A New Approach to Mental Health at Newman

There are many different approaches to improve mental health in adolescents. Traditionally, Newman has approached mental health primarily through student-led discussions and lectures; however, recognizing the need for a more robust approach, this year, Newman implemented additional strategies to improve students’ mental health and well-being.

A clear example of this change is the addition of the Health and Wellness Coordinator, Ms. Cynthia Sleight. Her primary task this year is to conduct research to see which health and wellness programs would be most helpful to students. (If you would like to learn more about the specifics of her role, see https://greenienews.com/3869/interviews/who-is-the-health-and-wellness-coordinator/).

Not only has the administration taken action, the counseling department and students have as well. This past week was Newman’s first Mental Health Awareness Week. Each day, starting on Tuesday, a specific mental illness was focused on, in partnership with an existing club. The focus of these days were as follows:

Tuesday: Depression with Social Justice Club

Wednesday: Eating Disorders with Newomen’s Club

Thursday: Anxiety with the Young Democrats and the Young Republicans

Friday: Suicide and Self-harm with GSA

Each day, the mental illness was explained and then discussed in relation to how it affects that particular group in society. The exception was on Thursday, when the focus shifted, and the discussion centered on mental health legislation in the United States and Louisiana. The presentations at all of these meetings were made by students.

The meetings were optional and open to everyone, and many students did attend. There were discussions of difficult topics and how Newman can protect, promote, and provide student mental health.

In my opinion, this week was highly successful. The next step is to get this important information to students who did not attend, so that they know what to do if they or a loved one is struggling with a mental illness.