Teaching Mental Health and SEL - Lesson Plan

How to use the YSS website to teach mental health while incorporating social emotional learning core competencies

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Congratulations on your decision to teach mental health and social emotional learning! You are one huge step closer to making your school a safer place and your students stronger individuals.

This YSS APPROACH Lesson Plan is unique in three ways:

  1. Your students will learn both content and skills simultaneously through a unique structure whereby students truly command their learning—group work is fundamental to building communication skills and the ability to plan ahead, problem-solve, set goals and make good decisions.
  2. The amount of professional development within the Lesson Plan is exceptional. You will learn about brain science, social emotional learning competencies, the WSCC Model, who you are in relation to mental health, emotion regulation, and much more. The PD aspect of this LP is robust! (Which may explain why it’s over 70 pages long!)
  3. Not only does this Lesson Plan provide excellent guidance on the content and skills to teach, but it provides the HOW to do so every step of the way. You may wonder, How does YSS meet the WSCC Model? The answer is broken down. How are you supposed to connect with students? Not a problem, the “how to” is provided. When this Lesson Plan instructs you to “conduct a Mindfulness Minute” it contains the specific instructions on how to direct your students, including the actual dialogue to use. Unlike other Lesson Plans that only tell you what to do, this will tell you how.

This Lesson Plan details mental health content and skills in 20 classes. If you do not have 20 classes to do this, no worries. You can easily adapt your needs accordingly. For instance, if you only have 5 class periods, choose a series of 5 classes that meet your specific requirements. Contact us with any questions.

The Lesson Plan has 7 sections. The Table of Contents is below. Excerpts follow.

  1. Introduction to the YSS APPROACH: How The YSS APPROACH Meets the WSCC Model; How The YSS APPROACH Considers Brain Development; How The YSS APPROACH Teaches Both Content and Skills
  2. Mental Health: Creating A Foundation: Introduction to Mental Health; Emotion Regulation—a key part of mental health; Social Emotional Skills and Core Competencies—assess yourself; Your Goals and Purpose When Teaching Mental Health; Your Knowledge of Mental Health; Your Students’ Brain Development; A Review of The New York State Mental Health Mandate
  3. How to Prepare: 3 Tips! Please peruse the website; Please work with your administration for support; Please set up your goals and plan ahead
  4. Your Role During the YSS APPROACH: Connect. Reflect. Learn.
  5. The Lesson Plan! 20 Detailed Classes
  6. Additional Information: The YSS Website Tour; Red Flags; A Word on Punishment
  7. Supporting Documents: Website Topic Chart; SEL Competencies Overview; Core Competency Recognition Worksheet; Your Connect. Reflect. Learn. Code; Class #7 Mental Disorders Quiz; Tip Stories, Class #9 In-Class Presentation Response Sheet; What Do You Know? Assessment; Feedback Form


Introduction to Mental Health

You are about to teach one of the most important, relevant and beneficial programs that your students will ever receive in school. Everyone can relate to these topics—they are part of the human condition. To be human is to feel: to love, laugh, cry; be frustrated, confused, frightened or excited. How we handle these emotions sets the path for our future experiences and the overall quality of our lives. The YSS APPROACH empowers your students with skills to handle those emotions—skills they won’t learn elsewhere. However, those skills are the ones that they will take with them into the workplace, into relationships and as they face life’s inevitable challenges. The YSS APPROACH is essential for mental health, for personal success and to find meaning in our everyday lives. It is the answer to both the growing mental health crisis facing this nation, and to the rising discontent also plaguing this nation. The ability to live peacefully with one another and to tolerate differing opinions is rooted in social emotional skills, in particular, emotion regulation. Those skills can and must be integrated into the school system as a core component equal to current core curriculum. The mental health mandates you are seeking to fulfill with this Lesson Plan move us all toward that vision while the YSS APPROACH ensures that the social emotional skills needed to achieve mental health are integrated into the process.


Class 9 – Website Post/Sub Post Covered –

3 Tips for mental health

  • Tip #1: Don’t take things personally
  • A brief example to help you not take things personally
  • Tip #2: Know your buttons
  • Extra button example… if you want
  • Tip #3: Choose adaptive versus maladaptive responses
  • Extra tips for overall better mental health


To Do

_____ Before class: distribute the Presentation Response Sheet found in section

VII. Supporting Documents

_____ Arrange chairs in a circle (1-2 minutes)

_____ Mindfulness Moment (3 minutes)

_____ Class presentations (40 minutes)

_____ Assign homework (1 minute)

Tell Me How

—Chairs, Mindfulness Moment and perhaps an icebreaker. [Please know that the “how” of this direction has been detailed in a previous section of this document.]

Student groups will take turns presenting their Tip Stories to the class. As they do, the rest of the class will fill out the Tip Stories In-Class Presentation Response Sheet found at the end of this document that you have photocopied for each student. These prompt answers can be handed in at the end of class, or if time is tight assigned as homework. (You can assess students both on the quality of their presentations as well as the thoroughness of their prompt answers.)


If time is tight, students can finish the Response Sheet as homework. Otherwise, as you collect the answers to the prompts, assign homework for the following class. Students are to read the Overviews of the following Posts:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Self-injury/cutting
  • Suicide
  • Stress
  • TRAUMA 1

(In the next class they will divide into 6 groups where each group will be in charge of a Post topic to present to the class.)