Mental Health Acceptance Week

Growing up and finding your place in this world can be one of the biggest challenges a child faces early on in their lives.

Growing up and finding your place in this world can be one of the biggest challenges a child faces early on in their lives. Additionally, the last two years have flipped the world upside-down for people all around the world. What was once considered „normal“ and „routine“has vanished and left space for uncertainty. An uncertainty that can trigger many negative emotions that seek an outlet one way or the other. 

As a school, VIS sees that it is our responsibility to not only teach students, but provide an all around safe space for each child’s personal development; including their mental health needs. Research shows that 1 in 10 young people have or had already experienced a serious mental health challenge - with numbers rising significantly during the global pandemic. This shows that mental health resources are an absolute necessity at any school, and that it is equally important for teachers and staff to become advocates in this mission. By creating room for discussion and education about mental health, the school hopes to tear down the walls of shame that ever so often surround this topic. „It is ok, not to be ok“ - a sentence that can feel almost cliche but still holds a clear and concise message: your feelings are valid. 

At VIS, we foster this commitment by providing counseling services and mental health initiatives to all of our students, staff and teachers. Topics can range from stress in school, anxiety, bullying, all the way to more severe life events. We encourage everyone to seek out help in times of emotional unrest, and although reaching out can be hard sometimes, having resources available and easily accessible is one of the key ways to invite someone to take the first step. 

During the school year, we furthermore facilitated events to raise awareness  and keep the conversation going at our campus. For example by acknowledging Mental Health Acceptance Week. During this annual week, we talked about all the things that are OK about our Mental Health. The goal of this was to help our community see that our mental health is something we should be comfortable discussing with others. One of the key focuses was that it was OK to feel our feelings, even when they are not happy or positive. We also focussed on it being ok to ask for help, and help others. One part of this was asking students to think about who is a trusted adult that they could talk with about how they are really feeling. For many of our students it was their parents that they see as their trusted adult. 

Throughout the week the school offered workshops and educational sessions to deepen the conversation, but also learn from our students and teachers themselves about their experiences and opinions on this issue. Oftentimes we realised that this new student generation is already a lot more willing and open to the discussion of mental health, than earlier generations. For us, a clear sign that the dialogue is going into the right direction. The engagement and awareness of our students to mental health fills us with pride and hope that they will further this message outside of school and carry the lessons into their future lives.