The first ever Wellness Day was held at the Gene L. Klida Utica Academy for International Studies (GLK-UAIS) last week through the guidance of the school’s Active Minds student group.
“Today is a full day meant to have the students prioritize their mental health,” said Sandra Attisha, GLK-UAIS senior and president of the GLK-UAIS Active Minds group. “Right now in our society people are very afraid to get any help whatsoever so we are trying to go against that and help people prioritize their mental health.”
Students throughout the day were introduced to different tools to support their mental health including yoga, meditation, mindfulness and humor. They also engaged in discussions with classmates on topics such as stress management, suicide prevention and perfectionism.
“I thought today was going to be cliché, sort of like a formality, but they did a really good job at having people actually share their experiences and make it more real, instead of just saying something like, ‘don’t be sad,’” said Cassandra Naliath, a sophomore at GLK-UAIS.
Exams may have been around the corner, but the Wellness Day encouraged students to work on themselves rather than their schoolwork.
“I feel like I learned more about myself and how my peers deal with stress,“ Naliath said. “It opened up a door to be able to talk to teachers about this stuff and it reminded us of the importance of talking about mental health.”
“Hopefully students will realize ‘wow, I really felt good at the end of that day’ and they will see that they should use these tools more because they felt good,” said GLK-UAIS counselor, Susan Fitzsimonds. “We’re just trying to give them the skills to do that on their own in the future.”
After a successful Wellness Day at GLK-UAIS, Attish is hopeful that others will implement something similar.
“I hope other schools in the district can adopt these mental health days because of how good it is for students to get that time to relax and learn how to de-stress.”