South Orangetown Central School District

For Mental Health Awareness Month, school social worker Jessenia Cursio is hosting small group discussions with students who are English language learners about self care fundamentals. “This group of students is very work-oriented,” Cursio noted. “They wake up early to get to school and at dismissal, most immediately go to work. Then it’s up for school again the next day. I’m teaching them that taking care of their mental health is an important part of taking care of their basic needs. This is new information–it’s not something they typically heard growing up.”

Students are learning about the negative impact of stress on their physical, mental and emotional health and techniques for managing it more effectively. Other self-care basics, such as getting adequate sleep, proper nutrition and exercise, are also part of the conversation.

“We want students to understand that sometimes you need to pause and take care of yourself,” said Cursio. “When is the best time to take care of yourself? When you’re feeling frustrated, depressed, tired, sick are key times, but learning to be proactive in our self care is an important step for our overall mental health.”

School social worker Jessenia Cursio with small group of students