What is mental health?
The Medicine Wheel Framework of Health
To honour traditional knowledge, develop students' understanding and respect for indigenous traditions, and support reconciliation, the Medicine Wheel framework for health and wellbeing is taught throughout this program.
What is mental illness?
To help Canadians understand these mental illnesses, the Canadian Mental Health Association has compiled information and resources for the following categories of disorders: Anxiety disorders, Depression and Bipolar Disorder, Eating Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Phobias and Panic Disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Schizophrenia.
What’s the difference between mental health and mental illness?
The terms “mental health” and “mental illness” are commonly used interchangeably as if they were on opposite ends of the same dimension.
When you hear the term “mental illness” it’s easy to think of someone who is languishing with mental illness (bottom left quadrant). However, with the right resources, skills, knowledge, and support, many people with mental illness manage to flourish (top left quadrant). Similarly, the absence of mental illness is often associated with optimal mental health (the top right quadrant), but this negates the fact that even people without mental illness can languish when they have poor mental health skills (bottom right quadrant).
Why does mental health matter?
Perhaps the concept of proactive mental health care can be better understood through a game of “Would You Rather”: If you didn’t know how to swim, would you rather have a lifesaver, thrown into you after you’re already drowning, or a lifejacket, to help protect you from drowning? The answer seems obvious: Most people would prefer a lifejacket. However, the current mental health care system takes a reactive approach by responding to crises (i.e. throwing in a lifesaver), rather than a proactive approach, which involves prevention and preparation (i.e. using a life jacket). Mental health education is analogous to giving students a lifejacket: It equips children with the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to overcome future challenges. Better yet, it teaches them how to swim.
Where can I learn more?
What will students learn?
By the end of this lesson, students will be able to…
- Clearly define mental health and mental illness
- Understand the distinction between mental health and illness using the Two Continua Model of Mental Health and Illness
- Describe the significance of this distinction for their everyday life; namely that everyone has mental health
- Appreciate the four facets of health and wellbeing with regards to the Medicine Wheel
- Identify personal examples for each of the four facets of the Medicine Wheel that, collectively, contribute to balance and wellbeing
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