You will need
- Device with access to the internet
Before you begin
- This is a great activity for an online session. Check out the advice on using Zoom and other popular digital platforms and the guidance on being safe online.
- Let everyone know that you’re going to be talking about mental health in this session and remind them that they can take a step back from conversations at any time. If you know anyone in the group has experience of mental health problems, talk to them (and their parents or carers) before the activity to make sure they're happy to take part and find out if you need to make any changes.
- Make sure everyone knows where they can go for support if they or someone they know needs it. We’ve included some information and links below and if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare (including their online experiences), follow the Yellow Card reporting processes.
- In this activity, everyone will learn about active listening before learning to spot the signs that someone may not really mean it when they say they’re OK. They’ll also have the chance to pledge to ask people if they’re OK twice.
What is active listening?
- The person leading the activity should ask everyone what they think ‘active listening’ means in the context of mental health.
- Everyone should chat about how to be a good active listener. What do they think active listening involves?
- The person leading the activity should introduce the five steps to good active listening. Did people manage to think of them all? Did they come up with anything extra that’s not listed?
OK or OK?
- Everyone should split into small groups of four or five. Once the person leading the activity’s explained what to do, each group should go into their own breakout room.
- Everyone should come up with a sentence they’re going to say to the group.
- Each person in the team should choose a number from one to five. They should keep their choice a secret.
- Everyone should look at the information below to see how they should say their sentence. Depending on the number they chose, they’ll have a different voice, speed, facial expression, and body language.
- The first person should say their sentence.
- Everyone else should work together to think about what the person said and how they said it. Would they just ask them if they’re OK once, or would they ask twice?
- The next person should say their sentence and everyone should work together to decide whether they’d ask them if they were OK once or twice.
- Once everyone’s had a turn, the group should talk about how it felt to really listen in and think about how someone was feeling based on what they said and how they said it. Was it useful? How could this be helpful in real life?
Pledge to ask twice
- Everyone should come back together in the main meeting.
- The person leading the activity should explain that people can practise asking twice anywhere – at home, at school, in person, or online. It’s especially important that people ask twice if they think someone may not really feel the way they say they do.
- Everyone should have the opportunity to pledge to ask twice. They could write their pledge down and commit to telling everyone how they’ve put it into action in four weeks’ time.
- The person leading the activity should remind everyone that they don’t have to be an expert to talk about mental health. They don’t have to have all of the answers: sometimes the most important thing to do is listen and share places people could go for further support.
- The person leading the activity should remind everyone that they should never try to ‘diagnose’ anyone. They should make sure everyone knows what to do in an emergency and what to do if someone says something that makes them feel uncomfortable.
Sometimes people aren’t entirely honest – they may say they’re feeling one way when they’re actually feeling something else. Why is it important to listen to what someone says and how they say it? How did it feel to practise really listening in? Why don’t people always say what they’re really feeling the first time? How can people encourage others to ask twice if they’re concerned about someone?
It’s important to remember that people don’t have to be experts with all the answers to talk to someone about mental health. Sometimes, people would benefit from some additional support. Does anyone remember where they could tell people to go if they need more help? How could people do this in a way that was supportive and kind?
- Online safety
Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe.
For more support around online safety or bullying, check out the NSPCC website. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command.
As always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare (including their online experiences), follow the Yellow Card reporting processes.
- Phones and cameras
Make sure parents and carers are aware and have given consent for photography.