Mindfulness for Students and the Community
By Sheila Hamlen
“A mental health presentation? You know what I say about mental health? Tough it out!” This was my grandmother’s initial reply to my telling her that I was working through the Red Ants Pants Girls Leadership Program (GLP) to provide resources regarding mental health to White Sulphur Springs students. At first, I was taken aback by her reply, but then realized that she was right. However, toughing it out doesn’t have to look like pretending that a problem doesn’t exist. To truly overcome psychological battles, we need to learn the skills that teach us to cope with the curveballs that life so often throws at us. Therefore, I set out on the mission to provide an opportunity to help others create a “mental health toolkit."
To begin this journey, I partnered with Montana Mindfulness Project (MMP) professionals Danielle Nicholas and Tajali Tolan. The goals of the MMP are straightforward: to help Montana youth, young adults, and adults learn to navigate life with mindfulness. Mindfulness itself means being in the moment and navigating life without judgement. What that means to individuals may differ, but overall, we are working together with the goal of helping White Sulphur youth understand that they are not alone in the struggles they face and that there are many resources to be found in times of need.
On Monday, April 15th, 2024, students grades 5 – 11 participated in presentations approximately 40 minutes long (although time was dependent on age) to learn mindfulness practices and how to be where their feet are, or in other words, being present in the moment. Natalie Fisher, a junior, said, “It gave me a sense of calmness and helped me to sort my thoughts.” Savannah Capers, a freshman, said, “It was awesome!”
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to share resources and tools with my friends and peers. I, thankfully, was also able to take this a step further. The Montana Mindfulness Project returned on May 1st, 2024, and hosted a staff training as well as a community event. With this, teachers are now equipped to practice mindfulness in classrooms to promote wellness further. I would like to personally thank the community for their involvement in this project and look forward to seeing what the future of mental health awareness will bring!