The month of May is widely known as Mental Health Awareness Month, and for good measure. Unfortunately, mental health issues are a drastically rising problem amongst adolescents. According to research performed by the Child Mind Institute
, there has been a 17% increase in anxiety disorder diagnoses over the last 10 years with 30% of all adolescents being affected by anxiety at some point during their childhood.
With this in mind, the Mariemont City School District has made mental health, fighting its stigma and advocating for its awareness, a priority among all of its buildings and within all grade levels.
New to the district this year is the Sources of Strength Program at both the high school and junior high. The mission of Sources of Strength is to prevent suicide by increasing help-seeking behaviors and promoting connections between peers and caring adults. The peer-to-peer program is facilitated by a group of student leaders and adult advisors who coordinate campaigns designed to encourage, uplift and educate the entire student body on where to find support systems and how to build into their strengths.
After just one school year, I have already seen the benefits that Sources of Strength can provide. The student-led campaigns are displayed around each building, serving as a daily reminder of the positive impact mental health discussions can have on students and the overall school climate.
In addition to Sources of Strength, both the junior high and high school participate in the annual Signs of Suicide screenings which identify students who may be struggling and need some additional support.
Students in all grade levels throughout the district routinely practice mindfulness to become more aware of their self, their body and their surroundings. It is a calming reminder to take a deep breath and let go of stress.
Simply put, mental health awareness is not constrained to the month of May in Mariemont City Schools.
As a superintendent, I am proud of the work our counselors, teachers and staff are doing to teach these practices to our students. As a parent, I am relieved to know the measures the district is taking to protect my children and educate them on mental health issues.
So for the month of May, let’s join in the national celebration of mental health awareness. But let’s not let it end there. This is a year-long, lifetime battle, and the Mariemont City School District is committed every day!