Written by Mrs. Felszegi, Director of Aspengrove School’s Student Resource Centre
I am writing this at the end of May which is Mental Health Awareness Month and as someone who has recently lost a loved one, I am aware how easily our mental health can be unexpectedly upended. Likewise, after two long years of a pandemic I am also aware how life’s daily challenges can slowly erode our mental health until we look up one day and realize we just feel ‘different’. Mental health is important for all ages and Aspengrove is committed to supporting students’ overall well-being, including their mental health.
The CDC identifies Mental Health as our emotional, psychological, and social well-being which affects how we think, feel, and act. As a school, we see that mental health is important throughout every stage of life and affects children, teens, parents and staff alike. It helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, mental illness and poor mental health are not the same. While mental illness is diagnosed by a medical professional, mental health is something that everyone must consider and care for just as they would their physical health.
Aspengrove recognizes mental health as a priority for our community and never before has mental health been such a hot topic in our society. Considering the loss, worry, isolation and financial strain brought on by the global pandemic; the never-ending unsettling news of wars and mass shootings, and the negative impact of social media, there is no wonder that mental health is at the heart of many conversations. Sometimes one big event affects mental health, but the ongoing cumulative effect of a few ongoing stressors can be equally as impactful. Along with this, we need to consider the growing stress in our ‘regular’ daily lives which affects our mental health. For students this could include assignment and exam stress, friendship conflicts, or body image along with many other possible stressors. The good news is that nothing is permanent and when we are aware, there is a way forward by seeking support from a professional or in developing strategies to improve our mental health and the mental health of our children/students.
At Aspengrove, we are very fortunate to be part of a small caring community where we know our students and families well. Face-to-face social connection is an important strategy to improve mental health and the school environment facilitates this. I encourage you to reach out to your child’s advisory teacher or another trusted teacher if your child is struggling with their mental health so we can be aware and ensure that your child is supported in appropriate ways while at school. Additionally, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that some other key strategies for supporting mental health are the same as for physical health: exercise, a healthy diet, and good sleep habits. Since there are many factors affecting mental health, there are also a variety of ways to support positive mental health:
- Read more about the general mental health strategies as stated above on the Here to Help website: https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/infosheet/tips-for-good-mental-health
- Access mental health resources available to parents and youth 12 years and older at https://foundrybc.ca/
- Inform children and teens about the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 where they have access to a professional counselor by phone to discuss their issue or concern 24 hours a day
- Call 911 if you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis
Our students’ health and well-being is an essential aspect of care at Aspengrove and people are affected differently by the same events. We recognize that we all have challenges in our lives and no two people are weathering the same storm. Additionally we are not all equipped with the same infrastructure to handle our storms. Please join us in being open-minded to different mental health needs and normalizing care for our mental health.
Director of the Student Resource Centre