What’s in store at Oakton for Mental Health Awareness Week


Jennifer Coon, Copy Editor

Mental Health Awareness Week is currently being held at Oakton to reduce stress in students during the last week of third quarter. The activities planned are sponsored by The Josh Anderson Foundation and Active Minds. This de-stress week is filled with fun and educational activities to help students decrease their stress levels and increase their awareness of mental health and reduce the stigma that mental health has, according to Ms. Erica Evert, the school psychologist.

Starting on Monday, Mental Health Awareness week kicks off with a guest speaker and FCPS graduates during fourth period, thus cancelling Cougar Time. Students will go to their advisory, and after attendance, some advisories will go to the auditorium to listen to the guest speaker and FCPS graduates live, while the other students will listen to the mental health stories of the speakers through a live broadcast in their classrooms. This aspect of Mental Health Awareness Week is supposed to be educational, said Ms. Evert, as it is supposed to reduce the stigma students have about mental health, in addition to letting students know help is available.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, students in gym classes, predominantly freshmen and sophomores, will be participating in student yoga. Yoga is proven to decrease stress levels through multiple studies, which is one of the reasons it has been planned for this week. Instructors will be brought into the classes to help students become more relaxed during this stressful week.

Also on Wednesday, the Center will be hosting a Tutor-a-Thon, but there will also be smoothies from Tropical Smoothie for the students that attend. Ms. Evert said that the smoothies are supposed to help students relax. Wednesday also has the event everyone is looking forward to: the therapy dogs. During all lunches, therapy dogs will be at door eleven, and students are able to pet the dogs during their lunch.

Thursday will also have an activity planned for Mental Health Awareness Week, but it hasn’t been revealed just yet. This activity will remain a surprise until it’s time for the activity to occur. Thursday is also a two-hour early dismissal for all students to the end of the quarter; Friday will also be a student holiday.

In addition to the pleasant activities students will be able to participate in, Leadership has also teamed up with making this week enjoyable for the students by making this week a spirit week. For this event, Leadership is asking for students to dress down all week for “stress down, dress down” week. The activities planned and the spirit week will make students more relaxed about this week, which is the primary goal: to make students less stressed as the end of the quarter nears.