Making Mental Health a Priority

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Learning various methods and practices that instill wellness and mental health was the goal of a recent field trip taken by six high school students. The group attended the Nassau County Youth Wellness Summit in Merrick on March 19. The event, sponsored by the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide and the Long Island Youth Wellness Summit Committee, offered workshops intended to empower teens with preventative measures and coping skills that they could bring back to the school and share with their peers.

Sophomores Emerson Banos-Ronquillo, Julia Czerwonka and Kaitlyn Ward joined juniors Nina Rose Cialone, Anthony Scicutella and Matthew Scicutella at the conference with high school psychologist Kristen Sylvan and individual needs teacher Kristy Kinsley. The students were chosen for their leadership skills and ability to share the information with others in the school community.

One workshop taught participants how to use yoga poses to incorporate more calm into one’s life. Other workshops addressed the importance of self-worth and emphasized that it is OK to talk about suicidal feelings and to reach out for help. Messages throughout the day focused on helping one another and helping oneself.  Recent high school graduates shared advice on transitioning to college and managing various challenges that the students will face. 

Ms. Sylvan said that the summit provided students with an opportunity to hear from experts in the field, collaborate with students from districts across Nassau County to raise awareness and offer resources for mental health issues.   

“We are proud that our students were part of Nassau County’s first Youth Wellness Summit. The students were active participants in the day’s activities and feel empowered to bring these lessons back to their school community,” Ms. Sylvan said. “These student leaders will be able to use the strategies in their own lives and will also be able to advocate for the well-being of their friends, classmates and community.”