Chilling with the Mental Health Ambassadors

By Sandra Santana
As we bid farewell to Mount Ida for the holidays, we are reminded of how hectic the season can be. Between traveling, gatherings, and the excitement of reuniting with loved ones, it may feel hard to keep up with classmates. After a semester of hard work and busy schedules, it may feel even harder to slow down to rest. While the definition of chill may look different to each of us, the Mental Health Ambassadors offer up some solutions.
Tired of watching her peers struggle with mental health issues, Abby G. ’22 leaned into a Signature project to create a mental health program at Emma Willard School. With guidance and mentorship from School Counselor Erica Brockmyer, Abby launched the Mental Health Ambassador program this fall. The mission of this program is to foster change in the community by reducing stigmas and correcting misinformation around mental health. As key liaisons between counseling services and the study body, Mental Health Ambassadors strive to promote optimal mental and emotional wellbeing for all.

Heading into the break, Abby and the Mental Health Ambassadors have identified a few ways we can focus on staying chill. Today’s student community scatters across 38 countries and 21 states for winter recess. The Mental Health Ambassadors know staying connected during break looks a bit different to everyone, and can sometimes be a pain point for their peers. Here are some ideas to continue relationship building while you are apart:

    • Since we are all video call professionals thanks to the pandemic, don’t miss out on some literal face time with friends! Google Meet, FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype are a few top-notch video chat providers.
    • Across time zones? Keep a list of where your friends live and use a time zone converter or a world clock to keep tabs. Use military time to catch any conversion mistakes.
    • Use social media to share your experiences! Posting on social channels allows each other to catch up with memories at their leisure, but make sure not to spend too much time scrolling.
    • Wish you could call your friends? Send an audio message for them to wake up to!
    • Decide on a show or movie to watch together on a streaming service. While you may be physically apart, you can still crush a new series together.
    • One perk is the time zones themselves. Multiple friends in many time zones means that someone is probably awake if you want to talk, even if it’s 2:00 a.m. where you are and 4:00 p.m. where they are.
    • Be transparent about your availability. Agree on specific times you can both communicate that will not interfere with family, events, and most importantly, SLEEP. Make sure you write these times down in a note on your phone, so you can reference in case you forget.

While staying connected with Emma friends is important, keeping tabs on yourself is too. Like the beginning of the school year, revisit the basics to keep yourself on track:

    • Enjoy balanced home cooked meals to replenish your body after all of your winter activities.
    • Stay hydrated between your holiday events with reusable water bottles.
    • Unplug and spend time with family, friends, and pets. (Did you know interacting with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol, a stress-related hormone, and lower blood pressure? Other studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood!)
    • Make time to get some quality rest.

Don’t forget, there is no one size fits all approach to mental health. While you’re away from Mount Ida, seek out the trusted adults in your life to help with any additional stressors that may surface. In addition, the Mental Health Ambassadors and Ms. Brockmyer have created a resource tile to further support you this winter. The Mind, Body, Soul (MBS) group page on MyEmma (login required) features a topic page called “Mental Health and the Holidays.” Here you will find additional resources to guide you through the holiday season.

From all of us at Emma Willard School, we wish you a wonderfully chill winter break. 
    • Mental Health Ambassadors at Emma Willard School strive to promote optimal mental and emotional wellbeing for all.

    • Abby G. '22 used Signature to create a mental health program at Emma Willard School.

    • Lunch Club is an initiative started by the Mental Health Ambassadors to alleviate stressors related to the dining hall.

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Honoring its founder’s vision, Emma Willard School proudly fosters in each young woman a love of learning, the habits of an intellectual life, and the character, moral strength, and qualities of leadership to serve and shape her world.
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