Mental Health Month 2020

Rippon Middle School Recognizes Mental Health

Raising Awareness Through History

Each year, several mental health platforms recognize the month of May as National Mental Health Awareness Month. While the subject of mental health is talked about now more than ever, this month has actually been recognized since 1949! Just three years prior to this, President Truman passed the National Mental Health Act, which created the National Institute of Mental Health and allocated government funds towards research and treatments for mental health illnesses. While the conversation about mental health is more openly talked about today, it has not always been that way. We hope this newsletter opens your eyes to how far this topic has come and how much further it needs to go. Our goal this month is to educate you on what all is incorporated in holistic mental health care, and to provide you with some resources, tips, and information that support and nourish your health now and always! Don't ever doubt that your mental health matters, because YOU matter.

There's a lot of info in this newsletter - take what you need!

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Quick Vocabulary Check: Words Matter!

When talking about mental health, it's important we use the correct terms as words can often offend and hurt others. Person-centered language aims to acknowledge that an individual is a person and not identified by their illness. For people living with a mental illness, it's crucial to maintain their identity separately. Use this guide to ensure we put the PERSON first and not the illness.


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It's important to educate yourself and others on mental illnesses so that we can break the negative stigma that surrounds the topic. While most people think of mental illness as being the more severe and rare disorders, such as schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder, it's important to realize that anxiety, stress, disordered eating, addiction, and depression are also considered as diagnosable mental illnesses as well. In fact, 1 in 5 adults in the United States experience a mental illness, and HALF of those individuals begin showing signs by the age of 14. If you or a loved one have more questions about a specific mental illness or diagnosis, research it or ask a health professional. Knowledge helps!

Read more on for more information.

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Beyond Mental Health: A Holistic Approach

Holistic Health: Mind, Body, Spirit

When we focus on our mental health, it's best to look at it from a holistic point of view. For example, our brains are just one working part of our WHOLE-selves. Mental health encompasses so much more than just our mind: but also our psychological, emotional, social, and physical well-being. This means it affects how we think, feel, and behave each day. Our mental health also contributes to our decision making process, how we cope with stress, and how we relate to others in our lives. Often times, just one area of our health can greatly affect other areas as well. Always remember that not all injuries, deficits, and illnesses are visible to the eye. Just because you can't see something, doesn't mean it's not occurring. On the other hand, mental illness, stress, and poor coping mechanisms can often manifest into physical illnesses as well. Because of these reasons, we never truly know what's going on in someone's life, body, and mind. This is why it's so important to practice kindness to ALL, and remember: you are NOT alone.

Watch the video below to get a deeper understanding of the holistic health continuum.

The Role Emotional and Mental Health Play on Physical Health
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A Deeper Look At the Way We Think

With the previously mentioned in mind, let's touch on how our all of these aspects come together:

Our behaviors are driven by our emotions > our emotions are driven by our thoughts, which is why it's important we support our mental health to the best of our ability. Everything boils down to the way we think! If we can control our thoughts, we are fully capable of controlling our emotions and behaviors. How can we do that?

- Noticing and correcting our self-talk: self-talk refers to the things we tell ourselves and think to ourselves in our heads - call it your inner voice. By paying close attention to the things we tell ourselves, we can reframe it in a more positive and constructive mindset. You may have heard people refer to this as growth mindset.

- Practicing mindfulness: mindfulness is the state of purposefully paying attention in the present moment without judgment. In other words, practicing acceptance of your thoughts and feelings. Often if we neglect our thoughts and feelings, they have no where to go. This is why we sometimes find them coming out in inappropriate times and settings and even towards the wrong people.

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Click Here For More Lessons on the Brain!

For more information on how the brain works, check out our mini series of lessons on Rippon Middle School's Counseling webpage. New lessons come out each week!

Mental Health Statistics

Below are a series of PDFs to infographics provided by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Click on them for more information on:

- mental health statistics, numbers, and prevalence

- the ripple effect of mental health

- mental illness warning signs

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Establishing a SELF-CARE ROUTINE

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What is Self-Care?

Self-care is the deliberate practice of taking action to preserve and nourish your health and whole-self. Consistency is key! Like many things in life, building a strong foundation for mental health takes time, practice, and patience. Developing a routine is a great way to help incorporate small things in your day-to-day routine that will help you maintain your mindset and well-being. Self-care isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. What works for you may not work for someone else, which is why developing a tailored plan that benefits your needs is best. Ask yourself these questions to start:

What do I want to focus on?

Where could I use some improvements in my overall health?

What has worked for me in the past? What hasn't worked?

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More Than One Type of Self-Care

As mentioned earlier, mental health care is all about taking a HOLISTIC approach. Finding and focusing on one or two areas at a time is a great start! There's no need to stress yourself out trying to improve every single area at once, because in reality they may not all need it.Take a look at the several different areas of self-care below. Take into consideration your strengths and weaknesses. Which one(s) stick out to you?
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Developing a Plan

After finding a few areas to focus on, now it's time to develop a plan! What is something you can incorporate in to your schedule? Remember, developing self-care routine is about focusing on what fits for YOU. Maybe it's something you do everyday or maybe it's something you do 3x a week. The goal is to bring some peace, happiness, and health to your life, not overwhelm you.

Be REASONABLE with your intentions. Set GOALS, not EXPECTATIONS or harsh criticisms of yourself. We are all a work in progress.

Self-Care Activities & Ideas

Here are a few examples of actives and ideas you can incorporate into a self-care routine that is tailored to fit your specific needs and schedule:


- stretch 10 minutes every morning

- talk a walk around the block after dinner

- eat a nutritious breakfast, pack healthy snacks for lunch

- add more nutrients, vitamins, and proteins to your diet: check out recipes on Pinterest!

- develop an exercise routine

- go to bed at the same time every night

- park farther away from the entrance to places

- dance to your favorite song


- take breaks when needed

- give yourself permission to feel and express yourself and your emotions

- journal what's on your mind

- practice forgiveness

- weigh the pros and cons of your choices

- take 10 minutes to reflect on your day before going to bed

- create healthy outlets for your emotions: stress balls, yoga, art, running

- speak up! connect with a friend a few times a week to check-in with each other

- practice giving yourself and others compliments

- learn and practice deep breathing exercises before tests or stressful situations


- ask yourself: do you need more or less social time?

- practice saying 'no' if you need some alone time

- practice saying 'yes' if you need some social time

- follow positive social media accounts

- turn off all social media every night at 7pm or take a week off from it altogether

- call a family or friend a few times a week

- plan an outing

- cleanse your contacts: get rid of phone numbers, messages, etc of people that are unsupportive, unkind, and toxic for you to be around


- say a quick prayer, verse, mantra, or affirmation in the morning and at night

- practice meditation twice a week

- learn yoga poses

- spend time in nature: go outside, sit by a body of water, breathe in fresh air, listen to the birds

- set a goal to grow in your faith or beliefs

- read books about self-growth


- set aside time for FUN! a few times a week

- take some time to do some self-exploration: take a personality test, reflect, day dream

- do your hobby twice a week or learn a new hobby

- pamper yourself, spend 10 more minutes in the shower

- wear what makes YOU feel good

- plan to yourself once a month to a special meal, purchase, activity, etc.


- cleanse your environment: diffuse essential oils

- clean your room once a week

- make your bed every day so it's inviting every night

- organize your personal belongings

- clean your closet out every 3 months, get rid of things you no longer need or use

- surround yourself with kind people

- prioritize your safety

- take notice of your environment and reflect


- plan an hour twice a month to look through your spending/expenses

- adjust budget accordingly and allow yourself acceptance to do so

- practice healthy and positive statements when reviewing finances

- set aside some spare money when you can

- invest or donate to a charitable cause

- reflect on what money, wealth, financial security actually means to you

- practice restraint spending on unnecessary purchases: ask yourself it's a want or need


- clean off your desk once a week

- compliment your coworkers

- ask for help when needed

- break up large tasks into small chunks

- be proud of your work

- leave on time and accept that not all things will be resolved in a day

- plan to arrive 10 minutes early to take some deep breaths

- take some time to go through those emails!

- remind yourself that it's okay to take a mental health or sick day when you need it

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Sensory Coping Skills- Using your Body to Cope with and Calm Big Emotions
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Take the Challenge With Us!

For National Mental Health Awareness Month, challenge yourself to play an active role in your mental wellness by participating in the daily challenges below. Use the hashtag #RPMSRecognizesMentalHealth and tag @RipponMiddle to share your progress with us on Twitter!
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A Word About COVID-19

Tips for Resilience During the Pandemic

There's a lot of uncertainty going on in the world right now, but we are all in this together. In troubling times, it can be a challenge to remain calm. Check out these quick tips below to re-focus and ground yourselves.

1. Take a deep breath

2. Focus on what you CAN control

3. Participate in activities that make you happy

4. Stay in touch with your loved ones

5. Try to disconnect from social media and the news for a bit

6. Help others

7. Do what you can. It's okay to not have all the answers

To read the full article visit

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With the pandemic hitting our communities hard, it's important to stay healthy and safe during these times. Maintaining a healthy diet and paying close attention to what your body is telling you is key. Although we must maintain social distance, don't confuse distance with isolation. Reach out to others if you're struggling. We're in this together!

For more information and answers to some of your questions regarding COVID-19, check out the link below.

Mental Health Resources

Help in PWC

If you or a loved one are in need of mental health resources or support, don't hesitate to seek out help. Asking for help is a sign of STRENGTH. Click the links below for detailed information about resources in Prince William County.

Clicking here will take you to another newsletter outlining PWCS Family Support during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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Home-School Connection

We encourage all parents and guardians to talk to their children about the importance of mental health. Sometimes all it takes is an adult to lead by example. Show your children that it's okay to acknowledge their feelings by talking about your own. Normalizing those types of conversations in your household can make a world of difference in how your child views and responds to stressful situations. Try out some of these tips:

1. Neutralize your tone when speaking with your child. Park the judgement at the door and listen with an open mind.

2. Ease into the conversation. Keep in mind, it's not an interrogation. Offer up something about your day first.

3. Steer clear of distractions. This means phones, video games, TV, etc!

4. Use props or examples. It's helpful to keep in mind that adolescent brains are NOT fully developed. Logic, reasoning, and emotional regulation doesn't come organically. Help them connect the dots through things that they can relate to in their world.

5. Struggling? Enlist outside help. Speak with your child's school counselor or encourage your child to speak with them. Sometimes kids feel more at ease having someone outside of the picture to help talk things through. School counselors can also help connect you with resources!

If it takes a village to raise a child, imagine what a community could do...

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Rippon Middle School Counseling Department

Follow us on Twitter to keep updated with news, events, and announcements! For more information about grade level counselors or previous newsletters, please visit the Rippon Middle School Counseling webpage.