Interpersonal Relationships and Mental Health

January 2022

Dear Parents and Guardians,
 
As part of our commitment to promoting healthy living and responsible decision making, Wayland Middle School Wellness teachers will be educating students about interpersonal relationships and mental health.  The Wellness department has also partnered with outside organizations to inform students about these important topics.  Through the following standards, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework identifies information middle school students should acquire by the end of 8th grade in the area of “Social and Emotional Health”.
 

  • 7.7 Recognize the positive contribution of character traits (such as tolerance, honesty, self discipline, respectfulness, and kindness) to relationships, the benefit to relationships which include understanding and respecting individual differences, and the detrimental effect of prejudice (such as prejudice on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, or religion) on individual relationships and society as a whole.
  • 5.7 Identify and describe the experience of different feelings (such as elation, joy, grief, and rage) and how feelings affect daily functioning. 
  • 5.8: Identify the causes and effects of depression and how to seek help. 
  • 5.10 Describe the contribution of a personal support system to good mental health.

 
REACH (6th, 7th, and 8th Grade)
REACH Beyond Domestic Violence is a non-profit organization providing safety and support to survivors of abuse while engaging communities to promote healthy relationships and prevent domestic violence. The Prevention and Education team, which will be visiting WMS starting on January 19, partners with schools and communities to provide healthy relationship workshops to middle and high school students, professional development sessions for teachers, and educational events for parents as a way to build awareness, skills, and safer communities. You can find more information at http://reachma.org/.

In the sixth grade, students will use interdisciplinary methods to discuss the characteristics of healthy friendships. Students will engage in activities that model how to respectfully resolve conflicts and how to communicate boundaries.
 
In the seventh grade, workshops will focus on navigating shifting relationships amid a period of transition. Students will explore topics of identity, conflict resolution, physical, emotional, and digital boundaries, and the influence and use of social media and technology in relationships.
 
In the eighth grade, students will build on their knowledge to discuss how boundaries are communicated in a physical and digital world. More focus will be put onto dating relationships, warning signs of unhealthy relationships, and how to help a friend when they are in need.    
 
Suicide Prevention (7th Grade) 
Guidance Counselor Suzanne Bernstein and 7th grade Wellness teacher, Ms. Riddle will co-teach this unit to our 7th grade students.  As a parent and an educator, I realize how frightening it can be to read about teen suicides that have occurred in neighboring communities so similar to our own.  We aim to equip students and staff with the tools to recognize signs of depression and actively care for one another.  
To access the parent portal for SOS and to learn more about the program, please go to https://sossignsofsuicide.org/parent Please do not hesitate to call with any questions or concerns. 
 
Samaritans ( 8th Grade)
Students in 8th grade will be meeting with professional educators from Samaritans, an organization that specializes in suicide awareness and prevention.  Samaritans’ mission is to reduce the risk of suicide by alleviating despair, isolation, distress, and suicidal feelings.  Samaritans provides a number of services including 24/7 crisis management, grief support, and community outreach and education.  More information about the organization can be found on their website: http://samaritanshope.org/.  Their primary role is to educate adolescents, parents, and teachers about suicide and suicide prevention.  

The workshop, which will start on January 11, aims to safely engage students in a discussion about suicide and depression, helping students explore who they can turn to for support.


Topics in the workshop include:

  • Risk factors of depression, with an emphasis on stressors most common to students and youth.
  • Warning signs that might indicate a friend or classmate could use extra support, or may be thinking about suicide.
  • Identifying trusted adults - both in and out of school as well as creating individualized self-care plans.
  • How to get immediate help from a trusted adult, even if the friend in crisis believes what they’ve shared is a secret.
  • How to access Samaritans 24 hour helpline as a resource for students to call or text to talk about whatever they may be going through, whether or not they are in a crisis.

Presenters aim for students to leave the workshop:

  • Feeling more comfortable talking about depression and suicidality,
  • Having a deeper sense of empathy for others,
  • Understanding the value of positive coping skills (as well as knowing examples of those skills), and
  • Realizing the Samaritans are always there and can be reached by phone or by text.

Guidance and Social Workers have been alerted of the presentations and will be readily available during each presentation in the case a student needs to speak with someone. 

Within 6th, 7th and 8th grade, our BERT values of belonging, empathy, respect and trust are used to frame classroom conversations.  Students are reminded of the need to listen respectfully and participate in discussions appropriately. The decision making tenets that underpin all aspects of our Life Skills Wellness curriculum - Clarify, Consider, and Choose - are central to teaching and learning.
 
Please do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s Counselor, Wellness teachers or myself, with any questions. 
 
Sincerely,
Betsy Gavron
Principal


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