Students taught about mental wellness

Sam Odrowski

Knowing how to identify and respond to thoughts, feelings, and emotions as they relate to a person’s mental health is important for their overall well-being.
To promote positive mental health, St. Francis School hosted a Mental Wellness Day on Thursday, with the help of the Northwestern Health Unit, Family Health Team, Weechi-it-te-win Family Services, Kenora-Rainy River Child and Family Services, and Métis Nation of Ontario.
“St. Francis School wanted to have a mental health day to . . . support wellness and mental health for our students,” said Riley Keast, mental health lead for the Northwest Catholic District School Board.
She noted the mental wellness of students is essential for classroom learning and is an important concept for kids to understand.
“I think that mental health is really important in education because a lot of times we can’t have student achievement without mental health and well-being,” Keast reasoned.
“It’s really important for students to understand how they can take care of themselves.”
Students participated in break-out sessions that focused on self-esteem, body image, healthy relationships, cyber-bullying, cultural supports, and a cultural approach to well-being and stress.
Other sessions took a more hands-on approach, with students participating in yoga, mindfulness and meditation, and dancing.
Keast hoped the students learned about what mental illnesses are, how important mental health is, and where they can go when experiencing mental health issues.
“I just hope they take away that their mental health is very important and just as important as their physical health,” she said.
“I hope that they take away different strategies that they can use for themselves when they are feeling stressed out.
“And that they are connected with different resources and people in the community to know where to reach out to if they do need some support,” Keast added.
She encourages any students who may be struggling to speak with a trusted adult at the school.
“It’s always good to talk about it,” Keast stressed. “There is nothing to be ashamed of.
“Lots of people experience different kinds of stressors and issues relating to their own mental health in their life,” she noted.
“So it’s important to reach out, and there’s people out there who will care about you and will help you find what you need.”
Keast was grateful to have been able to help bring a mental wellness day to St. Francis students, and thanked Melanie Busch and Angela Saciuk, as well as all the staff who helped make this event possible.