One of the many components that New York State stated must be included in the reopening plans of schools was addressing social-emotional well-being. Mount Mercy Academy has gone well above and beyond this mandate, including instituting a Mental Health Monday during each of the four school marking periods. Mental Health Monday, designated by Michele Melligan, Mount Mercy’s Head of School, is a day that is designed to promote self-care and spending time with friends and family. The hope is that this day will allow students, faculty and staff to rest, relax and recharge. The first day was held on Nov. 2, with the second day slated for Dec. 7.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest in the country as well as election turmoil, it is important for students and staff to take some time for themselves. Mental Health Monday allowed the Mount Mercy community to do just that. “I was able to go shopping and most importantly, I was able to get to bed earlier, so I returned to school on Tuesday feeling reenergized,” English teacher Amanda Ramia commented.
Freshman Sienna Gilbert (Buffalo) appreciated the opportunity to go shopping with her mother, something that she had not done in quite a while. Director of Admissions Tina Webster, who is in the midst of her busiest time at work, enjoyed being able to stay in her pajamas all day and lay on couch with her dog and watch Netflix. “Having Mental Health Monday allowed me to return refreshed and recharged,” Webster remarked.
Assistant Principal Catherine Luhr also took advantage of her Mental Health Monday. “I slept late, went shopping and did the essentials at home that I had not had the time to do earlier,” Luhr said. “I came back to school on Tuesday feeling renewed.”
Junior Aubrey Monaco (Buffalo) was able to visit her sister and her two-month-old nephew, allowing her to feel relaxed and happy.
The general consensus among the school community was that the day allowed them chances to do things that they had not been able to do, such as catch up on some much-needed sleep, reconnect with family and friends, and to watch movies and television shows.
Students shared how they spent their Mental Health Mondays with their homerooms when they returned to school on Tuesday. Homerooms have been extended this year, allowing for opportunities to enhance social and emotional well-being. There is a daily activity to allow for sharing and building a connection between the students as well as between the students and their homeroom teacher. Some of the activities that students have participated in are yoga, relaxation breathing techniques, working on self-improvement exercises, goal setting, and sharing thoughts and experiences with each other.