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Mental health has become a huge problem in our country. Sometimes if you’re depressed or feeling bad, it’s hard to reach out for help. We’ve made progress with lessening the stigmas surrounding mental health issues, but many people still feel ‘weak’ or embarrassed asking for help. A high school teacher has come up with an amazing solution to find out how her students are feeling. And her idea is going viral in a big way!

Erin Castillo is a teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Fremont, California. According to Good Morning America, Castillo has come up with a creative way to make sure her students are okay. She’s made a mental health check in chart for all of her kids.

All the students write their names on the back of a post-it-note. Each day the students put their post-it-note next to options about how their feeling. Then they place the note next to options like “I’m great,” “I’m okay,” “I’m struggling” and even “I’m in a really dark place.” This allows Castillo to see how her students are feeling, but other students cannot see. This erases any type of embarrassment the students may feel.

Now teachers from as far away as Africa and New Zealand are reaching out to create their own. Teachers are now sharing their boards on Instagram and Castillo has created a downloadable poster. Love this! This idea is great for kids of all ages!

My personal fight with depression began in the 80’s, while I was in high school. Back then I had no idea it was ‘depression’. No one talked about mental health back then and as a teenager, I didn’t know how to adequately describe how I was feeling. I was cute, popular, did well in school, and had lots of friends. Yet I still felt insecure and was depressed. Drinking was how I handled my feelings, and that led to a whole other set of problems. Eventually, while in college, I tried to commit suicide. Luckily someone found me after I overdosed on pills and booze, and I finally got some help. But I still battle with depression.

I’m glad to see that so many teachers are making sure their students are okay! Teenagers often have a hard time speaking to their parents about problems, as some of the issues kids deal with stem from their family. Congrats to Castillo for truly making a difference and to all the other teachers that also do so on a daily basis. True heroes!

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.

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