Mental health has been rising in importance alongside physical health in the past years, with self-care being touted as a primary method of illness prevention and treatment. You don’t have to wait for mental health week to raise awareness for self-care—you can get started any time! Self-carerefers to any activity that helps us take care of our everyday selves. Here are some easy and effective ways to start your own self-care awareness campaign at your school:
1.Put up posters.
Do your research, contact local mental health resources, and check if you can ask for brochures and posters. You can even create your own! Visual aids have been used to raise awareness ever since people have learned to put pen to paper. Be sure to put these visual aids up in strategic places like those with heavy foot traffic or quieter places where students will have time to introspect, such as the library, bathrooms, homeroom classrooms, and guidance offices.
2.Organize a DIY workshop.
It’s been known that doing things with your hands can help you feel relaxed, invigorated, and rewarded. It also gives participants a happy sense of accomplishment and a newly-discovered hobby to indulge in for future self-care sessions. Put together a workshop on how to make lanyards for example, or pottery, painting, knitting, or felting. You can contact craft stores in the area to connect you with professional craftspeople who can oversee your workshops.
3.Create a mental health peer or support group.
One of the most debilitating factors of mental illness is the feeling of being alone. Putting together a support group lets your peers know that they have someone they can turn to when needed. Having a group that is open to listening, as well as being given the opportunity to give input and support, helps with feelings of inadequacy and loneliness.
4.Create a social media campaign.
Since every school-age youth spends most of their waking time bent over their mobile devices, a social media campaign may be the best method to reach them. Come up with a creative hashtag and share information regarding mental health on all social media fronts. You can even coordinate with some local influencers and mental health centers to ensure the accuracy and effectiveness of these campaigns and messages!
5.Host a fundraiser.
School fundraising doesn’t have to be big or grand; you can start by simply selling baked goods and drinks in recyclable cups with encouraging messages, or you can give away t-shirts that destigmatize mental health issues. Other great fundraiser goods would be self-care kits or mini-concerts or meet and greets with local celebrities. This is a wonderful way to spread mental health awareness as it can also give you a method to give back to the community or a charity of your choice.
6.Connect with local animal shelters and service animal providers.
Schools the world over have hopped on the mental health movement and have even provided service animals for students in need or during high-stress school events such as exam week. Connect with your local animal shelters and service animal providers and see if you can organize an event with them. Event ideas include adoption booths where sociable and adoptable shelter animals can pay your school a visit and provide stress relief for students, or service animal demonstrations where trained service animals are brought to your school for a day. Contact with pets have been shown to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, and some service dogs are even trained to identify and de-escalate panic attacks.
Everyone is fighting their own battle every day, and raising self-care awareness can provide a much-needed boost. It can also let people know that they’re not alone in their suffering and who knows, you might even save a life and not know it.