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Listening Tent Promotes Mental Health Awareness

This week, the Lansing Middle School Counseling Department and Suicide Prevention Crisis Services of Ithaca teamed up to normalize conversations about mental health.  

The Listening Tent is a pop-up mental health resources center which aims to engage students through hands-on activities and discussions during recess and lunch periods. Located outside the Counseling Office, the tent invites middle school students to converse about their stressors, how they cope with bad days and who they lean on during difficult times.

“Taking care of your mental and emotional health is important. It’s as important as getting vaccines, eating well and getting plenty of sleep,” said Lee-Ellen Marvin, Director of Education for Suicide Prevention and Crisis Services.

Each day, a Post-it Note survey is displayed under the tent where students can write down answers to questions such as “how much sleep do you normally get?” or “who is your go-to person?”.

“Our hope is to collect this data and use the information in ways to help our children be more successful,” said Tanya Thompson, Lansing Middle School Counselor.

Along with the survey, students are invited into the Counseling Office to participate in a daily activity relating to mental health awareness. These activities include making stress balls out of balloons and rice, blowing bubbles and creating mental health tool kits to journal sleep patterns and track emotions.

“One of the nice things about journaling is giving yourself a chance to reflect on how you’re feeling,” Marvin explained to a group of Lansing Middle School students.

The mental health tool kit serves as a “bad day self-care kit” where students can go back and read things they've written on a good mental health day to help them through a difficult day.

Members of Lansing High School’s Active Mind Club have visited the middle school throughout the week to engage in discussions with younger students and help with Learning Tent activities. Marvin is also visiting middle school study halls to speak about the Listening Tent and other mental health resources.

“Mental health awareness needs to start very young. It’s good for students to know that there are people looking to support and help them,” said Thompson.
Director of Education for Suicide Prevention and Crisis Services, Lee-Ellen Marvin, works with Lansing Middle School
students to create a mental health tool kit.
Lansing Middle School Counselor, Tanya Thompson, speaks with middle school students about their "go-to" person.