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West Hertel Academy's 'mindfulness room' helps students with stress, anxiety

"I think mental health is important. A lot of people are going through a lot right now, especially me," said Neyeh Toe, an eighth grader at West Hertel Academy.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — May is Mental Health Awareness month.

Students at West Hertel Academy are not just being taught English, math and science, but also mindfulness in a special space within the school.

Every morning, students fill out a survey, a daily mood check-in, and depending on how they reply, they get access to the mindfulness room to talk to a teacher or counselor.

Iris Randle with the school said sometimes the kids just need someone to talk to and have someone there to listen. Randle said the mindfulness room has helped decrease suspensions and discipline referrals, and created a more positive climate at their school.

She said this space has been a huge need, not just for their students, but for teachers and staff too, especially coming back to school from the pandemic and everything that has been happening in our society.

"I think mental health is important. A lot of people are going through a lot right now, especially me," said Neyeh Toe, an eighth grader at West Hertel Academy.

"Like I said, it helps me like a lot. So being here is good for my mental health, especially because it's not the best. It just isn't," said Nairovy Lopes, another eighth grader at West Hertel Academy.

She went on to say that she has a family member who went to the same school where the school shooting happened in Texas a few days ago. She said she was really happy to have a room like this at her school where she could go to de-stress and collect her thoughts.

As far as funding goes, Randle says if they should receive more funds. They have the extra space to create more rooms like these. They also have many student suggestions as to how to enhance the entire experience.

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