‘May’king mental health a priority

Seventh-grade+English+teacher+Ms.+Amy+Allen+promotes+the+importance+of+Mental+Health+through+her+clothes.+

Courtesy of Ms. Amy Allen

Seventh-grade English teacher Ms. Amy Allen promotes the importance of Mental Health through her clothes.

Rayna Kim, Writer

Quarantine and online school has been quite a journey. 

Starting from the first day of school, everything has been a whirlwind of events and a great variety of emotions. Now, this one-of-a-kind year is coming to a close. However, are we so invested in our worries and our work, that we ignore one of the things that matters most in life: your mental health?  

May, mental health month, is a time to reflect on our mental wellness. According to the CDC, mental health is the state of our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It determines how you socialize, make choices and handle stress.

 “Being mentally healthy is just like being physically healthy, and it allows us to enjoy our lives and cope better with issues that arise,”  says RCMS student guidance counselor Ms. Esther Ferrell. “It helps you focus better at school, get along with your peers and be more creative.” 

Olivia Wu, a seventh-grade student at RCMS, seems to think along those same lines.

“If you have a healthy mental state,” she said, “then your physical actions to yourself, to other people and to the environment around you won’t be harmful.”

Stress/anxiety is a big part of our lives; we can’t completely avoid it.  However, while it might become a “positive motivator” as Ms. Amy Allen, a seventh-grade English teacher, puts it, it could also negatively affect your day-to-day life and cause future emotional problems like depression, or physical problems, like lack of sleep. 

“Stress made my assignments look much harder than they really were,” said Olivia. 

Other students said stress demotivates them to not do anything, and causes them to watch an unhealthy amount of YouTube or TV. 

According to Ms. Ferrell, some common stress factors that students come to her are usually about academic pressures, parent expectations, issues with friends, social media, over scheduling and thoughts about the future.

However, while you can’t escape stress, you can cope with it.

First things first, take a deep breath,” says Olivia. “Then lay out all your assignments.”

Another student offers a different method to deal with stress. 

“I advise others to ask your friends for help, because when you talk to them and vent out all your stress, they will understand,” says RCMS seventh-grader Annie Sheng.

“Me time” is also important for coping and dealing with overwhelming stress.

Me time is a time to reflect and process what has been happening in our lives,” says Ms. Ferrell. “We can use this time to figure out why we are feeling the way we feel or simply reconnect with an activity we enjoy which can reduce our stress.” 

The SOLs have also impacted our mental well-being. Typically ranging from shocked to nervous, many SOL-taking students don’t know what to feel. However, whatever happens, it’s always good to have some tips handy.

I would recommend doing something like doodling [before the test], or something that doesn’t require presence of mind really,” says seventh-grader Manya Yellepeddy. 

Annie shares that before she takes tests, she likes to reflect on her well-being first.

“Take some time for yourself to calm your nerves,” she says. “Be confident!” 

For many students, the coronavirus has also affected their mental health. In-person school may have helped with that. 

“I think my mental health has gotten slightly worse during COVID. Although quarantine at first was a very nice break, [over time] it kind of felt like I was confined,” said Manya. “But now that I’ve started going back in-person, I feel so relieved. In-person school is the funnest thing ever!”

This school year has been very tumultuous, but Ms. Allen advises students to always remember that help is always available if you need it.

“Yes it’s overwhelming,” she says, “so let’s just break it down and solve it, together.”