This year at London Christian High we have implemented a Mental Health Advisory. The idea of this advisory first came into planning at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year when Maddie Kapteyn shared at the Grade 12 retreat that the school could do more in the area of mental health. Around that time Mrs. Hosmar and Mrs. Dieleman were talking about having something about mental health for students as well. The staff and students connected and the rest is history.

The Mental Health Advisory has three highly committed members–Maddie Kapteyn, Sarah Waanders and Rachel Waanders. With the help and guidance of Learning Commons lead, Mrs. Hosmar, awareness has been raised for mental health through Pink Day and during Mental Health Week. Pink Day raised awareness about bullying and students were encouraged to wear something pink. During Mental Health week (May 7-11), Yellow ‘You Are Not Alone’ bracelets (including a crisis line number) were given to students and staff on Monday. The Advisory members made cupcakes for the entire school body on Tuesday and on Wednesday students were encouraged to wear blue for Blue day (bringing awareness to men’s mental health and suicide prevention). Students also gathered at Jordan’s tree to read scripture and say a prayer. Students were encouraged to write notes of encouragement to students throughout the week. Julia Hoytema created an art piece that represented mental health which is still displayed in the atrium, and the Calligraphy Advisory and art class also created beautiful pieces of art displayed throughout the school. Finally, students who wanted a chance to take a dog to classes for a day could enter their name in a box. Emily Van Leeuwen was the winner and got to take a dog to classes with her on Tuesday May 22. Pet therapy is a form of treatment for individuals experiencing mental health difficulties.

As a Mental Health Advisory we’d like to leave our fellow students with the knowledge that they are not alone and to seek support when feeling down. As we approach the end of the school year and anxiety increases due to exam stress or change etc., here are some tips as shared on BBC News that can help students who may be feeling overwhelmed by stress:

  • – A break or a chat with someone who knows the pressure you’re under will get things into perspective.
  • – Avoid comparing your abilities with your classmates. Make a realistic timetable. Stick to it.
  • – Eat right. Treat yourself like a well honed machine – eat fresh fruit and vegetables and have a proper breakfast. Fuel your brain as well as your body – no one can think straight on just coffee and chocolate.
  • – Sleep well. Wind down before bed and don’t study in bed – your bed is a sanctuary, not a desk. Get your eight hours.
  • – Exercise. Nothing de-stresses the mind faster than physical activity, so build it into your timetable. Being a sloth makes our mind sloppy too.
  • – Quit the bad habits. Cigarettes and alcohol never stopped anyone being stressed for very long.
  • – Panic is often triggered by hyperventilating (quick, shallow breaths). So if you feel yourself losing it during the exam, sit back for a moment and control your breathing. Deep breath in and out through the nose, counting to five each way.
  • – Steer clear of any exam ‘post-mortem’. It doesn’t matter what your classmate wrote for Question 3(b), it’s too late to go back and change your answers, so it will just make you worry even more.