Man and woman conversing.

For Teachers

The teacher has an important role in the VIP Programme implementation. You are the ones who see the students every week and know all about their everyday school life. Bringing up the topic of mental health has crucial importance for all of your students, regardless of what you choose to talk about or how you do it.

Note: According to the Resource Booklet, this page contains exercises that the teacher can use in the classroom.

Are you going to teach a VIP lesson in your class or do you need tips and advice on how to talk with the students who experience problems? These pages will provide you with more information and useful tools that will help you to implement the VIP Programme​.

Many school employees are unsure if they have enough of a reason to be concerned about a student. We discuss this topic at our training conferences. If you are new at a school and you want to be trained in VIP, you can go to the school management or Contact Us directly.

If you see that a student is having a hard time, we recommend that you or another adult have a conversation of concern with them.

Some Tips on VIP Implementation in the Classroom

The VIP Programme team has developed a Resource Booklet for teachers. In it you will find useful tips, along with many concrete exercises and planning suggestions. We also have a booklet for students, called “That's Life”.

Remember that instead of trying to be a mental health professional, you should simply show interest in the topic along with the students. Health professionals will take on the task of explaining the subject of mental health during the class visit. The most important thing is not what you talk about, but the fact that you talk about it. It means a lot for the students when the teacher dares to put mental health on the agenda. Find your own way and choose the topics you are comfortable with.

Let the students know that these lessons are not an invitation for them to share their private stories with the class, and make time to talk with particularly vulnerable students beforehand so that they know what to expect from a VIP lesson.

Are You Concerned?

We generally tend to say that there is a reason to be concerned when a student demonstrates the following characteristics:

  • Change of behaviour
  • Avoiding social contact
  • Bad hygiene
  • Decline in school performance
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Sleeping problems
  • Depression

Suicide Prevention

It is easy to think that suicide prevention at school is about taking up the topic of suicide in the classroom, but this is not the case. Speaking about mental health in general, and the reasons and ways to seek help in particular, has a larger preventive effect.

If you are a teacher who wants to have a particular focus on suicide during your VIP classes, we recommend doing this in cooperation with a health professional.

How to Be a Reliable Adult

Regardless of what professional group you belong to, you can make a difference in the life of a student or a colleague. To be a reliable adult means to dare to see the students and to dare to communicate with them. It is also important to think about inclusive language.

The One Programme by UNICEF has the following tips on how to be a reliable adult who communicates with the students in everyday school life:

  • Greet the student and make eye contact
  • Use their name
  • Say something encouraging
  • Take the initiative for a chat
  • Give praise when someone has done something positive
  • Give praise that others can hear
  • Be inclusive, even in electronic communication
  • Set boundaries

Speak Safely

Inclusive language use helps the students feel safe because it makes all of them feel included. For example, not every young person has a mum and dad at home. Someone might be living in Child Welfare Services, or have a single father or two mothers. To talk about “the adults at home” is a way to be inclusive here. Inclusive language is particularly important when referring to various minority groups.

To speak in an inclusive manner means that you do not assume that everyone is just like everyone else. When a boy tells you he is dating someone, it is easy to ask “What is her name?”. But you cannot be sure that this someone is a girl. Asking “Who is it?” instead is an example of using inclusive language which also creates the room for an honest answer. Try to avoid assuming one thing or another.

A good tip from The Restart Project by Queer Youth is to use the phrase “those of use who...” when you talk about a minority group in the classroom. Phrases like “those of us who wear a hijab,” “those of us who struggle with depression,” “those of us who are transgender,” or “those of us who like classical music” for example, all express the idea that you, as an adult, know about the diversity that exists in the classroom and at school. It makes the students feel safe when they know that you see this diversity.

If you want to know more about inclusive language or how to create a more inclusive classroom, we recommend:

The courses by Rosa Kompetanse (Rosa/Pink Competence) under FRI (formerly LLH) — Please note that the info is in norwegian

The Difficult Conversation

We can sometimes become concerned about a student’s welfare. They might be absent from school a lot, look tired or sad, or change their behaviour in another way. If you are worried about a student, it can be wise to talk to them about it. Say that you are concerned and explain why.

It is important to let the student know that the school can adapt to the difficult life situation he or she is experiencing, and last but not least, pass them on to the right health care institution.

Below are some tips for a conversation of concern developed by the psychology specialist Svein Øverland. These tips are the same as those we discuss in our training conferences. If you are looking for further professional development within the subject of effective conversation, we can recommend our Student Conversation course.

Svein Øverland has come up with some tips for a conversation of concern:

Conversation of Concern

  • Choose time and place
  • Say that you are concerned
  • Say what you are concerned about
  • Say what your concern is based on
  • Say that you might be wrong
  • Be quiet!


  • Show respect
  • Do not promise too much
  • Find supporting people
  • Think short-term and long-term
  • Do something concrete


  • Say that you are still concerned
  • End the conversation
  • Say that you want to contact the student again
  • Say that you hope he/she contacts you first


Share with Us

Have you had a successful VIP implementation? We would really appreciate it if you took the time to share your tips or exercises with us so that we can share them further with other teachers.

Other languages

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