Mental Health Awareness Week – Schools Activity
Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual event founded and hosted every May by the Mental Health Foundation. This year the theme is Loneliness.
A recent study by Young Minds found that 69% if young people felt alone often or sometimes and 59% regularly felt they had no one to talk to.
It’s really important that we support young people to recognise when they are experiencing loneliness and identify how they can manage these feelings, including the connections and supportive networks they can access.
Loneliness is affecting more and more of us and has a huge impact on our physical and mental health. Connections to other people are key to protecting our mental health and wellbeing.
Suggested Classroom Activities
We’ve prepared some short activities that range from 15-30 minutes each, to support you in the classroom each day during Mental Health Awareness Week. These activities will help raise awareness of the topic of loneliness and mental health.
In groups, think about what loneliness means and how it makes us feel. Perhaps students could think of a time they felt lonely. We would recommend making the activity visual by using sticky notes and creating a sticky note wall or by asking students to write down their thoughts on big A3 pieces of paper.
It’s really important that young people know that feeling lonely is a normal feeling to have and that you’re going to spend your week exploring loneliness to help everyone’s understanding.
Spend time with your students exploring how different situations can make us feel lonely but others might not feel lonely. Use the scenario task resource in the downloads below. You could print the scenarios and in groups the students could feed back to the rest of the class about their scenario. Or the teacher could go through each scenario and allow time for input from the students. Encourage students to consider if this scenario would make them feel lonely whilst acknowledging how other students feel.
A nice way to help combat general loneliness is by encouraging students to think about how they listen to one another. Feeling heard can have a great positive impact when we are feeling lonely.
A full body listening activity resource can be found in the resource pack. Students can work individually or in groups. At the end, reflect on how we feel when we know someone has really listened to us.
When we experience loneliness, often we can go down a path of having negative thoughts about ourselves which can really impact our self-esteem. It’s helpful to distract ourselves from having these negative thoughts by focusing our mind on something else.
Today’s activity is to create ‘positivity dice’. Find the template in the resource pack. Cut and glue the cube to create the dice. On each face of the dice is something to think about. Each student can play with the dice on their own or with a friend when they feel lonely. The different faces ask different questions students should really focus on and answer either to themselves or with someone.
What can you do when you feel lonely? On the last school day of Mental Health Awareness Week, this is a good opportunity to take some time to talk about what you can do when you feel lonely. Some of the students may have come up with some good ideas during the week. It’s important to emphasise that everyone is different but there are some things we might find useful that can help. As a class, it would be great if you could come up with your own 5 top tips of how to support yourself when you feel lonely, which you can complete on the poster template resource and hang up in your classroom. We have provided some of our own top tips that you can also share with the class.