Image of a heart with the text: You are not alone.


Prince William County Public Schools recognizes May as 

MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH

Now more than ever, it is essential to prioritize the mental health of loved ones and take steps to stay connected with friends, family, and peers. No one should feel alone in their mental health journey or without the resources and support they need.

One in six youth aged 6-17 experiences a mental health condition each year and more than 51 million adults in the United States face the reality of managing a mental illness every day.

The Office of Student Services is committed to prioritizing student and staff mental health wellness and encourages schools to assist in promoting this effort. 
May 7 is National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, and we ask all staff, students, and community members to wear green on that day in recognition of the important role positive mental health plays in the development of youth.


May is Mental Health Awareness Month

The Healthy Communities Healthy Youth (HCHY) Student LEAD Team and Student Senate have partnered with the Prevention Alliance of Greater Prince William to develop wellness messages and graphics that will be posted at nine of our Prince William County trail locations beginning Sunday, May 9th through Saturday, June 5th.

Walking outside can have many positive mental health benefits. We hope that you can take some time to visit one of our participating trails. By scanning the QR Codes at each trailhead, you can learn more about wellness messages that are important to you.  Please feel free to re-tweet these messages during your visit, using the hashtag - #YouAreNotAlonePWCS.  Below are the participating trail locations:Photo of Neabsco Creek Boardwalk

  • Blooms Park (Manassas Park)
  • Winter’s Branch Trail (City of Manassas)
  • Bristoe Station (Bristow/Linton Hall)
  • Long Park (Gainesville)
  • Andrew Leitch Trail (Dale City)
  • Broad Run Trail (Braemar/Bull Run)
  • Occoquan Greenway (Lakeridge Park)
  • Chinn Park (Woodbridge)
  • Neabsco Boardwalk (Woodbridge)

For more information about this partnership, local resources, and other ways to participate in National Mental Health Awareness Month activities, please visit the Prevention Alliance of Greater Prince William website.


10 Ways to Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month. The Jed Foundation (JED)

Mental Health First Aid USA® News & Updates

 

Parent Resources

Resources to Support the Mental Health of Teachers and School Staff

UPCOMING FREE WEBINAR - MONDAY, MAY 3RD AT 3PM 
Real-World Self-Care for Students & Teachers. EVERFI.  Register for Access

10 Mental Health Tips for Teachers During the COVID-19 Pandemic. EVERFI.

Angela Watson's Truth for Teachers Podcast. (Weekly podcasts providing encouragement and inspiration for teachers.  Ranks in the top three K-12 podcasts in the world.) The Cornerstone for Teachers.

Care for the Caregiver: Guidelines for Administrators and Crisis Teams. - National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).

Free Webinar- Prioritizing Mental Well-Being: Mental Health Strategies for Teachers for Students. EVERFI.

Teacher Mental Health Tips You Can’t Afford to Ignore. Teach Starter

The Educator's Room Presents: The Teacher Self-Care Podcast.  Anchor by Spotify. 

Why Teacher Self-Care Matters and How to Practice Self-Care in Your School.  Waterford.Org.

Articles

 

PWCS Provides Activities and Lessons That Focus on Mental Health

During the pandemic, Prince William County Schools has been hard at work to gauge and address the mental health needs of students. Our school counselors have collaborated with other school-based mental health professionals to creatively deliver services and interventions that promote positive mental health in students and in staff. See what some of our schools have accomplished this year. 

 

 

picture of 2 friends talking on Zoom

Battlefield High School

Battlefield High School collaborated with representatives from Youth Era (a non-profit) to bring the UpLift program to their school community. Not only are they facilitating and supporting students voices in this mission, but they have a commitment to positive mental health.

The first event planned this year was a peer-to-peer training designed to empower the student body and lead to a formation of a Mental Health Student Ambassador organization. This virtual event trained youth leaders to master modern rapport-building hacks to support peers going through difficult times. As a result, student leaders are motivated, empowered, and support youth to change the lives of those around them.

At the end of April, Battlefield held a Spirit Week promoting mental health wellness activities to include students posting wellness tips on Instagram. They kicked off Mental Health Awareness Month with their second BHS Virtual Wellness Walk event on May 1. Battlefield school-based mental health professionals are hopeful that from these activities, students will continue to take a lead role in advocating for mental health in the school community and destigmatize mental illness.

Bristow Run Elementary School

At Bristow Run Elementary, the school-based mental health team (school counselors, school psychologist, and school social worker) created brief mindful moments for the daily recorded announcements. Then they decided to turn the task over to the students. The students now create the mindful moments of one minute or less which are then broadcast on the morning announcements via the school's YouTube channel. The students make their own mindful moments or recreate ones they learned from the school-based mental health team.

 

 

Buckland Mills and Yorkshire Elementary Schools

At Yorkshire and Buckland Mills Elementary Schools, a SPARKS Innovative Grant was used to support a therapeutic project, "Calming Hearts with Art - Summer Therapeutic Art Bags."  Over 800 art bags were created for students in 3rd through 5th grade. Other funding came from Donors Choose and Wegmans. School families and friends sponsored 175 students by donating $7 for an art bag.

Bull Run Middle School

Rebecca Staines, counselor at Bull Run Middle School created a 6th grade Peer Connection Cooking Group this year. Ms. Staines created this group to get to know her new 6th graders and be more accessible in a virtual setting. Students have loved participating in this group and have barely noticed they're learning self-advocacy, social, and independent life skills while having fun.

Coles Elementary, Benton Middle, and Charles J. Colgan Sr. High Schools

Heather Mainwaring, Coles Elementary School counselor, helped to coordinate this project and identify students in need of services. Ms. Mainwaring is practiced at innovative collaborations in both literacy and technology that creatively meet the Coles students' needs, and now she expands those collaborative efforts across schools. These efforts blend academic counseling, social-emotional counseling, and college/career readiness to promote student wellness and success.

Enterprise Elementary School

At Enterprise Elementary School, the school social worker and counselor lead weekly mental health awareness teams - Helping Others Support Team (HOST) and Social-Emotional Resources Team (SERT), to discuss all avenues of mental health. "Motivational Monday" and "Wellness Wednesday" announcements are posted weekly in student Canvas announcements. A newsletter is published monthly focusing on mental health tips and tidbits.

C.D. Hylton High School

Michaella Beatty, Hylton High School counselor, has been using her technological and graphic design skills to create a comprehensive, interactive Canvas page for Mental Health Awareness Week.

Students can click on a calendar to see what activities will happen each day. There’s a Spotify playlist created by Leadership class students. Students can even film themselves participating in activities like themed dress ups, playing mental health BINGO, watching “Mental Health Minute” videos, and more. They can upload this “proof” to Flipgrid. Each time they do, they earn a spot in the raffle for a self-care basket.

 

Lake Ridge Middle School Staff wearing green to support mental health awareness picture of Lake Ridge Middle school staff supporting mental health awareness

Lake Ridge Middle School

At Lake Ridge Middle School, the school mental health team meets weeks to review student concerns and needed. Additionally, the school counselor sends "Empowering Thursdays" emails to school staff. These emails provide mental health information and tips on supporting and empowering staff and student mental health.

Picture of Lake Ridge Staff supporting mental health awareness month

 

 Picture of student on sidewalk doing chalk activity

Mountain View Elementary School

At Mountain View Elementary School, we are encouraging the staff, students and community to wear green each Friday during the entire month of May in recognition of the important role mental health plays in the development of our youth. Each week in May, we are focusing on mental health with special activities. In counseling lessons with Donna Cole, students are reviewing coping skills, mindfulness, handling stress and anxiety and test taking strategies. This week, the students and staff are displaying posters around the building to wish the students well on upcoming SOL tests. For the 2nd week in May, students are assembling and coloring a take home booklet for home use with mindfulness activities to "Take A Break and Feel Calm". During week 3 in May, classes are taking a mindfulness walk with stop points along the way to review calming strategies. For the final week in May, students are chalking the sidewalks with anything they are grateful for in their lives, another mindfulness idea. For the past several years including this year, at Mountain View, teachers and staff incorporate a bit of mindfulness with students daily. Students are continuously reminded that many adults are available for additional support when needed and wanted. Our morning broadcast highlights many helpful reminders on this topic as well as encouraging a positive environment for all.

 

picture of counselor sharing a mindful moment on Zoom picture of a counselor sharing a breathing ball on Zoom

Old Bridge Elementary School

At Old Bridge Elementary, counselors Patty McNeely and Laura Kostrzebski have been working hard all year at forming impactful virtual connections with students. One of their outreach efforts in social-emotional skill building has been the delivery of Dolphin Mindful Moments via Flipgrid. An example of this work is a Flipgrid video on a mindful body scan. It's a great way for not only students but adults to find a little calm in a busy day.

 

Picture of Osbourn Park counseling team supporting mental health awareness 

Osbourn Park High School

For Mental Health Awareness Month, Osbourn Park High School is celebrating weekly themes through mini lessons made available to teachers to share with their students. They also planned activities and daily announcements from their principal, Mrs. Kane.

Week 1 is all about student self-care during the end-of-year exams. Counselors are sharing daily tips and tricks on how students can maintain a health self-care routine during even the most stressful times of the year.

Week 2 is highlighting the theme, “You Are Not Alone.” The staff has been given a #YouAreNotAlone poster to pose with, and the counselors will create a collage from the pictures. This will remind all students that they are never alone, and that the staff is there to support them.

Week 3 is celebrating those individuals who have been a symbol of strength over silence. Counselors will share stories each day of everyday people who have not let their own mental illness struggles define them, and how they have used their strength to help others.

Week 4, the school community will come together to overcome the stigma of mental health and will learn how to be allies. Students will receive a bag full of mental health awareness swag. School counselors will host an “Overcome the Stigma” lunch during all lunch periods. Students will be able to take selfies with signs that show how to be an ally for mental health. Finally, the school is hosting an “Ending the Silence” assembly sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Prince William.

 

picture of Piney Branch school counselors

Piney Branch Elementary School

Virtual school has made it a challenge for school employees to effectively deliver their services, especially counselors who rely on working with students in person to meet their social-emotional needs. Part of a successful and comprehensive school counseling program involves working with targeted students in small groups. Unfortunately, getting students to attend virtual groups has been a pervasive issue for counselors all around.

At Piney Branch, the program involves running concurrent groups throughout the year based on student needs assessments and teacher/parent input. However, after multiple attempted groups throughout this school year, counselors Shawn Biegler and Ally Williams realized that something different was needed to engage students. They read about an idea being successful at another school and decided to try “School Counselor Connect.” School Counselor Connect is a 30-minute period during lunch time where students get to participate in an informal meet up session with the school counselors. Each meet up contains a fun topic such as Pictionary, show and tell your pet, and our biggest hit, show your counselors how to play Roblox. Teachers were asked to advertise this event to their students, and it was put in the weekly letter that goes out to families.

School Counselor Connect provides Piney Branch Elementary school counselors with the opportunity to promote supportive interaction, peer connection, and overall fun. Additionally, it gives counselors a chance to conduct mindful moments, a counseling activity that is part of the school-wide mindfulness program, and check-in with students they do not see often. The most rewarding part has been seeing students who have low attendance and lack engagement. Parents and teachers shared that the students provided positive feedback. The counselors are hopeful that these meet up sessions improve motivation, engagement, and relationships with students who have struggled with virtual learning. They look forward to continuing this program in the future.

Potomac High School

At Potomac High School, the counseling team conducts Mental Health Mondays, which are a series of presentations that addressed mental health awareness and provide resources, support, and information to students while learning in the virtual environment.

 

 

Potomac Middle School

At Potomac Middle School, pro-mental health efforts include restorative practices used school-wide and year-round for all grade levels and other activities:

  • Restorative Practice is used to improve relationships among our students and teachers. It is a time for to teach social skills, develop a positive classroom community, and allows the teachers to prevent and respond to issues that arise in the classroom. It also gives the students a safe environment to share their feelings and thoughts on various topics. Preventive and restorative practices help ensure students feel accepted and supported. 
  • The school social worker also facilitates a weekly skill-building group utilizing curriculum on "Emotional Regulation," in collaboration with the school psychologist and ED teacher.
  • The counseling team organizes year-round classroom-based activities and weekly check-ins with students. 
  • For the month of May, the following activities are taking place: Wear Green on Fridays; mental health tips read on Friday announcements (in-person and virtually); Restorative Practice sessions on Tuesdays (mental health/mindfulness focused videos included); Kindness/Gratitude Wall (in school/virtual); Thoughtful Thursdays (students discuss in class what they did to make someone's day better).

 

Rosa Parks and McAuliffe Elementary Schools

Arthur Lockamy, a counselor at Rosa Parks Elementary and McAuliffe Elementary, was recently introduced to the book Outside, Inside by LeUyen Pham. The book helped him to start conversations about the effects of COVID-19 on his school communities’ families.

Mr. Lockamy recently taught 2nd and 3rd grade classes a lesson focused on this book. He used Nearpod and made it an interactive and meaningful lesson. The students made connections to their experiences. They were even able to approach and process feelings of loss or grief because of COVID-19. The lessons were well-received by teachers and students.

 

 Bulletin Board supporting mental health

Saunders Middle School

Since the start of the 2020-21 school year, Saunders Middle School has experienced family losses related to COVID-19 and the mental health issues associated with the pandemic. As a result, the school counseling team  developed a small group counseling lesson focused on grief to help support the students impacted by a loss of a parent in recent months. While this group does not address the details of the student’s loss, it does provide the reassurance and support of knowing someone hears your pain and is available for support if needed.

The Saunders Middle School counseling team found many ways to let students know they are there for them and want to support them during this time. With a little bit of planning and out-of-the-box thinking, the small group counseling portion of Saunders' yearly student support plan proved to be very successful. As a department, they continued with small group counseling throughout the remainder of the school year and are very optimistic that the data will show a positive impact on the health and well-being of their students.    

The Saunders Middle School counseling team created bulletin boards to support Mental Health Awareness Month  and gave  mental health awareness pins to each of the staff members to wear during the month of May.   The  counseling team wears mental health awareness shirts  every Tuesday  to promote self-care.  Their Canvas page sends out a weekly announcement to students about mental health and how it can impact a person’s life and healthy ways to respond to it, and includes a “Virtual Calming Room” where students can go to find online resources for mindfulness, visual relaxation, exercise, journaling, etc.

 

Signal Hill Elementary School

At Signal Hill Elementary, the "Building Resilience Task Force" (consisting of teacher representatives, a school counselor, administrator, and school social worker) is currently designing a presentation for Family and Student Night on the topic of resilience. This innovative idea is being designed for fifth graders and their families.

 

 

The Nokesville School

One of The Nokesville School's elementary counselors, Kelly Kaczmarczyk, has been working on some expressive techniques with students. She has been working hard to integrate music and other creative expression methods into her practice. Students at The Nokesville School have been working on artistic emotional awareness, zoning their feelings, and drumming. The positive impact is showing up in students' other school projects and activities, and students are progressing.

 

 

Tyler Elementary School

The first week of May, the Tyler Elementary School counseling department hosted a spirit week to kick off Mental Health Awareness month. Students participated in an interactive bulletin board, learned mental health facts during the morning announcements, wore mental health stickers, and engaged in various mindfulness activities! 

During the school year, Tyler Elementary also partnered with K-9 Caring Angels to bring three trained therapy dogs to the school one morning before student arrival to support staff. According to UCLA Health, there are many benefits to being around animals including the release of mood elevating hormones, lowering anxiety, and lowering blood pressure. The dogs did not disappoint, and the positive mood shift of the Tyler staff was palpable.