Each Well-being Wednesday focuses on a presentation customized for each grade’s age and stage. Teachers use these presentations as a jumping-off point for activities and group discussion. (Click here to see the Grade 8 presentation for January 16.
Next week is Mental Health Week
at Greenwood, so today’s installment of Well-being Wednesday was all about stigma
: what it is, why it’s harmful and how we can reduce it. But first, Mr. Schmidt set the tone (literally) for the discussion with a short bell meditation
. Students then discussed how the meditation made them feel and reflected on how, in today’s fast-paced world, it can be difficult to sit and do nothing for even a few minutes.
Mr. Schmidt asked each student to write down an adjective describing someone with mental illness on a sticky note; he then sorted the adjectives into “positive” and “negative” groups. Almost all of the words were positive, and none were overtly negative. They included:
“Five to 10 years ago, I think these adjectives would have been almost all negative,” Mr. Schmidt said. “This shows that you see someone with mental illness as no different than any other person. We’ve come along way because we’ve been talking about it.”
After going over the definition of stigma, students watched Confessions of a Depressed Comic
, a TED Talk from teenage comic Kevin Breel. Kevin opened up about his own struggles with depression and stressed the importance of being open about mental illness. “We are so accepting of every body party breaking down other than our brains,” he said. “We can’t expect to find an answer if we’re still afraid of the question.”
Students then broke into small groups to discuss questions relating to stigma, including:
Why do you think people with mental illness are stigmatized?
What do you think influences perceptions around mental illness?
How do you think stigma affects the lives of people with mental illness?
After discussing in small groups, they came together as a class to share their thoughts, and to learn about some of the myths relating to mental illness that can contribute to stigma. Students also discussed what they can do to help decrease stigma, including speaking up, learning more about mental illness and listening to people who have experienced mental illness.
After this Adviser session, students are prepped for a full week of mental health programming, and are hopefully reminded that we all have mental health to attend to.