In conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM), which takes place nationally each May, The Steward School is shining a light on the importance of mental health awareness. Steward School Counselor Jentae Scott-Mayo
, in collaboration with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
(DEI) Coordinator Tiffany Goodman
, is coordinating several MHAM activities on campus. Mrs. Mayo’s work is done as part of Steward’s Center for Engagement
, which brings together the school’s health and wellness program, diversity, equity, and inclusion program, school counseling program, and community life program.
A Climate of Care
Creating a climate of care is central to Steward’s mission, and providing mental health resources helps support and nurture students from day one. Caring faculty and staff, a community that welcomes all, and a philosophy that encourages all voices to be heard are essential to the Steward experience. Steward does this by proactively teaching skills and building understanding in order to create an environment in which mental health can thrive.
Mrs. Mayo observed, “Mental Health Awareness Month is a great time to share the resources we have for our students, teachers, and parents. Mental health awareness is woven into every aspect of student learning and student life, especially in the lessons Health and Wellness Coordinator Kris Marchant and I do. MHAM is a terrific opportunity to highlight what we prioritize, such as mental health and wellness; but it can also include social-emotional learning.”
Resources for Parents and Teachers
Take a look at these flyers, which give information about the signs and symptoms of mental health challenges and provide resources for teachers and parents of Lower School
students and Middle/Upper School
Upper School Workshop
Upper Schoolers had an opportunity to attend a workshop, Riding the Wave: Anxiety and Stress Management, which took place on May 13 during Advisory. The workshop, explained Mrs. Mayo, involved “teaching students about their brains: how they work, and why certain mental health challenges are prevalent in children and adolescents.” The workshop, she added, “was designed to create a common language and foundational understanding of anxiety as a challenge for children and adolescents. It was also an opportunity for students to learn coping skills.”
Discussions for Upper Schoolers
On May 16, Upper Schoolers attended a panel discussion with special guests: school-based mental-health professionals from the Richmond metro area who work with children and adolescents. The discussion, which took place during the Upper School Assembly, was designed to facilitate conversations about mental health and wellness.
Upper Schoolers also gathered on May 9 for a discussion with Ms. Goodman, who shared general statistics pertaining to mental health, including the many factors that can contribute to its increasing prevalence. Students also engaged in a conversation about trauma as it pertains to COVID-19. In addition, they learned about the various types of counselors available, the importance of privacy and boundaries for both therapists and clients, what privacy and boundaries they have, and what a counseling session might look like.
“This was one way to start destigmatizing care and increase the ‘user-friendliness’ of counseling for our students,” noted Ms. Goodman.
A Nurturing Culture
“At Steward, we’ve created a culture that begins when students are in Lower School, that normalizes talking about challenges,” said Mrs. Mayo. “We build upon that each year, so that as students progress through childhood and adolescence, the subject of mental health doesn’t feel strange at all; it feels like a normal part of life.” Take a look at the Steward Snaps from Mental Health Awareness Month.