This Teacher Came Up with an Ingenious Way to Help Kids with Their Mental Health

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A high school teacher’s clever idea for a mental health check-in chart for her students has gone viral—and now it’s helping teens across the country.

Erin Castillo, a teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Fremont, California, shared the mental health chart she created for her students in an Instagram post that has since gone viral. The chart invites students to write their names on the back of a post-it note and stick the note to the column that best describes how they are feeling on any given day.

The options are, “I’m great”, “I’m okay,” “I’m meh,” “I’m struggling,” “I’m having a hard time and wouldn’t mind a check in” or “I’m in a really dark place.” If students choose one of the last two, Castillo will check in with them privately and refer them to the school counselor.

“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,” Castillo said.

It has also become a useful tool for kids struggling academically as well, Castillo explained. “I’ll have a student that will be struggling with something I’m teaching and they’ll put a post-it up instead of raising their hand,” she said.

Not only has Castillo’s post been liked thousands of times, but it has also inspired other teachers to create and share mental health charts of their own. “If it can help one student, then it’d be better than where we’re at now,” Castillo said. “I hope it gets to a place where we can talk about our struggles openly and our mental health. This looks like a step in the right direction.”

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: Kelli Cessac via Instagram

 

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