Mental health challenges are more common than one realizes. As an educator, you play a crucial role in introducing the subject of mental health to your students. In fact, some of your students have probably experienced their own mental health challenges.
The following resources provide information about mental health, a synopsis of the Walk In Our Shoes campaign and a Classroom Facilitation Guide, with accompanying activities, that familiarize students with mental health and wellness.
Introducing Mental Health (Teachers)
About Walk In Our Shoes
Classroom Facilitation Guide
Classroom Lesson Plans
In 2013, Walk In Our Shoes completed a statewide school performance tour, reaching nearly 20,000 students in 31 counties. The musical production is based on four authentic stories from real youth about their experiences with mental health challenges.
Given the success of the production, the performance was videotaped to allow easier and wider dissemination. The webinars below explain more about the play and how it can be integrated into classroom lesson plans. While we encourage you to watch both webinars, the first webinar is required viewing prior to showing the performance in your classroom. Details of how to access the full-length video performance can be found at the end of Webinar #1.
Below you will also find resources and activities directly related to the video performance.
Webinar #1 (Administrators and Teachers)
Webinar #2 (Teachers)
Sample Letter to Parents
Mental illness may not feel like the most important topic to discuss with your child, but as a parent, your role is critically important in learning about, early identification of, and accessing support and treatment for mental illness.
Click below to read more about your role as a parent in teaching your child about mental health.
Introducing Mental Health (Parents)
(1) Network of Care for Behavioral Health is a directory of mental health services offered in your county. This website also provides information about behavioral health services, laws and related news, as well as communication tools and other features.
(2) Disability Rights California provides factsheets on the mental health system and mental health parity.
(3) Mental Health Advocacy Services provides information about mental health specific to parents and caregivers. Find factsheets on how to help a child struggling in school, education assessments and social skill building.
(4) American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. This site is a comprehensive source of information on issues confronting children, teens and their families. The site is designed specifically for families and other caregivers to help them learn about mental illnesses, psychiatric medications, and other resources available to support their child rearing efforts. Some of the resources are available in Spanish and Chinese.
Note: Although the "Facts for Families" link requires use of unzipping software, if users scroll to the "Glossary of Symptoms and Illnesses" or the "Resource Centers" links just below, much of this material can be accessed without the need to unzip.
This fact sheet focuses specifically on how to talk to kids about mental illnesses:
(5) The main site for the American Academy of Pediatrics focuses primarily on physical wellness, however, the following links are to sections of the site that address issues related to mental health.
(6) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The mission of the NIMH is to diminish the
burden of mental illness through research. This site provides current and authoritative information about the latest research on mental illness and it’s treatments.
(7) Bright Futures for Families at Georgetown University offers a variety of materials and resources to help educate parents and caregivers about what to expect at different developmental stages and how to recognize when help is needed.
(8) NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research. Although not directed exclusively at parents and caregivers there are links to local chapters and peer support groups that families may find helpful.
(9) MHA (Mental Health America) is the oldest and largest nonprofit organization in the United States that addresses all aspects of mental health and mental illness. This site provides information about a variety of mental illnesses and their treatments, as well as a directory of local MHA affiliates. The directory will help locate mental health resources that may be relatively near a teacher’s school. This site also includes news regarding the advocacy efforts of MHA and a list of additional mental health resources.
(10) StopBullying.gov is a site managed by the Federal government for the purpose of preventing bullying. There is a section just for parents that provide information on what bullying is, what actions to take, and tips for how to talk to your child if you suspect he or she is being bullied.
(11) Regional K-12 Student Mental Health Initiative is a clearinghouse of resources and regional best practices is provided to assist California county offices of education, districts and schools to develop and implement effective programs and services that promote the mental health and wellness of students in grades K-8, with linkages to preschool and grades 9-12.
(12) Youth Crisis Line 1-800-843-5200
(13) Suicide Prevention Lifeline1-800-273-8255