Youth materials & ideas
This range of fantastic resources has been developed for use by teachers and youth leaders in the run up to Jami Mental Health Shabbat as well as throughout the year.
We hope these activities can support you in how you educate and talk about mental health with young people.
These resources can be used to develop your understanding of how a range of factors can contribute to young people’s wellbeing.
We have provided you with practical examples of age-appropriate activities to promote wellbeing in young people which will work in both formal and informal education settings.
Guidelines and tips for speaking to young people about mental health and wellbeing
Why do we need to talk about mental health with young people?
- 26% of the Jewish community are living with mental illness, distress and trauma, or have done so in the three months prior to the study. And these difficulties affect over 55% of under 25s. (IJPR 2023)
- A variety of stress and pressures on young people, including social media and technology, can affect their ability to cope and impact possible mental health issues.
- We know that most adults living with mental illness experienced their first mental health problems at a young age. In fact, 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by the age of 14 and 75% by the age of 24.
- If young people know that support is available for their mental health and they know where they can get this support, we help build the foundations for a better future.
How do we talk about it?
We need to use boundaries when working with groups of young people. Setting out the aims for our conversations about the subject can help us stick to these parameters. Our aims for these sessions may be:
- To raise awareness about mental health as something that affects us all
- To encourage people to talk to each other rather than isolating themselves
- To encourage the young person to seek help when they need it. If you broke your ankle you would not wait to see if it could get better on its own. We should take the same approach with our mental health
- Use a “light” voice when talking about the subject. If we convey anxiety or seem uncomfortable with the information, we give the impression that this is a hard or “heavy” discussion
Key points to educate young people on mental health
- We all have mental health just as we all have physical health.
- Mental health is about the way we feel about ourselves and the world. Our feelings and thoughts are part of our mental health.
- No one can see inside our head, so we need to tell people how we feel.
- When our feelings and thoughts seem to be out of control or worry us, we need to speak to a trusted adult. We may decide to speak to someone we know well and feel comfortable with, such as a parent or carer, grandparent or other family member or a school counsellor or teacher. There are also charities, such as ChildLine and Young Minds, where we can speak to someone anonymously.
- We can get help to get better when experiencing mental health problems.
How do we look after our mental health?
- Talk to our friends and socialise with people who make us feel good about ourselves.
- Make sure we get enough sleep and enough food to eat (we need to look after our minds as well as our bodies).
- Social media can be a great way to socialise and films and TV can help us unwind but we do need to take regular breaks. We also need to be aware that light from phone screens and laptops or computers can interfere with a good night’s sleep.
- Hobbies such as team sports, walking the dog, listening to music or expressing ourselves through art or writing can make us feel better and distract us from life’s stresses.
- It’s okay to speak to an adult we trust about how we feel.