• To dispel common myths related to mental illness

Leader shares the following: “Research shows that teens with mental health problems commonly experience social rejection at school. In one study, nearly two-thirds of teens coping with mental illness reported stigma from their peers. In another study, only half of the middle school students surveyed said they would be willing to sit next to a classmate with mental illness.”


A study conducted by the Adolescent Communication Institute at The Annenberg Public Policy Center showed that educating people to dispel stereotypes helped to reduce stigma.


Explain that because education increases respect the group will address common myths associated with mental illness. The student leader should read each statement below and ask that if a student believes a statement is FACT they will stand-up, if they believe it a Myth they remain seated. Once everyone has had a chance to guess, the student leader will read the answer in bold.




  1. Mental health problems are rare in childhood and adolescence. (myth)
  2. Before adolescence, rates are the same. From mid-adolescence through adulthood, depression is about twice as common in females as in males. (FACT)
  3. Many people with mental disorders are not violent, and most violent acts are not committed by people who are mentally ill. Overall, they’re responsible for just 5 percent of violent crimes. Those with serious mental disorders are, however, far more likely than others to be victims of assault and rape (FACT)
  4. Very few students become so troubled that they think about committing suicide. (myth)
  5. About one out of five U.S. children has a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. Half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14. (FACT)
  6. Males and females are about equally likely to become depressed. (myth)
  7. About one out of six high school students say they have seriously thought about attempting suicide. (FACT)

  • Talk as small groups or a large group about what myths and facts surprised you
  • Brainstorm ways that the myths and facts should be shared with the entire school

Sources: National Alliance on Mental Illness, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Mentalillnesspolicy.org