Chill Out

Student council holds mental health week


provided by Catie Orwin

The puzzle piece poster made by students at Thursday's activity.

Late this January, the student council hosted a Mental Health Week in order to give students a chance to de-stress and get away from the troubles of being a high school student. The event was held as part of the Texas Association of Student Councils’ mental health initiative, called Resolve to Rise, which focuses on the mental health of students.

“Our goal was to ensure students got a lot out of the activities and projects,” senior student council member Jessica Omokheyeke said. “We really wanted the students to delve into their emotions and not have to worry about some assignments that are due or tests coming up.”

Activities were scheduled throughout the week to achieve this end, including planting, painting and meditation with health science teacher Laura Anderson.

“Everybody was there to support each other,” senior student council member Catie Orwin said. “It was very calming, and we were all there for the same reason, so it was a very nice, relaxed atmosphere.”

On Monday was an energy and environment project, where each student got a small cardboard plant holder and planted a flower to be kept in their rooms.

“It’s been shown that planting and gardening helps people relax,” Omokheyeke said. “So we had them plant the flower of their choice. It’s very carefree. You only have to water them once a day.”

On Tuesday was a tips and tricks day where kids made goody bags that had a notepad, a couple of pencils and things to help them get through the day as well as stress-relieving objects like bubble wrap, soft fabric or maybe a stress ball.

“In a way, they were packing a tips and tricks bag to make sure they don’t have to stress about ‘Oh, I don’t have any pencils today,’ that type of thing,” Omokheyeke said.

On Wednesday was a guided breathing meditation day led by Anderson.

“She was in charge of teaching students different sayings and different positions, the type of thing that calms people down in meditation,” Omokheyeke said.

On Thursday, there was a puzzle piece activity where everyone got to paint their own puzzle piece, and they put them together into one huge poster.

“It was about unity and bringing everyone together,” Omokheyeke said. “The poster is to show that we’re unified as a student body, and it’s hanging up in the Commons.”

There were about 10 to 15 students attending most of the events. The most popular was the meditation session, which was attended by closer to 20 students.

“The students appeared to really enjoy themselves,” student council sponsor Nikki Self said. “There were lots of laughter and smiles. I believe each day fully served its purpose.”

The student council agrees that schools need to provide mental health resources for their students.

“High school is stressful. Being a teenager is stressful,” Self said. “We’re trying to ease some of that stress.”

With all the troubles high school students are put through, students need a place where they can de-stress.

“There’s a lot of pressure being put on us nowadays,” Orwin said. “If you want us to succeed in all the stressful situations that we’re put in, I think there needs to be an outlet to keep a good headspace and not be overwhelmed by everything high school demands.”

Overall, the first Cypress Woods Mental Health Week was considered a success.

“I want it to be bigger the next time the project rolls around,” Orwin said. “But for the first year and for what we had, I’d say it was successful.”

There is already talk of having a second Mental Health Week next year.

“I feel like the students will want to do it again next year, but that’s entirely up to them,” Self said. “I think more advanced planning and greater advertising would make it an event in which more students elect to participate.”

Even though she is graduating this year, Omokheyeke is confident that Mental Health Week will be repeated in coming years.

“I know we’re going to do it next year and expand it in a way,” Omokheyeke said. “We did four days out of the week because of scheduling, and they might be doing the full week next year and get as many people to come as possible.”