I have spent the last six days repeating “Happy new year!” but the cold-hearted truth is that a frightening number of students in North America will not have a happy new year.
- Nearly one in three teenagers told the American Psychological Association that stress drove them to sadness or depression — and their single biggest source of stress was school.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a vast majority of American teenagers get at least two hours less sleep each night than recommended.
- Only 14% of college professors believe their students are prepared for post-secondary studies.
I must admit that I find this subject increasingly upsetting and have addressed it before.
On a personal level, I worry about my own kids – they say they are happy, but are they? Really? And how do we really know? I can tell you for sure that they are sick of my wanting to talk about stress and how they cope with it. They told me over the holidays (before reading the article, when I asked about stress) that Lakefield has a wellness project that is run by faculty and administration, and a happiness initiative that the students lead (they were most excited by cookie decorating.) My hope is that these strategies work, but I can tell you this: my kids feel well supported by the adults – professional and personal – in their lives. And this matters most.
On a school level, what matters to me is that schools demonstrate awareness and support. The fact is, kids are kids wherever they go to school. We need schools to be all over issues of anxiety and mental health such that all students thrive. When I take a look at our CAIS schools, I am encouraged to see the following:
- CAIS schools understand that the best teachers share one trait and they hire and nurture teachers who get it.
- CAIS schools include wellness initiatives in their strategic plans (see The York School’s recently published plan)
- CAIS schools build facilities that support wellness (see SJR’s new Riley Fitness Centre)
- CAIS schools offer additional professional development specifically on this issue so all faculty and staff understand their role in supporting students (see CAIS’ transgender resource page and our CAIS National Conference program)
- CAIS schools promote and act upon the academic, emotional, physical and social potentials of all students (see CAIS’ Accreditation Guidelines)
- CAIS schools regularly survey their students so they know, really know, how they are feeling (see CAIS’ Accreditation Guidelines)
All this to say, I actually think our CAIS schools are leaders in developing strategies to promote wellness and mindfulness.
And that makes me happy enough to sincerely wish you a happy new year.