Over the last couple of weeks, our Grade 9 students have been learning about how to care for their physical and mental wellbeing. As part of the Grade 9 Healthy & Active Living curriculum, Mr. MacNeil has led the students through units on nutrition, exercise, personal fitness, and mental health, giving these teens tools to use through the often, challenging, teen years. Through group discussion and in-class activities, they learned about warning signs and coping strategies related to stress, anxiety, sadness, and mood management. The students also discussed how to get adult help to support a friend with feelings of sadness, anxiety, hopelessness, or worthlessness; negative thoughts about oneself, others, and the future; thoughts of suicide.
One of the most important strategies is making healthy choices and developing healthy habits – getting enough sleep, following healthy eating practices, and staying physically active. Students were guided to take control of what they have to do – decide what’s important, and what they can let go; realize that no-one is perfect. They were also encouraged to replace negative thoughts with more balanced thoughts, and to schedule breaks and fun activities.
Here are a number of resources:
CHEO is one of the largest providers of child and youth mental health services in Ontario. More than 3000 children visit CHEO’s Emergency department with a mental health crisis each year. At least 500,000 Ontario children – up to one in five – have difficulties that are diagnosed as a serious mental illness, and sadly the numbers are still on the rise (taken from CHEO website December 3, 2015): http://www.cheo.on.ca/en/cheomentalhealth
Helpguide.org has both a Teen’s Guide To Depression and a Parent’s Guide To Depression, as well as a number of resources for the whole family.
AnxietyBC has a very extensive amount of information and videos on anxiety, and an app for youth: http://www.anxietybc.com/
Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) has experienced counsellors kids can talk to anonymously 24/7. They also have an app.