As numerous states and countries around the world begin to mandate mental health curricula for students in high schools, Geffen Academy is rising as a leader in new ways to innovate mental health education. Geffen Academy is employing one of the first public health approaches to the mental health crisis in our country. Students in grades 6-12 meet once a week to learn skills to address the mental health challenges that they are facing. Throughout their years of development, students do group projects, write personal reflections and have in-depth conversations about what they can do to apply new skills to provide balance in their lives. Geffen Academy students learn that their mental health is as important as their physical health in order to fully prepare for life after high school.
The wellness department at Geffen Academy focuses on the importance of living well and the mind/body connection to increase students’ understanding of themselves and their relationship to society. According to Erik Erikson’s psychosocial theory of development, the stage adolescents are in is identity vs. role confusion. An adolescent must struggle to discover and find his or her own identity, while negotiating and struggling with social interactions and “fitting in", and developing a sense of morality and right from wrong.
The lessons learned in school go far beyond the classroom by adding value and skills in order to adapt throughout every stage of human development. Students draw upon the full spectrum of wellness to become well-rounded individuals who are capable of transferring their experiences into positive outcomes. They forge a strong interdependence between their cognitive and psychological disciplines to develop resiliency. The balance that Geffen Academy students achieve is a result of their ability to apply what they learned in school to all areas of their lives.
Students who take wellness classes excel at: -Applying the science of cognition, mental wellness, and the physiology of fitness -Utilizing social emotional learning, neuroscience, psychology and mindfulness skills, to enhance understanding of oneself and communication with others -Developing effective habits that improve sleep, coping skills, ability to address stress, and nutrition to provide balance throughout life.