MindMatters in Minutes. Developing Resilience.

Resilience—the capacity for individuals, families and communities to adapt or even flourish in the face of challenges—is one of the fundamental components of mental health, but how do you get it?

There is no black box in the brain that is hardwired for resilience.

Instead, resilience emerges from a complex combination of cognitive, biological and social elements.

The good news is that resilience can be developed in school, and there are a variety of formal programs that can help you do this. The most effective of these programs tend to be based on one of a handful of theoretical models, each of which has a slightly different emphasis.

For instance, programs based on Social and Emotional Learning focus on emotional self-regulation, communication and relationships…

While Cognitive Behaviour based programs focus on the causal links between thoughts, feelings and actions.

Positive Psychology programs offer a range of activities and processes that seek to boost positive emotions…

While Mindfulness-oriented programs use techniques associated with meditation and contemplation to reduce the effects of stressors.

Programs based on any of these models can improve mental health in school, but it’s important to implement them in a way that gives students opportunities to practice their knowledge and skills.

For instance, you can explicitly teach resilience concepts, either in dedicated classes or in everyday curriculum work with students.

But you can also model your own resilience skills for students—for instance, talking to students about strategies that work for you to manage stress or respond to challenges.

You can support students as they practise their own resilience skills on a day to day basis, in academic or vocational work, or in their personal interests.

And you can help students develop the kind of positive and supportive relationships that create a resilient community.

Resilience is a big deal. Improvements you can make in student resilience will have a big impact on mental health, and there are opportunities everywhere. If you have a good model behind you, then you will find that every day can be treated as a resilience development workshop.

So out of the four major models, which one sounds right for you and your school community? How can you find out more about it?