How to Integrate Identity, Research, and Socio-Emotional Learning in a Media Project: Self-Care Snippets

Teach YR

How to Integrate Identity, Research, and Socio-Emotional Learning in a Media Project: Self-Care Snippets


Molly Montgomery is a high school English teacher and writer in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has an M.A. in Creative Writing and Teaching Credential in English from UC Davis and is a 2022 Jack Hazard Fellow. Her work has been featured in several publications, including Entropy, X-R-A-Y, Sinking City, The Wondrous Real Mag, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. 


This lesson sequence allows students to explore the topic of mental health as it relates to their own identity and experiences. Students will examine several different types of self-help media including articles, podcasts, and social media videos in order to identify how the authors use a combination of their personal experiences and research to present advice about mental health to a particular audience. Then students will choose their own mental health topic and media format, identify their intended audience, conduct research on this topic, and create a multimedia project about this issue that informs their intended audience about their issue while integrating their own personal experiences.

Academic Objectives

  • Researching a relevant topic related to mental health and wellness using reliable sources
  • Presenting informative writing as a multimedia presentation (either a video or a podcast with photos)
  • Adapting writing for a particular audience
  • Integrating personal narrative writing into an informative article and multimedia presentation to add originality

Socio-Emotional Objectives

  • Discussing the importance of mental health and emotional regulation, different strategies for maintaining your mental health as a student and for becoming more advanced at socio-emotional learning
  • Discussing the intersection of identity and mental health, how your identity can influence your experience of mental health and how to cope with mental health challenges that not everyone sees


Part 1: Circle Discussion Prompts

NOTE: It is important before starting this lesson to establish that students are in a safe space where they can share their thoughts and feelings without judgment  but they are under no obligation to share if they don’t feel comfortable. It may be useful to set norms with the class on how to hold respectful discussions about sensitive topics.

In a circle format or in small groups where everyone has a chance to respond to each question, ask students to respond to the following questions. You can give the time to write and reflect before sharing.

Round 1:  What comes to mind when you hear the words self-care? What images or words?

Round 2: What is mental health in your own words?

Round 3: How do you maintain your mental health?

Round 4: Who do you consider your support network? Who do you go to when you need someone to talk with about your mental health?

Part 2: Write/Think/Pair/Share

Share the following quotation and ask students to reflect on the quotation by writing about it and discussing it with a partner. Then ask a few students to share what their partner’s response was.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” -Audre Lorde

Discussion Question: What do you think this quote means? How is the quote similar or different to the image you had of self-care?

Part 3: Giving Context to the Quote

Explain that Audre Lorde was a Black feminist scholar, poet, and activist who advocated for social justice, especially for Black women, queer people, and other marginalized groups. She wrote this quote in an essay discussing her battle with cancer. 

Then, once students have been given this context, ask students to discuss the meaning of the quote again and come to a consensus in their partners or small groups of Lorde’s definition of self-care.

Each partner or small group should write down Lorde’s definition of self-care in their own words. Then each partner or group should share out so the whole class can come to a consensus.

NOTE: Give students time to reflect on the questions before answering; you may want to set aside a few minutes for them to journal the prompt before discussing. You may want to come up with your own answer to this question as a model for students. You can invite students to answer as a whole class, in pairs or small groups, using break-out rooms if students are not in person.

ACTIVITY 1: Discussing Mental Health and Identity

Guiding Questions for Discussion: How do writers communicate about mental health with a specific audience in mind?  How do they include their own identities and stories in informative writing?

Part 1: Examining model texts- Personal Narrative

Genre 1: Personal Narrative with Advice

Reclaiming Audre Lorde’s Radical Self-Care by Kathleen Newman-Bremang

Everyone reads this article (or an excerpt from it)

Students will annotate the text, looking for personal examples that the author gives and advice about self-care that she provides.

Deconstructing the text: Next students should read through the article or excerpts again and answer the following questions on a piece of paper or graphic organizer.

  • Who is the author? What can we learn about her from this piece?
  • Who is her intended audience? How do we know? 
  • What strategies does she use to reach her intended audience?
  • How does the author define self-care? What is not self-care?
  • How does the author include her own identity in the narrative?
  • What is her call to action?

Extension Activity: For another perspective on self-care, students can read “Self-Care” by Set To Go and compare this informational article’s definition of Self-Care to Newman-Bremang’s definition.

Part 2: Examining model texts- List Articles/ Podcasts

Genre 2: Listicles

NPR Like Kit Episode on Mental Health in Asian American Communities

4 Tips for Talking to Your Latino Parents About Mental Health (KQED)

Students should choose one of the above podcasts to listen to. If there is time, students can listen to the entire podcast, but this activity also works if students only listen to the first section of each podcast (the first 5-7 minutes). As they listen, they should fill out a graphic organizer answering the following questions:

  • Who is the intended audience of this podcast? How do you know?
  • What is the structure of this podcast? How is it organized?
  • What are the takeaways (the calls to action)?
  • What personal examples do the journalists and speakers share in this podcast? Are these examples effective for making their points?
  • How do the journalists or speakers in these podcasts speak about mental health and identity? How do they avoid stereotypes but also speak to common trends in their communities?
  • How is this similar or different from the personal narrative article you read?

After filling out the graphic organizer, they should discuss their findings with other students who have read and listened to the same podcast. Then they should find a partner who listened to the other podcast and compare answers before sharing their ideas with the whole class.

Whole Class Discussion:

Give these questions to students in advance and ask them to answer them using specific examples from the texts they have read or listened to: the personal narrative article and the podcast.

How do writers communicate about mental health with a specific audience in mind? How do they include their own identities and stories in informative writing?

Extension Activities: To ground students’ discussion of identity and the impact that marginalization of different groups can have on people’s mental health, it can be useful to explore the negative impacts of stereotypes and the concept of intersectional identities. Students could watch the TED TALK “The Danger of a Single Story” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and make an identity chart to explore their own identity.

Part 3: YR Media Texts Jigsaw

Students will each be assigned one of the following YR Media texts, read that text and annotate it using an online annotation tool such as or Kami.

YR Media Texts:

“Without Access to Academic Support, I Resort to Teaching Myself”

“Learning to Appreciate Myself Among Toxic Competition”

“Tips For the First Finals Season Back In-Person”

“Tips to Keep Students Organized”

“FOMO: Don’t Be Afraid to Stay In”

They should annotate it to identify the following:

  • Personal examples in the texts give
  • Advice provided to readers or listeners

Then they will meet with their expert group, a group of students who have all read and listened to the same text and answer the analysis questions.

Analysis Questions:

Genre: Is it a personal narrative with advice or a list of advice?

Who is the intended audience?

What is the main takeaway or takeaways (call to action)?

Next they will meet with their jigsaw group, a group where everyone has read a different text, and share the answers to their analysis questions.

Then as a jigsaw group, they should discuss the following Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever experienced a similar situation to the ones discussed in the YR Media Articles? What was the situation? How did you cope with it?
  • What advice did you find the most helpful from these texts? Is there any advice you think they could have given that was not included?

Other Suggested Resources:

Videos on Mental Health:

A Self-Care Action Plan 

Why Students Should Have Mental Health Days (TED Talk)

TikToks on Mental Health:

Extension Activity:

Have students watch one or more short-form videos on mental health from YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram. Students can analyze how the video is presented, who the intended audience is, and how reliable the information is. They can use these videos to brainstorm ideas for creating their own self-care snippets.

Some useful articles for discussing the pros and cons of social media videos on mental health:

The Top Mental Health TikTok Influencers — and Why They’re Important

TikTok is helping Gen Z with mental health. Here’s what it can and can’t do

ACTIVITY 2: Researching a Mental Health Topic

Part 1: Brainstorming

Have students take a few minutes to identify different communities they belong to including their school communities such as clubs or sports teams, friend groups, religious communities, cultural communities, or online communities. If students have not already had a chance to make an identity chart, they can make one to identify different aspects of their own identity and connect these aspects of identity to their communities. Communities could be as broad as “people who like playing video games” and as specific as a specific classroom community they belong to. 

Then ask students to brainstorm the following questions:

What is a mental health topic that affects you or people in your community? 

What personal experiences do you have with this topic? How does this topic affect people in your community (including your school, your friends, your family, or people from a similar background as you?)

If students are having trouble picking a topic, you can provide a list of suggested topics:

  • How teens can improve their mental health 
  • How teens can use social media in a healthy way
  • How to get along better with your parents or siblings
  • How to destress after a difficult day at school
  • Dealing with anxiety at school
  • How being a student athlete supports mental health
  • How to make friends if you are introverted
  • How to provide support and resources for someone struggling with a mental health issue such as depression, suicidal thoughts, an eating disorder, anxiety, stress etc

NOTE: When bringing up mental health topics, remind students of local mental health crisis lines and any mental health counseling available at the school in case they need additional support. 

In the United States, the Suicide and Crisis Line is 988 and is available by phone call or text.

Part 2: Researching the topic

Students should research their topic by gathering information from reliable sources that provide accurate information about mental health and debunk stereotypes relating to mental health and marginalized groups.

Some students will need to do the research to gather some ideas before picking their topic and connecting it to their own lives. You can change the timing of these activities to fit the needs of your students.

Here is a list of suggested websites that students can use to start their research:

CDC’s website on mental health

Teen Mental Health Topics from Medline Plus

World Health Organization Site on Teen Mental Health

National Alliance on Mental Illness

National Institute on Mental Health

Activity 3: Writing a script for the PSA

Part 1: Pre-writing

Provide students with time to plan their PSA before diving into writing by answering pre-writing questions. This is also an opportunity to discuss how they can speak to a particular audience without reinforcing stereotypes about any particular group of people (If students watched “The Danger of a Single Story” TED Talk this is an ideal time to remind them of its message).

Pre-Writing Questions:

What is your overall message?

Who is your audience? What strategies will you use to reach them?

What format would be most effective for reaching your audience? (a narrative or a list of advice, video or audio, etc)

How will you organize your presentation? What will you use as a hook to draw your audience into the presentation?

What personal examples will you include? Where will you place them?

What is your call to action?

Part 2: Writing the Script

Students should write the script that they will be reading aloud during their podcast or video on a document that can be shared with their peers and their teacher.

Part 3: Planning your Multimedia

Students should plan out the multimedia elements and create them. Students can be creative when adding multimedia to their presentation. They can create comics or videos, take photos, or create slides and infographics using online tools such as Google Slides, Adobe Spark, or Canva.

Activity 4: Sharing Draft for Revision

Part 1: Peer Review

Students should read or present their script to 2 peers. If they have not yet created the multimedia that accompanies their script, they can explain their plan for using multimedia in their project.

Who do you think this piece is for?

What did you learn about the author from their piece?

What takeaways do you have from this piece?

What is one strength of this piece? 

What is one area that can be improved?

Part 2: Revising your Script

Students will review the feedback they received from their peers, determine what they can improve upon, and plan out the steps for their revision. Then they will revise their drafts.

Part 3: Recording your podcast or video

Students will need to use audio or video recording software to record their podcast or video.

Part 4: Post-production

Students will need to use a video production software or audio production software to add any other multimedia elements to their piece.

During post-production, students should focus on the following:

Editing for grammar, clarity, or style in their writing or audio/ video

Adding any multimedia elements to their piece such as music, graphs, etc.

Activity 5: Publication and Gallery Walk

Part 1: Publishing it on a blog or website

Students will publish their self-care snippet on class blog or website. When publishing, students should choose a headline that captures the main message of their project and hooks their audience.

Part 2: Sharing in a Gallery Walk or in a Small Group

Students can share  in a gallery walk format, where they take turns browsing through their peers’ presentations, or they can present their PSAs in small groups. Students should provide positive feedback to peers on what they like about their finished multimedia presentations.

Activity 6: Debrief


After students have shared with their peers, have students gather for one final reflection and discussion.

Discussion Questions:

What is one new insight you learned from your own research on mental health?

What is one new insight you learned about mental health from your peers’ self-care snippets?

What is one new insight you learned about writing or creating multimedia for a particular audience?

What was easy about this project? What was challenging?




Teachers, are you excited about the work your students created? As always, if your students love what they created please invite them to join YR Media’s community and pitch their pieces to our editors. And teachers, sign up here to receive email updates when new curriculum tools are published and become a member of our growing teacher network!

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