Hat campaign to raise mental health awareness in schools

April 21, 2015
Shelley Magnusson, ATA News Staff

Various awareness efforts set to roll during Mental Health Week

As part of Mental Health Week, the Alberta Teachers’ Association is encouraging all schools to relax their “no-hats” rules on May 6 to promote Hats On! for Mental Health, a day-long campaign that aims to introduce the subject of mental health to students, to reduce stigma and encourage students to ask questions about mental health.

The Association’s commitment to student mental health was solidified in 2009 when it entered into a partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). This partnership has become known as Healthy Minds, Bright Futures. The partnership’s aim is to promote children’s positive mental health, to increase awareness about children’s mental health needs and to decrease the stigmatization often associated with mental illness.

In 2010 Global Alberta became involved as a full partner to provide a television campaign designed to build awareness for the Healthy Minds, Bright Futures campaign, with the long-term goal of helping parents, children and the community understand and recognize the importance of student mental health and the role of teachers.

“Addressing youth mental health issues is one of the most important challenges facing our society today. As a media organization, we are committed to community and to supporting moments that matter to kids,” said Rhonda Halarewich, marketing director for Global News.

“Global Television is so proud to partner with the ATA and CMHA to promote the Healthy Minds, Bright Futures program.”

The Association is working closely with CMHA and other partners to promote Mental Health Week in Alberta, which will include a day-long celebration of positive mental health for adolescents called Get Loud for Mental Health.

The Association also developed the Can We Talk campaign, which includes a website and television advertisement. This year’s ad, which will hit the Global airwaves during Mental Health Week, features high school students who are writing a test. While they should be concentrating on the test, they are instead wrestling with day-to-day issues and challenges in their lives. The message is that students bring their issues with them into the classroom.

Lesson plans for teachers’ use are available on the Can We Talk website.

Working closely with CMHA, the ATA has also developed the Compassionate Classrooms booklet as a mental health resource for teachers, parents and students. The booklet is being updated this year, and the new edition will be available for teachers by the fall of 2015. ❚