William Paca Middle School recently held a school-wide Mental Health Day event to help educate students on the topic of mental health and help put an end to stigmas that are often associated mental illness. Students participated in activities across all subjects with a focus on dealing with emotions, acknowledging certain behaviors and coping with stress. School counselor Caroline Reed and social worker Alyssa Cabrera were the lead facilitators of this schoolwide effort.
A summary of the mental health activities students participated in include: reading an article on the correlation of screen time with mental health followed by taking a quiz about cell phone addiction; participating in yoga in physical education classes; learning about how governments are set up and comparing that with a person’s support system; writing about positive experiences in their lives so they can reflect on them when feeling anxious or upset; rating positive and negative experiences on a scale in math class and encouraging others to stay on the positive side; creating glitter jars in science class which illustrates how when a jar is shaken it represents chaos and disorder but eventually it settles in the jar to help them cope and relax during a stressful time; empathy for others in home & careers/health; playing/using music as an outlet; learning positive sayings and expressing feelings in foreign language classes and creating “mandalas” or circles in art class to represent wholeness.
Additionally, the Bridge Crew, a student-led group designed to “bridge the gap” for incoming sixth graders led by seventh- and eighth-grade students who have been making a positive difference in their school, were stationed in the cafeteria during lunch periods asking their peers true or false questions on the topic of mental illness. When students answered correctly, they received a prize and had their names placed upon a “Stop the Stigma” sign.