Developing a balance in life with respect to mental wellness, self-care, and self-esteem is important—and teaching these lessons to children at an early age can help strengthen their mental health.
To promote positive messages relating to students' mental well-being, St. Michael's School hosted a “Wellness Day” back on Jan. 14.
The day began with an assembly in the gym, then each of the classes went into three different break-out sessions on mental health, wellness, and dealing with stress.
“It's a pretty well-rounded day,” said Riley Keast, mental health lead for the Northwest Catholic District School Board.
Students learned about their feelings, coping strategies, self-regulation, mindfulness, digital leadership, and online safety.
They also participated in yoga, dancing, drum teachings, medicine teachings, and activities relating to spirituality around Catholicity.
“The goal of the 'Wellness Day' is to teach students about mental health and taking care of themselves,” Keast explained.
“We're providing them with strategies to deal with stress and deal with their problems.”
The students expressed great enthusiasm for the activities that were planned for the “Wellness Day” and were eager to participate.
“A lot of them were pretty excited for the day leading up to it," noted Keast. "I think [the] yoga sessions and dance activity was a big hit.”
“All of the activities and all of the sessions are hands-on things so it keeps them busy,” she added.
The event was organized by St. Michael's teacher Nathan Cousineau and Keast, who felt that teaching younger students about mental health could be beneficial to their wellness overall.
“We just felt like it was really important for the younger kids, especially, to learn about and start talking about this at an early age,” she reasoned.
“Teachers have been doing a great job of including that in their classroom instruction, but we wanted to have a day just focused and dedicated to mental health and well-being.”
While it's important to raise mental health awareness and promote a positive well-being, Keast stressed there has to be follow-through after the event in implementing the strategies the students learned.
As well, she hopes the school's staff learned something from the sessions that can help them in their own lives.
Keast is very thankful to all the presenters who took part in the event and Cousineau for helping organize the day.
She hopes to host a “Wellness Day” at each of the Catholic board's schools by the end of the year.