Mental Health Awareness Week recently ended at Julius West, and we’re here to sum it up. Through interactive slides, activities, and raffles, our school demonstrated how important mental health and being aware of it is. This article is mainly going to focus on the biggest aspect of the week: GEAR! GEAR is an acronym that stands for (G)ratitude, (E)xercise, (A)wareness, and (R)esources. Keep reading to find out more.
The week started off with simple gratitude card-making for JW staff, where students were encouraged to make cards to thank an adult in the building. The point of the activity was to teach students the importance of being grateful every day. This was, as you might have guessed, the first aspect of GEAR: gratitude. Through this activity, we learned that being thankful makes for healthier people. Those who express gratitude regularly sleep better, feel happier, and are generally healthier.
Next, we learned about the importance of exercise (the “E” in “GEAR”) and the connection between physical and mental health. In fact, better physical health makes for better mental health, so try to take time to exercise every day! It doesn’t have to be stressful or heavy, but even just taking walks can help. Another incredibly important aspect of this is to get enough sleep. Now, look, we know people are busy--really, so are we,--but getting enough sleep drastically helps your mental health. The final aspect of this is to eat a balanced diet and include fruit and vegetables in your meals. Try to incorporate all of these aspects into your daily life to improve your health both mentally and physically!
The next topic was awareness: the “A” in “GEAR.” We learned breathing techniques to calm ourselves down when needed, and we had an enlightening community circle where we were able to talk about our own mental wellness with our peers and how it has been affected by the pandemic. Students were encouraged to share their thoughts on mental wellness, the pandemic, and the resources provided by our school. These prompts were all suggested by a group of Julius West 8th grade students, and we hope you enjoyed sharing.
The last aspect of GEAR was Resources. We learned how to schedule appointments with a school counselor or the psychologist (via a website found in the Julius West MS classroom on Canvas,) and we looked at several apps and shared coping strategies amongst ourselves. The main apps that were shown were recommended by Dr. Verron, our school psychologist, and were: Pacifica, Headspace, MindDoc, Calm, and Shine. Check any one of these out if you ever need it!
We hope you enjoyed this quick summary! Always keep in mind that GEAR stands for gratitude, exercise, awareness, and resources, so try to incorporate these aspects in your lives, and remember to look for help whenever you need it!