Mental Health & Well-Being

JW Mind Map #1 - Special Education and Mental Health & Well-Being

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Mental Health & Well-Being by Mind Map: Mental Health & Well-Being

1. Images that Come to My Mind




2. Lived Experiences

2.1. Personal Experiences

2.1.1. I have experienced times when it has been difficult to see the positive side of things and I do not feel like myself. It's a tough spot to get out of.

2.2. Experiences with Family

2.2.1. I have some family members who struggle with their mental health & well-being. It is difficult to see loved ones in pain but it is also amazing when you see them gaining strength and pushing through.

2.2.2. It is also important to respect their privacy. Even though I love my family, I had to learn to not push and respect that they did not want to share their struggles with me all the time. Sometimes it is easier to share with people outside of family.

2.3. Experiences with Friends

2.3.1. Many of my friends have struggled with this topic and I hope I was able to give them the support they needed. It is difficult because typically you don't see your friends as often as family. My friends and I know that we are open to discussion and encourage sharing instead of internalizing our emotions.

3. Definition & Meaning of Mental Health & Well-Being

3.1. To me, Mental Health & Well-being means maintaining a healthy state of mind. It is a balance that requires constant attention and is not something to be neglected. It affects how we interact with the world and ourselves.

4. Priority

4.1. I think there has definitely been a shift in the level of focus this topic now receives. A lot more universities, workplaces and schools mention and use these terms now.

4.1.1. My impression is that most workplaces still consider physical injuries to be more debilitating than the state of mental health. Hopefully, this changes as it becomes more accepted in society.

5. Work

5.1. In most of my jobs, there wasn't a big focus on mental health & well-being. You were expected to show up for your shift and do the work, no complaints. There were definitely supervisors who were more understanding but this was not a universal quality. Unfortunately, in a fast-paced environment, problems outside of work often get swept under the rug or pushed to "deal" with at another time.

6. Words that Come to My Mind

6.1. Acceptance, Balance, Battle, Burnout, Care, Confidence, Connection, Communication, Emotions, Essential, Everyday, Health, Journey, Toxicity, Mindset, Perspective, Process, Respect, Resilience, Reset, Self-love, Struggle, Strength, Support, Success

7. Schools

7.1. Volunteering

7.1.1. In undergrad I volunteered at an elementary school that took 10 minutes everyday to teach students about keeping a growth mindset. The topics ranged from bullying to expressing your own emotions. I thought this was fantastic and since it was actually done everyday and made a routine, students listened and learned the content more effectively. It was also clear that a community feel was present as they did not hesitate to ask questions.

7.2. Practicums

7.2.1. In one of my practicums, my associate teacher (AT) organized a sharing circle activity with her class that would take place nearly every week last period. It was clear students enjoyed this time. Students actively participated and my AT gave them the right to pass as well as options for discussion points. It was a great opportunity for growth. I think it is important for students to know that teachers care about their well-being and want to hear their thoughts.

7.2.2. I have not yet had the chance to teach a unit that focuses on Mental Health & Well-Being.

7.3. My Elementary and Secondary Schools

7.3.1. I do not remember any of these topics being mentioned in elementary school other than possibly during presentations about bullying.

7.3.2. My high school had an extremely competitive and toxic academically focused environment. Looking back, I don't think it was healthy or beneficial for any of the students as some began to feel as though they could never succeed in life because of a low grade. I remember seeing students break down and many burn out. I don't believe it was ever explicitly addressed because I certainly don't remember any of my teachers speaking to my classes about it. I wonder if teachers recognized this because emotions escalated whenever marks were released.

8. Age

8.1. Mental Health & Well-Being is slowly being accepted as something valid for any age. Whether you are a child or adult, your struggles are no less valid than the struggles of anyone else.

8.1.1. There is still stigma around it though since people still joke about being mentally unstable or seeing a psychiatrist or therapist.

9. Thoughts, Beliefs and Attitude

9.1. Being non-judgmental and keeping an open mind

9.1.1. Judging someone is hurtful and limit your perspective.

9.2. Being patient, caring and understanding. Don't just chime in with your experiences, take the time to listen. Acknowledge when people choose to share personal thoughts with you.

9.2.1. Understand that there is a limit to my understanding, I will never truly understand how the student feels! Everyone experiences things in different ways.

9.3. It's a process. Everyone will deal with their mental health & well-being at their own pace. It will be something present in our entire lives.

9.3.1. I know I deal with things at a different pace in comparison to my friends.

10. Special Education

10.1. Definition & Meaning of Spec Ed

10.1.1. To me, Spec Ed means specialized instruction to make sure all types of learners are included and receive quality education.

10.2. Words that Come to My Mind

10.2.1. Accessibility, Accommodation, Behavioural, Community, Connection, Disability, Disorder, Diverse, Differentiated Instruction, Effective, Equity, IEP, Inclusive, Learning, Process, Resources, Respect, Self-Regulation, Spectrum, Support, Success

10.3. Thoughts, Beliefs & Attitude

10.3.1. Being non-judgmental and keeping an open-mind It is important to acknowledge any stereotypes or misconceptions I may have had growing up.

10.3.2. Being patient, caring and understanding. Take the time to listen to what is being said by the students. Understand that there is a limit to my understanding, I will never truly understand how the student feels!

10.3.3. Goal is to provide the best method of support to students. To do this, communicate clearly and constantly with them. I believe each student can succeed with the proper resources and emotional support.

10.4. Level of Comfort and Prepardness

10.4.1. At this point, I am not comfortable or confident in using the correct terminology common in Spec Ed. I hope to become more informed after this course!

10.4.2. I want to be more mindful and utilize strength-based thinking all the time, not just some of the time.

10.5. Resources

10.5.1. Ministry of Education I know of the Special Education in Ontario K-12 Policy and Resource Guide but I have little knowledge of other documents that directly address this topic.

10.6. Lived Experiences

10.6.1. Experiences with Family My family members have not been in Special Education programs so I do not have firsthand experience learning about it.

10.6.2. Experiences with Friends A few of my friends have siblings who are autistic. I never interacted with them that much, other than a short greeting as they were always on the way out to an activity or busy.

10.7. Schools

10.7.1. My Elementary and Secondary Schools In my elementary and high school there were strong Spec Ed programs in place. The staff was abundant and there were many opportunities to volunteer with the students in the program. There were activities such as reading buddies, snack time etc. I remember being in the Spec Ed room in elementary school when everyone had similar schedules. In high school, volunteering in the Spec Ed room was reserved for students enrolled in specific courses or accumulating volunteer hours.

10.7.2. Practicums In one practicum, I had 13 students with IEPs in my class. I also had two students who were on the spectrum. One was rarely in the class but the other was constantly roaming around pacing. It was challenging to divide my focus and time equally between all the students because each student had different learning struggles. In another practicum, I was placed in an inclusion class. This school had a Spec Ed room with a handful of student that were slowly being transitioned into other classrooms. The class I was with consisted of students with behavioural disorders, IEPs, and diagnosed with anxiety or depression. It was overwhelming initially but I observed my AT closely. I don't necessarily agree with all the methods she used, but it was definitely a valuable learning experience.

10.7.3. Volunteering In the organizations I volunteered for, there were a wide variety of students but I never was told to specifically alter activities for any students with learning disabilities or disorders.

10.8. Work

10.8.1. I have not worked with coworkers who are on the spectrum. At least, if I have I was not aware. I was also unaware of any specific policies in place that were in place to support people with learning disabilities. I am sure there were but I never asked or took the time to read through them specifically.

10.9. Relationships

10.9.1. Friends and Family I want to learn about parental engagement, positive and negative. They have a big role and I want to learn the resources available for them. In my practicums, my associate teachers often called and updated parents. I noticed that in one of my practicums, a student on the spectrum who often spent majority of their day in the Spec Ed classroom did not connect as smoothly with the rest of her classmates when she returned for other subjects.

10.9.2. Educators I know that in a specific Special Education classroom, there are many educators that work individually with students. As a result, strong rapport is built and there is trust present.

10.10. Age

10.10.1. I have not interacted with any students in the Spec Ed Primary level. Most of my experiences with youth are in the junior level and older.

10.10.2. I want to learn more when symptoms begin to appear and when learning disabilities are identified.

10.11. Priority

10.11.1. Not every school has enough resources to run a large Spec Ed program. I would like to learn the factors involved when deciding on how funds are divided to specific programs.

10.11.2. If there are limited spots, how difficult is it to make sure, as a parent, to make sure your child receives proper support?

10.12. Images that Come to Mind





11. Level of Comfort and Preparedness

11.1. I am a bit more confident in terminology compared to Spec Ed but I still want to learn more.

11.1.1. I have heard many terms are used incorrectly and have been associated with negativity, or "taboo" on television and social media.

11.2. Though I have more experience and familiarity with this topic, I do not necessarily feel prepared to engage students in a meaningful discussion.

11.2.1. I would like to learn how to best approach this topic without it becoming overwhelming for students.

12. Resources

12.1. Ontario Ministry of Education

12.1.1. Supporting Minds: An Educator's Guide to Promoting Students' Mental Health and Well-being, Draft from 2013

12.2. CAMH

12.2.1. One of my family members used to work at the Center for Mental Health and Addiction. I have also participated in a handful of workshops organized by them at OISE. I know they offer resources on their website.

12.3. Social Media

12.3.1. I often come across Instagram accounts that post tips for staying positive and emphasizing the importance of mental health & well-being. These accounts across different social media platforms are run by a variety of individuals and companies, not just health care professionals. It is great that everyone can participate but this does come with a risk if incorrect information is being promoted for the purpose of revenue or popularity.

12.4. Bell Let's Talk

12.4.1. Every year, there is an awareness campaign organized by Bell Let's Talk to raise funds for mental health using social media. In undergrad, I was part of student council and on this day I would help hand out Bell Let's Talk hats, stickers and pamphlets. We would also host Wellness Wednesday events that ranged from yoga sessions to physical resources.

12.5. OISE Wellness

12.5.1. Before the pandemic, I would often go to these lunch sessions hosted at OISE. I enjoyed them a lot and feel like they were beginner friendly which I appreciated. Additionally, I appreciated the fact that they included an opportunity to be recognized for going to these sessions. It was not necessary but it was nice.

13. Relationships

13.1. Friends and Family

13.1.1. Whenever I am ready to share, my support system is who I lean on. I very much appreciate having a support system in place and definitely stress the importance of having one.

13.1.2. Having supportive friends is also very important. For me, friends have a huge role in my life. It is important for me to have a relationship where we both feel safe to express ourselves.

13.2. Educators

13.2.1. I think educators have a huge opportunity to build a strong rapport and sense of trust with their students. They are with them for a great amount of time and also have access to many resources they can share.

13.2.2. In one of my practicums, a student reached out with her struggles to me. As a teaching candidate, I wasn't sure exactly how much support I could offer. I don't necessarily agree with how my AT dealt with the situation but I learned what I would not do. It takes a lot of strength for students to share personal thoughts and struggles with you and as an educator, you are there to provide support and help guide them to building a healthier mentality.