"Mental health is a big factor in my life. I have undergone trauma," said Waubun ninth degree Ninsonnis "Sunshine" Englund. "We wanted people to realize that it's not just something you say. We wanted people involved."
Englund, standing at the Student Council, says that she heard the Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton school district planned a mental health week so she brought the idea to the student council and they ran with it and created daily activities to educate and hold the question about people's minds.
Englund says she felt compelled to raise awareness for her school because she feels that there is still much misunderstanding about mental health, especially with fellow students who may struggle with their own trauma and struggle to understand what their classmates are also going through.
"I feel like many people don't really understand the importance of mental health," she said. "They think people who are struggling with mental health are attention seekers and they can avoid them because of it."
Englund also emphasized the fact that students in Waubun have seen the toll that mental health can take on a colleague. Two years ago, the school lost a student to suicide, and it still weighs heavily on people's minds.
"We know how to lose someone for mental health," said Englund
. Strengthening efforts to take care of someone else and to be educated on what to look for and how to help someone experiencing mental health invited students to psychic health professionals from White Earth Mental Health to talk to students in during the week of various mental illnesses. The Student Council also kept things good and fun by doing daily activities and games that concerned mental health, such as trivia.
On Monday, May 1
On Tuesday, May 14, the students made a "brain chain". Each student was given a strip of colored paper to write a positive message, and then linked them to make the chain of positive messages to decorate a common area of the school. A mental health worker also came to school to talk about social conditions such as bipolar, asperger, autism, ADD, ADHD and PTSD.
On Wednesday, May 15, students wrote their concerns on pieces of paper and put them all in a jar. At the end of the day, they cracked the papers, a symbol to show students that they can overcome their concerns. Students also learned about trauma and the effect it can have on a person's mental health.
Tina Erickson Thursday May 16 brought her therapy dog Norma, a rescue Yorkshire Terrier, to teach students the benefits of therapy animals.
Erickson told students that she has brain tumors and trained Norman to be her therapy dog. She said he comforted her through the stress of her medical agreements, but he really loves children so she takes him around to schools and hospitals and lets students read to him as well.
"I go in as hospitals and schools and libraries and they can pet Norman, and Norman gives kisses, though he doesn't have to kiss," she said.
Erickson explained the training she and Norman have to undergo to keep him certified, and students also learned about phobias and panic disorder in Thursday as well.
During the week, students had white on Friday to show support for mental health.
"The kids have really taken ownership …. They really supported this." explained Sarah Bauck, Waubun Secondary Band director and student counselor. "The white soil has also been super. It has been a kind of joint effort and it has been really fun … I hope we can get bigger with it ourselves next year."