South Orangetown Central School District

“Mental health is the way we think, how we feel in our body. How do our bodies feel when we worry? How do we act at school on those days?”

These were school social worker Jessica Inglis’ opening questions with Karen Sutton and Colleen Moran’s fourth-graders at Cottage Lane Elementary School on Friday. Inglis’ visit was part of a school-wide campaign for Mental Health Awareness Month.

“Mental health isn’t just for certain people. It affects every single one of us. It’s how we take care of ourselves,” Inglis explained before launching into a read-aloud of “A Flicker of Hope” by Julia Cook.

The story delved into what to do when we feel weighed down by heavy thoughts. “Hope-builders are everywhere. You can always come to me and to your amazing teachers, as well as parents and friends. Everyone needs help sometimes. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and never stop asking,” said Inglis.”

Students were also encouraged to be a source of support and comfort for others. “When we share our light and are kind, we create a hope-building community. When you care for others, that affects how they treat others, too.”

School Social Worker Jessica Inglis talking about mental health with CLE students