Last year, the Middle School counseling team designed a Mental Health Day as an opportunity for respite from a long and challenging year of distanced and virtual learning. “So many students and teachers were experiencing the hardship the pandemic brought and needed a day to reflect on how they were doing and reconnect with their community. That day brought so much relief, we quickly realized it was necessary not just once a year, but once a semester,” said Middle School Counselor Erin Sutherlin.
This year, seventh and eighth graders spent time in the first semester learning from outside organizations like CHADS and PreventEd about the importance of self-care, the impact of anxiety and depression on their decisions, and time on activities that would “fill their cups.” Students leaned more into what truly brings them fulfillment during the second semester.
Seventh grade started their day with intention setting, then devoted time to the community through service projects and sharing breakfast in advisories and a picnic lunch outside. Their service project was creating “Blessing Bags” for homeless individuals. Each advisory was in charge of bringing one item such as a comb, shampoo, toothpaste, washcloths, etc. The advisees collected enough to assemble more than 150 kits that will be donated to a shelter. Students later “filled their cups” with activities like swimming, Wiffle ball, Minecraft, rock painting, reading and playing with Lower School students, and more. “It’s always so nice to see the kids relaxing and enjoying each other outside of the academic space,” said Seventh Grade Dean Charlotte Dougherty.
Eighth graders took a student-led approach of designing a day that would bring them the most joy and relaxation. Teachers facilitated various activities, from campus hikes and board games to karaoke and trivia. By the end of the day, the students were beaming with joy and laughter.
“Mental Health Day has always been about checking in with yourself, noticing how your mind and body feel, and engaging in activities that will best support your mental health. Every person is different in what they need to recover from the stress and strain of life. We strive to provide middle school students with models and options to increase their health and well-being, and Mental Health Day is the perfect opportunity,” added Sutherlin.
The true test of the day’s success is how the students feel:
“I had a great time at MICDS 8th grade Mental Health Day! I did fun activities like karaoke, board games, free art studio, Minecraft, and Just Dance! It was a great recharge from the stresses of the normal school day. However, the highlight of my day was having fun with my friends that I don’t normally have classes with! I’m really glad that we had Mental Health Day and I think everyone benefited from this day of fun!” – Katherine Rose Ellenhorn ’26
“It was definitely a great day overall to relax and hang out with our friends and classmates. Everyone got to pick an activity for the morning and that was fun. At the end of the day, we watched a movie of our choice with a nice snack.” – Jonathan Weiss ’27
“The greatest thing about Mental Health Day is just to relax and have fun with the school community, teachers, and students. One of my favorite events was charades with Mr. Shockley, which was a shocking fun time! Karaoke with Mrs. Sutherlin was a blast to bond with friends and belt out songs. Nothing can beat strolling the campus with Mr. Storey on a beautiful day! This truly was one of the best Mental Health Days yet!” – Harper Clark ’26
Thank you to Ms. Sutherlin and the seventh and eighth-grade teachers for helping design time for MICDS students to relax, decompress, and enjoy each other’s time while contributing to a positive state of mind!