8 mental wellness tips for creating an inviting classroom


In our books, there’s no job more important than teaching!

Teachers are the guiding lights that illuminate young minds and shape the future. From the early morning greetings to the late-night lesson planning, your dedication knows no bounds. You create safe havens where students can flourish, allowing them to embrace their unique talents and discover their passions. 

Your impact extends far beyond the classroom walls.

Teachers have the incredible opportunity to not only educate students academically but also to nurture their overall well-being. By incorporating mental wellness education into classrooms, you can empower students with essential skills and strategies that will benefit them throughout their lives. 

To help with this mission, we’ve provided eight practical tips to help teach students about mental wellness. Inspired by our Circles Program, these tips will help students develop empathy, resilience, self-care practices and emotional intelligence.

8 mental wellness tips to use in your classroom

By gathering around a shared set of values and agreements, students are invited to show up in ways that foster brave space. We use these tips when gathering to have meaningful conversations about things that matter, but they can also apply within your classroom and beyond.

Commit to kindness

Cultivate a culture of kindness in your classroom. Teach students to recognize and respect the emotions and experiences of others, and show them that caring for others contributes to their own well-being as well. Encourage acts of kindness, empathy-building activities, and opportunities for students to support and uplift their peers. 

Classroom example: Create a “compliment chain”. Hang a string or chain along one of the walls and encourage students to write anonymous compliments on small pieces of paper and attach them to the chain. This could be something they appreciate about a classmate’s personality, a helpful action they witnessed or a talent someone possesses.

Desire to develop

Remind students that each of us has the potential to become a better version of ourselves, and increase eagerness to learn and grow. Encourage student growth through self-reflection and guide students in reflecting on their thoughts, feelings and actions. 

Classroom example: Have students keep a daily gratitude, emotions or self-care journal, and help them identify patterns, triggers and areas of personal growth.

Connect in cause

Students benefit when they understand their life experience is not just about their individual selves, but how we as a group can make a meaningful impact on the world around us. Rally your students to get involved in the school or wider community through volunteering or acts of kindness.

Classroom example: Identify volunteer opportunities through school clubs or events, start a fundraiser or collect donation items for a local charity, or research one cause that students can start raising awareness about.

Enforce a judgment-free zone

When we encourage students to drop their judgments and simply listen with open hearts, that is where meaningful connections flourish. Create an environment where students can feel comfortable discussing their emotions and experiences. Encourage open dialogue about mental health and well-being, allowing students to share their thoughts, concerns and questions without judgment. 

Classroom example: Use initiatives like LiveDifferent’s Peer Mentorship Program in the classroom. This program was designed to build community and develop both leadership and personal development in students. It includes videos, resources and material needed for students to have discussions around authenticity, empathy, growth mindset, resilience, values and altruism.

Honour personal stories and boundaries

Building trust among peers takes a lot of courage, and one way to honour that is by encouraging students to keep stories that are shared in the classroom experience within the classroom (unless it concerns anyone’s safety).

Classroom example: Collaboratively create a “Circle of Trust” agreement. Explain that this doesn’t mean students can’t talk about what they’ve learned or discussed, but rather they won’t share identifying details or personal experiences that others have shared without permission. This agreement can be written down and displayed in the classroom, serving as a visual reminder of the commitment they’ve made.

Choose to share, pass or come back to me

Any time you are asking students to be brave in the classroom space, employ options that make them feel OK to pass on a question, share as little as they are comfortable with, or if they need more time before answering, employ the choice to “come back to me.” Options, options, options!

Listen deeply one person at a time

Whenever possible, encourage students to listen deeply, without interrupting others. Encourage students to engage not to debate or argue, but to primarily make people feel heard, seen and understood. 

Classroom example: Show students this video and have them R.A.P: Reflect, ask and posture. Have students pair up in this listening exercise, and have them reflect back on what their partner says to them, ask questions about it, and ensure they have good posture and look friendly to show they’re listening. 

Normalize seeking help

Reduce the stigma surrounding mental health by normalizing the act of seeking help. Discuss the availability of support systems within the school, such as counsellors or psychologists. Remind them that they are not alone and teach students that reaching out for help is a courageous and essential step toward maintaining their mental wellness.

Classroom example: Invite mental health professionals, counsellors or individuals with lived experiences to speak to your students. You can also redirect students to the resources available at your school or the Crisis Text Line. 

Dive deeper with Circles

By integrating mental wellness education into classrooms, you can empower students with lifelong skills to navigate the challenges they may face.

LiveDifferent’s Circles program can help you put the above tips into practice. It is designed to help young people explore important values, build stronger relationships and get activated in kindness, leaving your youth more compassionate, resilient and hopeful. Book a discovery call today to learn how Circles can work in your school or classroom.

As teachers, you have the power to shape not only students’ academic success but their overall happiness and resilience. Let us embrace our roles as mental wellness advocates and guide students toward a brighter, healthier future!

Author: Gina Alward & Devina Lookman

Date: August 28th, 2023

Q&A with Board Member Kerry Brandt

We’re shining a well-deserved spotlight on the incredible individuals on LiveDifferent’s board of directors!

Each person plays a pivotal role in guiding LiveDifferent’s vision, strategy and impact—fueling our mission to create positive change in the world. Their unwavering dedication, expertise and boundless compassion have been instrumental in transforming countless lives and communities. 

Prepare to be uplifted as we uncover untold stories, wisdom gained and the passion that drives this team to make a difference.

Meet Kerry Brandt, Chairman of the Board

Kerry lives in Rosenort, Manitoba, where he and his lovely wife Barb, raised three wonderful children.

Kerry and Barb dreamt of being a part of hope and change in a tangible way, and when they heard about a friend’s kid going on a life-changing humanitarian trip, they realized they wanted to do the same thing with their kids. Another friend mentioned crossing paths with a LiveDifferent staff member in Mexico, so Kerry called up the office in Hamilton to learn more. 

Coincidentally, LiveDifferent’s CEO, Charles Roberts, was in Winnipeg when he called, so the two met up at a truck stop and from there planned the family’s first Build. That initial trip resulted in many more Builds and eventually led to Kerry accepting the Chairman position on our Board of Directors. 

When he’s not busy leading the charge for LiveDifferent, Kerry wears multiple hats as a co-owner of Brandt Trucking—a family-run business that has been a partner of LiveDifferent since 2008. As the head of sales and marketing, he spends his days connecting with potential customers, all the while daydreaming about the next time he can visit our LiveDifferent communities.

His heart is truly invested in the cause, and his unwavering support shines through in his kind words, thoughtful gifts and mouthwatering steak BBQs!

Q: What inspired you to join the LiveDifferent board?

A: My whole family fell in love with LiveDifferent during our first Build. As I learned more about the organization, I wanted to get involved in guiding and protecting the organization, and my background equipped me to help in this way.

Q: What is your favourite thing about being a board member?

A: Always the people! The board members, the staff, the road teams, everyone!

Q: How has your experience with LiveDifferent changed you as a person?

A: LiveDifferent has opened me up to a different level of empathy and a desire to do all I can to make the world a better place for others. I’ve learned that time is currency, that you only get to spend it once and I want to be strategic with how it is spent.

Q: If you could pick one project or initiative that you are most proud of, what would it be and why? 

A:  I’ve thought about this question a lot and it’s very tough to choose, but the work that has been done within Indigenous communities and with their youth wins. I was able to visit Oxford House with Sheila [North], it’s where she grew up – that was an unforgettable day.

It’s such a complex issue with no easy answer and so people often avoid it, but LiveDifferent doesn’t shy away from people. They just want to make a difference and so jump in, do what you can with what you got.

Q: How have you seen LiveDifferent’s work positively impact people’s lives? 

A: I have so many examples, but after our first Build trip in Mexico, we went back again the next Christmas and visited the family from the first trip. Seeing the transformation a house made to the family, seeing the difference, the family said the house was the catalyst to change for improving their lives.

Q: How do you hope to contribute to LiveDifferent in the future?

A: I’d love to contribute in whatever ways I can. My goal is to get to a place where Barb and I can spend extended time in Haiti or Mexico or the Dominican Republic; maybe even travel on the ice road tour!

Learn more

We are immensely grateful to the extraordinary individuals like Kerry who make up our board of directors. We are privileged to have such an exceptional group who wholeheartedly believe in our vision and generously share their time, skills and resources to ensure our success.

Don’t miss out on the chance to connect with the incredible minds behind the scenes. Learn more about our team and get inspired to create change alongside them.

Together, we can make a real and lasting impact!

Author: Gina Alward

Date: August 14th, 2023