WEST SEATTLE SCHOOLS: ‘Mental Health Day’ educates and inspires at Seattle Lutheran HS

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The lockers lining a corridor at Seattle Lutheran High School carry colorful “Random Acts of Kindness”- words of appreciation from students for schoolmates and staff.

Those messages dovetailed with what students heard this afternoon as the school’s third annual Mental Health Day concluded: “Words matter.”

So declared Todd Crooks, a former SLHS parent who lost his 21-year-old son Chad to mental illness and suicide three years ago.

He spoke to the students at the conclusion of a day meant to help SLHS students learn about mental illness as well as about mental health and how to cope with the stresses life brings. After starting the day with a keynote presentation by a counselor, students spent the morning in breakout sessions learning about specific mental-health issues including depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. They rotated through workshops after lunch, focused on coping skills. Some were activities – yoga, tai chi, meditation – while others focused on talking. We listened in to part of the “Mental Health for Men” session, with students listening to a man who had fought depression.

“There’s ways to cope with everything,” he assured the students. He told them he favored getaways and also music – he plays in two bands.

Music was the subject of another workshop all its own, in fact; as we wandered the corridor, we heard the sounds of a guitar, through a closed classroom door.

And that’s when we saw the sticky-note-decorated lockers. Tim Caudle, the faculty member who coordinates Mental Health Day, told us the notes were a student-generated and -led idea. One message on a locker identified as belonging to a staffer caught our eye:

The Random Acts of Kindness were separate from Mental Health Day, and yet they seemed to synergize perfectly.

We joined the students in the gym for the closing assembly, which Caudle opened with thanks for his colleagues on the SLHS mental-health team who helped make the day happen. And then he introduced Todd Crooks.

His words about words were in the context of mindfulness – being mindful of how your words might be heard by someone, even if you don’t intend them to be heard a certain way. “Do you want to risk affecting someone in a way that has long-term impact?”

He also urged the students to take what they had learned this Mental Health Day and carry it out into the world to help others – perhaps going even further, taking a Mental Health First Aid course, for example, so they could be ready to help someone in crisis the way you might do CPR for someone having a heart attack.

And with optimism and hope – the same spirit we noted when covering SLHS’s first Mental Health Day in 2017 – all went out into the afternoon sun.

P.S. Resource links for everything from education to crisis counseling are on the website for Chad’s Legacy Project, founded by Chad’s parents.

4 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE SCHOOLS: 'Mental Health Day' educates and inspires at Seattle Lutheran HS"

  • SLJ April 26, 2019 (6:08 am)

    This is so important with the increase in mental health needs for youth.  What a wonderful way to honor Chad’s memory.  I hope more schools do the same.

  • Anne April 26, 2019 (8:56 am)

    Thank you SLHS! Teachers, staff, students-your are amazing & you make a difference !

  • GHO April 26, 2019 (7:13 pm)

    Powerful, empowering information!

  • Marnie Devlin April 27, 2019 (12:18 am)

    Makes me proud to be a Saint, and Mr Caudle was always my favorite teacher! 

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