Mental health top of mind for Sudbury students

Each morning at R.H. Murray Public School in Whitefish, students take part in a mindful breathing exercise as well as physical activities.
Students at R.H. Murray Public School recently took part in a Mental Health Awareness Day, including sessions on breathing exercises. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

Each morning at R.H. Murray Public School in Whitefish, students take part in a mindful breathing exercise as well as physical activities.

"I have noticed a difference," teacher Rebecca Hamilton-Bachiu said about the behaviour of the students following the morning routine.

"We went to the Kiwanis festival [as] we have a choir that was performing. Obviously they were very nervous before … and they pulled out a tool that they had learned in the morning mindfulness exercise which was starfish breathing. They calmed themselves and were ready to do their performance."

Rebecca Hamilton-Bachiu is a teacher at R.H. Murray Public School. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

Recently, a Mental Health Awareness Day was held at the school. It was led by the Ontario Physical and Health Education Association's Health Schools team and Public Health Sudbury & Districts.

Students helped to plan and lead the workshops. They focused on a variety of topics related to mental health, including sleep, nutrition, emotions, physical activity, and coping with stress and mindfulness.

Grade 6 students Bosco Ducharme and Alex Gosselin led a session on healthy eating, relaxation and sleep.

Bosco Ducharme and Alex Gosselin are grade 6 students at R.H. Murray Public School. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

"Every group that we've had so far, three or four of them aren't getting enough sleep," Gosselin said.

Ducharme says they offered tips to other students to help.

"You need to get more active outside like playing soccer for 20 minutes, basketball for 20 minutes, volleyball," he said.

Grade 6 student Nathan Horner says learning these skills are helpful for students.

"Well, I think it's important because when you're going crazy or you're getting all mad, you need to know some strategies to like calm back down," he said.

Nathan Horner is a grade 6 student at R.H. Murray Public School. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

Hamilton-Bachiu says she hopes having dedicated days to learn about mental health and incorporating those skills into each day will help the students in the long term.

"Going forward when they have those stressful moments in life, which we all do [and] we need them in a way [as] anxiety can be a good thing to help us perform at our best but we don't want that to get out of balance," she said.

"So they'll start to recognize their emotions and identify what are the triggers when we start to go out of balance. They're going to have so many tools in their back pocket to pull out and to use on a daily basis to help them bring them back to that balance point where they can be their best selves."


Martha Dillman is a multimedia journalist based in Sudbury. You can find her on Twitter @marthaCBC or by email


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