School board ready to celebrate Mental Health and Education Week


The Upper Grand District School Board is getting set for Mental Health and Education Week.

Jenny Marino, Mental Health Lead with Student Support Services for UGDSB, says every day of the week will have a different theme and focus for students and educational staff. Day 1 will focus on the question of what is wellness?

“Really it’s about talking in our classrooms about what does wellness mean? Why is it important to us? So helping our children and youth understand that it’s such an important part of what we do every day in schools. So really the staff are working in the classrooms to help students to come up with ways to identify what that means to them, how they navigate through different things in their day, how they cope with different things,” Marino shared.

The second day will be focused on the language of wellness.

“How do you talk about it? How do we talk about mental health? How do we talk to each other if we’re struggling and where do we go for help? So they’re gonna be looking at different resources available in their community and in the schools, be it the Caring Adults and Guidance, or maybe their teachers or maybe a child and youth counsellor or social worker. So they’re gonna be looking at different ways to understand that and also how to talk to each other,” added Marino.

Day three will be centred around the science of wellness.

“Really talking about the brain and the stress response and understanding that a lot of what happens to us and how we hold stress affects us and our wellness and affects our bodies. So fun stuff about having our students understand the actual impact of deep breathing or moving around for 10 minutes before doing an activity, how it actually impacts your body physiologically,” Marino shared.

The fourth day of the week will focus on the connection to nature.

“So one of our priority areas for our strategy is Indigenous wellbeing. So right now there is a commitment to listen and learn to identify our next action steps. So as we speak to our Indigenous elders and council, as well as our Indigenous students, we just continue to hear, and we also know through other ways, that nature is imperative to wellness,” Marino noted.

Finally, on day five, students and staff will bring everything together in a culmination of all they’ve learned to better understand the practice of wellness.

“So everybody is gonna be able to look at what are the different things we do to help ourselves with our wellness? So it could be that someone likes to sit quietly and read, someone maybe likes to go for a walk with music, everyone is different. So we want them to come up with these kits with ways that they can practice wellness for themselves and their classrooms, and share it with their families, too,” said Marino.

Mental Health and Education Week runs from May 6-10. This year to encourage participation, classrooms are being challenged to submit a summary of their learning as part of the Mental Health and Education Week Classroom Challenge.

Marino adds that by combining Education Week and Mental Health Week into one week, there is an added emphasis on not just student wellbeing, but staff, too. She says it’s critical that the teachers and staff at the schools feel empowered and have the tools to be mentally well, so that they can help guide the students in the practice of good mental wellness, as well.

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