“As a result of having school online, students are struggling with stress, time management, and social skills. Even before Covid, students struggled from time to time with stress from home, stress from school, or simply the stress of being a teenager!”
Being the supervisor of a new student-created service learning group, Mr. A-G says that the ISY Peer Support Group’s aim is “helping students find ways to manage their mental health and deal with everyday stressors”, especially amidst these uncertain times. The four club founders – Marvyn (G11), Su Pwint (G11), Dimple (G9) and Maggie (G9) – would also like the ISY community to know that they have taken the first steps towards raising awareness of students’ mental health needs and that there are available support systems at ISY.
The ISY Peer Support group sent out their first survey to students on January 21st to try and get a read on where students are in terms of mental health, and whether students know that there is help at school. From the 52 responses received, ISY students’ stress level was on average a 6/10 (10 being highly stressed and a 1 being low to no stress). 50% of the respondents were “exhausted/tired”, 63% were “worried/anxious”, and 54% were excited to return to school in person. Although this excitement promoted positive feelings, the transition to in-person learning poses a challenge as students must move away from their new habits and approaches to online classes. The most frequently listed challenges of returning to in-person school were: waking up early, longer school days, being physically tired (for example, from going up and down stairs to classes), and hybrid learning.
A second survey was sent out on February 4th, which included the same questions as the first survey, asking students about their stress levels and other feelings about the transition from online to in-person classes. “The follow-up survey was to find out if the transition period, my lessons, and welcoming teachers made a difference in students’ stress levels,” Mr. A-G commented, “we intend to use that data to help us figure out ways that we can further support students.” The survey also allowed the ISY Peer Support Group to find recurring patterns in positive experiences or worries that students had; all useful pieces of information for the group to move forward with their plans and ideas. They also noticed that students’ average stress level was a 5 out of 10 – as compared to their previous 6 out of 10 – in the follow-up survey, which motivated the team to continue making a positive impact on the community.
The ISY Peer Support Group is currently in the process of planning activities that students, from elementary to high school, can participate in that will help them de-stress and set aside time for self-care. They hope students will actively engage in and benefit from these mental health activities, and by hosting such events, the ISY Peer Support Group hopes to take away the stigmas surrounding mental health and encourage students to reach out to a counselor or talk to someone about their anxious thoughts and feelings.
“We also plan to put up posters around the school with reminders for students about what they can do to better take care of themselves,” said Mr. A-G, “some of the posters will educate students about warning signs or behaviors consistent with stress…if they see themselves fitting the criteria for being stressed, they may think about reaching out for support.”
The ISY Support Group further expressed their desire to make a “lasting impact” on the school community’s wellbeing. They will be working closely with the administration to find ways that ISY can support students during the school day, and potentially integrate more mental health-centered activities into the school schedule.
“It would be nice to get more students involved in the group, to plan more events and activities surrounding self-care, as well as increase the community’s engagement and involvement in these ideas,” Marvyn mentioned. Being a new service-learning club, the ISY Peer Support Group is open to new members with new ideas – contact Mr. A-G (MAmundson-Geisel@isyedu.org) if you’re interested!