‘Minding Your Mind’ assemblies
Berkeley Heights Public Schools
As the Student Assistance Counselor at Governor Livingston High School and Columbia Middle School, Ms. Madison Rowohlt is charged with providing mental health resources to students.
“One of the things I do in my role as a student assistance counselor is act as a resource to students and educate them about the importance of taking care of their mental and emotional health. I accomplish this by providing Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Programs. My role differs from my colleagues in the counseling department because I do not provide academic or college/career counseling,” said Ms. Rowohlt.
She continued, “In looking at my goals for the year, I felt the need to bring more mental health programming to the school. Students are aware of mental health issues and open to learning more about recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health issues, so I wanted to provide opportunities to them to express themselves and seek the help they may need.”
Minding Your Mind is a national non-profit organization that “is dedicated to ending stigma and destructive behaviors associated with mental health issues, moving away from a crisis-based response to prevention through education.” Minding Your Mind uses the power of storytelling to provide evidence-based education on mental health challenges to audiences by having a person, a young adult typically, come and tell their story so that there is an element of relatability for the students with the speaker.
In mid-October, GLHS conducted two days of assemblies with 9th and 11th graders who heard from a young man about his struggles with mental health, his drug and alcohol experiences, and his road to recovery and health and wellness. He shared his story, as well as the signs of anxiety and depression, and concluded by giving students ideas on how they can ask for help.
Ms. Rowohlt and the counseling team used the assemblies as an opportunity to speak to students about the mental health services that the school and district provides. According to Ms. Rowohlt, “After every presentation there were students who approached the speaker to either thank him or to share personal experiences. They really connected with him and it made an impact. It served as a great conversation starter for students to seek support.”
“We strategically timed this program to take place at the beginning of the year because we want students to feel they have a supportive community at GLHS and that they have supportive staff members to rely on,” said Ms. Rowohlt. “By bringing in a relatable person to tell their stories to students, the stigma around mental health decreases. We hope our students will ask for support and identify when they are struggling as a result of the presentation.”
Minding Your Mind was made possible thanks to funding provided through a grant from The Mountainside Municipal Alliance. The hope is that the program will continue to be recognized for its value and funded annually so that it can be offered to students year after year.
Madison Rowohlt earned her undergraduate degree in Criminology, as well as her Masters in Counseling, at TCNJ. She has been a student assistance counselor at GLHS since March 2021.
For more information on the Minding Your Mind program, visit mindingyourmind.org.
Photo by Berkeley Heights Public Schools