The Importance of Mental Health
The first week of October marked the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ (NAMI’s) Mental Health Awareness Week. Community School Director Claudia Esteva and Counseling in Schools (CIS)’s Social Worker Eloise True sat down to discuss mental health and the work being done around social-emotional wellbeing at CS 111Q.
Both Ms. True and CIS feel that having an in-school Social Worker is key to our children’s success. She explained, “There is an adage around schools that says something like ‘Order Before Learning,’ but one of the things we strongly believe in at CIS is ‘Social-Emotional Wellness Before Learning’… If we are dis-regulated, unable to be comfortable in our bodies, if we are upset or worried about a multitude of things, then we can’t be present. In schooling, one of the main goals is to be able to concentrate and be present enough to learn. Ultimately, we know if kids are distracted by a distressing emotional experience they will be unable to concentrate on whatever curricular expectations are being set in front of them. Distracted by intrusive thoughts, painful memories, or anxious worries, our scholars can become unable to be present and thus unable to learn. Part of the human experience is feeling emotions intensely, however when they become overwhelming we turn to whatever is around us to cope. Our hope is that through talk, play, and art therapy our scholars will have access to healthy and positive coping mechanisms that will help them heal from painful parts of their stories and serve to better equip them for life’s great challenges. The motivation behind the work that CIS does is helping students not just to learn to cope with difficult emotions and experiences but ultimately to learn to thrive.”
Through one-on-one counseling, Ms. True allows the students to be able to tell their story, which, as she describes, is incredibly emotionally regulating. “Sometimes our children, particularly growing up as many of them have, find it incredibly liberating to tell their story, to have someone witness their story, not try to fix it, not change it, but to hear them out” she says. Empowering children to speak about themselves and their experiences from an early age will help them cope with so much in the future, ultimately allowing them to separate those anxious moments and be able to stay in the present.
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