A Jam-Packed Wellness Day at BHSEC

Sonia Chajet Wides, ‘21

May 2019

On May 14, BHSEC had Wellness Day instead of regularly scheduled classes. The purpose of the day was to take some time off and have opportunities to learn about and engage with various aspects of health and wellness, be they physical, mental, emotional, sexual, social, or spiritual. A variety of 34 workshops and activities were offered. Some were led by BHSEC faculty—for example, a jog in East River Park with Dr. Freund, watching Freaks and Geeks with Dr. Clark, meditation with Ms. Schultz, the neuroscience of addictive diseases with Dr. Collins, hand and foot massage with Ms. Dolan, and cooking with Dr. Chaterpaul. Other favorites included a capoeira workshop, a workshop about consent culture at BHSEC, a lesson about personal finances, pet therapy, and a talk on body image. 

Mr. Miller, BHSEC’s health teacher, emphasized the importance of Wellness Day because Health Ed at BHSEC is only taught in 9th grade. “It’s definitely important to talk about things that aren’t really discussed after 9th grade, or things that we couldn’t even get to in 9th grade,” he said. Most students enjoyed the workshops they attended and the day overall. Wellness Day happened to occur in the midst of a schoolwide conversation about mental health at BHSEC. Mr. Miller said that Wellness Day was a good chance to have a discussion about mental health, but the conversation needs to continue. “I know kids have expressed through the writing in the paper that they feel overworked,” Miller said, “And it’s an interesting concept… I think about how we teach stress management strategies, but unless we’re changing the structure of the school... how can we expect kids to manage?” He also spoke about potentially having a Health Ed course in the college program, and wanting to foster a community conversation about mental health.

Year 2 Kisura Nurrudin was disappointed that there were so few Year 2s at Wellness Day. “I feel as if we need to back our words up because we talk… but I don’t see a lot of action-based thinking or solutions to this terrible way the administration is handling health, in particular, mental health,” Kisura said. They agreed with Mr. Miller that there needs to be more of a conversation. “We’re all really intelligent people: faculty, students, and staff. But I don’t think we actually have conversations about… things that seem to be small, like mental health,” they said, “I think that if… we were able to talk more freely and more frequently about health, especially mental health, in this high-stress environment, then things like Wellness Day would be events that people would come to. I think it’s a matter of participation on both sides from the administration and from the student body.”

One point of contention about the day was the movie that Year 1s and Year 2s had to watch, the acclaimed documentary Hunting Ground about campus sexual assault. While most of the students thought the movie was well-done, there was concern over the fact that there was no trigger warning prior to the movie, which features graphic imagery and language about sexual assault. This resulted in some students facing a triggering and frustrating situation in which they had to rush out of the movie. Mr. Miller agreed that this was a misstep, saying “There should’ve been more of a warning, or head’s up to take care of yourself.” 

It will be interesting to see how the lessons from Wellness Day can continue to be infused into daily life at BHSEC. Since Wellness Day, there has already been an open forum on mental health with faculty and students, to which most students reacted positively. Overall, Wellness Day was a wonderful day with many unique learning opportunities, as well as a chance to catch up with Writing & Thinking groups and take a break from the daily grind.