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DEAL: Building resilience

This session from THE SAMARITANS teaches people about coping strategies and how to use them.

In this session we will learn: there are a range of coping strategies that can be helpful; to understand that everyone experiences difficult times and feelings; resilience is about working through challenging times.

Download document:Building resilience session plan

183.0 kb – PDF

1 hour

Create a safe and positive learning environment by agreeing ground rules for the session.

Key message

Sometimes we use coping strategies we know and have used before, at other times we need to ask for help. If you feel lonely or isolated or are going through a difficult time, reach out to someone for support.


Download document:Coping cards

440.0 kb – PDF

Download document:Blank coping cards

369.2 kb – PDF

Download document:Situation cards

140.9 kb – PDF

Download document:My five handout

183.6 kb – PDF

Download document:Building resilience film discussion handout

116.9 kb – PDF

Download document:Character profile handout

77.0 kb – PDF


  1. Watch the film “Resilience”. Allow time for students to talk about the film. Asking the student to work in small groups, hand out the discussion points, one character per group. Ask each group to complete a character profile (handout) for their character from the film. Thinking in particular about what the character can do to build resilience and what you would recommend as a friend. Share these as a class.
  2. Ask students to write down difficult situations or problems on pieces of paper or sticky notes (or use situation cards). Gather these up.
  3. Hand out two cards to each student: either two coping cards or one coping card and one blank card where they can add their own idea. Each student chooses one to hold up where everyone can see it.
  4. Label areas in the room helpful, harmful and useless. Read out one of the situations which the students wrote down and ask them to move according to which category their coping strategies would fit into for that situation.
  5. Discuss each response and compare ideas and thoughts. Would you need more than one coping strategy? What makes something harmful or useless? What do we need to consider when thinking about how we are coping? How will we know if what we are doing has helped?
  6. Does anything ever get in the way of us doing what we know will be helpful? Is the helpful thing the same as the easy thing? Can it be difficult to do what we know will be helpful? Can you think of an example (for instance, knowing who to go to for support is not the same as actually ringing them up or going to their office)? How could we overcome this (for instance, go with a friend)?
  7. Plenary: To build resilience we need to have a toolkit of strategies that keep our lives in balance and might help us feel able able to cope when a challenge comes our way. Remind the class of the video clip. It’s also useful to have a specific plan to help us cope with things that may come our way and cause us stress, to make sure that we have ‘the right tools for the job’ when we have to cope with a difficult situation.
  8. Hand out the “My Five” sheets and ask students to think about a plan of 5 things they can do to help themselves cope with stressful situations. They do not need to share it if they do not wish to do so.


Which coping strategies will I try to use when I need them?

What ideas will I take from this lesson?

Links and Learning Journeys

This session links to: Finding a way forward | Barriers to seeking help | Exam stress | My support network | Supporting a friend

It is also part of 2 suggested learning journeys:

Learning journey: building resilience: Ups and downs of the day | Expressing feelings | Managing stress: making choices | Building resilience |Talking helps | Being positive

Learning journey: learning about me: What is emotional health? | Building resilience | Let it out | Being positive | Barriers to seeking help | Making assumptions (short) | Helping my friends

Make sure young people know what support is available and how to access this support.