Helping educators, students in Elizabeth City navigate mental wellness

In the midst of the many challenges people face across the county, stressors intensify, especially with situations like parents having to double as employees and even teachers as they juggle working from home and guiding their children on e-learning.

“Mentally healthy kids, without question, will achieve more in school and in life,” said Rwenshaun Miller, chief executive officer of The Good Stress Company. “Good mental health is critical to children’s wellness.”

Miller is a licensed clinical mental health counselor. And over the past year, Miller has been working with educators and students in the Elizabeth City - Pasquotank Public Schools.

“We’re focusing on their mental health, working on different tools that everyone needs, but then also understanding that teachers themselves need support in addition to the student,” Miller said. “In general, most school systems don’t have enough resources in place.”

Being able to properly navigate mental wellness and feeling safe is critical to teachers’ and students’ learning and mental health.

The fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. by North Carolina deputies in Elizabeth City has the community struggling for answers and compounds stress on students.

Miller said that mental health is a large part of the school system that has been neglected.  With limited resources, teachers and administrators are struggling and, at times, school boards are at a loss of what to do.

“They’re trying to figure out what things they actually do to make a more inclusive setting for kids,” he said. “They want to not only just educate them from a book standpoint, but they want to develop the entire person, and that’s very important.”

There is substantial research that shows that a school’s climate, student behavior, engagement in learning, and students’ sense of connectivity can help students improve as well.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 in 5 children and adolescents experience a mental health problem during their school years.

The school district is exploring options and trying to incorporate more mental health programming and resources to address the issue not only with the students but also with teachers and faculty.

“It’s a great move in the right direction to continue to grow upon and then to dig deeper into an issue that is one of the foundational issues and foundational challenges faced with the education system,” Miller said.

His nonprofit organization, Eustress Inc., will hold its annual mental health awareness walk on Saturday, May 15.

Eustress Inc. was born out of the desire to bring awareness to the importance of acknowledging, improving and preserving mental health, a topic often marked by stigma and denial, particularly in the Black community.

The “Let’s Talk about It Walk” will be held at Northside Christian Academy in Charlotte.

Eustress Inc. initiates conversations about mental health with members of the Black community at large, paying special attention to students, young adults and athletes.

“Let’s Talk about It Walk”:

  • Registration and check-in for the walk begin at 8:30 a.m.
  • The walk begins at 9 a.m., and the event will conclude at noon.
  • All of the events for the walk will take place at Northside Christian Academy, which is located at 333 Jeremiah Blvd. in Charlotte.

Click here for more information or to register for the walk.

If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte public affairs manager, at Kevin.Campbell@wsoctv.com.