On My Mind aims to support positive mental health and well-being through the transfer of social-emotional and mental health literacy from teachers to their students. The program is developed to develop complex skills in children over the course of 20 lessons under the guidance of a trained teacher equipped with a detailed manual. Through comprehensive lesson plans, an implementation manual, and training, teachers are trained to support students in learning about mental health and well-being. The teachers follow detailed Lesson Plans and facilitate the transfer of life-long skills in managing emotions and stress, communicating, coping with conflicting and challenging situations, building healthy relationships, and appropriately identifying and dealing with mental health problems.
The On My Mind curriculum consists of 20 lesson plans lasting 45 minutes each, teaching five main themes: mental health, emotional literacy, relationships, communication, and mental health first aid. The curriculum is intended to be delivered over the course of a school year with a consistent teacher and class, averaging one lesson plan per week, as the knowledge and skills students learn are built upon in subsequent lessons.
Each lesson teaches students 3 key takeaways using a variety of teaching methods including lectures, experiential exercises, pair activities, group activities, practices, reflection, observation, individual activities, and discussions. Throughout the course of the curriculum, students journal 3 key takeaways and 1 personal discovery after each lesson. Every lesson ends with a brief fact followed by an experiment, giving students encouragement to actively practice mental health promoting practices over the course of the week.
Aim and content description
3: Mental health
4: Brain and hormones
5: Stress in our bodies
Students are introduced to the program administered pre-questionnaires assessing levels of socio-emotional competence, well-being and mental health literacy are administered. Students learn about mental well-being and the effect of stress and hormones on mental health.
7: Emotional regulation
Students learn to recognise and accept their emotions and thoughts and to improve their ability to regulate their emotions and behaviour.
10: Knowing myself
11: Relationships with others
12: Building empathy
Students realise the importance of relationships both with self and others, and learn healthy relationship skills including developing and practicing empathy, respect, and kindness.
13: Communication basics
14: Communicating emotions
15: Healthy communication
Students deepen their communication skills, learn to better deal with conflicting and challenging situations and realise their agency in behaviours and communication strategies.
Mental health first aid
16: It’s OK not to be OK
17: Mental health care
18: Seeking help
19: My mental health plan
Students learn signs and symptoms of mental health problems, types of mental health care, and help-seeking knowledge and resources and create an individualized mental health strategy. Students integrate new knowledge and administer questionnaires to assess post-program levels of social-emotional competencies, well-being and mental health literacy.
Teacher training and manual
All On My Mind teachers are provided a comprehensive training and a corresponding manual with necessary theoretical and practical information about delivering the curriculum. The training and manual aim to support successful implementation of the curriculum, including foundational knowledge, skills, and attitudes related to mental health literacy and social and emotional learning, and to provide hands-on practice delivering lesson plan components. The training is delivered over 3 days with 8 hours of content each day totaling 24 hours of training. Training is accredited by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. On My Mind teachers are trained by professionals from the field of mental health and well-being covering topics such as mental health and mental health problems, the key role of teachers in the program, principles and theory of mental health literacy and social and emotional learning, self-care tools for the teachers, pedagogical skills important for delivering the curriculum, and theoretical and developmental underpinnings of the themes and activities within the On My Mind curriculum.
Mental Health Literacy
On My Mind is comprised of principles from mental health literacy (MHL) with social and emotional learning (SEL) which are foundational to life-long mental health and well-being.
MHL is the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue positive mental health, it increases people’s resilience and control over their mental health and ability to cope with the stressors in life. Integrating MHL into daily situations enhances appropriate help-seeking behavior. MHL consists of 4 components:
- understanding how to achieve and maintain good mental health
- understanding mental disorders and their treatments
- decreasing stigma related to mental disorders
- enhancing help-seeking efficacy
On My Mind lesson plans teach developmentally appropriate knowledge and foster healthy attitudes towards mental health, addressing across all four components. On My Mind also aims to improve skills which can aid students to appropriately identify individual needs and to seek help for themselves and others. Social and emotional learning (SEL) is robustly supported by research in its role in achieving and maintaining good mental health in schools. SEL is a process that can contribute to improving an individual’s well-being through learning to better understand and manage emotions, setting and achieving positive goals, feeling and showing empathy for others, establishing and maintaining positive relationships, and fostering resilience in the face of stressors (CASEL 2020). On My Mind draws from the field of SEL in order to ensure that students are supported in developing necessary skills and competencies which support their mental health, including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.
Benefits of MHL
MHL programs can have long-term and far-reaching effects, including: