One of the things I appreciate about including the arts in school is that it's an ideal medium for teaching abstract notions such as beauty of sound or movement. It can teach persistence, since no one becomes a great dancer or drummer without practice. It's also a great way for students to learn to constructively channel emotions.
Check Your Head, a six-week program designed by Mental Health America of Colorado (MHAC), is offered as an after-school program at some Colorado high schools, an elective in some charter schools, and a required course for seventh graders at others.
The students explore deejaying, hip-hop, dance, and poetry while developing strategies to cope with stress, identifying positive role models, and making friends with people they might not otherwise have met. Students also explore the "myths and realities of mental health."
"The curriculum is based on factors that have really been demonstrated to help protect students from things like suicide, bullying, [and] substance abuse," said Richard Evaleigh, vice president of programs for MHAC. "By building on those protective factors, we're helping students to protect themselves from negative influences."
The MHAC website describes the program Check Your Head as "a school-based program that encourages young people to explore issues such as self-identity, conflict resolution, depression, and tolerance. The program helps young people identify their mental health needs, communicate their needs to others and find constructive resolutions to the problems they face."