Mental well-being pilot program for high – school children: ‘Check it out – 5’

For a couple of years I have been running workshops and talks on stress. But as a mother of two (young) teenagers, my antenna is more and more aimed at this age-group. And it seemed that there is an increasing number of stories and cases of mental disorders in this age-group. Unfortunately the numbers seem to back this up.

The majority of the global disability burden is now taken up by mental disorders and half of that number of cases is first manifested in people as young as 14. And despite the recognition and available treatment, this number is only on the rise.

Numerous studies partaken globally have shown that an unhealthy diet is linked to more emotional and behavioural problems in children and adolescents. An unhealthy diet has a direct influence on that part of the brain that are critical to learning, memory and mental health. n a science-based program I have developed we are looking at the link between our mental health and the lifestyle we live. In this program we discuss 5 areas in our lives which we have control over and which we can use to improve our mental well being. The program is set up that it is suitable for different learning styles and interactive. Trying to get the children engaged the program provides information on free apps supporting the 5 lifestyle areas.

At the moment I am doing the ‘Check it out – 5’- pilot program at a college in Cleveland. So far I have spoken to 4 groups and the first round of feedback of the students was astonishing. To the question: Do you think it is a good idea for the school to have a program for mental health and lifestyle, the vast majority agreed that it was in fact, helpful.

To the question ‘Do you think the information will help you to look after yourself?’ again the majority was a solid ‘yes’. Some of added some more information like:

  • ‘ This teaches us to look after ourselves’
  • ‘ It shows us what WE can do’
  • ‘ I will consider not to eat Doritos’
  • ‘ I want to learn more about how food affects my brain’
  • ‘ I like my body, I want it to be fit ‘

The feedback of the teachers was positive as well. They were surprised by some of the information and thought it was an important life skill for this age-group to learn. One comment was that the school should look into the vending machines and make some changes.

As new research is coming out, I will continue developing this program. If you think you can help me in this process, either by bringing me in contact with a high-schools or organisations willing to run the (pilot) program, I would be very grateful. Please feel free to contact me on:

e-mail: susan@susansteinnutritionist.com

mobile: 61 416 931 034