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Lessons

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Lesson 1: Dimensions of Health

In this lesson, students review the different dimensions of health. After playing a game to become familiar with different behaviors related to physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual health, they brainstorm ways people can maintain or improve these aspects of health. They assess their own strengths and challenges in the different dimensions of health and analyze how the dimensions are interrelated and affect each other. Then they describe positive personal practices in their own lives that support their health and suggest ways to strengthen one of the dimensions for themselves.

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Lesson 2: Exploring Emotional Health

In this lesson, students explore what it means to be emotionally healthy. They begin by taking a private, personal survey to help them assess their own emotional health in general, and then discuss characteristics of emotionally healthy people. They examine how emotional health affects other dimensions of health, and discuss the importance of prosocial behaviors. Then the teacher briefly reviews the skills that can contribute to emotional health that students will be learning more about in future lessons.

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Lesson 3: Optimism & Positive Self-Talk

In this lesson, students learn ways to help maintain an optimistic outlook by using positive self-talk. After discussing how optimism contributes to positive emotional health, they learn strategies for maintaining an optimistic outlook. They learn about self-talk, examine negative patterns of thinking that can contribute to stress and difficult emotions, and explore how positive self-talk can help counter negative thoughts and beliefs.

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Lesson 4: Understanding & Coping with Stress

In this lesson, students begin learning about stress management. They learn the definition of stress, and identify both major events and changes and everyday stressors that can cause positive and negative stress at home, at school, or with friends. They assess their own personal stressors, and examine common mental/emotional and physical responses to stress, including the negative health effects that can happen over time. They distinguish between positive and negative actions in response to stress, and then review positive ways to cope with stress and evaluate which ones they’ve used or could use in the future.

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Lesson 5: Stress-Management Techniques

This lesson focuses on stress management, with an emphasis on techniques students can use. Students learn about and practice some specific stress-management techniques and identify those that could work best for them.

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Lesson 6: Expressing Emotions in Healthy Ways

In this lesson, students learn about healthy ways of expressing and sharing emotions. They begin by suggesting different emotions teens may experience and reviewing a list of varied emotions. They explore which of these emotions are viewed as pleasant or positive and which are seen as unpleasant or more difficult to experience. They discuss how people signal or communicate emotions to others, and review some strategies for responding to difficult or troubling emotions in healthy ways. They also examine the risks or possible negative consequences of expressing or handling emotions in unhealthy ways.

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Lesson 7: Skills for Effective Communication

In this lesson, students practice effective communication skills. They begin by learning how I-messages can be used to effectively communicate their emotions in healthy and responsible ways. They observe a demonstration of I-messages, read some examples and practice writing them. Then they discuss communication styles and other important skills for effective communication, as both a speaker and a listener. They observe these skills being modeled, and practice the skills with a partner. Then they create, practice and present roleplays that model effective communication skills in a variety of situations.

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Lesson 8: Building Healthy Relationships

This lesson focuses on how to build healthy relationships with family, peers and others. Students begin by discussing the parent/ guardian survey they completed as homework, and think about how their family relationships can help support their emotional health. They brainstorm characteristics of healthy relationships, examine how these qualities contribute to good relationships with family members and peers, and suggest ways to maintain or build these qualities in their relationships with family and friends. Then they analyze some of their own relationships to assess characteristics and suggest ways to strengthen them.

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Lesson 9: Ending Relationships

In this lesson, students examine ways to end relationships in healthy ways. After reviewing characteristics of unhealthy relationships, students discuss warning signs that would suggest ending a relationship. They learn some strategies for ending relationships using clear and effective communication and practice using a roleplay. They also review strategies for coping with strong feelings when a relationship ends. Then they analyze some case studies involving difficult relationships between friends and dating partners to identify the warning signs, and evaluate whether the people involved should work to improve their relationship or end it.

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Lesson 10: Coping with Loss & Grief

This lesson discusses feelings that come with loss and grief. Students learn about reactions to grief and the normal feelings and behaviors associated with the grieving process. They examine both healthy and unhealthy strategies for coping with grief. Then they discuss and practice things they can say to support someone who is grieving.

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Lesson 11: Social Media & Emotional Health

This lesson helps students examine the effects of social media, online gaming and other communication technology use on their mental and emotional health. After brainstorming forms of technology and social media that they engage in, they review the characteristics of an emotionally healthy person and brainstorm how each of these traits can be influenced both positively and negatively by social media and/or being online. They complete a personal assessment to analyze the influence of social media on aspects of their own emotional health, and suggest ways to counteract negative impacts. Then they develop an advocacy message that can support other teens in using social media and online technology in ways that can support rather than undermine their emotional health.

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Lesson 12: Managing Anger

This lesson teaches students strategies for managing anger. After identifying individual and collective anger triggers, students examine the potential consequences of repressing anger or expressing this emotion in unhealthy or destructive ways. They discuss strategies for controlling impulsive behaviors. Then they explore healthy, constructive ways of dealing with anger, both when they’re angry and when someone else is angry with them, and review and practice communication skills they’ve learned that can help them manage and respond to anger in healthy ways.

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Lesson 13: Skills for Conflict Resolution

In this lesson, students learn and practice strategies for conflict resolution. After defining terms, they review four different strategies for resolving conflict. They identify benefits of and barriers to using these strategies, and suggest examples of situations in which it would be appropriate to use each one. They observe the different strategies being modeled and practice in pairs. Then they create, practice and present roleplays that demonstrate defusing and negotiating a conflict and receive feedback on their skills.

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Lesson 14: Goal Setting for Emotional Health

In this lesson, students explore how setting goals can improve emotional health. After reviewing skills that can improve emotional health, they choose one they’d like to work on for themselves. They learn about the goal-setting process and practice goal-setting steps. Then they write a realistic, specific and measurable goal to improve some aspect of their own emotional health, create a plan for achieving this goal and monitor their progress.

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Lesson 15: Understanding Mental Health Disorders

In this lesson, students learn more about mental health disorders. After taking a survey to see what they know, they identify myths about mental health disorders and examine how stigma can interfere with people getting help for mental health problems. Then they work in small groups to read about mental health disorders that can affect teens—eating disorders, anxiety disorders and depression—and learn about the causes, symptoms, consequences and treatment for each one.

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Lesson 16: Preventing Suicide

This lesson addresses the issue of suicide. Students begin by assessing the things they value and enjoy about their lives. They examine myths and facts about suicide and learn about the warning signs of suicide thoughts. They discuss the importance of reporting suicide thoughts, and practice what they could say to convince a friend who was showing warning signs to get help. Then they learn about some resources to contact for immediate help with suicide thoughts.

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Lesson 17: Getting Help for Mental Health Issues

In this lesson, students learn how to access resources for mental health issues for themselves or a friend. They review a process for accessing resources, including determining what kind of help is needed, what makes a resource reliable, and the difference between resources that provide information and those that can provide immediate help in a crisis. They analyze barriers that can get in the way of seeking help for mental health issues, identify resources they could access for help, and roleplay to practice the words they could use to ask for help in different situations.