As your students enter the classroom, ask them to write on the whiteboard a negative emotion they have experienced. Be sure to add your own contribution. Answers may include sadness, fear, anxiety, loneliness, despair, etc. After everyone has contributed, ask the group if they can think of others to add to the list; write them on the whiteboard as your class calls them out.
Negative emotions come in all shapes and sizes. Some negative emotions can be healthy in a way. For example, fear makes us instinctively jump away if we find ourselves too close to something dangerous. But other negative emotions can be just plain crippling. Despair and doubt can leave us unable to complete basic activities. When that happens, it can seem impossible to escape without some kind of help.
This last year has been hard for a lot of people, causing an increase in all kinds of difficult emotions. Between a global pandemic, political division, financial uncertainties, and racial attacks, there’s a lot that people are anxious about.
- Have you felt anxious during some of the events this last year? What was the event? How did you feel? (Accept all reasonable answers. Encourage students to share and listen respectfully without assigning blame to people groups or political parties or leaders.)
The Mental Health in America (MHA) organization notes that cases of clinical depression and anxiety, along with other mental health concerns, have been on the rise over the past few years. The events of the last year have made the numbers rise even quicker.
- When you feel nervous, sad, scared, or anxious, what kinds of things make you feel better? (Answers may include praying, talking to a family member or close friend, going for a walk, reading a book or playing a game, etc.)
- Have you ever been afraid or upset and needed someone’s help to overcome a challenge? Tell us about it; what was the outcome? (Encourage students to share their experiences; be prepared to share your own.)
When we experience difficult emotions, having another person to support us and talk with us can be tremendously helpful. Today we’re going to talk about someone who was overcome by negative emotions—in fact, she was brokenhearted and full of despair. Let’s see what happened.
MIHA Source material: https://mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america