Originally published May 16 in the Press & Guide.
By Stiles Simmons, Superintendent, Westwood Community School District
For educators, student health and wellness are a top priority. That’s why you’ll see schools across the area proudly emphasizing mental health and physical fitness this month, as both are recognized and celebrated in May.
In many instances, these efforts go hand in hand. Taking care of one’s body through exercise can positively impact a student’s mental health, while tending to mental health can make it easier for a student to participate in physical activity.
Part of Mental Health Awareness Month is taking the time to break the stigma and understand that seeking help is a form of strength. Check with your child’s school to see what mental health resources are available to them, which could include counselors, restorative practices coordinators, social workers or other mental health professionals or services. Please know that no matter the reason, school counselors and mental health professionals are ready and able to be a helping hand for all families, as well as having resources to refer to additional expertise or care.
As we head into the summer months, I know it’s easy to forget a routine and fall into the bliss of endless sunshine. However, I’d like to remind families to keep physical and mental activity top of mind.
The months off in the summer are a time for students to recharge and refresh after a long year of growth and achievement. Despite this, we recommend our students continue to learn because during this time districts across the country see a large increase in learning loss – the reduction of knowledge and skills in academic progress over a period of time.