A high school teacher’s clever idea for a mental health check-in chart for her students has gone viral—and now it’s helping teens across the country.

Erin Castillo, a teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Fremont, California, shared the mental health chart she created for her students in an Instagram post that has since gone viral. The chart invites students to write their names on the back of a post-it note and stick the note to the column that best describes how they are feeling on any given day.

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Life changing! Life changing is what this check-in process, created by @makingastatementinsped is! I introduced the poster on Monday and be have been doing check-ins each morning and during the day ever since. It is crucial to go through the talking points Erin lays out in the product. Make sure you are open and honest with your kiddos about how you struggle on days and have to reach out to talk with friends when you do. It’s important to create a safe space and a no judgement zone. I have already have kiddos putting their post-its on and asking to have a check in with me. The check-in process is so simple, yet it could be the difference maker for a lot of the kiddos who need someone to notice and need someone to reach out. Teaching is so much more than the lesson plan and we HAVE to be present in our students’ lives. There is a lower elementary version of this too. I would 1000% recommend starting this in your rooms ASAP! Have conversations, be open, be intentional. Again, thank you @makingastatementinsped for bringing this into so many classrooms! 💕 . . . #teachers #teachersfollowteachers #teachersofinstagram #teachersofinsta #iteach #iteachtoo #iteach345 #iteach456 #teacherlife #classroomcommunity #classroom #elementaryeducation #elementaryteacher #iteach #acceptance #suicideprevention #teachings #teachertalk #teacherideas #spreadkindness #kindnessmatters #teachingstuff #classroomposter #bulletinboard #bulletinboardideas

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The options are, “I’m great”, “I’m okay,” “I’m meh,” “I’m struggling,” “I’m having a hard time and wouldn’t mind a check in” or “I’m in a really dark place.” If students choose one of the last two, Castillo will check in with them privately and refer them to the school counselor.

“I’ve had a lot of students in the last five years of my career that have struggled with self-confidence, self-doubt, image, had suicidal thoughts, attempted suicide and, after seeing all that, I’ve been making it a theme in my classroom and trying to check in with them,” Castillo said.

It has also become a useful tool for kids struggling academically as well, Castillo explained. “I’ll have a student that will be struggling with something I’m teaching and they’ll put a post-it up instead of raising their hand,” she said.

Not only has Castillo’s post been liked thousands of times, but it has also inspired other teachers to create and share mental health charts of their own. “If it can help one student, then it’d be better than where we’re at now,” Castillo said. “I hope it gets to a place where we can talk about our struggles openly and our mental health. This looks like a step in the right direction.”

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: Kelli Cessac via Instagram



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