Speaker Addresses Mental Health and Wellbeing
A speaker from Active Minds addressed fifth through 12th grade as part of Holton's ongoing efforts to support students' mental health and wellbeing.
Carli Bushoven gave three separate presentations for fifth and sixth graders, the Middle School, and the Upper School. Each was tailored to meet the grade levels where they're at in terms of stress, anxiety, and problems that may arise.
In the Lower School, she spoke about finding a trusted adult -- a parent, teacher, coach, counselor, advisor -- to speak to when things are difficult.
"We all have stress in our lives. We can get anxious. We have bad days. Bad days are normal," she said. "I think when bad days turn into bad weeks or bad months and you're kind of in a funk and it's hard to get out of it, that's when we have to think about it and say, 'Maybe I'm struggling with my mental health. Maybe I need to talk to somebody about it.'"
For the Middle and Upper School students, Bushoven shared the story of her sister, a star athlete and student who died by suicide her freshman year at Penn. She talked about "destructive perfectionism" and social media's influence on our perceptions of those around us. As with the Lower School, she emphasized the importance of seeking help if you are struggling emotionally as well as destigmatizing mental health issues.
"It was a powerful talk, especially since her sister was very relatable to our students," wrote Head of School Susanna A. Jones in her Head's Note this month.
Bushoven's talk was among the many ways Holton is working to provide support and understanding of these issues for our students.
In Lower School, activities such as new girl recesses allow for new students to have a check in for how they are handling the transition to Holton. In morning meeting and advisory, teachers spend time slowing down and building community and connection.
Seminar teachers in Lower and Middle School are more frequently using Open Session, an instrument that allows participants to raise concerns anonymously (or not) and get the support of the group as well as inform teachers about general issues. Middle Schoolers might also be going outside more during Wellness, which provides the salutary benefits of the outdoors while also giving the opportunity to blow off steam.
The Upper School Counselor has been holding regular Thursday lunch meetings called “Stress Happens,” voluntary drop-ins for students to share concerns. All the counselors are partnering with parents and providers to support our students most in need.
When school is closed for upcoming Thanksgiving and Winter Breaks, all employees will use an out-of-office message to provide resources students can utilize if they are experiencing a mental health issue when employees cannot respond.