Does this program involve teacher training?
Yes! The program has a short initial introduction to the material for teachers, which can be delivered in person or through video-based online learning (approximately 1.5 hours total). There is also an in-depth one-day teacher training on all aspects of bullying and mental health for schools that wish to up-skill their entire teaching staff. In addition, this program has a unique model where professional development occurs in the classroom alongside student learning. This gives teachers a chance to practice the skills in real life scenarios, and helps them truly connect to their students so they can get the most out of them both personally and academically, resulting in a deeper sense of job satisfaction. There are also teacher training programs available worldwide for teachers who wish to learn more about mental health in classrooms.
What resources are available for parents?
Parents are provided with short videos that are emailed to them before each session that their child completes in class. These videos provide an overview of the lessons their children will engage in, and give tips and tools for reinforcing this learning at home. In addition, parents will be given access to regular blog posts with tools for relating to the mental health of young people, and a bank of Youtube videos that role model stories of youth overcoming all manner of hardship that they can watch themselves and/or share with their children.
Is this program evidence-based?
Absolutely! The program was built upon the bullying intervention research of Dr Hayley Watson, and is currently being validated by Columbia University, our research partner. The full report from Columbia will be available around June, 2019. The feedback we are getting so far is that young people feel more connected and compassionate towards themselves and each other, and teachers feel more empowered and equipped to manage mental health in their classrooms.
What if a child is triggered by what they see in the videos?
Talking about mental health can be quite triggering for young people, especially if they are struggling themselves or have struggled in the past. In our culture we often want to shy away from things that trigger us, which is part of what reinforces the stigma and sense of isolation experienced by young people facing mental health challenges.
In Open Parachute programs, No student is ever pushed to share more than they want to, and at the same time they are given an opportunity to explore real issues (that they have already been or will soon be introduced to through social media/online) in a safe, supportive environment where they can dispel myths and build real skills for resilience both now and in the future.
In addition, in every school where our programs are run there are clear pathways set up for students to seek extra support from school counsellors/psychologists should they become upset by any topics shared in class. In this way, the program serves as a method for highlighting and targeting active mental health concerns that might otherwise be missed in busy school schedules where students often hide their true feelings.
How many class periods are needed to run the curriculum?
One aspect that we pride ourselves on is the flexibility of our program. We know that every school curriculum is set up differently, and every population has slightly different needs, so we tailor our curriculum to suit your schedule. Our program is designed to fit into 8 class sessions of 45 mins-1.5 hours in length, but it is our speciality and pleasure to create a bespoke program to meet your needs (trust us, we are used to it - we are already running in both private and public schools in three different countries!)
What are the topics covered in the curriculum?
Our program currently covers the following topics:
Eating & body image issues
What are the skills that are built during the program?
Our program builds the following core psychological skills:
Resilience in the face of adversity
Cognitive shifting & creative/critical thinking
Empowerment & personal awareness/accountability
Empathy for others & social responsibility
Self-esteem/positive personal & cultural identity
Interpersonal skills & healthy relationship engagement
Positive behaviour & self-care
Boundaries & safety
Is it safe to show young people stories of mental health struggle? Will it put negative ideas in their heads?
When young people face mental health challenges, these arise as a result of a variety of factors including biology, trauma history, and current stressors at home, school and/or in relationships. Hearing about the struggles of others will not cause mental health concerns to arise in youth. The purpose of introducing stories of other teenagers who are facing mental health challenges is so that students can process these issues in a safe, secure, supported environment. In the world we live in today, young people can access a plethora of information on all things related to mental health, however the resources they turn to are often full of misinformation and stigma. Therefore, introducing these topics in the classroom provides a platform to dispel myths and establish awareness about real issues that students often keep hidden from their parents, teachers, and friends.
Does this program address bullying and school safety?
Absolutely! The program was developed based on the bullying intervention research of our founder, Dr Hayley Watson, which found that establishing an ethos of empathy, emotional awareness, and perspective shifting creates school environments where students feel safe and their relationships flourish.
What other schools are running this program?
Our programs are being run in middle and high schools in New York, British Columbia (Canada), and Sydney (Australia). We are currently signing up more schools for September 2019 across multiple states in the US and provinces in Canada, and in February 2020 across Australia.
What ages/grades does this program cater to?
The program is currently being run in Grade Levels 7 through 12 (ages 13-18), and we are in the process of developing programs for both younger and older ages.
What is the cost of the program?
The program priced based on the resources and size of each school. Our aim is to make our programs as widely accessible as possible to all populations. Please contact us for a quote.
Does this program fit into the targeted curriculum requirements of my school regarding mental health/wellbeing?
Definitely! We have developed our content to meet the newest curriculum requirements of Australia, Canada, and the US, and are constantly progressing as the demands placed on schools change. We pride ourselves on creating bespoke, tailored programming for our clients, so if there is a curriculum requirement that you specifically want met, we can easily ensure it is included in the rollout of your program.