Supporting Student Wellness

Focusing on Mental Health

Many individuals living with mental illness begin to experience symptoms early in life. The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year. So in a classroom of 25 students, more than 4 of them may be struggling with mental illness. These difficulties can create significant barriers to school success and learning. In reality, undiagnosed or untreated mental health conditions can affect a young person’s ability to learn, grow, and develop. Our hope is that families, communities, teachers, school administrators, counselors, social workers, psychologists, nurses, and staff can collaboratively come together to identify and support students in need to promote student wellness in an effort to enhance social, emotional, and academic success and well-being.

Suicide Prevention


Some warning signs may help you determine if someone you know is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. These may include:

  • Negative view of self

  • Sense of hopelessness or no hope about the future

  • Isolation or feeling alone

  • Aggressiveness and irritability

  • Loss of interest

  • Withdrawing from activities

  • Making suicide threats

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs

  • Giving things away

  • Engaging in risky behaviors

  • Sleeping too much or too little

  • Self -injury

  • Frequently talking about death

  • Drastic changes in mood and behavior

  • Feeling like a burden to others


For more information on Warning Signs, visit: The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention


Risk Factors are characteristics that make it more likely that someone will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. They cannot cause or predict a suicide attempt, but they’re important to be aware of. These may include:

  • Previous suicide attempts

  • History of substance use

  • Relationship problems

  • Access to harmful means

  • Physical disability or illness

  • Losing a friend or family member to suicide

  • Ongoing exposure to bullying behavior

  • Mental health condition

  • Recent death of a family member or close friend

For more information on Risk Factors, visit: The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention


Protective factors are personal or environmental characteristics that help protect people from suicide. These may include:

  • Parent connectedness

  • Connections to other non-parental adults

  • School safety and stability

  • Closeness to caring friends

  • Overall resilience

  • Neighborhood safety and stability

  • Awareness of and access to local health services

  • Acceptance

  • Skills in problem solving and conflict resolution


If you are in a state of distress, reaching out is the first step to safety. Tell someone you trust how you are feeling. If you aren’t sure who you can talk to, click on the links below to be taken to dedicated crisis services.

How to Talk to Someone Who May be Struggling

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention provides helpful guidelines for talking to someone who may be at risk. If you think someone is thinking about suicide, assume you are the only one who will reach out. Here’s how to talk to someone who may be struggling with their mental health:

  1. Talk to them in private

  2. Listen to their story

  3. Tell them you care about them

  4. Ask directly if they are thinking about suicide

  5. Encourage them to seek treatment or to contact their doctor or therapist

  6. Avoid debating the value of life, minimizing their problems or giving advice

  7. Tell a trusted adult

If someone says they are considering suicide:

  • Take the person seriously

  • Stay with them

  • Tell a trusted adult

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

  • Text “TALK” to 741741 to text with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free 24/7

  • Escort them to mental health services or an emergency room



Depression is more than just feeling down or having a bad day. When a sad mood lasts for a long time and interferes with normal, everyday life, you may be depressed. Symptoms of depression vary from person-to-person, but there are some common signs and symptoms:

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness

  • Loss of interest in daily activities

  • Feeling irritable, easily frustrated, or restless

  • Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep

  • Loss of energy

  • Unexplained aches and pains

  • Changes in appetite or weight

  • Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things

  • Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless



Many helpful treatments for depression are available. Treatment for depression can reduce symptoms and provide relief. Treatment can include psychotherapy and/or medication. Your doctor or a qualified mental health professional can help you determine what treatment is best for you.


Some individuals who are depressed may think about hurting themselves or taking their own life. If you or someone you know is having thoughts about hurting themselves or considering suicide, please seek immediate help. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak to a 24/7 crisis center or dial 911.



Anxiety is a normal reaction to danger. It triggers the body’s automatic fight-or-flight response that protects us when threatened, pressured, or faced with a challenge. Anxiety is not necessarily a bad thing! It allows us to stay alert, focused, and can spring us into action. However, when anxiety is constant or overwhelming—when worries and fears interfere with our relationships and routine—it may be time to seek help. In addition to the primary symptom of excessive and irrational worry and fear, other common symptoms of anxiety may include:

  • Feeling tense

  • Irritability

  • Watching for signs of danger

  • Anticipating the worst

  • Feelings of apprehension

  • Pounding heart

  • Sweating

  • Headaches

  • Muscle tension

  • Shaking or trembling

  • insomnia



Anxiety disorders respond very well to therapy. The specific treatment approach depends on the type of anxiety disorder and its severity. But in general, most anxiety disorders are treated with therapy, medication, or some combination of the two.

Coping Skills


Coping skills are the strategies that we use to adjust to the stresses, changes, and conflicts we encounter in life. They help us to better manage and navigate painful or difficult emotions.


  • Physical activity or exercise

  • Mindfulness

  • Meditation

  • Draw

  • Paint

  • Listen to music

  • Talk to loved ones

  • Hike

  • Write

  • Photography

  • Play an instrument

  • Dance

  • Sing

  • Play a game

  • Clean or organize your environment

  • Read

  • Watch a funny video

  • Serve someone in need

  • Play with a pet

  • Make a gratitude list

  • Write a list of goals




Self-care encompasses activities that we do deliberately to attend to and take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.



  • Self-care reduces the negative effects of stress

  • Self-care helps you refocus

  • Self-care helps you be a better student

  • Self-care prevents burnout


  1. Emotional self-care: activities that help you connect, process, and reflect on a full range of emotions.

    • Examples: seeing a therapist, writing in a journal, creating art, playing music, etc.

  2. Practical self-care: tasks you complete that fulfill core aspects of your life in order to prevent future stressful situations

    • Examples: creating a budget, learning a new skill, organizing your closet, etc.

  3. Physical self-care: activities you do that improve the well-being of your physical health

    • Examples: taking a walk, sleeping eight hours a night, staying hydrated, etc.

  4. Mental self-care: any activity that stimulates your mind or your intellect

    • Examples: Reading a book, solving a puzzle, going to a museum, etc.

  5. Social self-care: activities that nurture and deepen the relationships with loved ones and friends in life.

    • Examples: calling your mom, spending time with friends, going to family dinner, etc.

  6. Spiritual self-care: activities that nurture your spirit and allow you to think bigger than yourself. This does not have to be religious, although it is for some.

    • Examples: meditation, yoga, going to a place of worship, dedicating time for self-reflection, etc.


Self Care Matrix



W. A. Y. Kind is a club for students and staff to collaborate about school wide wellness. Specifically, focusing on the elements of the acronym; WAY.

  • Wellness: Exploring and maintaining personal wellness related to the mind-body connection. Showing respect for our bodies through the choices we make and learning to make safe and healthy decisions.

  • Acceptance: Being open to other opinions, views, and beliefs by showing respect and support for others, even if there are differences in beliefs and views.

  • You: The personal accountability each individual has for creating their own wellness and how we each contribute to the general wellness of the school community.

WAY Kind Club helps organize and develop multiple school-wide positive messaging campaigns throughout the year, focusing on kindness every step of the W. A. Y.