Mental Health & Wellness Week at North High

The Island Now
North high students participated in the school's third annual Mental Health and Wellness Week from Dec. 9-13. (Photo courtesy of the Great Neck Public Schools District)

North High School hosted its third annual Mental Health and Wellness Week from Dec. 9 through Dec. 13. This week-long focus on wellbeing featured daily announcements, guest speakers, student-led performances, and a special evening presentation for parents.

Mental Health and Wellness Week kicked off with peer performances designed to initiate a dialogue about various issues and remind students about school resources that are available to help. Students in Ilana Meredith’s acting and improv classes at North High performed original skits for ninth graders about mental and emotional health issues, as seen through the eyes of young adults. After each skit, audience members participated in small group discussions facilitated by North High’s Mental Health Team, including school psychologists, social workers, guidance counselors, and building administrators.

Experts representing a wide range of mental, physical, and emotional health specialties visited the building throughout the week to present during physical education classes.

Dr. Yvette Fruchter, Dr. Danielle Gardini and Dr. Sony Khemlani-Patel of the Bio-Behavioral Institute in Great Neck led a stress and anxiety workshop to help students understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy stress. They also shared cognitive-behavioral strategies to combat negative thoughts and alleviate anxiety.

Dr. Issac Zur, a certified mental performance consultant who helps elite athletes overcome pressure and anxiety, explained the mind-body connection and led demonstrations using biofeedback technology to show the effects of stress on the body. Students learned strategies to increase focus and perform at their best.

Madeline Mindich, a licensed acupuncturist at Wellsprings Natural Health, presented the principles of Chinese Medicine that link our organs with our emotions. Students learned pressure points, breathing exercises, food choices, and lifestyle changes to help balance emotions, boost circulation, and improve overall wellness.

Dr. Lindsay Macchia of the Child Mind Institute in Manhattan explained the effects of sleep on energy, focus, and mood. She encouraged students to establish healthy bedtime routines, and she answered questions about how to improve sleep hygiene.

Presenter and Great Neck alumna Nicole Rabin created a calm and relaxing atmosphere in which she discussed the benefits of mindfulness meditation and gratitude practice to promote happiness and compassion.

During the evening of Dec. 12, North High welcomed Rachel Priest, Community Health Educator from the Mental Health Association of Nassau County, to lead a parent presentation about youth mental health. This event, titled “Mental Health and Wellness 101,” was co-sponsored by the Great Neck Chinese Association, SHAI and the United Parent Teacher Council (UPTC), with funding from the School Mental Health Resource and Training Center and the Mental Health Association in New York State (MHANYS).

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