World Health Day 2019: Californian Counseling Teacher Encourages Students to Talk on Mental Health With This 'Viral' Board
Peer counselling teacher Erin Castillo with mental health board (Photo Credits: Erin Castillo Instagram)

While our society has finally begun to discuss mental health, the topic comes with an attached stigma. Those who open upon their mental health issues are often discriminated and looked down upon. However, with celebrities, doctors, influencers have started talking about the subject, the topic has started receiving ears from the general public. But it is recognised as a taboo and most suffering from mental health issues subdue their problems instead of consulting an expert. With young children also found dealing with similar problems, educational institutions are now bringing the discussion to schools also. And in the meanwhile, ahead of World Health Day 2019, a San Francisco teacher's mental health board has gone viral for all the right reasons.

Erin Castillo who has a background in psychology teaches students at John F. Kennedy High School in Freemont, California. She takes English classes and is also a peer counselling teacher at the school. Aiming at making young students open-up about their problems, she created a mental health check-in chart inspired by a colleague. The colourful board encourages students to paste sticky notes with their names on the back against sections depending on their current mental state. The board which reads 'Mental Health Check-In' has sections with reads 'I'm Great', 'I'm okay' to 'I'm in a really dark place'. 7 Things That Affect Your Child's Mental Health and How You Can Help.

Here's the Mental Health Check-In board:

 

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Made this mental health check in chart after seeing @missjohnstonsjourney use a digital version for teachers on her #okayteacher Facebook page. I asked my students to write their names on the back of a post-it note so I could check in with ones in the bottom two sections. I explained the green section as them struggling, but speaking to another adult or trying to work through it themselves. ••• I was able to start some check ins today, and holy cow these kids. I love them. My heart hurts for them. High school is rough sometimes, but I was happy that a few were given a safe space to vent and work through some feelings. ••• I also like that students could visually see that they aren’t alone in their struggles. It was a beautiful minimum day focusing on self care and mental health. ••• 💟UPDATE: just added a printable version with detail instructions so you can do this in your classroom! It’s FREE!💟 • • • #mentalhealthawareness #highschoolteacher #secondaryela #teacherorganization #teachings #anchorcharts #teachersofinstagram #teachersfollowteachers #teachersfollowingteachers #iteachtoo #teachertips #weareteachers #teacherspayteachers #teacherideas #teachingideas #specialeducationteacher #teacherlove #teach #weteachsped #teacher #iteachhighschool #elateacher #teachergoals #igteacher #igteachers #teachersofig

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Meet peer counselling teacher Erin Castillo who went viral:

 

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We all have struggles. ••• Reaching out for help is a difficult task for many individuals, but it doesn’t need to be. Society has a way of encouraging people to push their feelings down and to continue on with life. This is not only unhealthy, but can be very dangerous. I took my first psychology class in high school and I was so intrigued by how the mind worked. I decided to pursue a degree in psychology when it came time to select my major. I knew I wanted to work with kids and I thought studying psychology would open doors and provide an opportunity to shape minds positively. My brother gave me permission to share a bit of his story with you all and it’s a large part of what’s inspired me to work with kids. My brother, @whyitdc, was adopted into our family when he was 4. I instantly felt a connection to him. Wyatt has struggled with anxiety and depression for likely his whole life, and as a young girl I remember comforting him and reassuring him of our love for him. Leaving him to go away for college made me feel extremely guilty, but I was set on gaining the skills needed to help other children with their struggles. I think of my brother’s story often and use it to fuel my drive towards helping others. I don’t think I do anything special or extraordinary, I just listen, care, and allow my students to see my struggles. I had a lot of “perfect teachers” growing up, but as educators there is a simple way to break down the stigma around mental health. S H O W your struggles. T A L K about your strategies for overcoming them. E X P L A I N how everyone faces difficulties. E N C O U R A G E feelings to be shared rather than pushed down. If there’s anything I’ve learned over my 6 years of teaching it’s that most kids WANT to talk, they just aren’t sure who to talk to or how to do it. ••• Thank you for all your positive feedback towards this piece of paper. I can’t guarantee it will save lives, but YOU CAN. Take an hour off from teaching curriculum and teach your students that mental health matters in this world! 💕 • • • #specialeducationteacher #teachersfollowteachers #iteachspecialed #teacherlife #teacherresources #teachersofinstagram #teachers #meettheteacher

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Talking about the photo of her mental health board which went viral, she told GMA, "I never expected it to get beyond my following. To see this being used in multiple countries around the world, having  [teachers] reach out from New Zealand and Africa...to hear actual stories of people helping their students, I'm really overwhelmed with joy." Why Mental Health of Youngsters Should Be Taken Seriously.

She further states, "I've had a lot of students in the last five years of my career that have struggled with self-confidence, self-doubt, image, had suicidal thoughts, attempted suicide and, after seeing all that, I've been making it a theme in my classroom and trying to check in with them." The board has now encouraged educators around the world to engage with their students in a better way.