Newsletter Subscribe
Australian Catholics Subscribe

Reflection questions and activities for 'Shining a light on mental illness'

Geraldine Martin |  10 February 2016

Read the article 'Shining a light on mental illness' and Xavier's full speech to his school community and answer the following questions. Then share your answers in pairs, small groups or in a classroom discussion. 

1. Read Xavier’s full speech. Have you ever felt any of the lonely and empty feelings that Xavier felt?  What did you do about it?

2. What did you think of Xavier sharing this very private story of his life so far? Do you think it would be helpful to others who may be feeling depressed?

3. Do you think that Xavier may not have had such a good outcome if he didn’t have a relationship with God through his chaplains and visited his counsellor on a regular basis?

4. What could you do to make sure those around you at school who seem to be affected by negative criticism or are being bullied are receiving the help they need?


1. Research organisations in your area that deal with mental health. Once you have collected names, phone numbers, addresses etc., make a poster which you can put up in the classroom so that any student who feels they need help, knows where there is help available. 

2. Suggest to your RE teacher that you devote one lesson to ‘Mental Health’. After reading Xavier’s speech, write up a list of questions or reflections that would stimulate debate in the classroom. How can one’s faith help the depressed person?

3. As Xavier said, ‘If more people can show an interest in the lives of those around them, then we all feel just a little bit more wanted'. If you see another student on their own at recess or being bullied, do something. You could ask them how they are in a meaningful way or if they want to talk. You could also ask if they need help, or suggest they see the school counsellor or chaplain. If they are afraid to go, offer to go with them.

For younger students

Since it's the season of Lent, we could use this time to talk about bullying in our school. Do a ‘chalk and talk’ experience. Ask students to be silent during the exercise. Then, write the words ‘mental health’ and ‘bullying’ on the whiteboard. Invite students to come up and write any questions they might have around these two phrases. 

Once all questions are on the board – deal with each one involving the students in the discussion. At the end of the discussion get students to write on ‘postcards‘ what they could do about bullying and mental health during this time of Lent. Put the postcards up on the wall so students can be reminded of what they have agreed to do. 



Topic tags: heroesandrolemodels, healthycommunitylife

Request permissions to reuse this article


Submitted feedback is moderated. Please read our comments policy. Email is requested for identification purposes only.

Word Count: 0 (please limit to 200)

Similar articles

RE-cycled: Refugee Awareness Raiser

 | 31 Jan 2017

This year, Red Bend Catholic College raised awareness about the services offered by Mercy Care and Marist Youth Care, in particular, the assistance of Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minors (Refugees). 

RE-cycled: Year of Mercy quilt

 | 08 Dec 2016

Victorian students at St Timothy's school fill Christmas Angel Boxes for less-fortunate children and design a Year of Mercy quilt.

RE-cycled: Biodiversity and sustainability

 | 01 Dec 2016

Year 3 students plant a biodiverse ‘Barramundi’ garden at St Finbar’s, East Brighton, VIC.

The Cardoner Project: Student immersion

 | 25 Aug 2016

The Cardoner Project, a ministry of the Jesuits, is a not-for-profit, university student-focused hub for volunteering that offers assistance to disadvantaged communities both locally and abroad. With a mission to deepen human, spiritual, and intellectual formation, young men and women involved with The Cardoner Project are grounded in a love of the poor in the service of the Church.

RE-cycled: Walking in the shoes of refugees

 | 18 Aug 2016

Year-12 students Austin Deppeler, Alex Oakes and Jasmin Mathews along with their teachers Mr Kieran Kiely and Mrs Shirley Dagmang put themselves in the shoes of Syrian refugees to raise money for much needed food, medicine and support and to raise awareness for refugees who have lost everything.