Lesson plan; The Girl That Never Was – the theme of mental health

Objective: Students will be able to analyze the lyrics of the song “The Girl That Never Was” by James Blunt to understand the emotional impact of loss and relate it to mental health awareness.

A couple of years ago, my dear friend Gillian Benson, whom I’ve known since the age of five, welcomed her daughter, Addison, into the world. Gilly is not just a friend; she’s my best friend’s sister, making her my best friend and sister too. And that made Addy my niece by heart, a title I cherish dearly. However, Addy’s time with us was heartbreakingly brief, spanning only a few precious days. We all held onto hope when we visited the hospital, hoping that she would defy the odds and thrive. But hope alone couldn’t change the course of destiny, and we found ourselves saying goodbye to a tiny, fragile life and we were all left with an immense sense of loss.

Her coffin was so, so small.

Materials Needed:

Activities:

  1. Introduction (5 minutes)
  • Introduce the theme of mental health and its importance.
  • Discuss how music can be a medium to express emotions and cope with mental health issues.
  • Ask students if they are willing to share their own experiences with loss and music. Find links to this; Introduce the theme of mental health and its importance.

    Here are some links to information on the theme of mental health and its importance:

  1. World Health Organization (WHO) on Mental Health: The WHO provides a wealth of resources on mental health, including fact sheets, databases, tools, initiatives, and groups1. They also offer updated guidance on adolescent health and well-being1.
  2. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness2. They provide advocacy, education, support, and public awareness2.
  3. MentalHealth.gov: This site provides information on understanding mental health and getting help. It includes resources for families coping with mental and substance use disorders3.
  4. Mental Health Foundation UK: This UK-based organization works to prevent mental health problems and helps people understand and improve their mental health4. They run various programs across the UK5.
  5. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: The Lifeline provides 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress6. It’s a crucial resource for those in need6.

Song Analysis (15 minutes)

  • Distribute the lyrics of the song “The Girl That Never Was”.
  • Have the student look for literary devices in the text. See examples below.
  • Discuss the theme of the song and how it relates to loss and mental health.

Watch the video

  1. Group Discussion (10 minutes)
  • Divide students into small groups of 3-4 students.
  • Ask each group to discuss their interpretation of the song and how it made them feel.
  • Ask students to discuss how music can help in expressing emotions and dealing with loss.
  1. Research Activity (10 minutes)
  • Ask students to research online about different coping mechanisms for dealing with loss and its impact on mental health.
  • Encourage students to take notes on their findings.
  • After 10 minutes, bring the class back together and ask students to share what they learned.
  1. Reflection (5 minutes)
  • Ask each student to share one thing they learned from the lesson and how they can apply it in their lives.
  • Encourage students to be honest and open about their thoughts and feelings.

Assessment:

  • Students will be assessed on their participation in discussions and their understanding of the song’s theme and its relation to mental health.
  • You can assess students’ understanding by asking them to write a short reflection on the lesson, or by leading a class discussion on the following questions:
    • What are some of the ways that music can be used to cope with loss?
    • How can we support others who are experiencing loss?
    • What are some coping mechanisms that you have found helpful when dealing with loss?

Literary devices

  1. Metaphor: The lyrics “She’s probably dancing with her blonde hair, falling like ribbons on her shoulders” use a metaphor to describe the girl’s hair. How does this metaphor contribute to the overall mood of the song?
  2. Imagery: The song uses vivid imagery such as “dancing with her blonde hair”, “falling like ribbons on her shoulders”, and “spinning in circles in the sunlight”. How does this imagery help to convey the song’s themes of loss and longing?
  3. Repetition: The chorus is repeated several times throughout the song. What effect does this repetition have on the listener?
  4. Alliteration: Can you find examples of alliteration in the lyrics? How do they enhance the song’s rhythm and mood?
  5. Symbolism: The song uses symbols such as “dancing”, “blonde hair”, and “sunlight” to represent the girl that never was. What do these symbols represent, and how do they contribute to the song’s message?

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