ASB Wellness Week to educate students on mental health

Sofie Zalatimo, Senior Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: This story features an auto-generated voice over, provided by Ad Auris. Press the green play button to listen to the audio.

As part of the Palo Alto High School Associated Student Body’s effort to promote student mental health amid prolonged stressful circumstances, students will have the opportunity to engage in daily mental health challenges throughout the upcoming Wellness Week from March 22 to 26. According to ASB Clubs Commissioner and sophomore Johannah Seah, Wellness Week will provide students with the opportunity to learn about managing their mental health and integrate helpful practices into their lives. “I thought it would be a great idea, especially since Paly is a very stressful environment,” Seah said. “I think knowing more about the wellness resources and how we can be advocates for ourselves is a really good tool for students.” Graphic: Kabir Advani

Students will have the opportunity to learn about mental health and participate in challenges during Palo Alto High School’s upcoming Wellness Week, which will be hosted by the Associated Student Body from March 22 to 26.

According to ASB Clubs Commissioner Johannah Seah, a sophomore and member of the Wellness Week planning committee, each day of the week will focus on a different element of mental health, including hydration, meditation and sleep. 

“We want to make sure that Wellness Week is a really fun event, but also something that’s educational,” Seah said. “I feel like a lot of students may not know exactly about meditation, for example. I know a lot of students may want to learn more about that.”

Students can engage in challenges related to the daily themes, such as trying a guided meditation. ASB officers will also provide resources to encourage students to learn more about the topics and integrate wellness practices into their lives, Seah said.

While the majority of the week will focus on tips and skills to help students manage their mental health, Seah said the final day of Wellness Week will emphasize destigmatizing mental health and dispelling myths about mental disorders.

“I feel like a lot of mental disorders are romanticized or seen as something else, but I think … giving [information] in a way that is approachable, in a way that students can really understand, I think it is a lot in action,” Seah said. “I think when students get to learn these skills, or get to learn more about mental disorders, or how we can reach out just in [our] own school, they can bring those skills into their future, and hopefully it’ll assist them when they’re in times of need.” 

After participating in the activities announced through daily social media and Schoology posts, students can choose to complete a short reflection on their experience. According to ASB Junior President Mathew Signorello-Katz, students who submit a reflection will be entered in a raffle to win prizes related to the theme of the day, including a Hydro Flask to encourage hydration and a subscription to Headspace, a meditation app.

Signorello-Katz said he thinks the focus on managing school stress will be the most impactful theme given Paly’s competitive nature.

“The third day … [will] talk about the college admissions process and how in life, there are multiple pathways to success,” Signorello-Katz said. “Sometimes I think that, especially here at Paly, there’s this environment of ‘if you don’t immediately get into a tier one school for your bachelor’s, you have no purpose in life. It’s the end,’ when that could not be further from the truth.”

According to Signorello-Katz, ASB sought professional insight from the Paly Wellness Center, collaborating to educate students on mental health and compile resources for further information. Wellness Outreach Worker Whitney Aquino said that working with ASB added a valuable perspective in the Wellness Center’s efforts to support students, as previous events by the Wellness Center were organized independent of ASB.

“It’s so important for us to work with youth and work with the students to collaborate with them for what will be the best way to market something like wellness, and how to make it the most accessible for other students, rather than just staff, or rather than just adults coming up with it,” Aquino said. 

According to Aquino, the Wellness Center will host a Paly Parent meeting March 23 in an effort to expand Wellness Week to a parental audience and emphasize support for students.

“This year, with everything going on, we want to reiterate the wellness services that are available,” Aquino said. “[Parents] are keeping an eye on their students, and they’re noticing different things, and they want to be able to support [students] that much more, so we want to help equip parents for that. We want to be able to talk with them more about how they can reach out to [the Wellness Center], how they can utilize the services for their students, or get them help get them connected.”

Seah said she hopes Wellness Week provides all those involved with valuable knowledge about managing mental and physical health.

“I’m really hoping that it will be a bit more than just, you know, drink water and stop worrying because those are easier said than done, and they’re kind of sentiments that are thrown around places,” Seah said. “But I think what we really need to do is educate people a bit more about certain issues.”

Students can find Wellness Week challenges and informational resources on ASB’s Instagram.