Session 1: Introduction
Session 1 discusses mental health problems in general. Very little time is spent discussing signs and symptoms. Instead, we focus on how to tell the difference between transient moods and possible mental health problems.
A mental health problem is major changes in thoughts, feelings and behaviours, which interferes with a person’s ability to do the things they usually do (school work, playing sport, enjoying time with friends and family, etc.), that doesn’t go away quickly. So, if someone is feeling sad, and has for a couple of weeks, and it is making it hard to do the things they need or want to do, they may have a mental health problem.
We also discuss the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviour.
In session one, they watch a video featuring two young people who have recovered from depression and a beyondblue video about school counsellors, psychologists, and psychiatrists.
Session 2: Mental health crises
Session 2 talks about helping a friend who is in crisis, whether because they are suicidal, engaging in non-suicidal self-injury, using alcohol or other drugs, or experiencing bullying or abuse. The Action Plan is introduced for the first time and applied to a crisis situation.
There is a video which shows a young man helping a friend who is experiencing suicidal thoughts. Again, the emphasis is on getting a responsible adult involved.
Participants are told that in a crisis situation it is important to get help right away. It’s best if they can get their friend to agree but even if they can’t, an adult needs to be contacted. Strategies for doing this are discussed.
If your child has lost a friend to suicide, they may want to talk about it after this session. The messages we impart are useful for you to reiterate:
- No one is responsible for another person’s actions.
- Following the guidelines we give them and getting a trusted adult involved as soon as possible is the best way to keep someone safe.
- If they feel guilty that a friend has died by suicide, it’s okay to talk about it – with you, the school counsellor, or someone else – but it is absolutely not their fault.
If you need more information about suicide, suicide prevention and research visit livingisforeveryone.com.au.
Session 3: Developing mental health problems
This final session takes a step back and discusses how to help if someone seems to be developing a mental health problem. We don’t talk about specific problems or teach students how to diagnose problems – it’s advice about being supportive and non-judgmental, encouraging a friend to seek help, and knowing when it’s time to get an adult involved.
In this session students watch two more videos featuring the stories of the two young people from the video in session 1.
This session also talks about how to tell an adult what is going on without the permission of their friend. This can be a hard thing to do but is essential and ultimately, the safety and wellbeing of their friend matters the most. One of the people in the video describes her friends taking this very action. She was angry and hurt at the time but ultimately grateful because she wanted to get better and it was what she needed to take the next step.
Your child will bring their manual home after session 3. There are resources for further information in the back that you may want to explore together.