Wellness for Our Future took a trip to The Achieve Program today!
Wellness for Our Future had the honor and privilege to facilitate a mini mental health workshop at The Achieve Program. The Achieve Program’s mission is “to empower motivated students from underserved Boston communities to close the opportunity gap.” An academic enrichment program that works with middle school children and provides support to these students through high school and college. Their goal is to provide transformative academic and enrichment experiences and foster mentorship with alumni and/or high school volunteers. (theachieveprogram.org)
Today’s workshop, focused on getting an understanding for what we mean when we talk about mental health, and we specifically discussed stress and anxiety associated with being in middle school; academically and socially. The kids were able to identify and discuss their stressors, they were able to identify anxiety symptoms, along with their triggers. We then explored coping strategies as a foundation to build upon for the rest of their lives. It was such a great experience to see and understand their level of exposure to the information about mental health in general. They were so brave in sharing their specific experiences with the group. I wanted to blog about this, not only to highlight how smart these kiddos are but also how engaging they were, when given the opportunity to take up space with their thoughts, ideas and feelings.
During our dynamic discussions, there were some key takeaways that I wanted to share with the public. My teachers/educators in the field, school counselors, other community providers and especially to the families where parents may have immigrated here at some point and now raising born Americans in a multicultural household. Many of the children shared that mental health support is being promoted in their schools but not quite accessible. They shared frustrations about being believed and/or not having their feelings about their stress, validated. They shared stress and anxiety being triggered by academic pressures, social pressures and sometimes having to deal with adult responsibilities at home; having to take care of or compensate for their siblings.
This is not meant to blame or point fingers. I see this as an opportunity to remind ourselves and others, that even our smartest, most responsible children need us, because they are in fact still children. With that being said, we must also remind ourselves to challenge each other to create space and foster an environment where our children can be heard, and their feelings can be validated. It is hard transitioning to the academic structure of middle school, it is hard making friends and feeling like you belong, it is hard trying to express yourself and know what to do when you’re not feeling well emotionally.
Let’s listen more and if you need more support, WFOF, as well as other practices in Massachusetts, are here to support you. Normalize having conversations about mental health in the home and normalize getting support from a professional. Make mental health providers, a part of your village. Thank you to The Achieve Program for allowing me to use the time to create a space for these kids to tap into their mental health today.