Parish Episcopal Aims To Foster Healthy Minds

FROM LEFT: Dave Monaco, Julie Lythcott-Haims, and Vanita Halliburton help Parish Episcopal launch a mental health education program. (Photo: Wiley Williams)

The “aha” moment came for New York Times best-selling author Julie Lythcott-Haims when she was cutting her son’s chicken one night.

“We’re cutting our kid’s meat too long,” Lythcott-Haims said. “We’re supposed to raise them to fend for themselves so that when we’re gone, they can fend.”

Lythcott-Haims’s address to parents about how to let their children live balanced lives came April 12 during the launch luncheon for the CenterED program at Parish Episcopal School.

CenterED For Social and Emotional Well Being is a program intended to elevate Parish’s commitment to mental wellness and brain health curriculum and engagement.

The program was founded through a partnership between Parish and the Grant Halliburton Foundation to educate students, teachers, and parents on how to recognize signs of mental illness.

The training helps school staff understand what stress looks like for students and identify the biggest stressors for the children, Vanita Halliburton, foundation executive chairman and co-founder, explained. “What does depression look like? What does anxiety look like? What do those symptoms look like?

[pullquote-left]“Everybody needs to know [warning signs for suicide], just like we know CPR.” -Vanita Halliburton[/pullquote-left]

“And then what do the warning signs look like of a person who may be contemplating ending their life? Everybody needs to know that, just like we know CPR,” she said.

Representatives from Grant Halliburton have met with students before. During the school’s Wellness Week in February, some members of the foundation talked to students about relationships, cyber bullying, and body image.

Head of school Dave Monaco said he expects more events like this going into the 2018-19 school year, including programming for students regarding stress and anxiety awareness and management, focus groups for parents, and training opportunities for faculty and staff around mental health.

Kristin Twomey, a parent of two Parish students, said she is proud that Parish is in front of the issue of mental health and wellbeing.

“I feel like we’re real leaders in Dallas in terms of education, what education really needs to look like for the kids today, how the old model is not really working anymore,” Twomey said. “Grant-Halliburton and Dave Monaco and Parish are, you know, forcing the conversation and getting out in front of it.”

Monaco said he plans to continue evaluating the educational process and how Parish can improve upon the CenterED program.

“We’ve really set our 50th birthday in 2022 as sort of the aspirant time to say, you know, ‘What do we want Parish to look like when we’re 50?’” Monaco said. “That’ll be the next point to catch our breath before we ascend some more.”