“Everyone loves to feel taken care of,” notes Ma’ayanot’s Director of Guidance Dr. Rayzel Yaish, which is why Ma’ayanot designated one full week to focus on mental health awareness. Each day, students participated in programs with the opportunity to learn about mental health concerns, and practical tips for healthy living, self care and supporting others. Spearheaded by Dr. Yaish and the nearly 40 student members of the new Ma’ayanot Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), the theme of the week was Hillel’s words in Pirkei Avot 1:14 “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I?”
The ninth and 10h grade programs emphasized “If I am not for myself…” Associate Principal Tamar Appel shared specific suggestions for maintaining personal well-being, and with the intent to destigmatize asking for help, highlighted resources a student can access when a mental health challenge arises. Students participated in various techniques to maintain a healthy balance in life; including movement with Athletic Director Jen Sanders, writing a gratitude statement with Ninth Grade Dean Nina Bieler and a chesed activity with Assistant Principal Rabbi Zev Prince.
The junior and senior programs emphasized “If I am only for myself, what am I?” Students self-assessed with a personality inventory, and brainstormed the ways that each personality strength contributes to solving group challenges. On Friday, November 13, each grade had the opportunity to enjoy “Therapeutic ‘Arfs’ and Crafts,” with options for candle-making with art teacher Natalia Kadish, nature therapy in the Ma’ayanot garden and, for a Ma’ayanot first, getting very special stress relief from teachers’ and students’ dogs who visited Ma’ayanot’s tent that day! “Bringing the love and joy that a dog can provide into school was amazing,” said freshman Tifi Teitelman. “It was the highlight of the week!”