The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted young people in a variety of ways – from causing feelings of stress, fear and uncertainty, to disrupting their social lives, school engagement, employment and regular routines. While we’ve come a long way since the height of the pandemic, it can be healthy for students to reflect on the challenges they have faced and to continue to build strategies to maintain their mental health and wellbeing. This lesson encourages students to identify challenges, discuss strategies that have helped them to manage or overcome these, and write strength-based reflection letters about their experiences.

Year level



60 minutes


In class activity

Take away activity

SEL Competencies


Learning intention

Students can feel a sense of empowerment, self-efficacy and hope for the future by writing a strength-based reflection letter to themselves or to someone they are grateful for.

Key outcomes

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • reflect on challenges they have faced over the past few years

  • identify practical strategies for managing or overcoming their challenges

  • write a strength-based reflection letter.

Materials needed

Mapped to

Australian Curriculum: General Capabilities

  • Personal and Social Capability:

    • Self-management

Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education

  • Analyse the impact of changes and transitions, and devise strategies to support themselves and others through these changes (AC9HP8P02)

  • Refine, evaluate and adapt strategies for managing changes and transitions (AC9HP10P02)

NSW PDHPE Syllabus

  • Examines and evaluates strategies to manage current and future challenges (PD4-1)

  • Assesses their own and others’ capacity to reflect on and respond positively to challenges (PD5-1)

Victorian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education

  • Investigate the impact of transition and change on identities (VCHPEP123)

  • Evaluate strategies to manage personal, physical and social changes that occur as they grow older (VCHPEP124)

  • Examine the impact of changes and transitions on relationships (VCHPEP143)

Show details

Activity 1

Brainswarm activity: Challenges and strategies

10 minutes

To provide context, acknowledge that the past few years since the COVID-19 pandemic began have been challenging. Explain to students that it can be beneficial for our mental health and wellbeing to reflect on our challenges.

  1. Ask students to think about some of the challenges young people may have faced in recent times. Have them write these down on Post-it notes and place them on a shared space, such as a whiteboard or butcher’s paper.

  2. As a class, students brainstorm strategies they could use for managing or overcoming each of these challenges. If they need help coming up with ideas, they can refer to the ReachOut article, 10 tips for coping with the hard stuff.

  3. If students feel comfortable doing so, ask for volunteers to share some of the challenges they have experienced and how they managed or overcame them.

Activity 2

Individual activity: Write a reflection letter

45 minutes

Before this activity begins, download and print enough templates so that students can choose either of the following, or have them access fillable versions on their devices:

PART 1: 10 mins: Who am I writing to and why?

  1. Explain that these reflection letters are designed to help students think about, in open and healthy ways, the challenges they have faced recently and the key things they would like to say to themselves or to someone they are grateful for.

  2. Students complete the following sentence in their notebooks to help them decide which letter to write:

  • 'I'm writing to_______because_____________________________.’

Provide some examples of what this might look like. For example:

  • ‘I’m writing to myself because no matter what challenges I face, I want to remind myself there are strategies I can use to cope.’

  • ‘I’m writing to my friend Amy because they helped get me through a tough time and I want to let them know how grateful I am.’

Note: Remind students that they can work on the letter they don’t choose in their own time.

PART 2: 10 mins: What is a strength-based approach?

  1. Explain to students that the templates include guiding statements and prompts to help them write about their challenges using a strength-based approach.

  2. Provide examples of what it means to respond to challenges in this way. For example:

    • Recognising personal strengths, experiences and qualities that help you to overcome challenges (e.g. persistence, grit, problem-solving skills, sense of humour, ability to stay calm, having a positive self-worth).

    • Tapping into family, friend and peer networks to use their skills, experiences and assets (e.g. talking to a trusted adult about your feelings, or problem-solving a challenge with a friend).

    • Accessing health information and support in your community (e.g. local community organisations, youth groups, local GP or medical professionals, or online services such as

PART 3: 20 mins: Writing time

Give students time to work individually on their reflection letters.

Note: Some students may not feel like reflecting on the challenges they faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Explain that the letters are designed to be open-ended, so students can reflect on whatever challenges or experiences are most relevant to them.

PART 4: 5 mins: Sharing time

If students feel comfortable doing so, ask for volunteers to share their letters with the class.

Activity 3

Debrief: The power of reflection and gratitude

5 minutes

Studies have shown that simply the act of being grateful to yourself and others can make you feel happier and improve your wellbeing. Using reflection and gratitude can help students to take a more strength-based approach to their challenges, no matter how big or small they are.

Encourage students to think about how they could use reflection and gratitude to manage everyday challenges that they or their friends experience. For more information, you could share and teach the following ReachOut resources:


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