 

This is an incredibly useful resource for students and teachers. It offers advice, information, guidance, and help to those affected by low mood, depression, and suicidal thinking. The story of this project starts with the sad loss of two bright young men to suicide and their families’ decision to reach out to other people suffering the effects of depression and suicidal thinking. It has a very intuitive layout that allows visitors to select from a menu of how they are feeling at the time to get specific and targeted resources. It also has a feature for young people to upload a short (up to one minute) video of themselves talking about how they cope with depression and anxiety; as a positive step to supporting others.

5. The AAKOMA Project 

This initiative is focused on helping adolescents and young adult people of color overcome stigmas around mental health. They seek to raise awareness, conduct research and provide culturally relevant clinical support in their communities. In addition, they work to change the perception that mental health care is only for the wealthy by making it more accessible to everyone, regardless of their identity, background, or income. On their website, you can find free resources and even sign up for free virtual therapy.

6. Mentally Healthy Schools

This website offers a range of resources to support schools in addressing mental health. Two particularly useful tools are the emotional check-in, a tool to facilitate emotional check-ins with pupils, and an anxiety thermometer that can serve as a wellbeing measurement tool. 

7. Mental Health Literacy 

Their mission statement emphasizes that they are committed to creating and delivering the highest quality mental health literacy information, research, education, and resources—and they stay true to their promise. They provide material in various mediums that include videos, animations, brochures, e-books, face-to-face training programs, and online training programs. Everything offered here has been specifically designed to meet the needs of children, youth, young adults, families, educators, community agencies, and health care providers. Their resource page contains plenty of accessible material that could serve as a launching pad for mental health discussions in the classroom. 

Ultimately, it is up to all of us to ensure mental health education, support, and resources become an integrated part of our classrooms and learning environments. That is why we have chosen to focus our upcoming CAS Virtual Conferences on Mental Health and Wellbeing. Our conference has been developed to help bring mental health into the curriculum in a thoughtful and accessible way. Set over two days, the weekend event will feature keynote speakers from leading global organizations, such as the United Nations, discussion circles, and a Charity Hackathon challenge—all geared towards addressing mental health and wellbeing. You can learn more about programming and how to get involved here.

Photo credits: Dustin Belt via Unsplash.com. 

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