Exploring Mental Health in the Classroom
Mental Health Resources for Teachers Offered by NFB
At any point during a school year, it is not uncommon to witness students complaining of stomachaches or worrying about homework and tests. While these may seem like run-of-the mill childhood concerns, they can sometimes signal a deeper mental health issue.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, it is estimated that 10% to 20% of Canadian youth are affected by mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
School is one of the biggest stressors in children’s lives today, due to much-sought-after acceptance by peers and high academic expectations from parents and teachers, which can undermine their confidence, cause them to worry, feel anxious, lose sleep, and sometimes stop eating or harm themselves.
The National Film Board educational playlist of films on mental health can be used in the classroom to start the conversation with your students. You may also use the playlist for your own professional and personal development.
Talking about mental health in the classroom
2010 | 1 h 13 min
This is a film about four children with mental illness who thought they were “crazy,” who wrestled with fear, anger, and feelings of hopelessness. This film’s personal tone allows viewers to better understand mental illness and empathize with the children affected.
A Dark Room
2016 | 52 min
This documentary is told through the stories of professional hockey players, physicians and fans of the game. It offers an uncompromising, gritty, and science-based look at how hockey culture, and the stigma that it perpetuates, is contributing to a concussion and mental health epidemic.
Concussions in Youth Sports Virtual Classroom
2016 | 46 min
The NFB, in partnership with Ryerson University, presents a Virtual Classroom about sports, concussions and the pressure to play through head injuries even though mental health issues such as depression and substance abuse typically ensue.
For professional development
Child and Youth Mental Health is a powerful four-part series that offers practical tools for understanding and finding solutions to mental illnesses among children and youth such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis. Each documentary explores causes, symptoms, and treatment, as well as impact on family members.
I. Beyond the Blues: Child and Youth Depression
2004 | 56 min
Through the personal stories of three young people, this compelling documentary traces the journey of depression, from early signs and symptoms to assessment, diagnosis, and treatment, shattering some stereotypes in the process.
II. Fighting Their Fears: Child and Youth Anxiety
2004 | 56 min
For many children, anxiety can interfere with their ability to make friends or even go to school. We hear from experts and also meet three young people in a compelling documentary that outlines the causes, symptoms, and treatments for anxiety disorders.
III. A Map of the Mind Fields: Managing Adolescent Psychosis
2004 | 56 min
Three young people share their personal experience with psychosis, a severe mental disorder that occurs in youth between the ages of 13 and 25. Thoughts and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality. Unless it is properly diagnosed and treated, psychosis can lead to tragic consequences.
IV. Struggle for Control: Child and Youth Behaviour Disorders
2005 | 57 min
This documentary follows the stories of four youth and sheds light on the causes, symptoms, and treatments of three of the most commonly diagnosed behaviour disorders – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Conduct Disorder – while also looking at available community resources.
For personal development
The Myths of Mental Illness
1988 | 56 min
Under mounting pressure at work and in his personal life, a successful journalist “burns out.” The Myths of Mental Illness tells the story of his breakdown and traces his battle to regain his life’s meaning. The film explores life-work balance, drug therapy and psychotherapy.
This post was written by June Rogers, who has served in senior editor and writer positions at Maclean’s, Chatelaine, enRoute and Today’s Parent magazines, as well as at the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada as national editor.