Mental Health Week & the Role of Attachment

By Ms. Kirsten Bowles, Junior School Counsellor
It’s Mental Health Week, and communities, schools and workplaces across Canada are spreading awareness through the #GetLoud campaign, challenging the stigma around mental illness. The awareness campaign invites each of us to examine how we feel about ourselves, how we find balance in daily living, and how we manage life’s highs and lows.
The first step to conscious and healthy living is awareness. During March and April in the C.A.R.E program, students learned about their incredible brain and how it protects them when it perceives threat. Students explored examples of what this feels like, including queasy tummies, shortness of breath, or inability to concentrate or fall asleep. Through education and normalization of anxiety, students are more attuned to both the stressors and stress responses that they experience. Using skills learned in January (Mindfulness), we also used strategies such as the Mood Meter, guided deep breathing, self-talk and gratitude practice to build up our mental health tool box. Healthy Living Month, led by our nursing team, underscored the role of healthy diet and regular exercise in our pursuit of wellness.
Although we do our work at school to support health and wellness, no amount of education or number of strategies can replace the greatest indicator of mental health in children: healthy development and mental wellness in children is most strongly influenced by close attachment with a trusted adult. Our intuition about our profound role as parents is supported by research that explains the correlation between attachment, that is, a child’s bond with primary adult caregivers, and the impact on healthy brain development, future relationships and long-term mental health. Last month, the Canadian Paediatric Society announced a dramatic shift toward promotion of more attachment-based discipline.
If you’d like to continue conversations at home about mental health and wellness, the following resources may be helpful:
  • This article gives guidance on finding the right words with elementary-aged children
  • This document is from our intermediate C.A.R.E. curriculum on anxiety and the brain
  • The FamilySmart website provides several resources for children, youth and parents on mental health.
We also encourage our grades 6 and 7 parents to attend our upcoming workshop on substance use, presented by Copeman Healthcare. The same content will be delivered to grades 6 and 7 students on May 31.
Parent Education Session: “Children, Youth and Substance Use”
Thursday, May 30
Dining Hall
To RSVP, click here.