Session 1: Healthy minds
Session 1 discusses mental health problems in general. Very little time is spent on 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, enjoying time with friends and family), that doesn’t go away quickly. So, if someone is feeling sad, and has done 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.
After session 1, your child might wish to find out more about mental health problems. You may like to explore the following sites with them:
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 First Aid
Session 2 focuses on learning the teenMHFA Action Plan, and thinking about the best adults to help with a mental health problem or crisis.
There is a video which shows a young woman helping a friend who is developing a mental health problem and some significant stresses in her life. Again, the emphasis is on getting a responsible adult involved. Another video shows the roles of a school counsellor, psychologist and psychiatrist.
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 they can’t, an adult still needs to be contacted. Strategies for doing this are discussed.
Mental health crises are not emphasised in this course. However, suicide is discussed briefly in this session. 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 a good way to do their best in keeping someone safe.
- If they are feeling guilty that a friend has died by suicide, it’s okay to talk about it – with you, or 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:
Session 3: Putting it into practice
This final session allows participants to start practicing their skills. We don’t talk about specific problems or teach students how to diagnose problems – it’s advice about being a supportive friend, encouraging the friend to seek help, and knowing when it’s time to get an adult involved. The session uses a lot of group discussion and small group activities.
In this session students also watch two more videos; both featuring the stories of the two young people in the video in session 1.
Your child will bring their manual home after session 3. There are resources for further information in the back and you may want to explore them together.