Windsor elementary schools participated in Mental Health Awareness Week from May 22-25, with students engaging in special activities to help them understand what mental health is, ways to take care of their mental health, and who they can talk to for support.
Students in grades K-3 read “Gizmo’s Pawsome Guide to Mental Health”, learning that mental health is our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
They took part in daily activities that support wellness, learned how to identify when mental health needs attention, healthy coping strategies, and connect with trusted adults.
“Everybody has mental health. The more we talk about it, the easier it is to talk about it. We’re looking to reduce the stigma surrounding talking about mental health,’ said Alicia Beekman, Director of Youth Services for Mothers and Babies Perinatal Network of So. Central NY, Inc. She conducted some of the elementary workshops.
Students in fourth and fifth grade had activities and discussions to explore facts and myths about mental health, and strategies to take care of their mental health, including creating a wellness plan. They studied how thoughts, feelings, and actions are connected and how to cope when these areas need attention and identify trusted adults that can provide support.
“It’s super important that they hear these expert voices that offer them an opportunity to hear things in a different way and share from each other. Especially for fifth graders as they’re making this big transition to middle school, we want to make sure they have what they need to take care of themselves and develop not only academically but personally so they’re becoming well-rounded, happy individuals,” said Weeks Elementary school counselor Nina Muto.
“We’re very excited because Windsor is one of the first districts in which we’ve done elementary programming. Now we’re in grades four through 12,” said Beekman. “What we’re seeing is the students get more comfortable each time they see us.”
Windsor school counselors feel it’s crucial to normalize conversations about mental health.
“There’s nothing to be ashamed of when you struggle. It’s huge to hear from as many people as possible, and that sharing (feelings) is safe and encouraged,” said Muto.