A Well Deserved Break: Take a Mental Health Holiday

Holidays and spirit days are becoming short breaks that help to rejuvinate students’ mental health.


Toni Ouyang

Mr. Cogliano, the school’s social worker, speaks with a student.

Monsters walk the halls of Bronx Science. Ghosts, goblins and ghouls roam the classrooms. In the cafeteria, a loud bass shakes the basement. Zombies rush down the stairs for seats at the blood-splattered tables. They’re not hungry for brains, they’re hungry for candy.

As Halloween approached and the first marking period came to an end, students’ workloads piled up. Despite college applications, project deadlines and report cards, the school appeared to be bustling with happiness. With the campus garnished in plastic caution tape and cotton spider webs, the school was lively with Halloween spirit.

Students, teachers and parents are all affected by the atmosphere at school. A relaxing and uplifting work environment creates enthusiasm amongst students and staff. Holidays and days off are often great ways for students to relieve stress and rejuvenate themselves, in order to find motivation to continue on with the year successfully.  For students, taking a “mental health holiday” during breaks, such as Winter Break, is not an absurd suggestion.

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that nearly 13% of adolescents suffer a major depressive episode, which may result in severe mental and physical complications. At Bronx Science, one of the most competitive schools in the state, students feel pressure as well, reporting to feel the most stressed when it comes to their academic performance.

The Bronx Science student organization has continued to encourage mental health awareness with upcoming mental health weeks in January 2019 and May 2019, highlighting this important issue. During these weeks, students can enjoy yoga, art, karaoke, and meditation during school hours.

Sydney Teh
Jasmeen Kaur ‘20 dances for NASHA at Club Fair, one way to relieve stress.

Friday movie nights are also held after school throughout the year, where students can vote on the movie played beforehand. “The Breakfast Club” and “High School Musical 2” have been the students’ favorites so far this year.

There are many other resources that Bronx Science offers for its students to help manage stress levels. Therapy, counselors, and psychiatrists are available during students’ free periods throughout the year. The S.O. President for 2018-2019, Artea Brahaj ’19, adds that there is a new female social worker coming to the school this year. Brahaj added that “we are working on mental health presentations to freshman and sophomore classes, as well as changing the guidance department structure so that underclassman get to have one on one meetings with their counselor.”

Bronx Science Spirit Week is another interactive and competitive event that has brought merriment to the school. Spirit prizes such as tote bags and phone cardholders have been given out in previous years, gifted by the Alumni Foundation.

“If we don’t recharge our batteries, or take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health, we wont remember why we are all working so hard.”

Mr. Cogliano, the school’s social worker, enjoys spirit days as well. When participating in Twin Day with Mr. Elia, he said, “It is fun to try and coordinate some of the aspects of ’twinning,’ and this day has brought some levity to the department, as we all laughed and took pictures.”

Gazi Fuad
From left to right, George He ’19, Esther (Kang Yie) Ih ’19 Perene Wang ’19 and Katelyn Yang ’19, wear matching outfits for Twin Day, a great stress reliever.

Students at our school often look forward to gratifying events such as the club fair, bake sales, and senior brunch, where they can diverge from their normal routine.

With all of these new programs in place, taking a mental health holiday for ourselves during a school break seems like the next step. Currently, students and teachers enjoy spending their breaks relaxing with their loved ones, one way of taking a mental health holiday for ourselves. “If we don’t recharge our batteries, or take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health, we wont remember why we are all working so hard,” Mr. Cogliano said.

Tahmid Ahamed ’19, agrees. As Halloween is one of the school’s most celebrated holidays, it allows for students to relieve stress and to have fun dressing up. “Halloween is the greatest thing that I have to look forward to this October. I’m thinking of being Spiderman for my thirteenth time,” Ahamed said.

Toni Ouyang
Tahmid Ahamed ’19 discusses his Halloween preparations as a means of reducing stress.

With a demanding workload at Bronx Science, prioritizing mental health seems to have become more and more important to the school. Taking a mental health holiday for ourselves during vacation would greatly help to relieve stress levels.

We should all heed Mr. Cogliano’s words: “We all need a break in order to concentrate on the things that we love doing. Even if you don’t celebrate a particular holiday, it is still a great time to take a deep breath and enjoy the little things in life.”