Greenwood hosted a variety of activities for students during Mental Health Week and had the privilege of welcoming many incredible guest speakers.
We started off the week by welcoming back Dr. Greg Wells who shared personal stories and tips on how to stay focused and be mindful during final evaluations. He talked to the students about the “era of unrelenting distraction” and how it can be hard to focus on one thing at a time when we are surrounded by cellphones and social media. He brought in many personal stories that demonstrated that we perform at our best when we stay focused and are aware of our body, mind and surroundings. Read more about his presentation here!
The following day, we had the honour of bringing back Virginia McKinnell ’11, to speak to the Grade 9-12 students about her experiences with bipolar disorder. She shared her journey from her time at Greenwood to where she is today and challenges she has faced. One of her most difficult experiences was her transition from high school to university. “I was all alone, and had no capacity to help myself,” said Virginia. It was in university where she became diagnosed with bipolar I. She was afraid to accept this change in her life and always thought, “how do I deal with something I amashamed of, something I can’t talk to others about because they feel uncomfortable?” Virginia encouraged students to work towards ending the stigma on mental illness and told them to never feel ashamed of having a mental illness.
While Grade 9-12 students were listening to Virginia’s story, Grade 7 and 8 students participated in a discussion workshop with the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC). NEDIC spoke to students about body image and the negative effects of social media. The speaker talked about the pressure on people in today’s society, especially during high school, and how social media has led many people to compare themselves negatively to others. NEDIC noted that the number one cause of bullying that has been observed by kids is body weight. They left the students with a very important message: body shaming is NOT okay.
After an inspiring morning listening to Virginia and NEDIC, students were greeted by friendly therapy dogs during lunch. A fluffy Poodle and cuddly Golden Retriever had all the students smiling and feeling happy.
Students, staff and teachers also had had the opportunity to participate in different activities during the week. On Wednesday, Greenwood had the warm fuzzies and hosted a Bring Your Own Mug hot chocolate social in the morning and a movie in the Lodge at lunch. The following day consisted of music and “Take A Bite Out of Stigma,” where the students and teachers decorated cookies with words that are often negatively related to mental illness and then took a big bite out of them to show that these words do not define who is a person is. On Friday, while our students participated in mindful colouring, our teachers had the option to join a Lunch ‘N Learn with NEDIC on recognizing and preventing eating disorders.
We had a successful week of bringing in speakers and hosting activities which served as a reminder that everyone has mental health. Even though Mental Health Week is over, we should always make sure we are nurturing our mental health and working towards ending the stigma associated with mental illness.