Why Emphasize Wellness?
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), strong evidence consistently links low income to ACE exposures. Children growing up in impoverished neighborhoods are much more likely to experience ACEs.
- Health (disrupt healthy brain development, compromise immune systems, obesity, diabetes, depression, suicide attempts, STDs, heart disease, cancer, stroke, COPD, broken bones)
- Behaviors (social development, smoking, alcoholism, substance misuse and other unhealthy coping behaviors)
- Life Potential (graduation rates, academic achievement, lost time from work)
- Teaching skills to help parents and youth handle stress, manage emotions, and tackle everyday challenges;
- Connecting youth to caring adults and activities;
- Intervening to lessen immediate and long-term harms.
How Mental Health Mondays Began
- In early group sessions students learned how to define stressors and triggers, how to identify symptoms of stress, and learned various breathing exercises to practice during and after the group.
- Students shared ways they cope within each area and openly sought direction from the counselor on how they can support each other. Students received practical information on ways to reframe and challenge their thoughts to manage their reactions.
- Many reported feeling less stressed when using breathing techniques and coping skills learned during the program. Other students reported being able to use their cognitive behavioral skills to manage their thoughts and emotions and their new communication skills to express themselves effectively.
“Water Walkers’ Mental Health Mondays should be mandatory for all public high school students in my book”, says *Debbie, a 10th grader in Water Walkers’ Leadership Program.
“On Mental Health Mondays we learn a lot from our licensed counselor. She gives us tools, strategies and methods to help us deal with high pressure situations. We have learned about breathing and consideration techniques. This helps me slow down on my reactions to things and forces me to think with a calm mind. That’s how Water Walkers live life.”