Let’s Talk About Mental Health

Uneasy about discussing mental health—and its related issues like self-care, anxiety, depression, and suicide—with your students? Here are some resources to start the conversation.

Though rates of suicide, depression, and anxiety continue to be on the upswing, there remains a stigma surrounding mental health, mental illness, and the root causes of psychiatric distress. Without avenues for expression or conversation, many people suffer in silence, failing to receive the support and tools they need to live healthy and satisfying lives.

This “Let’s Talk About” is on mental health, and features articles from “The Mental Health Issue” of YES! Magazine (Fall 2018). Talking about mental health is an essential first step to help your students understand that they are not alone—that other people feel this too—and there are genuine ways to support themselves, their family and friends, and other people in their community. With openness and courage, it will get better.

How to Use This Collection

Suggested below are steps to a thoughtful and meaningful discussion with your students about school shootings. Choose what is appropriate for your class.

1. Students complete a pre-survey  (optional).

2. Choose at least one YES! article and one outside article for a robust compare and contrast.

3. Use the discussion questions—or craft your own—to gauge your students’ understanding and opinions.

4. Students complete a post-survey  (optional).

5. Explore curriculum if you’d like to dive deeper.

Reading Materials

YES! Articles

5 Fake Facts About Mental Health Stigma

The College Mental Health Crisis in 10 Sketches

What is Barbershop Therapy?

I Stopped Playing the Strong Black Woman

BONUS: The Surprising Link Between Your Mental  Health and Everyone Else’s*

*This is a longer article that addresses why anxiety and depression are on the rise.

Outside Resources

Fewer Teens Die By Suicide When Same-Sex Marriage Is Legal (Forbes)

“Insane”: America’s 3 Largest Psychiatric Facilities Are Jails (NPR)

“The Nutritionist” by Andrea Gibson (Button Poetry, YouTube)*

*NOTE: This poem on emotional pain and resilience may be intense for listeners. Here is the transcript.

Discussion Questions

1. Why do you think that many people are silent when it comes to expressing their mental health issues? Describe how this relates specifically to young people. What are ways that we can break the stigma around asking for help? How can we create safe spaces to talk about mental health and better support you and your peers?

2. Sometimes poor mental health is a result of biology, but sometimes it is impacted by external factors. How do systems of oppression affect mental health? Think about racism, sexism, homophobia, misogyny and more. How do you see these outside influences affecting the well-being of your community, your school, your family, your friends or yourself?

3. What are some self-care practices you use to live well, cope with challenges, or overcome difficulties? Describe other tools and supports you would like to try to be a healthy and content person.


5 Strategies for Promoting High Schoolers’ Mental Well-Being (Edutopia)

Speaking to Your Teen About Suicide (Psychology Today)

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