Topic outline

  • Mental Health Literacy


    Welcome to the Mental Health Literacy course for educators. This course is designed primarily for educators: preservice teachers in faculties of education, educators in schools, including classroom teachers, administrators, and other specialized roles such as counselors, psychologists, and learning support teachers, as well as for others interested in developing their mental health literacy. Even if you are not a teacher or are not teaching at this time, this course is relevant to you and your family's well-being.

    This course is designed for anyone with an interest in learning more about mental health.

    Developed by education and mental health professionals, this seven-module (8 to 10 hours) course will give you a foundation of mental health literacy, including effective strategies to use in your educational settings and in your own life.

    The course takes 8-10 hours, includes 7 lessons and quizzes, and there is a certificate for completion.

    We sincerely hope that this course will deepen your interest in, and encourage your critical thinking about, mental health.

    Enjoy the learning!

    Dr. Stan Kutcher, Dr. Yifeng Wei, Dr. Wendy Carr, Dr. Susan Rodger, Dr. Chris Gilham and Andrew Baxter

    Note: this course has been adapted for Afghan educators by Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan with permission from Dr. Wendy Carr from the University of British Columbia.

    Adapted with permission from the University of British Columbia.

    In partnership with the Government of Canada.

  • In Module 1 we explore what the phrase mental health literacy means and further our understanding of the various components of what we understand to be the dimensions of mental health. Successful completion of Module 1 provides a solid foundation for engaging with the rest of the modules in this resource.

    Not available unless: The activity Enrollment form is marked complete
  • In Module 1 we learned that one of the four components of mental health literacy is reduction of stigma. In Module 2, we focus on understanding the different types of stigma related to mental illness and learn the difference between myths and realities about mental health and mental illness. 

    Learning objectives

    In this module, you will:

    • Enhance your understanding of stigma and how that relates to mental illness;

    • Learn about some evidence-based strategies that can be used to reduce stigma in the school setting.

    Not available unless: The activity Enrollment form is marked complete
  • Note that students have the option of reading this module or listening to this module, or both!

    Human Brain Development

    Mental health is brain health and mental illnesses arise from changes in usual brain functioning. In Module 3, we will learn basic information about the developing human brain and its six fundamental functions. This is not a neuroscience course but completion of this module will provide you with knowledge about the function of the brain that you will find useful in understanding connections between our physical and mental health.

    Learning objectives

    In this module, you will:

    • Better understanding of the human brain and its functions in health and illness;
    • Appreciate the importance of a healthy brain for mental health.

    It is not possible to understand mental health or mental illness without understanding our brains. All our emotions, cognition, behavior, and everything that makes us human comes from our brains, the most complex entity known.

    The brain is a remarkable organ that controls the complex activities that help define our humanity. It is never fully developed because it is constantly evolving and reshaping as a result of our experiences.

    Not available unless: The activity Enrollment form is marked complete
  • Understanding Mental Health, Mental Illness and Related Issues in Young People

    Module 4 includes two sections. 

    • Section 4.1 provides an overview of key considerations regarding understanding of mental illness and common mental illnesses found in children. 

    • Section 4.2 focuses specifically on mental illnesses that are commonly found in adolescents.

    Learning objectives

    After completing this module, you will:

    • Have a better understanding about how a mental illness is diagnosed.

    • Have a better understanding of many of the more common mental illnesses affecting young people.

    • Know about some useful classroom strategies that can be applied to help a student who has a mental illness.

    Not available unless: The activity Enrollment form is marked complete
  • What is Treatment for a Mental Disorder and How Do We Know What is Likely to Work?

    For a young person receiving mental health care, school life can be a challenge. In Afghanistan, there are very limited, or no mental health service providers for school-aged students who are suffering, however in most developed countries, evidence-based treatments are provided to students. Having teachers who understand best evidence-based treatments for mental disorders can be a big help for students, teachers and families. This knowledge is also useful for teachers and their family members, as about 1/6 will themselves receive treatment for a mental illness. This module provides you with best available evidence-based information on what treatments are, how they work and how they may impact those who receive them.

    Learning objectives

    Upon completion of this section, you will be able to:

    • Understand the purpose of treatment(s)

    • Describe some of the commonly used treatments available to students who have a mental illness

    • Understand how evidence is used to determine the impact of treatments.

    Not available unless: The activity Enrollment form is marked complete
  • This module builds on what you learned in Module 5, “What is Treatment for a Mental Disorder and How do we Know What is Likely to Work?” and will provide you with various strategies you can use to help students by providing them with best available evidence-based resources. These include how to talk to students about your concerns and encourage them to seek help, how to identify and refer students at risk of mental illness, how to adjust academic expectations for students, how to help student build relationships necessary to provide support and how to establish appropriate interactions with parents or guardians when addressing mental health and mental illness.

    What can a classroom teacher do?

    Having a mental illness is not uncommon. One in five young people will experience a mental illness. However, only about 1/3 of those who could benefit from treatment receive it, and it might be much lower for Afghan children and adolescents due to lack of mental health service providers in the country. 

    There are many effective treatments available that, if provided early in the course of an illness can have a substantial positive short and long-term impact. In Afghanistan and its neighboring countries, there are barriers to obtaining rapid access to effective mental health care. These include stigma against mental illness, lack of mental health care in primary health care, lack of mental health literacy in teachers, students, and families, and insufficient availability of specialty youth mental health care in the healthcare system.

    Learning objectives

    Upon completion of this module, you will:

    • be familiar with some of the resources for accessing mental health care for children and adolescents

    • know what to do if you are concerned that a student is likely to have a mental health problem or a mental illness,

    • realize when and how to talk to parents/guardians about your concerns related to the possibility that your student has a mental health problem or mental disorder.

    Not available unless: The activity Enrollment form is marked complete
  • Understanding stress and resilience for teachers and students

    Now that you have improved your understanding of the four components of mental health literacy, you can engage in this module, which provides you with an up-to-date understanding of the stress response and how to use it to achieve and maintain good mental health for yourself and – by extension – your students.

    Learning objectives

    Upon completion of this module, you will be able to:

    1. Better understand the various types of stress and the usual stress response.

    2. Understand how successful adaptation to positive and tolerable stressors is the key to resilience.

    3. Demonstrate understanding of contextual factors that underlie the stress response, resilience and teacher burnout.

    4. Apply this knowledge to better understand how to help create a healthy classroom environment.

    5. Develop a better understanding of how to apply this knowledge in their chosen career.

    Guiding Principles for Strategies

    Throughout this module you will find activities and strategies designed to encourage both self-reflection and skill development for you and your students.

    Not available unless: The activity Enrollment form is marked complete