Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hope Helps (and Heals)

Today our high school had a "Mental Health Awareness" assembly featuring our own courageous staff members sharing their and family members' journeys through depression, anxiety, substance abuse, suicide, and grief.  A teacher shared the secret she carries, that she has a third son who died 33 days after birth.  She told our students that mothering him has made her a better teacher and person.  Another faculty member recounted her battle with agoraphobia and anxiety, reassuring students that since therapy, she's been nearly panic-free for 20 years.  The daughter of an alcoholic mother, one teacher urged students in similar situations to take care of themselves, and believe in themselves.  A charismatic teacher on campus surprised students when he shared his history of depression.  Students learned that struggle is common, and that you often can't tell who is fighting internal battles.   Student filmmakers aired inspiring public service announcements about positive coping skills and the power of reaching out to one another.

The program was so powerful students walked out saying, "Thank you..." and "That was amazing."

Some staff members admitted the presentations unearthed unexpected emotions.  There were listening ears, compassion, and hugs in the hallways.   

Our principal followed up with this email to parents:

"Dear Parents,

Mental health issues impact individuals within our campus community, and these struggles influence how many of us navigate our daily interactions with peers, teachers, colleagues, parents, and friends. Today our students participated in an assembly to promote Mental Health Awareness. We hosted this event to bring information and resources to each member of our school community, to let everyone know that there is help available, and to let our staff and students know how to ask for it.

Please ask your child to share his/her thoughts about today's presentations. Our school counselors are available for your students and you and are equipped with expertise and resources to share; we encourage you to contact us with any concerns you have about the well being of your student.

 We may not always understand one another, but we have a shared responsibility to treat each other with empathy and compassion.  We are proud of the community we continue to build at Coronado High School and look forward to more opportunities to emphasize to our students that they are not alone. With care and respectful consideration, we have each other."

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