In this session we will explore mental well-being – looking after you own as well as that of those around you.
Young people will:
- Discuss factors that impact mood and what we can and can’t control
- Explore factors influencing high and low self-esteem
- Be able to identify strategies that may help improve low mood or low self-esteem
- Be able to talk to others about issues surrounding mental health
- Blank cards or scrap paper
- Sticky Notes
- Flip chart paper
- Hat / Container
- Read the entire session plan and familiarise yourself with the activities.
- Ensure you have enough paper and sticky notes for the exercises.
PROCEDURE: Total Time 90 MINUTES
Introduction – 5 mins
Introduce the topic by reading the aims of the session.
Warm Up Game – 10 mins
This game starts to explore things that might cause stress.
- Everyone sits in a circle and each person is given a number, number yourself as the facilitator number one.
- Explain that we are going to slap, clap and click in rhythm.
- Start a slow rhythm that everyone copies, e.g.:
- Both hands slap thighs once.
- Clap hands once.
- Click fingers one at a time.
- Repeat a couple of times.
- Once the group are familiar with the rhythm. The facilitator explains that we are going to call out numbers on the clicks, in order to pass the rhythm around the group. Demonstrate by starting up the rhythm – slap thigh once, clap hands once and on first finger click say your own number (one) and on second finger click say another group members number, e.g. number 6. Then on the next round of the rhythm, number 6 says their number on first click, and another group member number, and it passes to them, and so on.
- Repeat until everyone has had their number called, keeping the rhythm at all times!
- If you wish to make it harder, people can be ‘out’ if they don’t say the numbers on the clicks of the fingers. This means numbers will then be ‘missing’ which everyone needs to remember!
- Or you could speed up the rhythm to make it more stressful.
- At the end of the game, ask the group if they found the game to be stressful. Describe feelings. Could they concentrate? If not, why not?
Step into the Circle – 10 mins
This is an exercise about feelings and emotions.
- Ask everyone to stand in a wide open circle.
- Tell the young people you are going to read out some statements and if they think a statement applies to them they should take a step forward in to the circle. If they don’t feel it applies to them they should not move. Read out the following statements:
- Take a step into the circle if you can’t get to sleep sometimes because of over- thinking
- Take a step into the circle if you get angry easily
- Take a step into the circle if you feel stressed some of the time
- Take a step into the circle if you feel low sometimes
- Take a step into the circle if you don’t feel very motivated
- Take a step into the circle if you get flustered easily
- Take a step into the circle if you often focus on the negative
- Take a step into the circle if you worry a lot
This exercise will usually result in most people in the enter of the circle at some point..
Questions to ask the group:
- What does this exercise tell us?
- Can anybody experience poor mental health?
- How does our body tell us that we are stressed?
- If most people experience poor mental health at some point in their lives, why is there still a level of taboo surrounding it?
Impactors – 30 mins
This is an activity that looks at the things that have an impact on how we feel. This might work well as a whole group, or spilt into smaller groups – use your judgement of what will work best.
- Sit the group in a circle and ask them to imagine the first five minutes after they (or someone else) wakes up in the morning. Tell them to imagine they are in a “good” mood.
- What might happen in the rest of the day to bring them down or impact on their good mood? You can use prompts, asking the young people to think about breakfast, travelling to school or college, other people who might come in to contact with. Ask them to write each thing/event on a separate sticky note.
- Bring the group back together with their piles of sticky notes.
- On a sheet of flip chart paper, draw a bucket full of water. Explain that the water represents our well-being and ability to cope with life. The bucket is full to the brim with water… we have a bucket full of ability to cope with life’s stresses!
- Ask the young people one by one to stick their sticky notes inside the bucket. If some of them are similar they can stick them next to each other.
- When a few post its are in the bucket, ask the group what they think will happen to the water as the bucket gets filled with sticky notes/stresses. You can use prompts e.g. some of it has leaked over the top, reducing our ability to cope.
- Continue until the whole group have posted their stresses.
Questions to ask the group:
- How much water is left in the bucket when we have added all our stressful things? You could ask them to write on the outside of the bucket how they would be feeling.
- As stress factors fill the bucket, what happens when there is less and less water to deal with life’s stresses?
Note: If working with a small group, this exercise works well to use an empty water jug and everyone writes their stresses on small pieces of paper and screws them up before putting them in the jug. They then can see clearly the less space there is available in the jug, once the “stresses” are added.
Now we will explore which of the “stressors” that we’ve identified can be controlled or changed.
- Ask the group to remove the sticky notes (or stressors) from the bucket which they think they can control or change. You might have to prompt. For e.g. “being late”, we can plan our time better?Stick these notes separately for now.
- Ask the group to pick a common stress from this group we have identified that we can control, something they can all agree on. Write it down in the middle of a piece of flip chart. Ask everyone to write down all the things that you might feel, all the feelings and emotions when responding to the stressor. Explore whether the group members could have responded differently and write up the strategies for this different response.
- What’s left in the bucket should be the stressors we can’t control, e.g. the behaviour of other people, so what do we do about them?Have a discussion around strategies for reducing stress in relation to the things we can’t control.
Self-Esteem – 15 mins
In this part of the session we will be looking at self-esteem.
- Ask if the group know what “self-esteem” means and write the responses on a piece of flip chart. Tell the group we are going to look at what can impact on our self-esteem both positively and negatively.
- Split the whole group into smaller groups and give each group a piece of flip chart, and tell each small group to draw a simple curve across the paper. On the up side of the curve ask them to write things that can increase self-esteem, on the down side, write down things that can create a drop in self-esteem.
- Ask a group to feed back their curve. Ask the other groups to add things if they have differences.
- Ask the group to think about the things that can externally impact on self-esteem and discuss those which can be controlled and those that can’t. Have a discussion around this, exploring such themes as bullying e.g. if someone bullies you, do you see that as your problem or theirs? Can you control it?
How to Help – 15 mins
- Ask the young people to write some of the words or phrases they came up with in the previous exercise relating to low self-esteem on separate pieces of scrap paper, fold them up and place them in into a hat or similar sized container.
- Split the group into pairs and ask each pair to pick one piece of paper out of the hat.
- Ask each pair to think about how they would respond if the word or phrase was said to them by a friend. How could they help? What kind of things would they say?
- Give the group enough time to discuss and then feedback, ensuring that the young people talk about looking after themselves as well as looking after their friends.
Reflect and Review – 5 mins
Ask the group to say one thing that has had an impact on their thinking relating to stress factors and self esteem.
Closing Game – 5 mins
Return to the Rhythm Game from the start of the session, but instead of numbers, ask everyone to think of a word that describes positive self-esteem, everyone’s words must be different. Now play the game as before but calling the words instead! Discuss which words stuck in people’s heads that they will remember going forwards.