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Let’s talk about mental health

Let’s talk about mental health

Is students ’mental health just an exam stress? No, there are many more, say two teachers of special character education and civic education (CCE) from Deyi Secondary Education. Here’s how schools help students take responsibility for their own mental well-being in line with the revised CCE curriculum.

“Yes, sir, my mother always tells me that if you think that studying is stressful, wait until you get older and things get harder,” said a boy from the 1st High School in Character and Citizenship (CCE). ) Mr. Daniel Pflug’s Dey High School. Mr. Pflug is a specialized CCE teacher who is trained to be a role model and support other teachers in promoting challenging topics in the classroom.

Several other students nod in agreement. Another jokes, “Yeah, they always say everyone goes through it, just tahan ah! ”

“So how does it make you feel?” Mr. Pflug asks.

The first boy shrugs and says, “It’s a little insulting. As if my feelings don’t matter. But it’s okay, I’ll just stop talking about it. “

“Would you say the same to a friend who is going through hard times? What do you think would be better to answer to someone in such a situation? ” – Mr. Pflug suggests.

And so ideas float when students discuss mental health and learn about how they can support each other with empathy.

Students are given time to discuss and role play as they encourage a friend who is facing stress. There are some moments of laughter and easy moments when students act out situations, but there are also many helpful suggestions about what their classmates should or should not say to someone who feels depressed.

Mr Pflug sums it up: “Your mom is right that there will be bigger problems ahead. But it is also natural to sometimes feel overwhelmed. It’s okay to admit it and seek help if you need it. It is good that you will also be better able to deal with problems! ”

It is saturated with various lessons

This is just one example of how mental health is now taught in schools.

While socio-emotional learning has long been a cornerstone of CCE in schools, mental health literacy and care-seeking strategies have been improved in the revised CCE curriculum, which has been gradually being introduced in schools since the beginning of this year.

Topics of mental health for students in Section 1 include useful and harmful strategies for dealing with difficult situations, as well as how students can build resilience through self-control and the use of an external support network. They also learn to look for signs of disaster in their friends.

Mr. Pflug notes that stress for students comes from many sources, not just exams.

“Apart from studying, stress can also be the result of conflict with friends and family or a negative self-image. So we try to make mental well-being messages at every CCE lesson. ”

For example, at the beginning of the school year, students watched a video in which it was difficult to find friends, and discussed how they would cope with feelings of loneliness.

“As 1st grade students who have just moved into a new environment, students can identify with that feeling,” Mr. Pflug says. “In a survey we conducted with a class of students, at least 10 said they were very worried that they would not be able to make friends. So the script is authentic and close to them. ”

Later this year, classes talk about managing relationships with family and friends, such as dealing with disagreements with parents or confronting negative peer influences. Reports of mental well-being are also included in other CCE lessons, such as cyber-healing lessons.

Mr Pflug says: “Taking care of our mental health is much more than just avoiding mental illness. It is about the ability to control your thoughts, feelings and behaviors to effectively cope with the stresses of life. It’s also about being good to others and finding a sense of meaning and purpose in life. All this contributes to our common well-being. “

Even a lesson in national education (NE) on how to get along with neighbors can include elements of mental well-being.

Ms. Eileen Tan, who is also a specialized CCE lecturer, explains: “In this lesson, we talk about scenarios where their neighbors may be going through hard times, and we encourage students to be sensitive to others. Students also ponder how frustration in other areas of their lives can make them more likely to misunderstand or get angry at others. ”

“Mental well-being is an additional layer to many of the topics we are already talking about in CCE!”

The language of sustainability

One thing that consistently occurs in lessons in the revised CCE curriculum is “I am, I can, I am” textbook. It helps students think about who they are and their values ​​(I Am), what they can do to overcome problems (I Can), and the people they can turn to for support (I Have).

For example, in a lesson on cyber health and self-control, students may be asked to reflect on impulsive behaviors they would like to change, such as excessive play or too much time on social media.

Students contrast this with their values. For example, they value responsibility (I), and therefore discuss strategies on how to regulate themselves so that their well-being is not affected by excessive mobile games (I can). They also think about who they can count on to help them stay on track, such as a friend who can remind them to put down their cell phones when it comes time to pick up books (I have).

Mr. Pflug believes that using the Sustainability Handbook for Learning for Reflection gives students the opportunity.

“Reflection has always been a key component of CCE,” he says. “But now we’re not just asking students to think about what went wrong, or give them a list of what can and can’t be done. We reaffirm students by reminding them of the person they want to be and guiding them in finding tools to do so. ”

He also shares that teachers use the same language when guiding students. Consistent messaging reinforces the message and helps students form a resilient mood.

“The goal is to demonstrate to students that they can deal with the challenges they may face in life. They should not feel helpless. ”

Solve sensitivity problems

To encourage students to share their opinions in CCE lessons, teachers group students into small groups or use online learning tools to capture everyone’s answers at once.

Mr Pflug shares: “Some of these topics may be personal, and teens are more likely to be reluctant to share in front of the whole class. Online tools can help because their answers are anonymous. At the same time, students are reassured when they see what their friends are saying and realize that there are others who feel the same way. ”

Teachers also carefully explain lesson objectives and tell the class that they can warn teachers if they feel uncomfortable during class.

“It helps that there are usually two teachers in a CCE class,” Ms. Tan said. “This way, one of them can monitor the students’ reaction and, if necessary, talk to the child outside the classroom.”

She told about a case when a student repeatedly went to the toilet in a lesson of positive self-image. Teachers noticed and later found out that she struggled with body image problems and skipped meals to maintain ideal body weight. Fortunately, the girl responded to the consultation. With the support and involvement of parents, the student found a healthier way to deal with their problems.

“It can be difficult to talk about such problems,” Ms. Tang said. “But it’s better and safer for students to study and discuss them at school than to rely on information online.”

Open conversations

Teachers believe that one of the main differences due to the revised CCE curriculum is the creation of a culture in which one can talk about one’s mental health.

Students clearly explain the signs of disaster and what they can do if they notice these signs in themselves or in their friends. Teachers also noticed that more and more students are willing to talk about the problems they or their friends face.


In Ms. Eileen Tan’s class, mental health posters set the tone that one can talk about these issues and seek help.

“Students also watch each other and tell us if they care about their friend. For example, something is wrong, or if this student missed a break and so on, ”Ms. Tan shared. “Teachers find time to talk to the student privately and intervene if necessary. Raising awareness is good! ”

Ms. Tan and Mr. Pflug add that the mental health lessons and socio-emotional skills learned at CCE are further reinforced by key school experiences and learning opportunities outside the classroom, such as sports and games, team activities, outdoor education air and jewels. Projects in action. Students practice what they have learned as they work and compete in teams.

As Ms. Tang emphasizes: “It is important to recognize that ordinary stress is a natural part of life and cannot be completely avoided. It’s important how we react to it. “

She tells the story of a 1st grade boy who at the end of a mental health lesson seriously asked her, “Why are my classmates stressed? I don’t feel stress at all – is something wrong with me? “

As Ms. Tang says with a smile, “People can react differently to the same situation. We hope that our students will develop resilience and also have the ability to empathize with others! ”

Learn more about how schools care about the mental health and well-being of students in other aspects of school life Helping children feel good or learn how another CCE specialist facilitates the discussion of sensitive issues in Specializes in trust.

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