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Toronto Catholic District School Board

Student Mental Health Presentation

by Aloysius Wong, on behalf of the St. Michael’s Choir School Grade 11 Phys. Ed. Class.
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Although mental health is the second leading cause of disability (in Canada), it is not talked about enough.  The members of our grade 11 Phys. Ed. Class and Stop the Stigma team, sought to change this by creating a revolutionary interactive presentation for the grade 7 and 8 students at our school.  Balancing technological innovation and interaction throughout our presentation, we created a workshop that would educate students about mental health and well-being.
As a group, we learned about the struggles that mental illness entails and we used analogies and examples that students could relate to in order to make our presentation relevant. 
Using technology to survey students proved to be useful as we were able to gauge the current health of our audience during the presentation.  Furthermore, we also used it to test their general knowledge on mental health, and tried to ‘Stop the Stigma’ around mental illness.  Incorporating technology helped us to collect data and answer anonymous questions that might not have been asked otherwise.
As part of a physical activity related to mental health, we played an Atom Game, in which the students moved around to form different groups of atoms.  We used this to incorporate analogies of mental illness such as 5 atoms to represent the 1 in 5 people who suffer from mental illness. We also discussed ways to foster good mental health such as 3 atoms representing finding someone you can talk to and trust or hanging out with positive people.
At the end of the presentation, our teacher Mr. Peacock, led a mindfulness session.  He went on to offer strategies to incorporate mindfulness in their everyday lives, like “Taking Five [Breaths] When Crossing a Threshold.”  I believe that this was something that the students can use in their everyday lives.
This presentation has helped ‘Stop the Stigma’ and educated students and staff on mental health.  I believe our presentation was an example of how youth don’t have to wait to create effective, positive change in the world.  By addressing the topic, it helped us overcome our own anxieties and fears and made us realize that mental health affects us all.