May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As many of our students grapple with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, Breakthrough New York took a proactive approach in making sure mental health wellness was integrated into our programming.
Mental Health Initiatives
Breakthrough’s mental health initiatives are led by Bushra Shaheen, Director of Student Support, and social work interns Andrea and Selin. The staff offers several opportunities for students to connect, including counseling sessions, office hours, and monthly newsletters with useful tips and resources.
Middle school students also participate in social-emotional learning (SEL) workshops. The goal of these workshops is to expand students’ definitions of “success” to include social and emotional wellbeing and not only academic achievement. Workshop activities such as art therapy, games, and group discussions are designed to equip students to better understand themselves and their environments.
The Importance of Mental Health Support
Mental health support is necessary, even in an academic program like Breakthrough New York, because it affects all aspects of a person’s life. Students must have the skills to cope with the daily stressors of life in order to prosper in school. “[Centering] their social, emotional, and mental health needs allows students to develop a growth mindset, effectively make decisions, and develop a secure sense of self,” says Bushra.
Breakthrough currently partners with Dwellness to refer students to additional mental health services. In the future, we hope to expand our offerings through more community agencies and psychotherapy practices, including those at SUNY and CUNY schools.
If you are a Breakthrough New York student and need mental health support, contact Bushra at [email protected].