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T.H.E. Journal: Cook Center, Share My Lesson Platform Offering New Student Mental Health Animated Series, Extension Lessons

By Kristal Kuykendall | January 20, 2022

The Cook Center for Human Connection today announced a partnership with the American Federation of Teachers’ Share My Lesson platform to make a new teen mental health animated series and associated lessons available for free to the 1.9 million educators using the platform.

“My Life is Worth Living” is an animated series about teen mental health and suicide prevention and is produced by Wonder Media and the Cook Center, a Utah-based nonprofit whose mission is eradicating suicide and advocating for mental health and wellness. The series is available in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese, and Portuguese and has earned numerous film awards including winner of the Utah Film Festival.

The first episodes of the series debuted in mid-2021 and many are available on YouTube. The series was developed with guidance from former the president of the American Association of Suicidology, Dr. James Mazza, and a team of adolescent mental health medical experts.

“My Life is Worth Living” features relatable teen characters with each story modeling positive, research-based mental wellness skills for grades 7–12. The characters wrestle with challenges commonly reported by teens such as depression, bullying, addiction, LGBTQ+ rejection, and abuse, and within each episode, the characters discover new strategies to cope and thrive.

Each episode will have printable extension lessons and discussion guides for educators, counselors, and parents; the content will be released on Share My Lesson later this month, the Cook Center said.

The series comes as the pandemic has intensified what education officials have called mental health crisis among students, with the U.S. Surgeon General last month declaring youth mental health an “urgent national public health crisis.”

“Research shows that connections to friends, family, and community can be the difference between life and death. Storytelling is known to create connections and combat loneliness,” the Cook Center said in its announcement. “Stories can break down the stigma of talking about mental health needs and thoughts of suicide.”

Created and maintained by the AFT, Share My Lesson is a free website where educators, parents and caregivers, paraprofessionals, union and non-union members, educational partners, and higher education professionals can find and share the best educational resources available for their specific needs.

The animation was produced by Wonder Media CEO Terry Thoren, former CEO of Klasky Csupo, the company that incubated the Simpsons and created Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys, and Rocket Power. To learn more about the series, visit www.mylifeisworthliving.org.

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