Mental Health Week Focused on Stigma

Rsgc: R-reflection, S-stigma, G-growth C-community. That was the theme of this year’s Mental Health Week, which was held virtually from February 22-26. 
Senior School social worker Andrea Kaye and Junior School social worker Danielle Rovinski-Bannon worked closely with the Senior School Prefects to put together videos on Reflection, Stigma, Growth and Community that featured staff members sharing some of their innermost thoughts and vulnerabilities on each topic. 

Ms. Rovinski-Bannon ran virtual workshops with Junior School students, related to stigma during which students talked about the differences between the physical health spectrum and the mental health spectrum. 

“We know that for physical health, it’s very cut and dry,” said Ms. Rovinski-Bannon. “If you have a broken bone, you go to the hospital and get a cast. If you have a scratch, you get a band-aid. There’s no stigma. You know where it is on the scale and it’s second nature to most to ask for help. We did the same exercise on the mental health scale, and not surprisingly, it was more unclear what levels of support are available, and most of the students instinctually said they would try and handle the matter on their own. It was an interesting and important exercise, to identify how the stigma around mental health impacts their ability to ask for help when they need it.”

Ms. Rovinski-Bannon and Ms. Kaye also ran a virtual Mental Health Expo using a platform called Parents were invited to explore the expo and students all had the opportunity to “walk” through. Much like a physical expo, there were exhibits and experiences including yoga, a zen garden, a physical activity space, music therapy, art therapy, and booths on issues including anxiety, drug abuse, depression, gender and sexuality, eating disorders and more.  

Grade 10 student Andrew Samworth spent time in the expo and thought it was a great platform.

“I definitely learned things about mental health just like I would have at an in-person expo,” said Andrew. “Last year, we had the drunk goggles and real animals, which obviously you can’t have virtually, but I really enjoyed the piano booth. It was very informative.”

Ms. Rovinski-Bannon is pleased that the week went as well as it did, especially during a time like Covid, where mental health struggles might be more relatable than ever before.