Our Journey To Wellness

By Grade 12 student Evan Ibbitson
Physical and mental health are incredibly important, and I think it’s about time that students get involved with the Health and Wellbeing initiatives at our school. That’s why I have taken on the role of student leader for the Upper School’s Health and Wellbeing program.
I became interested in health and wellbeing when I saw that my fellow students were afraid to speak to staff members about their mental health. A big part of this is the age and lifestyle differences; students may feel that the teachers won’t understand their problems. I wanted to be involved in a program where students could connect with their peers openly and without judgement. This program should be easy and accessible for students; it should be a place that helps to normalize conversation about mental health.

We are going to achieve this through three main programs this year: Peer-Led Discussions (PLDs), the Bounce Back Program, and Wellness Days.

PLDs are extraordinarily impactful: older students give grade-wide talks about what they have experienced in school and at home. They are impactful because the speakers are the senior students in our school. The discussions show that everyone has a story, and we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about mental health.

The Bounce Back Program is similar to PLDs, but it’s held on a weekly basis. This program allows students to come together and talk with their peers about issues they may have. Both PLDs and the Bounce Back Program are facilitated by our school social worker.

Finally, there are school-wide Wellness Days, where students are given time to improve their mental health and to practise self-care strategies. This is done through a variety of ways. Therapy dogs, tea and massage have been my personal favourites.

It’s unfortunate that there is still so much secrecy surrounding mental health. It shouldn’t have a stigma attached to it; it’s just another aspect of health overall. The long-term goal for our program is to remove the stigma that students face when it comes to mental health and to provide them with strategies to support overall health and wellbeing. We hope that, one day, society will view mental health in the same way as physical health; with no stigma attached at all.

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