Learn about materials that already exist
There are some excellent existing materials out there – take a look at the sources of information and organizations listed in Support in Your Community for inspiration. Become familiar with what these organizations offer and incorporate the existing materials into your campaign. These are great starting points and are useful as themes to include in any of the activities you choose to do.
Find out what’s already at your school
If your school has a health action team or student council, get them on board! You can get started very quickly when there’s already a motivated group of people ready to help.
Consult with experts
When planning activities, it’s important to make sure that best practices around public education and mental health are covered. See the section called Support in Your Community for more information on who to contact in your community.
You don’t have to be the expert
Your local Public Health Units and other community members have expertise and resources to help you take your activity to a higher level.
It’s okay to say, “I don’t know”
You might get a lot of questions from your peers. Remember, it’s always okay to say, “I don’t know” and to refer them to an adult or expert in the community for more information.
Customize activities for your school
The ideas in this guide are suggestions and idea starters. Your team can discuss whether a proposed idea works for your school and community and change it as needed.
If you have a completely new idea for an activity and want to try it out, we’ve included a blank template at the end of the guide for your planning. Be sure to share it with us after the event or activity and let us know how it went! You can connect with us by email (email@example.com), via Twitter (@OpheaCanada), and on Facebook (OpheaCanada). Be sure to connect with a school mental health professional or leader to run it by them.
Work with or build on existing events
Events or times of the year that could lead to anxiety such as back to school or exams such as provide a tie-in for communicating your message about mental health. In this way the resources and tools are available when students may need them the most.
Include a call to action
Activities are more powerful if they include a call to action or a link to where participants and spectators can find more information if they’re interested. Have materials on hand during inperson events or include links on your posters or other materials so that people know where to look if they want to learn more, or if they want to join your team.
Make it easy for people to participate. Don’t require expensive equipment or travel to participate in the activities you plan.
While you’re planning your activities, ask yourself if there are others that might have difficulty participating and how can you make it easier for them to be involved or feel welcomed.
Think about hosting activities in different parts of the school – in the gym, in the hallway, outside (yes, even in February). Be safe but get creative about where you host the activities and you’ll keep people interested.
Vet the message
Make sure the information or messages you’re sharing in the school are correct. Work with an adult to research and decide what message is the best fit for your activity.
Spread the word
Get on social media to let others know about the awesome work you are doing. Invite other communities and schools to join you as you get active.