- Students will realize they are not alone in trying to de-stigmatize mental wellness
- Students will acknowledge and validate the cultural and parental factors that can make it challenging to discuss or seek help for mental health concerns.
- Students will learn from others’ experiences in how best to continue in changing minds about the importance of mental wellness
Student leaders, with support from their club sponsor, should identify 3-5 students or young adults to serve on a panel about mental wellness. Some potential resources in identifying students or young adults includes: National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) young adult speakers (contact the local branch), NAMI youth support group, students who have participated in Youth Mental Health First Aid Training, or ask the school counselors, school social workers, or school psychologists for suggestions.
Note: Students chosen for the panel may have their own personal connection to mental health (i.e. been diagnosed with a mental health condition or been suicidal in the past). However, they must have received treatment and made strides to being healthier.
***All students chosen, except NAMI young adult speakers (who have their own screening process), must be screened by the school social worker or school psychologist to ensure that the identified student is a good match for the panel.
In identifying students for the panel, try to choose a diverse group. Consider ethnicity, gender, sexuality, etc. Once students have been selected and screened by the school social worker or school psychologist, provide each panel member with the list of Facilitation Questions so they feel comfortable with the questions asked and begin to prepare what they will say.
Determine the audience for the panel. Is it club members only? Is the entire school invited? Are parents and/or staff invited? Once the audience is determined, decide if the panel will be filmed. If so, obtain consent from all the panelists.
Day of Panel
Choose who will be the facilitator of the panel. Arrange the chairs in a line for the panelists. Consider using a microphone for a large audience.
Begin by introducing each panel member, including his or her name and grade. The facilitator will ask the Facilitation Questions, one at a time, allowing each panelist an opportunity to answer. Allow approximately 5 minutes for each question. Thank each panelist for sharing his or her story and thoughts. Recognize that it takes courage to share one’s story, but it is also the very way to help reduce stigma.
Once all the questions have been answered, if time allows, take questions from the audience.
In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the Changing Minds panel?
- What new understanding did you find?
- Has this panel changed your perception of anyone (parents, other students, individuals with mental health concerns), including yourself?
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the panel conversation?
- Use this guide for additional facilitation questions or for establishing ground rules.