Secondary students at John Diefenbaker Senior School in Hanover have the opportunity to be part of a Mental Health and Wellness class this year. The course, which is the first of its kind in Bluewater District School Board, includes 24 students enrolled this semester with a full second section of the course to run in second semester.
The students in the class have already learned about their own personal wellness and the community supports available in this area. Throughout the rest of the term, they will study other topics, including healthy and unhealthy relationships, mental illnesses, addictions, and self-care. The course was designed to have a strong student-directed focus, so that the students could practice strategies to help them improve their
own mental health.
The idea was suggested in June 2016 during a Girls Group meeting (a group designed to help engage at-risk girls at JDSS) by Cassidy Martin, a student who is currently enrolled in the course. She believed that having a course solely based on mental health and wellness would be an excellent support for students at the school, and that mental health is an important aspect of life that everyone should understand and learn about.
Many of the other students in the class agree with her:
“Mental health shouldn’t be a topic we tip-toe around.” – Maddie Munroe
“This course should be running in every school.” – Brooklynn Fortune
“This course has improved my knowledge of mental health and wellness. We should start learning about this at a younger age.” – Sara Becker
“Nobody feels judged about their mental health in this class because we all want to help. That’s part of what this class is about.” – Breanna Becker
“Mental health is something you just can’t ignore.” – Kate Watson
The Mental Health and Wellness class recently created a series of posters and a display during Mental Illness Awareness Week, and placed sticky notes on lockers throughout the school with positive, uplifting messages for students.
Students in the class have learned that, in any given year, one in five Canadians experience a mental health problem or illness. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to seek help for these problems. JDSS and the students in this class are trying their very best to change that.