Newark Inspires Change Through Advocacy for Mental Wellness

Superintendent Roger León at the 2nd Annual Mental Health Conference
Superintendent Roger León at the 2nd Annual Mental Health Conference

The Newark Board of Education made a significant impact during Mental Health Awareness Month in May! To mark the beginning of this important month, all schools in the district came together for the Lighting It Up Green event. This event aimed to raise awareness and encourage conversations about mental wellness. Throughout the entire month, schools actively participated in various mental health activities to promote understanding and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

During the week of May 6th-10th, the Central Office joined in by organizing a spirit week in honor of Children's Mental Health Week. This initiative aimed to create a positive and supportive environment for students. In collaboration with NJ4S, the Newark Board of Education also organized two parent workshops. These workshops focused on discussing the stigma associated with mental health in the Black and Brown Communities, as well as effective communication strategies. By addressing these important topics, the board aimed to provide valuable resources and support to parents.

To conclude Mental Health Awareness Month, the Office of Student Life hosted the 2nd Annual Mental Health Conference - Addressing Child Trauma in which over 150 staff were in attendance. This conference brought together student support staff, teachers, and administrators to address the critical issue of child trauma. By involving various stakeholders, the conference aimed to develop effective strategies and support systems for students facing trauma. Workshops included: Understanding Positive and Adverse Childhood Experiences, Learning the Basics: Mental Health, Depression, Suicide, and Being a Trusted Adult, Strategies for Supporting Immigrant Children and Families, and a self-care session for all participants called Insanti. All schools received a weighted sloth as it symbolizes being patient, mindful, and purposeful in daily life, with a reminder to embrace the present moment. Just like the slow and thoughtful movements of the sloth, attendees were encouraged to learn to savor each moment and be fully present.

The Newark Board of Education's efforts during Mental Health Awareness Month showcased their commitment to prioritizing the mental well-being of students and the community as a whole. By raising awareness, reducing stigma, and providing valuable resources, they are making a positive impact on the lives of many.