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 play a game called Destination unknown to polish their listening skills. They’ll then talk about active listening, learn how to listen online, and pledge to make a difference by tuning in (and asking twice) when chatting to friends online.
- Everyone should split into small groups. Once the person leading the activity’s explained what to do, each group should go into their own breakout room.
- Everyone should think of a destination they’d like to visit on holiday in the future. They should keep it a secret and think about things like the climate, the terrain, the food, and the activities they’d to do there.
- Everyone should take it in turns to talk about the destination they’d like to visit, without telling anyone where it is or the name of any attractions or landmarks.
- The rest of the team should work together to really tune in to what’s being said. Once they’ve listened carefully to everything, they should decide on a suitable place the person could visit. They should explain where they’ve chosen, backing up their decision with reasons they heard from the person speaking.
- After everyone has had their turn, teams should discuss how it felt to really listen in and think about what the person was saying. Was it easy? What made it difficult?
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?
Tune in when you switch on
- Everyone should think about how they chat to their friends online. How could they practise active listening when they’re chatting in this way?
- Everyone should make a pledge to practise active listening when they switch on. They should write their pledge down and plan to update the group on their progress in four weeks.
- 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.
When people talk online, sometimes they don’t tune in to what others are really saying, especially when people are making jokes. How could people be more aware of what others are saying? How could people check if something was meant as a joke or not? Is following up offline (with a friend someone knows in real life) a good thing to do?
It’s important to remember that everyone has mental health, just like everyone has physical health. How could people do more to help tear down the taboo around speaking about mental health? How could people encourage others to learn more about mental health and wellbeing?
- 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.