By Ryder Oliver-Green, Student
In a time where the future often seems uncertain and where our past has been occupied by existential catastrophes, where we have to face the detrimental impacts of social media and a pandemic, the importance of critically examining how schools can support students’ mental health is paramount.
Representing the student voice on the most recent Standing Committee Meeting on Mental Health & Well-Being in schools was an unforgettable experience. In the meeting, I felt an immediate sense of belonging and comfort in sharing my perspective. And share we did.
In our rotating table discussions, students, community partners, and NVSD staff were able to discuss and reflect on meaningful questions around the theme of mental health and well-being in school. At each table, we engaged in a thorough conversation about topics such as stigma mitigation, building an environment conducive to the stresses and anxiety of school, and how NVSD schools can approach students' well-being with a more holistic lens.
At my table, we discussed strategies such as space setting, mindfulness, and the addition of support staff to allow a further de-stigmatization of getting help. As the meeting progressed, we discussed bringing nature-based learning into senior grades, rethinking the construct of scholastic success, and how we can put social emotional learning (SEL) before all else to uphold NVSD’s commitments to our strategic goals.
As I left the meeting, I felt grateful for the effort put forward to address student mental health in schools by the North Vancouver School District, as this issue is much too prevalent in schools today.
As I drove home that night, I realized our mental well-being should be the number one priority of schools as it is irrational to think we can learn when we are not at peace within.
Students deserve to be able to approach life with confidence in themselves; luckily, school is the best place to start.