Your Mental Health Matters. Tips and Resources for the IUSD Community

As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, we encourage our students and families to try the 21 Day Happiness Challenge, practice positive health and wellness activities, and reach out if you are in need of help.
Mental Health Awareness Month

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, IUSD would like to recognize that positive mental health and wellness are essential components to lifelong success and happiness. As life gets busy, prioritizing one’s mental health can oftentimes take a back seat. However, we encourage our students and families to try the 21 Day Happiness Challenge, practice positive health and wellness activities, and reach out if you are in need of help. 

It's important to recognize that life is full of complex emotions and experiences but by embracing a positive mindset, we can better manage those challenges in a productive way. The neuroscience and data behind this approach reaffirms that students, who possess hope and optimism and embrace mistakes as part of the learning process, succeed at higher levels both academically and personally. By doing so, you will start to notice a shift in your mindset, becoming better at managing challenges to be a more resilient, confident and an overall happier individual.

21 Day Happiness Challenge 

Did you know that it takes 21 days of consistency to adopt a new habit? For many of us, negativity and pessimism are easy to fall into, and it takes more work to develop a positive/optimistic mindset. Optimists, however, do better academically, socially and have better health than pessimists. With this in mind, we challenge you to pick one of the five positive habits for 21 days and see how your life is impacted. 

Here are the five to choose from:

  1. Three Gratitude’s: Pause to take note of three new things each day that you are grateful for. Doing so will help your brain start to retrain its pattern of scanning the world, looking not just for the negative inputs but for the positive ones.
  2. Journaling: Detail, in writing, one positive experience each day. This will help you find meaning in the activities of the day, rather than just noticing the task. 
  3. Fun Fifteen: Exercising for 15 minutes a day not only brings physical benefits, but it also teaches your brain to believe your behavior matters, which then carries (positively) into other activities throughout the day.
  4. Meditation: Take just two minutes per day to simply breathe and focus on your breath going in and out. Doing so will train your mind to focus, reduce stress, and help you be more present in the moment.
  5. Conscious Acts of Kindness: This can be something simple, for example, write one positive email or note to praise or thank someone each day. Not only does it benefit the recipient, but it also increases your feeling of social support.

Learn more about the 21 Day Happiness Challenge by visiting IUSD’s Optimistic Household series page. 

Growth Mindset and Intellectual Risk Taking

Your mindset plays a critical role in how you cope with life's challenges. The difference is that people with a growth mindset see “the glass as half full” rather than “half empty.” When faced with a problem such as trying to find a new job, people with growth mindsets show greater resilience. They are more likely to persevere in the face of setbacks while those with fixed mindsets are more likely to give up. In school, a growth mindset can contribute to greater achievement and increased effort. Students can practice this by recognizing a lower grade or a disappointing performance as an area for improvement, rather than defeat. Parents can also take steps to ensure that their children develop growth mindsets, often through praising efforts rather than focusing solely on results.

Fostering intellectual risk-taking empowers IUSD's learners to take on the responsibility of educational and emotional growth. Through shifting our focus toward instilling growth mindsets, we recognize the role of risk-taking and failure as a necessary part of the learning process. IUSD builds capacity for intellectual risk-taking through rigorous scholarship, along with opportunities to push past our comfort zones in order to develop into thriving, successful adults.

Health and Wellness Tips

Today, our society is accustomed to instant gratification, whether that be how long it takes to cook a meal, complete a test, or notice a shift in our overall mental health and wellness. We want results and we want it as soon as possible. Realistically, however, it may take months or even years to alter a mindset that we have practiced for the majority of our lives. To kick start a change, here are a few health and wellness tips. They may seem trivial, but can be easily implemented into one’s daily routine. A small change can have the power to significantly improve one’s long-term health and wellness. 

  • Be Connected: Humans are social beings and we need to feel a sense of  connection and community, this is a critical part of maintaining our wellness. So, reach out to your family, friends, and neighbors. If you are unable to spend time in person, try connecting over a phone call, video call, text, or email. 
  • Regular Exercise: Physical activity has many benefits for both your physical and mental well-being. It is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your health. Whether you spend 15 minutes a day walking, an hour biking, or engage in a team sport, any kind of physical activity will contribute to improved mood and wellness. 
  • Self Care: Self care is a broad term meaning to take some time for yourself or partake in an activity that makes you feel good, especially during times of stress. For example, one may choose to stay home over going out to take a night to decompress. Self care can also come in the form of forgiving yourself or putting yourself first. Overall, self care is a practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own happiness. 
  • Limit Blue Light: Blue light is emitted off of our phone and computer screens that stimulates the brain. Looking at screens before bed disturbs sleep and ultimately results in poor rest and decreased health and wellness. Practice putting devices away one hour before bed and replace that time with reading a book or get to bed an hour earlier. This practice will significantly improve one’s mental and physical health. 
  • Positive Self Talk: Self-talk is one’s internal dialogue. It’s influenced by the subconscious mind, and it reveals our thoughts, beliefs, questions and ideas. Practicing positive self talk can enhance one’s self-concept and overall outlook. 
    • Example:
      • Negative self-talk: “I failed, and I am embarrassed.”
      • Positive self-talk: “I’m proud of myself for even trying. That took courage.”
  • Healthy Eating: A well-balanced diet is essential for proper nourishment and wellness. Choosing healthy foods rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables, good carbs, and lean proteins will result in improved mood and performance. 

IUSD Resources

IUSD takes a comprehensive approach, focusing our mental health and wellness efforts on both proactive and responsive programs, initiatives and supports for students. Our District encourages students to voice their concerns whenever they feel alone, are going through a hard time, or just in need of extra help. Students are welcome to reach out to anyone they feel the most comfortable with, whether it be to a counselor, administrator, teacher, or school staff member and they can help students receive the necessary care. In addition, IUSD promotes the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System, which enables students to seek support anonymously for themselves or for friends – 1-844-5-SAYNOW or 1-844-572-9669.

The District provides school-based mental health/wellness services through our Prevention and Intervention team, composed of school counselors, psychologists, and wellness specialists. In addition, we partner with outside organizations for supplemental support for our students and families. The Irvine Family Resource Center offers short-term, solution-focused individual and family therapy, resource linkage and referrals, and parent education/support groups to IUSD families K-12. All services are provided by licensed mental health professionals.

We encourage families to take a moment to learn more about how IUSD supports our students, review the various community resources, and learn about our dedicated team by visiting our Prevention and Intervention page.