By: Isabella Scopetski
Arlington High is taking a Mental Health Day on December 13th from 8 am until noon. Students will get the opportunity to participate in a variety of workshops that are geared towards lowering stress and learning new ways to care for the mind and body.
This year’s Wellness Day is coordinated by Andrea Razi, AHS Intervention Coordinator and Social Worker, Stacy Kitsis (Librarian), and Josh Corlew (Principal Intern). Razi mentioned that her team has received “great support from [AHS] administration and all staff”, recounting that ever since she has come to AHS, the administration “has been very supportive of mental health” and willing to aid in awareness programming. The goal of the project, as described in the Wellness Brochure, is to “increase awareness and decrease stigma associated with mental health struggles” as well as to increase “self-care and wellness skills” while taking a break from the usual routine. The coordinators hope the program will “display the importance of overall wellness and balance in our lives as both youth and adults”.
Wellness Day was founded by Razi during her first year working at Arlington High. The program was launched as a response to an encounter Razi had with an AHS senior who admitted that she did not know there were social workers at Arlington High, much less where they could be found. Razi “felt badly and wanted to reach out to the whole AHS student body” making everyone aware of the support systems they have at school. “We have a lot of supporters here and I wanted to spread the word” added Razi. And she hoped that through Wellness Day, she could additionally “decrease the stigma associated with struggling with emotional problems”. Even after the first Mental Health Day AHS hosted, Razi noticed that “more and more students came for help or to refer a friend”; a response revealing the immediate positive impact the day had on the student body.
Wellness Day is a way for teachers, staff, outside organizations, and caring adults to show their support for the students of AHS. Although teenagers may not readily regard their teachers as particularly compassionate, supportive, or understanding people, Wellness Day and the massive amount of efforts put forth by nearly the entire staff at Arlington High (along with outside organizations such as McLean Hospital, Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, Families for Depression Awareness, Samaritans, Start Strong Initiative, Arlington Youth Health and Safety Coalition, Arlington Youth Counseling Center) show just how much teachers care about the health and wellbeing of their students.
During the mental health seminars and workshops, Razi thinks that “students can expect to relax and learn some new ways to care for themselves and take a break from their busy lives”. Participants “will hear from some regular people” Razi adds “who have struggled with mental health issues and sought support” which will spread awareness in the AHS community on the topic of mental health.