Teacher Resources

Welcome back! While this school year (2021 – 2022) may look different, Canadian Mental Health Association – Calgary Region recognizes that school-based mental health supports are more important than ever. As such, we are excited to invite your school to schedule YouthSMART learning opportunities for your students.

CMHA Calgary’s YouthSMART Initiative (Youth Supporting Mental Health and Resiliency Together) integrates mental health learning opportunities in local junior and senior high schools. Operating for over a decade, and reaching close to 25,000 students each year, YouthSMART provides mental health education, proven to generate an awareness of mental health topics, combat stigma, and encourage appropriate help seeking behaviours amongst Calgary and area youth.

Although we are unable to host our annual Youth Summit this year, YouthSMART is now offering our popular menu of mental health learning sessions and engagement opportunities for all junior and senior high classes to select from. All sessions are age-appropriate, interactive, and flexible between virtual delivery and in-person facilitation. *In-person speakers will maintain all current Alberta Health orders.

Understanding stress is foundational in maintaining personal health and wellness. This interactive learning session provides an overview of what the stress response is, and how it affects the body and mind. Students will develop an awareness of their own particular stressors, and how to cope with stress in healthy ways. (45-90 minute workshop, delivered to individual classes)

This learning session breaks down common misconceptions surrounding mental health and mental illnesses and promotes a preventative approach to wellness. Students gain a comprehensive introduction to stigma, the common warning signs for mental health concerns, and the resources available for help. (45-90 minute workshop, delivered to individual classes.)

There is no perfect formula for helping someone, but you can strengthen your supportive skills. This learning session outlines how students might recognize if someone is in distress, while improving their listening, communication, and helping abilities. (45-90 minute workshop, delivered to individual classes.)

This learning session provides a compassionate and informative discussion around preventing suicide, as it seeks to dispel myths, outline warning signs, and connect youth to professional resources. (45-90 minute workshop, delivered to individual classes)

Offered in partnership with Alberta Health Services, the Community Helpers training follows a peer support model, and understands that every school-community has natural helpers willing to support their peers in times of need. Through this training youth are able to build mental health equity in their school or community by understanding common mental health language, identifying levels of concern, connecting to resources, and utilizing appropriate self-care techniques. (Typically 8 hours of training, delivered to individual classes or nominated students, inside or outside of class time.)

How do I become a Community Helper?

The Community Helpers program is based on a peer support model where individuals are nominated or selected to become a community helper by their peers. Anonymous surveys are provided to students, adults, or individuals to identify people within the school, workplace, or community who already demonstrate a natural ability to help.

What should I expect from training?

Community Helpers learn the Helping Skill. The Helping Skill is a tool that supports an individual’s natural helping ability. Opportunity to engage with the Helping Skill is found in topics such as: knowing when to help a friend, limits as a helper, mental illness, suicide prevention, healthy relationships, and identifying appropriate resources. The training engages participants in scenarios within these topics to build confidence in their ability to help others. At the end of training participants will be able to build mental health equity in the school and community by understanding common mental health language, identifying levels of concern and resolve conflict through the Helping Skill, connecting to helping resources and professionals, and practicing appropriate self-care.

How long does the training take?

Junior high training is three sessions three hours in length. We recommend either three morning sessions or three afternoon sessions. Total training time is nine hours.

High school training has five sessions two hours in length. However, if the high school can accommodate longer training times, the training can become two sessions five hours in length. Total training time is ten hours.

For adult groups the training can take a full day. Depending on the specific modules requested the training could take between eight to ten hours.


For Junior or Senior High Schools: We recommend a school Guidance Counselor or specified teacher to act as the leading liaison for each school’s Community Helpers. Surveys to identify Community Helpers will be given prior to training and must be administered by the identified liaison of the school. Once the surveys are complete, the school will be able to identify which students were nominated for the training. All presentations require the use of a computer and LCD projector.

For Adult Groups or Professional Organizations: We recommend one contact person to act as the leading liaison for the training. Surveys to identify Community Helpers will be given prior to training and must be administered by the leading liaison. Alternatively, the group may be a self-selected group interested in the training and therefore, will not need the surveys distributed. All presentations require the use of a computer and LCD projector.
For more information on the Community Helpers training or to book, please email education@cmha.calgary.ab.ca

A small group of school identified mental health ambassadors or “SMART Leaders” work together, with teacher support to plan awareness activities or campaigns unique to their own schools. SMART Leaders are provided with toolkits, as well as personalized support from qualified CMHA staff to help them create fun, engaging campaigns to bring the mental health and anti-stigma message to their peers. (Ongoing throughout the year, participating schools work at their own pace.)

YouthSMART learning opportunities are available, free of cost to all junior and senior high school classes for the 2021 – 2022 school year. Schools may book multiple sessions for classes throughout the year, however, capacity is limited, and bookings are confirmed on a first-come, first-served basis. Please contact us by e-mail at education@cmha.calgary.ab.ca if you have any questions, or to schedule opportunities for your classroom. YouthSMART looks forward to working in your school (or virtually) this year!

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Phone: (403) 297-1700      Email: info@cmha.calgary.ab.ca