It is crucial then, now more than ever, to foster resilient students by providing positive role models. Our featured heroes contribute to the well-being of others through their triumphs in the face of mental illness, as well as through research, a commitment to education and advocacy, and personal connection.
Mental Health Awareness Week was established in 1990 to educate the public about mental illness, fight stigma and provide support.
The following film is appropriate for all grade levels dealing with the stress of the coronavirus.
Coach West helps navigate students and teachers through the emotional fallout of COVID-19 with helpful tips.
Additional Helpful Resources to use During the Coronavirus
Teaching Tolerance article: A Trama-Informed Approach to Teaching Through Coronavirus
Experts from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network share their recommendations for educators supporting students during the COVID-19 crisis.
Ellen Haller, a professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco, discusses the impacts of the pandemic on mental health and provides advice for how cope with these challenging times.
Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka shed a light on mental health.
After reading the stories about Simone and Naomi, have a class discussion on the importance of shining a light on mental health and taking care of one's own mental health.
Simone Biles had to make a difficult decision during the 2021 Olympics to protect her physical and mental health and withdrew from the Team competition. Read this story from the Christian Science Monitor to learn more and see how her team supported her decision.
Middle and High School students read the following stories about heroes who live with mental illness and consider the discussion questions.
Michael Phelps is a competitive swimmer who won 26 Olympic medals, the most of any Olympian.
Misty Copeland is the first ever African American principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre. Growing up, she struggled with frequent anxiety and panic attacks.
Demi Lovato is a singer and actress who speaks up about her struggles with bulimia and bipolar disorder.
Great for ESL/ELL Students
The following story about Dorothea Dix, an advocate for the mentally ill who established the first mental asylum in the United States, is available in text and audio so students can listen as they read long.
2. How is Misty Copeland an example of a woman who overcame obstacles and didn't let her anxiety stop her from achieving her goals. What obstacles do you face and how do you work to overcome them?
3. Demi Lovato has used her struggles with mental illness as a platform to bring awareness to mental illness. Who else is working to bring awareness to the struggles of mental illness and bring treatment to those who need it?
4. Dorothea Dix worked to improve the lives of those suffering from mental illness. How has dealing with mental illness changed over the years?
Learn about the artist Vincent Van Gogh, who suffered from mental illness.
The following story about Vincent Van Gogh has text and audio, allowing students to listen as they read along. Great for ESL/ELL students.
Then analyze Corridor in the Asylum and compare it to other art by Vincent Van Gogh.
Students watch one or all of the following films that deal with mental illness and consider the discussion questions and activities.
Earl Granville does physical challenges carrying a cinder block as a symbol that none of us is alone. (11:32 minutes)
Veterans speak about the challenges of post-traumatic stress disorder and how their service dogs help. (4:50 minutes)
A brief and powerful first-hand account from high school student, Max, who must navigate through the world of ADD and all the medications that come along with it.
2. What is PTSD? Do you know anyone who has had to deal with PTSD? How do they deal with the challenges this disorder causes?
3. The film Minimum Max addresses the challenges of ADD and the effect medication has on Max, the main character. Do you know anyone who has an attention deficit disorder?
4. Do you know anyone who lives with mental illness? What obstacles have they overcome? Share their story with MY HERO.
Stories about Mental Health for Younger Readers - by Younger Readers
"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced."
MY HERO Recommends Mental and Emotional Health Support and Resources
The MY HERO Project works to promote future heroes for our world, and we firmly believe that anyone can be a hero. But we also know that sometimes people are struggling and may need extra support: it’s the human condition. The following mental and emotional health support resources are here if you need them.
A new story book that aims to help children understand and come to terms with COVID-19 has been produced by a collaboration of more than 50 organizations working in the humanitarian sector, including the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and Save the Children. ©IASC, 2020. This publication was published under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 IGO license (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO; https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/igo).
With the help of a fantasy creature, Ario, “My Hero is You, How kids can fight COVID-19!” explains how children can protect themselves, their families and friends from coronavirus and how to manage difficult emotions when confronted with a new and rapidly changing reality.
Click here for the story in English.
Click here for choice of language translations of the book.
Learn about a New Hero Every Day of the Year: Use the MY HERO Calendar in the Classroom
Students can share their Hero Essays, Films and Art through our Create Program
Organizer created on 9/5/2019 1:41:17 PM by Laura Nietzer
Last edited 9/21/2022 12:49:58 PM by Laura Nietzer