Mental Health Awareness Month
What is Mental Health?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps influence how we relate to others, make choices, and handle stress. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood through adulthood, and ranges on a continuum from well-being to mental illness. Life experiences may affect where we are on the continuum at different points in our lives. This is a reminder that emotional well-being is just as important as physical well-being
Mental health is not only the absence of psychological or behavior problems, but the presence of wellness or psychological health. For example, self-esteem, self-acceptance, resiliency, and effective coping skills contribute to mental health and good behavior in students. While families provide the primary support for developing children’s mental health, schools play an important role working with students and families.
Why Focus on Mental Health in Schools?
What are the warning signs of behavioral or mental health issues in children?
◦Mood changes. Look for feelings of sadness or withdrawal that last at least two weeks or severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships at home or school.
◦Intense feelings. Be aware of feelings of overwhelming fear for no reason — sometimes with a racing heart or fast breathing — or worries or fears intense enough to interfere with daily activities.
◦Behavior changes. These include drastic changes in behavior or personality, as well as dangerous or out-of-control behavior. Fighting frequently, using weapons and expressing a desire to badly hurt others also are warning signs.
◦Difficulty concentrating. Look for signs of trouble focusing or sitting still, both of which might lead to poor performance in school.
◦Unexplained weight loss. A sudden loss of appetite, frequent vomiting or use of laxatives might indicate an eating disorder.
◦Physical symptoms. Compared with adults, children with a mental health condition might develop headaches and stomachaches rather than sadness or anxiety.
◦Physical harm. Sometimes a mental health condition leads to self-injury, also called self-harm. This is the act of deliberately harming your own body. Children with a mental health condition also might develop suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide.
◦Substance abuse. Some kids use drugs or alcohol to try to cope with their feelings.
What should I do if I suspect my child has a mental health condition?
•If you're concerned about your child's mental health, consult your child's doctor.
•Consider talking to your child's teacher, close friends or loved ones, or other caregivers to see if they've noticed any changes in your child's behavior. Share this information with your child's doctor, too.
•Reach out to the mental health providers in your child’s school building:
•Stewart School: Dr. Tornincaso, School Psychologist, Ms. Saavedra, School Psychologist or Mrs. Vincent, School Social Worker
•Stratford School: Mrs. Warnke, School Psychologist, Dr. Mendelson, School Psychologist, Mrs. Vincent, School Social Worker
Building wide Initiatives related to Mental Health and Wellness:
•Social Emotional Learning/Character Education Programs: Second Step and Sandford Harmony
•Specialized counseling groups
•Healthy Mind and Body Week (May 6th through May 10th)