Focusing on Mental Health at Canterbury School
October 6, 2020
When Canterbury's new Lower School Director, Mike Landgraf, got to Canterbury School, he realized quickly what a supportive community it is. He brought a world of knowledge and experience in a number of areas, including mental health. Landgraf had worked with an organization called REDgen at his previous school, and decided to connect it with Canterbury. REDgen stands for "Resilience through EDucation for a new generation," and their mission is "to advocate for youth mental health and well-being."
Learn more about REDgen here, and read below to learn about Landgraf's experience with the organization, and how he believes it will impact the Canterbury community.
1. How did you first get involved with REDgen? What’s your experience been like?
EDgen started in 2013, and I became involved shortly after it started. I started seeing a rise in anxiety and depression in students, so when I heard of an organization that was addressing the issue of mental health I was very interested in getting involved. I have been very grateful to have been part of this group for a while. They provide lots of support and resources to help advance the conversations around mental health and resilience. I have met great people doing wonderful work to help support students, teachers, and parents. I have also seen great speakers that REDgen has brought in, and have been a part of lots of meaningful conversations and collaborations all because of REDgen.
2. Why do you think it will be good for Canterbury School?
Mental health does not discriminate. I have discovered quickly that Canterbury School is a wonderfully supportive community. Standards and expectations are high, which is good. However, we all need to be aware that these high expectations need to be balanced with the appropriate support and recognition that all children are different. Everyone handles these expectations differently, and we need to make it clear to all students that their well being and positive mental health is the most important thing. Children will not fulfill their potential if they are not in a great place mentally. The support REDgen provides is also extremely valuable for teachers and parents. We are all in this together.
3. How do you plan to use our school counselors with REDgen?
The counselors will play a big role in supporting this initiative. They are already so well-versed in being good listeners and working with students to support them when facing a variety of challenges. They will continue to be a big part of this, but our hope is that we will be able to create more support for them and the students. This has to be a community-wide effort and not just fall on a couple of people.
4. Will parents have a role in this?
Parents play a major part in the equation. REDgen does a good job of providing tools to parents to help them better understand and support their children. The old adage of, “It takes a village” certainly rings true when dealing with mental health. It is critical that the parents, faculty, staff, and students are all getting the same message in order for everyone to be on the same page. Collaboration is very important when it comes to providing the best support for all of our students.
5. Why do you think mental health is an important topic, especially right now?
I truly believe one of the most important issues facing our youth today is mental health. The statistics on anxiety and depression have increased even more since Covid struck in March. There are many factors that are contributing to the rise of anxiety and depression in our country, so it is more important than ever to be intentional about supporting students as best we can. I am hopeful that REDgen will help our community provide additional support for students to better learn how to navigate through the challenges that they are facing. The hope is that it also creates a culture that makes it okay to speak about this topic free of stigma. We can help empower students to speak up, support one another, and develop resilience to help them succeed in life. REDgen will be a tool to help all of our students become the best versions of themselves in mind, body, and spirit.
We can help empower students to speak up, support one another, and develop resilience to help them succeed in life. REDgen will be a tool to help all of our students become the best versions of themselves in mind, body, and spirit.
- Mike Landgraf