Simple Ways to Bring Mental Health Conversations to Your School This Year

Joy Sheppard
Joy Sheppard

For many of us, mental health has become intertwined into our everyday conversations — chatting with our friends about daily stressors, reading social media posts about managing anxiety, and meeting with a therapist when things feel out of control. However, as commonplace as mental health can feel to some of us, that simply isn’t the reality for many people. There are still so many out there who don’t talk about or even hear about mental health in their daily lives. The good news? You can be the one to help bridge the gap — here are four simple ways to bring mental health conversations to your school this year. 

For those looking to bring together other youth and young adults to discuss mental health and put on events… Active Minds chapters are the place for you! Active Minds chapters are student-led, school-based groups that start conversations, inspire culture change, and undertake advocacy efforts throughout their communities. As an Active Minds Chapter, you’ll have access to various resources, the professional expertise of Active Minds National Staff, and networks of peers – all at no cost. To get started, check out our FAQs to starting a chapter if you want to learn more or our registration form to jump right in.

For those searching for a way to unite people of all different backgrounds through inspiring storytelling… consider booking an Active Minds Speaker for your next school or community event! Our speakers can share on a variety of topics (from specific mental illnesses like depression and anxiety to mental health in the LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities), guaranteeing you’ll find the perfect professional for your audience. Plus, the Active Minds Program Fund supports communities of color, rural communities, high schools, community colleges, and student-focused nonprofits in hosting a speaker without cost being a barrier.

For those eager to increase knowledge about mental healthdownload the Active Minds Peer-Powered Mental Health Curriculum for High Schools for free today! This curriculum can be facilitated in the classroom, at community groups like Boys & Girls Club meetings, or during your Active Minds Chapter gatherings (however, high schools do not need to have a chapter to utilize this resource!). The curriculum contains thirteen discussion guides rooted in mental health literacy and social-emotional development. Whether you’re new to mental health or a seasoned advocate, you and your peers can (and will) benefit!

For those who want to be there for others but don’t always know the right thing to say… consider hosting a V-A-R® training (soon to be A.S.K. — learn more here) at your school! V-A-R® is Active Minds’ everyday tool for everyday conversations, comprised of three simple steps: Validate, Appreciate, Refer®. It helps us learn how to navigate difficult conversations about mental health at school and in our community, with the foundational belief that you don’t have to be an expert to help; you just have to be there. Our stellar trainers will walk your group through the steps, explore circumstances where V-A-R® can be helpful, and discuss the importance of self-care in this process. Book a live training session today!

At Active Minds, we recognize the power that current students have in affecting lasting mental health change, and our goal is to support them in doing so. That is why we have committed to bringing our peer-to-peer mental health programming, like those options listed above, to 1,000 K-12 schools in 1,000 days. Youth and young adults have the passion and power to create a world where mental health is valued and prioritized — we’re here to help them along the way.

If you’d like to learn more about these programs, my team and I would love to see you at one of our upcoming open houses, taking place in Los Angeles, Oakland, Miami, the D.C. metro area, and Charlotte, NC. Learn more and register for free here — we can’t wait to support you in bringing our peer-to-peer programs to your community!