Active minds at Landon

Upper School students are learning tools to help each other following an assembly, discussion, and advisory program focused on mental health and well-being. 

The boys, as well as faculty, learned from Active Minds Chief Development and Marketing Officer Margo Collins, who presented ways the boys can best care for themselves and for others in the community.  The assembly focused on how to support someone who is struggling with their mental health and also identified factors that sometimes impede a student’s willingness to engage.   

“Validate-Appreciate-Refer (V-A-R) is Active Minds' strategy to help students. It allows them to have meaningful conversations with those around them. Throughout the presentation, students learned about active listening and how to effectively respond when someone lets them know they are having a hard time,” said Upper School Counselor Richard Curtis. 

Student peer counselors, who provide advice, support, and a sympathetic ear to fellow students at Landon, agreed the session was worthwhile. 

“Between the rigorous academics and athletics and a lot on our schedules, it can be stressful at times to balance everything, so I feel like having these tools and working together as a community is really important. … When you’re talking to different people, sometimes you realize something might be off and using this kind of VAR tool can be really helpful to kind of open up a conversation or just a quick check-in,” Peer Counselor Andreas Geffert ’23 said.  

CJ O’Shea ’22, also a peer counselor, agreed the conversation was helped and needed. “Someone asked her ‘how do you voice it’ (when you’re struggling), and I think that’s something that a lot of teenagers nowadays have a hard time doing, and they're trying to bring awareness to that. Her tips and tricks really opened the conversation here about mental health and how we can treat it and know the solutions,” he said.  

 Active Minds typically works with college students, but Collins said it’s important for high school students to have these tools as well.  

“The majority of mental health struggles start between the age of 14 and 25 ... so we want to make sure that we are meeting people where there at.” she said.  

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