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Module 3

Mental Health for Students and Teachers

Welcome to Module 3: Mental Health affect each and everyone one of us, we take care of our physical health so why not take care of our mental health.  This module aims to shed light on several key topics that are arising in our schools now and provide you with resources, lessons & ideas about these topics such as self image, bullying and decreasing stigma around mental health.  Although we would like to speak in depth about how to help each and every student we simply can’t explore everything within this single module.  Please make use of the links provided for more specific information.

Mental Health for Students and Teachers

The goal of this module is to examine and understand how we can determine what our diverse students need to feel safe and represented in the material. Research tells us that creating and maintaining a positive learning environment, building a learning community, giving consistent feedback in a timely manner, and using the right technology to deliver the right content (Nafukho & Chakraborty, 2014) are key factors in strengthening student engagement in online courses. This module will provide you with the information and opportunities to develop your personalized pedagogical approach towards building healthy, safe, and inclusive Physical Education communities via distance learning.

There are many activities, research articles, videos and ted talks that act as a content for this module, but are also intended for you to use with your students in your own classrooms.  Please work through the material at your own pace as some videos and content may be difficult to engage with for some.  If you need help or need to speak to a counsellor please speak to someone close to you, or call 911 if it is an emergency.  There are many resources and organizations dedicated to this in your province and Wellness Together Canada is a Canada wide company that offers free counselling or if you want something day to day you can use their phone app to learn about mental health, practice good behaviours and track your progress.

The Big Ideas

1- Building Blocks

Starting the Conversation about Mental Health in PHE

Teaching has rapidly evolved and has quickly adapted to including technological in our pedagogy.  Whether it's using google classroom, sharing and editing each other's work online, or working through an online activity, our students need to become good digital citizens and learn to communicate with their classroom peers and practice these skills for them to communicate with fellow co-workers in the future. As educators, it is our role to set the foundation of building blocks to help students become smart, conscientious, and innovative beings both behind the screen and in person.


Who experiences Mental Health?  And what is it?

     Mental Health affects each and everyone one of us.  We take care of our physical health so why not take care of our mental health.  This module aims to shed light on several key topics that are arising in our schools now and provide you with resources, lesson ideas and professional discussions about these topics.  Although we would like to speak in depth about how to help each and every student we simply can’t explore everything within this single module.  Please make use of the links provided for more specific information

As physical and health educators, we can loose touch with with our co-workers because of all the demands put on us (i.e. running intramural at lunch).  The pandemic didn't help matters, from the constant changing of class locations, virtual to in-person and some PHE teachers loosing their gymnasiums entirely so that math and english classes could all be taught at once while social distancing. PHE teachers were left with questions about how can they authentically assess their students or teach them physical literacy over a camera!


There is an overwhelming feeling among PHE teachers of feeling marginalized and there is research to show this.  PHE teachers suffer from burnout earlier in their careers, compared to teachers from other subjects which isn't surprising considering the lack of support for our efforts of organizing team trips and running tournaments.  Every teacher works hard and organizes special events for their students, however other subjects are often deemed as important so they get the recognition and support they need, but research shows that physical health and education programs are lacking in this area, creating the divide and sence of marginalization of physical health and education teachers.

Activity: Teachers Prioritize Yourself

effects of marginalization on school PE programs.png

When you read this article consider your perspective and consider:

  1. Have you felt marginalized in your current position?  And did the article help you find solutions?

  2. How often have you advocated for PHE and physical literacy with parents who don't view it as necessary?

  3. Do you suffer from teachers burnout - or have a colleuge that does?  what are some ways you can get or give support?

  4. Do you agree that a PHE department website would be useful in educating parents and showcasing what PHE has to offer?


     hrough the research, it also became apparent that PE programs are suffering extreme marginalization compared to other subjects and that PE teachers are feeling a large sense of ―burnout early in their careers

                                                                                                 Laureano, J. et al. (2014)

Checking in with our Community

This module wouldn't serve its purpose if we didn't take care of our community and check-in with everyone enrolled in these modules with the PHE Wise Digital Culture Lab. Checking in may seem such a small gesture but it can have a huge impact on the mood, mental health and overall disposition of you, your students, your co-worker, family or friend you are checking in with. 

group work (11).jpg

Please take a few moments complete this survey, as a participant, for our research purposes

Activity - Personal Risk Factors Checklist

In answering the questions above, did you find some that resonated more with you?  Or some that fit your lifestyle more than others?  We often know what our triggers are, or things we need to make sure we monitor our behaviour to stay our healthiest physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  Which is why having students create their own checklist could be an eye opening experience.  They may think they are doing great, eating good food all the time, moderating their social media and computer game usage but in reality it isn't until we take a step back, do we really see the big picture.

                               Create your own checklist first and use it for a week, a month or a few days.  It will show you the benefit and perhaps shed some light on which one of your students it could help.  Use google forms, excel, a word doc, notes app on your phone to create your list to review each day and share a picture on this wakelet.


We don't need to tell you that every student is different, which is why having them develop their own questions could reflect specific things they need to keep track of, for example:


Mood Tracker - Google Forms_edited.jpg

1) What was your sleep quality?

2) Have you taken tech breaks lately? (no tech before bed, or not using a certain app)

3) Have you scheduled your time appropriately by giving yourself breaks?

4) What are your emotional and physical pain scores today?

5) Are you staying hydrated?

6) Nature, pets , spiritual beliefs, etc.

​These questions may seem simple, but to someone having a difficult day, week or even a difficult year, the simple act of checking in could go a long way. 

The website has created a 10 question check in (shown below) that you can use as starting point for your students. 

just-checking-in-journal image.jpg


1. How are you feeling today, really? Physically and mentally.

2. What’s taking up most of your headspace right now?

3. What was your last full meal, and have you been drinking enough water?

4. How have you been sleeping?

5. What have you been doing for exercise?

6. What did you do today that made you feel good?

7. What’s something you can do today that would be good for you?

8. What’s something you’re looking forward to in the next few days?

9. What’s something we can do together this week, even if we’re apart?

10. What are you grateful for right now?

Self identify your own risk factors and protective factors and monitoring them can increase self awareness and help develop more positive behaviours and protective factors.  Some people may do this mentally and self reflect by thinking; "I haven't been sleeping well, that's probably why my mood is off"  or  "the construction is making my commute to school even longer, I wonder if that's why I'm more irritable?'".  It's more likely that adults self-reflect on our behaviour more than our students do, which is why this could be a great activity for your students in any grade.

There are several ways of doing this, from a simple paper and pencil check list, to a creative dot journal entry (see picture above, bottom left).  Students can even create a google form or a simple phone application that promps them with questions and tracks their answers.  Having diversity in the delivery of this self check will give student autonomy over which method resonates with them and increases their likelihood of using this as a self tracker or daily mood tracker.

Activity - Student's Check in Buddy

The above activity was to teach student to monitor their own mental health and promote autonomy.  This activity will show students that supporting others is just as important.  Even if someone doesn't personally have battles with their own mental health, that doesn't mean they can't be involved in helping others through a difficult time.  This video interviews of teenagers about their mental health during the COVID pandemic and school shut-downs. It's very relatable and can be used in conjunction with this activity or another one you have in your teaching arsenal.

Secret Buddy

Students will choose a SECRET check in buddy.  Your students will then create a digital journal and document when and how they helped their secret buddy. By 'secret' we mean that the buddy can't know they are writing a journal about what strategies your student is using to help their buddy and it's important to also keep their buddy's name secret for obvious reasons.


You may add a self-reflection to this assignment, because building empathy in students to open up and start the conversation about mental health and teach them how to have real conversations and build trusting relationships is very important



Students could pick anyone who they see on a regular basis (weekly)


Students will document how they have tried to help their secret buddy, what strategies did they used? and how it made them feel or their buddy feel.  Try to have students stay away from names, or specific stories about what their buddy is going through etc. as this is not the point of the exercise.


You decide, however, as this is a mental health issue and we can't predict them.  So we recommend having the student complete 4-6 journal entries over the course of the semester or term.


This journal will allow your students to keep track of how they helped their buddy, what worked etc. 

Digital Journal Templates

MH Buddy Journal.png

Consolidation, depending on the grades you are teaching, could be anywhere between building relationships with friends to demonstrating how discussing mental health and physical health could benefit everyone.

The more we include mental health discussions into everyday conversations, the more we can educate people and break the stigma around mental health.


De-stigmatizing mental health in our classrooms is so important and it doesn't mean we have to talk about it all the time. It merely means allowing our students to be free to talk about their mental health without judgment from peers, teachers, family or friends.  As teachers we have a duty to help our students understand that being healthy includes everything, physical health, mental health, sexual health and emotional health.

Talking about Stigma

        he main reasons for (not) seeking and accessing professional help given by young people are those related to mental health stigma and embarrassment, a lack of mental health knowledge and negative perceptions of help-seeking."


                                                                                                   Radez, J. et al. (2021)


Why do children (not) seek and access professional help for mental health.png

Activity - Article & Jamboard

A School-Based Intervention for Mental Illness Stigma: A Cluster Randomized Trial