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Screening and Class Discussion


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Themes & Ideas

Mental Wellness



What Students Will Uncover

Students reflect on their own use of technology, becoming aware of the positive and the negative impacts of technology in their lives and relationships. Students will become aware of their assumptions about mental health concerns, seeking help, technology, and will be given resources to reconsider or reinforce those assumptions.

Lesson Overview

Students will engage in a short discussion to surface some of their initial beliefs about the technology present in their day to day lives.

Students will then watch the classroom version of Screenagers Next Chapter: Addressing Mental Health in the Digital Age, (50 mins), a film that examines teen stress, anxiety and depression and how technology can be both helpful and harmful to teens who are already struggling with their mental health.

Post viewing, educators can choose to:

  • Lead class with this lesson plan, hosting a discussion and facilitating short activities covering all the main themes of the film. This guide particularly explores how student perspectives may have changed following the viewing


  • Host a brief discussion using this overview guide and then switch into our more in-depth lesson plans that dive deeper into particular themes from the film.

Lesson Objectives

  • Consider how screens might be impacting their mental health 
  • Investigate their own biases and assumptions about mental health 
  • Learn strategies for protecting mental health

Lesson Materials



This section is intended for the educator, providing them with information about the film, its themes and topics, as well as tips for how to lead students in an impactful discussion.

About The Film

Film Runtime: 50 minutes

Filmmaker and physician Delaney Ruston uses a personal lens and professional eye to help us all flip the script on stress, anxiety, and depression. We follow Delaney as she finds herself at a loss on how to help her own teens as they struggle with their emotional wellbeing. Ruston sets out to understand these challenges in our current screen-filled society, and how we as parents and schools empower teens to overcome mental health challenges and build emotional agility, communication savvy, and stress resilience.

We witness Delaney as she finds her way from ineffective parenting to much-improved strategies. We follow other personal stories of families from an array of backgrounds with a spectrum of emotional challenges. We also observe approaches in schools that provide strategies relevant beyond the classroom setting. Interwoven into the stories are surprising insights from brain researchers, psychologists, and thought-leaders that reveal evidence-based ways to support mental wellness among our youth. The impact of social media and screen time in general is incorporated in topics brought to our attention in Screenagers Next Chapter, how it may be impacting our teen’s mental health, and what we can do to help support youth in the face of struggles.

The Film in Context

Adolescent mental health concerns are at an all-time high, with the rates of depression and anxiety doubling since before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, we need to pay attention to how we talk about and teach mental health to our kids.

The movie weaves together personal stories and pairs them with evidence-based practices from the top researchers, psychologists, psychiatrists, pediatricians and educators. The movie focuses on how to empower teens to overcome mental health challenges and build emotional agility and stress resilience. Delving into stigma, we see why so many kids are afraid to seek help and what can be done to make help more accessible and appealing to them.


Lesson Introduction

Explain to the students that today you will be discussing mental health and how it is further complicated by technology.

Begin the lesson by hosting some general discussion questions with students about technology in their day-to-day lives, aiming to surface the beliefs and attitudes of students.

Pre-Screening Questions

Invite students to share their answers to the class. Educator makes notes on the board.

What do you know about mental health? What does it mean to you?
Do you ever discuss mental health with friends or family members? Why or why not? 
How much of an impact do you think technology has on your day-to-day life? How about your friends' lives? Your family? 

Have your students fill out this SURVEY (Download PDF: English // Spanish) before the screening. They will revisit it after the screening to see if any of their answers have changed.

Before The Movie

Ask students to take notes while watching, either on their own or using the note-taking sheet provided (Download PDF: English // Spanish). Inform students that their notes will be important for discussions and activities after viewing. Encourage them to pay particular attention for:

  • Information and quotes from expert speakers in the film.
  • Personal stories and insights from the subjects of the film.
  • Interesting facts and statistics presented.

Play The Film

Play Film Not available in preview

Lesson Activities

Activity 1

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Post-viewing Discussion (20 mins) 

Students work collaboratively.

Engage the students in a short discussion of the film they have just watched, asking them to refer to their notes.

Begin with asking students...

Did you learn anything new — either about technology or mental health — while watching this film? 
Share some of the characters, scenes, themes and data you wrote down. 
Was there a moment or a character that stood out to you in particular? 
What issue from the film do you find most troubling? Why?

Activity 2

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Reviewing and Re-ranking Activities (20-25 minutes).

  1. Split the class into groups of about 3-4 students. Ask each group to nominate one person as the notetaker and presenter for the group.
  2. Ask them to review the rankings they gave each activity in the SURVEY they examined as a class before the screening.
  3. Ask them to re-rank any of the activities as they see fit after having watched the film.
  4. Ask them in their groups to agree on their new ratings. The educator should circulate between groups supporting their discussions and helping mediate any differences of opinion.
  5. Have the presenter from each group read out what their new rankings are while the educator make notes on the white board.
  6. Have all students return to their seats. The educator will briefly review the rankings generated, identifying common results between groups and encouraging positive contributions (e.g. "I like using my smartphone to message with my family too" or "We also thought ____ was unhealthy").
  7. To conclude, ask students to privately write down one or two suggestions from the film they would consider bringing into their own life and routine.

Key Learning: The most powerful ally students have in developing good habits and being able to self-regulate is themself. They must learn to generate ideas and make more considerate choices for their own happiness and wellbeing.

Activity 3

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Poster Creation Activity (30-45 mins / homework activity)

Using the information they learned from Screenagers Next Chapter, along with any additional research (e.g. online research, school library), students will work together to create a mental health awareness poster, which can take a physical form or a digital form, on one of the following subjects:

a) Anxiety

b) Depression

c) Mental Health Stigma

Advise students that the posters are meant to be informative for people around their own age. Students should consider the following questions when working on their posters:

  1. What is the definition of your key concept?
  2. Why is your key concept important for young people to learn about?
  3. What do others need to know about your key concept in order to promote their own and others' physical and mental wellbeing?

Share some of these examples to get them started if needed.

  • Social Media: "Social Media is a great way to stay in touch with friends... but don't forget to spend time together in person."
  • Video Games: "Fortnite all night? Get some sleep and build your grades up, not your defenses."
  • Smartphones and Sleep: "Want to be SMART? Leave the PHONE outside your room at bedtime."

Students should incorporate statistics from the film and their own research. They might also be interested in including drawings or pictures to capture attention and convey information, and they should use clear and concise wording so their message is understood.

Key Learning: Students demonstrate they are capable of building upon what they have learned in the film and think about how it applies to the world and people around them.

Activity 4

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Activity 5

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Lesson Conclusion

Summarize and conclude the lesson by highlighting some of the key ideas that came out of the discussions (particularly if attitudes and ideas changed significantly after viewing the film).

Remember to highlight that technology can be a great positive in our lives, connecting us to friends, family, communities we might not have access to in-person, and mental health resources, but it is important for us all to be mindful of the potential challenges it can bring forth.

Ask students to reflect and think upon...

How do you most often cope with hard emotions? After watching the film, will you experiment with new coping methods? 
How can ensure that the technology in your life is making your relationships better and not worse?
What steps will you take to support your friends with their mental health?

Further Reading

For Educators

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For Students


CASEL® SEL Competencies

Our Curriculum & Lesson Plans are independently aligned by the Screenagers Team to the CASEL® SEL Competencies Framework.

  • Self-awareness: Examining prejudices and biases
    Growth mindset
  • Self-management: Identifying and using stress management strategies
    Personal and collective agency
  • Social Awareness: Demonstrating empathy and compassion

AASL Standards Framework for Learners

Our Curriculum & Lesson Plans are also informed by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Standards Framework for Learners. For additional information and resources, including a downloadable format for the Learners Standards Framework, for AASL’s National Standards visit


  • C. SHARE — Sharing information resources in accordance with modification, reuse, and remix policies.
    Disseminating new knowledge through means appropriate for the intended audience.


  • B. CREATE — Generating products that illustrate learning.
Related Movie
Screenagers Next Chapter (Classroom Version, 50 mins)

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