Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Are We Okay?

Mental Health of Teens

Susan McHale, Jason McNaughton | Published: June 2nd, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
  • Subject Subject Social Studies
  • Course Course Psychology
  • Time Frame Time Frame 130
  • Duration More 3 days


In this lesson, students analyze the physiological and psychological factors that promote mental health in teens. They brainstorm potential sources of stress and identify strategies to manage stress.

Essential Question(s)

What are the sources of teen stress? What are healthy and unhealthy responses to teen stress? What might be some coping strategies for teen stress?



Students brainstorm what teens worry or stress about using a Circle Map graphic organizer.


Through class discussion of teen stressors, students create a Collaborative Word Cloud. Students identify what appear to be the most common stressors for teens. Then, they watch a short video about teen stress.


Students explore healthy or productive responses to teen stress. They read an informational text about teen stress and possible coping strategies.


Students watch a video interview about the career and daily routine of a psychologist. After the interview, students identify the most important piece of information they learned from the psychologist and add this to their graphic organizers.


Using the RAFT strategy, students choose one scenario from a menu of possible teen stress situations and write a response to their chosen scenario. Students may offer peer feedback on written scenario responses through a peer editing and feedback process.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Circle Map Graphic Organizer (attached, one per student)

  • Teen Stress Reading (attached, one per student)

  • RAFT handout (attached, one per student)

  • RAFT Peer Feedback Form (attached, one per student)

  • Pens and pencils

  • Highlighters


35 Minute(s)

Introduce the lesson using the attached Lesson Slides. Begin with slide 3. Briefly, read aloud the essential questions. Then, move to slide 4 and read aloud the lesson objectives.

Pass out copies of the attached Circle Map Graphic Organizer, and display the question on slide 5: "What do teens stress or worry about?"

Have students use the Circle Maps strategy with the graphic organizer. In the first, outermost circle of the graphic organizer, ask students to jot down a few reasons why teens might be stressed. These ideas should be brief and limited to single words or short phrases. Allow about five minutes for students to write down their ideas.

Display slide 6. Pair students with an Elbow Partner, and have them share their ideas with each other. Ask students to add any new ideas they discuss with their partners to their graphic organizers. Have them choose two ideas they discussed to share with the class.

Use a word cloud generator such as to create a Collaborative Word Cloud as you conduct a whole-class discussion. The word cloud will allow students to quickly see what things teens stress about most often according to the class.

Because student pairs have chosen two ideas to share with the class, ask each partner to share out one of the ideas. As each teen stressor is shared, ask other class members to raise their hands if that same topic or idea is also written in their outer circle. Count the number of hands raised, and then add the idea to the word cloud generator once per student (including once for the student who shared it).

Continue in this manner until all class members have shared their ideas about teen stress. With the compilation of student ideas recorded, generate the class’s completed word cloud.

Ask the class to analyze the word cloud, noting trends in the things they identified as common teen stressors. Ask students to make any other general observations about the completed word cloud before moving on to the next part of the lesson. Tell students to keep their Circle Map Graphic Organizer handy, as they will continue to add to it throughout the lesson.


25 Minute(s)

Next, invite students to watch a video of a teen discussing the stressors in her life and how her perception changed about them. Display the two questions on slide 7.

  • What stresses does Carley have in her life?

  • How does Carley change her viewpoint about stress?

Direct students to the second circle on the graphic organizer, and instruct them to jot down answers to these questions as they watch the video.

Display slide 8. Show the video "Stress at School: Carley Rogers."

After the video, allow students time to finish writing their answers in the second circle. Invite students to choose a new Elbow Partner and share their answers with each other. Allow about five minutes for this discussion. Once ideas are shared, conduct a class discussion about the video.

In addition to discussing Carley’s experience with stress and practicing gratitude, invite students to share their own opinions and experiences, as they might use different coping strategies or find that what works for Carley does not work for them.


35 Minute(s)

Continue the class discussion, focusing on strategies students have tried to alleviate stress.

Display slide 9. Pass out copies of the attached Teen Stress Reading. Introduce the reading and ask students to use the Why-Lighting strategy to annotate as they read. This includes highlighting main ideas and writing in the margin why they chose to highlight that phrase or idea.

Give students time to read and Why-Light. Then, discuss which ideas they highlighted. Ask students to review the teen stressors mentioned in the reading and compare the list of teen stressors mentioned in the reading with the list the class generated earlier.

Display slide 10. Direct students to the third circle of the Circle Map Graphic Organizer and ask them to write down any coping strategies that sound reasonable or doable to them. Call on volunteers to share what they wrote.

Conclude the conversation by discussing the following question with the class: How might focusing on physical coping strategies help with our emotional well-being?


15 Minute(s)

Transition to the video on slide 11. Invite students to watch a career interview with professional counselor Natalie Gallo: "K20 ICAP - Are We Okay?"

As students watch the interview, ask them to write in the innermost circle of their Circle Map Graphic Organizer at least one idea that seems important. Display slide 12 after the video to remind students to complete this step if they haven’t already.

Ask for volunteers to share what they wrote. Discuss how the ideas presented in the video might be helpful in addressing teens’ stress.


25 Minute(s)

Display slide 13 and pass out copies of the attached RAFT handout. Ask students to take a moment to reflect on all that has been discussed in this lesson.

To wrap up the topic of teen stress and mental health, students will complete a RAFT writing activity. Review the RAFT choices on the handout, and instruct students to choose one of the prompts to write about. Emphasize to students that they should use their Why-Lighted reading, the videos, and their Circle Map answers to inform and support their writing. Allow at least 20 minutes of uninterrupted time for students to complete their writing.