GCS Mental Health Coordinator

Volume 1 | Issue 9 | May 2021

May Newsletter

Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month! This newsletter is dedicated to provide you with information and resources you might find helpful to plan and prepare schoolwide activities, provide educational resources for staff and families, and access ready to go tools to promote and support the mental health wellbeing of yourself, your colleagues, families and students!



GCS Health Services & Nursing is presenting a Mental Health Series for parents. For more information about how to register, please click on the below.

Mental Health Series

Check out the calendar below for days/weeks of awareness and celebration, as well as, activities that promote mental wellness!

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Shifting our Mindset About Mental Health

What do you think of when you hear the word mental health? If you think of mental illness and conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or OCD, you are not alone! Often times, our minds automatically default to the negative aspects of mental health; forgetting that health is more than the absence of illness. It's important to understand mental health as a more broad concept that applies to us all. This month, consider focusing on promoting the protective factors of mental health, as well as to normalize the conversation of mental health by bringing awareness of what mental health looks like throughout the continuum.


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Let's Talk About Mental Health...

What is Mental Health

According to the World Health Organization, mental health is an integral and essential component of health. The WHO constitution states: "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." An important implication of this definition is that mental health is more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities. Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.


Did you know..

By 2022, people experiencing a mental health crisis will be able to connect with someone who can help faster than ever. The Federal Communications Commission has designated 988 as the new nationwide emergency number that will connect callers 24/7 to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Lifeline's current number, 1-800-273-TALK, will remain accessible during and after the transition into the three-digit number. When someone calls the national number, they're routed to the local crisis center that's closest to them.

Healing and Building Resilience...

This past year has been difficult for everyone. It presented us with challenges and obstacles that tested our strength and resiliency. Due to COVID-19, we were forced to cope with situations that we never thought possible – at least, not in our lifetime. As a result of this unprecedented time, so many of us struggled with our mental health. Now, more than ever, we need to break the stigma surrounding mental health. We are in this together.

Our students’ mental health needs must continue to be a priority during this national crisis and for many years to come. The effects of COVID-19 have the potential to cause long lasting mental health concerns for our students. However, before we can effectively attend to the mental health needs of our students, we must ensure that we are caring for our own mental health needs. We cannot pour into our students if our cups haven’t been filled!

Check out the link below for tips on keeping your cup full!

You Can’t Pour From an Empty Cup – Self Care Ideas for Parents


What is Resilience?

Resilience is our ability to adapt or bounce back when things don’t go as planned. Resilience is not about being without any problems, rather it is learning to deal with problems by using tools and skills to stay strong and deal with problems as they come up. Here are a few everyday mental health tips to help you elevate your mood and become more resilient.

  • Resilient people tend to have a positive image of the future; they maintain a positive outlook and see brighter days ahead

  • Resilient people have solid goals and a desire to achieve those goals

  • Resilient people are empathetic and compassionate; they do not waste time worrying what others think of them

  • Resilient people do not think of themselves as victims; they focus their time and energy on changing things that they have control over

  • What Does a Resilient Person Look Like? Keep in mind that being resilient does not mean ignoring problems or pretending everything is “just fine, thank you.”

Being resilient means, you have learned how to view and relate to those problems differently and in more adaptive and positive ways.


Tips to build Resiliency in Yourself and Others

Build Meaningful Relationships

Focus on Gratitude

Believe in Yourself

Have a Positive Attitude

Embrace Change

Create Goals & Move Towards Them

Develop Skills

Practice Self Care

This action state involves making self-love a priority. How well are you maintaining self- care and being well? What attitude do you have towards yourself? Various activities show that we place value on ourselves. We often say to others, “Take good care of yourself”! So, what does it mean for us? Contentment, safety, satisfaction, health? It needs to be planned, and purposeful for it to happen. We need to be intentional, or it probably won’t happen at all. Resources for self-care may be derived from several sources, but there are 3 which we will focus on: Social, Psychological, and Physical.

Social includes a sense of connectedness, having a few close friends, along with a supportive community of people who have similar or shared values, meeting new people, and creating a sense of belonging.

Psychological involves using our creativity by learning new things, using our thoughts to think about our behavior and consequences, setting goals, making good choices, and forgiving ourselves when we don’t. Daily writing down all the things we are grateful for, is a good way to practice self-care.

Physical includes getting good rest at bedtime, usually 7-8 hours of sleep is adequate. Making good food choices, drinking water, exercising, and walking in nature is healthy and creates a more positive mood. Also, this helps with the brain’s ability for resting at bedtime and enhancing the ability to fall asleep.

Eat for Mental Wellness

Most of you know that a tub of ice cream is the perfect fit to the end of a bad day or the end of a bad relationship. We tend to use food for comfort, socialization and nutrition is often an after thought. Consuming unnecessary calories can often lead to weight gain, lethargy, health problems and guilty feelings. Below is a list of foods that are scientifically proven to boost your mind and provide necessary nutrients your body needs to enhance your mental wellness.

1 Healthy, Mood-Boosting Comfort Foods: Salmon, Sardines, Omega-3 rich foods

2- Green Vegetables: Spinach, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts

3- Probiotics: Yogurt, Kefir, Sauerkraut, Kimchi

4- Whole Grains: Oats, Brown Rice, Whole Wheat Bread

5- Vitamin D: Egg yolks, Fatty Fish; Fortified Milks

6- Dark Chocolate (in moderation)

7- Coffee and Tea

Full Article

Supporting Student Mental Health

What to look for – Verbal & non-verbal signs that someone is NOT ok

What Educators Should Look For in Student Behavior

  • Physical or verbal aggression
  • Defiance/Non-compliance
  • Disruption (out of seat, calling out)
  • Excessive activity
  • Stealing
  • Tantrums or severe shift in mood
  • Fearful
  • Sad or withdrawn
  • Limited social interactions
  • Overly shy or timid
  • Self-injurious
  • Bullying or being bullied
  • Chronic attendance concerns

What Educators Should Know Mental Health Disorders

Local/National Crisis Support

Mental Health Education & Prevention

Why is it Important?

  • Mentally healthy children are more successful in school and life.
  • To Break the Stigma surrounding mental illness
How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime | Nadine Burke Harris

What Educators Can Do in Classrooms and Schools

You can support the mental health of all students in your classroom and school, not just individual students who may exhibit behavioral issues. Consider the following actions:

  • Educate staff, parents, and students on symptoms of and help for mental health problems
  • Promote social and emotional competency and build resilience
  • Help ensure a positive, safe school environment
  • Teach and reinforce positive behaviors and decision-making
  • Encourage helping others
  • Encourage good physical health
  • Help ensure access to school-based mental health supports
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Effective Communication

Fostering a relationship with your students is a critical component to the promotion of mental wellness and the prevention of mental illness. Effective communication is essential for rapport building! Below are tips on how to effectively communicate with your students.
  • Create a safe environment
  • Don’t stand at the front of the classroom
  • Provide positive feedback
  • Listen
  • Validate their feelings
  • Show trust
  • Don’t be a dictator
  • Give praise
  • Control your emotions - remain calm
  • Be observant

Mental Health Toolkit

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Below is a toolkit available for Support Staff to use in their schools. This toolkit includes helpful resources such as shareable images, Fast Facts, activities, and links to valuable resources to share with students and staff. The toolkit also includes worksheets and tips for coping. Hashtags can be a great tool to bring awareness to mental health. Check out the hashtags on page 10 to use throughout the month of May. Help GCS bring awareness to mental health by using #GCSYouAreNotAlone and let your Mental Health Coordinator know how they can help!

2021 Mental Health Toolkit

Resources & Activities:

GCS Resources & Support

School-Based Mental Health Program

Contact your Mental Health Coordinator for more information!

Parent Academy

Phone: 336-279-4924

GCS crisis hotline: 336-332-7295

GCS multi-lingual hotline: 336-332-7290

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