Houston Secondary School’s (HSS) student leadership group organized Mental Health week in the first week of May with a variety of activities and events.
“It’s important to promote mental health because it re-frames the idea that rest is laziness – rest is the most important part of progress,” said Ms. Harper, a teacher at HSS.
Organizers Priya Minhas and Julianna Maciel, Grade 12 students and part of the HSS leadership group, organized mental health week events for the week of May 3 to May 7 in a first ever organized activity around mental health for the school.
”Mental health is, a lot of the time, overlooked. It is important for HSS to recognize this. In efforts to spread the awareness and support of mental health, the leadership crew at HSS ran a fun filled week full of events and activities for the students of HSS to enjoy. This a completely new idea to HSS,” said Ton Tran one of the students, who was also in charge of all the media and advertisement around the event along with Maciel.
Several posters and info-graphics were created and hung around the school all week long to promote mental health. Each day of the week was filled with a variety of activities and challenges. Monday saw the students cooking energy bites to promote healthy eating habits and the challenge for the day was to post on social media about this event and about mental health to spread positivity.
“The main way we prompted mental health was through positive reinforcement, Spreading opportunity through media and posters. People can feel comfortable and feel safe with out feeling judged,” said Grade 12 students Mary Hodge, Julianna Maciel and Faith Clark in an email to Houston Today.
Tuesday saw art activity therapy where students traced both their hands — one hand to let things go and one to cherish the things they loved. There was a scavenger hunt organized over Instagram to promote physical activity.
On Wednesday, students were given colouring pages to express their feelings and the pages were then used to promote mental health while on Thursday students created exfoliants or sugar scrubs to prioritize self care. Friday was dedicated towards exercising in the gym by participating in a variety of activities and even weight training. There were challenges like poetry contests, self care bingo, and even a colour run wherein students walked or ran a set route to promote mental health and at the finish line, the staff members threw mental health colours of pink, green, blue, orange, yellow and red at the students.
“I think people get to uncomfortable when it comes to talking about Mental Health, it is important to promote like it is something anyone can talk about,” said George Carroll, a Grade 9 student.
The winners of the challenges were Kaitlyn Li, Lia Pottinger, Dallas Brienen, Naomi Tran, and Charles Sullivan. Li expressed why she feels mental health awareness is so important.
“I think it allows us to build a stronger, safer and friendlier community, so we can be there for our friends when in need,” she said.
“Mental Health is the key element to students success, If they don’t feel safe, happy, health, learning can’t take place,” said another teacher at HSS, Ms. Huppe about the importance of having these week-long activities.
In the coming weeks, the HSS leadership has several other events planned such as Culture Appreciation Week, LGBTQ week and Excursion Escapade or a holiday or travel themed event.