Jenny’s Corner with DWS School Counselor

Thanks for visiting my mental health blog! My name is Jenny Thompson (MA, LPC), and I am the School Counselor at The Denver Waldorf School. I am glad you’re here! If you are in need of my support services, please reach out via email, and bookmark this page for helpful tips and announcements.

May is Mental Health Month

May is a great time to look into your own and your family’s mental health, much like going to a doctor for a yearly physical. This suggestion goes nicely with this year’s theme from Mental Health America: Back to Basics. With all that is going on in the world — along with all distractions that go with it — we can do ourselves a favor by tending to our own mental health. Here are two great downloads from Mental Health America (MHA) to get started:

Movement and Mental Health

Here we are again, or should I say still? As we are continuing to navigate the effects of the pandemic, may we keep in mind our mental health is still an important aspect of our overall health. The American Academy of Pediatrics declared a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health as of October 2021. One way we can work to keep our mental health healthy is by making sure we are getting some exercise. Here are six ways in which exercise can help work to enhance our mental wellness:

  1. Reduces stress and increases relaxation. Getting outside is not too hard to enjoy in beautiful Colorado and it also does wonders for relieving stress. Encourage your teen to join on a family walk or have your loved one take over the chore of walking the dog!
  2. Alleviates anxiety and depression. When we get our heart rate up, our body starts to release endorphins (natural chemicals in our body which enhance feelings of happiness). It has been shown that even 30 minutes of exercise a few times a week can improve overall mood. Those with an anxiety disorder can actually reduce symptoms with exercise.
  3. Improves self-confidence. Feeling strong and physically fit can do wonderful things for our self-esteem. Exercising, regardless of size or weight, can increase one’s view of their self-worth. Working out outside the home can also increase chances of meeting new people with similar interests.
  4. Sharpens memory and prevents cognitive decline. Exercising can improve memory and learning. Researchers have linked children’s brain development with level of physical fitness. As we get older, as we all know, it’s harder to process and maintain information. Regular exercise at a younger age helps minimize that decline.
  5. Helps control addiction. Exercise can help in addiction recovery. Exercise can effectively distract drug or alcohol addicts, de-prioritizing cravings. Exercise also helps reboot the body after going through negative effects from alcohol or drug abuse.
  6. Creates higher levels of energy and productivity. Health benefits of exercise in teens can also boost creativity. Exercising outdoors or interacting with nature during exercise can create inspiration and creative thinking. When you need to get things done, get up and move!

Tips for Tackling Summer Depression

Did you know summer depression is a thing? The sunniest of seasons can bring on feelings of disorientation, lack of feeling grounded, and even depression. A recent article I read listed the following tips for adults and children, alike:

  1.  Acknowledge that summer sadness is a thing. Let’s face it, summer puts a lot of pressure on us to have fun and enjoy the sunshine!  It may be hard to acknowledge that summer is not your favorite season.  Becoming aware you can start taking steps to care for yourself in a different way and not beat yourself up for not LOVING summer.
  2. Drop the image of what summer is supposed to look like.  There can be a lot of pressure to emulate what summer used to look like.  Allow yourself to be present and accepting of what summer actually feels like for you and try to not make it something that is not attainable!  Also, be careful with social media people only show their best selves and it can lead us to compare ourselves with a snapshot of someone else’s life.
  3. Be proactive about keeping to your own expectations.  If depression or sadness affects you during summer then motivation to do the things you love is in jeopardy.  Try to remember that after you do an activity or spend time with a friend, you rarely if ever, regret it.  Try to keep to your plans, it’s good for your mental health.
  4. Stay cool.  Heat stress is a thing and it can cause us to have low distress tolerance and become easily agitated.  Make sure you are noticing if you are getting too hot and if it has lasting effects on your mental health.
  5. Try not to isolate yourself. It can be really difficult to put yourself out there for social connection but rarely if ever do we regret it.  Going for a walk with a friend, attending that 4th of July party, or going to a movie with a bunch of friends, all things that we usually feel good afterwards.  If you notice yourself starting to say a lot more no’s instead of yes’s then switch it up.  Remember the last time you spent time with a friend and how it made you feel.
  6. Know when to get help.  Depression is depression regardless of the season. A good rule of thumb is if you know that getting out, seeing friends, and overall being active is good for you but you can’t seem to find the motivation to make it happen, it may be a good time to seek some professional help.  My blog has a list of resources and I am always open to a phone call (even during the summer).
Be well, enjoy the summer, and don’t forget to set realistic expectations! See you next fall!

May is Mental Health Month

I love that there is a month where we dedicate time to check in with ourselves, our loved ones and our whole community.  I’m excited to announce that our high school is doing just that.  With the lead of two of our high schoolers we have started a group called Waldorf Minds Matter.  This group comes together every other week to discuss mental health by using psychoeducation, support, and a safe place to share.  I also enjoy working with the middle and lower school by individually checking in and working with groups.

Each week, for the month of May, I will be posting to this blog one topic you can consider in your own and your loved ones mental wellbeing.

Week 1: Radical Acceptance

Fact sheet: Accepting Reality

Week 2: Stress and Trauma

Fact sheet: Adapting After Stress and Trauma

Week 3: Anger and Frustration

Fact sheet: Dealing with Anger and Frustration

Week 4: Cognitive Distortion

Fact sheet: Getting Out of Thinking Traps

Week 5: Adaptability

Fact sheet: Processing Change

Suicide Awareness and Prevention Resources

Click the button below to download local resources for Coloradans.

Colorado Suicide Resources

Drug and Alcohol Parent Education Evening with Colt Smith

I was joined by award-winning speaker Colt Smith for an invaluable presentation on the effects of drugs and alcohol on students. Watch the recording to hear his powerful story and garner insights and tips for parents and students, alike. Colt was also tremendously well received by our high school students during an in-school presentation as a recovering addict who brings compassion, empathy, and a breadth of knowledge. Learn more about him on his website Colt’s Drug Talks.


  • Enthusiastic Sobriety—Support group
  • Natural Highs—Amazing social group that provides peer mentoring, sober events, and reiki classes, and also teaches kids how to give the brain chemistry talks
  • Fire Mountain—Stellar residential treatment center in Estes Park for teens
  • Sandstone Care—Residential and outpatient treatment for teens and young adults. If a family member is wondering what to do, call Sandstone. Its admissions and outreach team does a GREAT job of referring out and finding what fits best for your teen
  • iTHRIVE—Early intervention for teens that are just beginning a relationship with substances; a great resource that requires parent participation
  • S.AF.E.—Sober AF Entertainment is a social group that has lots of sober events, concerts, sports, etc.
  • Nicholas Thompson—Private practice therapist who rocks, and also has a podcast called Perspective 4 Parents that’s worth a listen

Random Acts of Kindness Week

During Random Acts of Kindness Week (February 14-20), I encourage all of us to consider what we can do to bring kindness to one another. One idea is to write a positive quality about each of your family members and share this with each other, maybe at dinner time. Another idea is to send someone you care about a card of appreciation (for adults and children, alike). Together, go through your children’s toys/clothes/books that are no longer being used and donate to an organization of your child’s choosing.  The list goes on!

The takeaway: Kind acts not only help others they actually boost our and our child’s self esteem and introduce how purposeful we can be at at any age.

Podcast: Happiness Lab

Self compassion. If there were ever time we (adults and children, alike) needed to practice this, it is now. Kristin Neff joins Dr. Laurie Santos on the Happiness Lab, and goes through why it is so important to be compassionate with ourselves and to “dump our inner drill sergeant.” Neff describes self compassion as extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering.  It’s worth a listen.

Mental Health Tips

The first DWS Parent Council meeting of the year included a presentation titled Minding Mental Health through Covid-19. Watch the recording and read the tips I covered below.

Tips for Parents

Here are some things we can do to help take care of ourselves

  1. Prioritize rest. Whatever that looks like for you (yin yoga, napping, sitting on the couch with our eyes closed, etc.).
  2. Again, realize the goal is to accomplish something not to be perfect.
  3. Give yourselves a break from all media. Give it up for 3 days or even 1 day and see if there is a difference in how you feel.
  4. Work on being gentle with yourself, try letting go or giving the self critic a day off. This also has an effect on how gentle we are with those around us.
  5. Pay attention to pacing. Everyone absorbs information and change at a different pace. Recognizing this can give us patience and challenge our expectations of others.

Tips for Students

Here are some mental health tips on what we as parents can do to help our children persevere through this ongoing time of pandemic and political unrest.

  1. Give your children hope. This to shall pass, there will be a vaccine and school will be back in full swing and some sort of normalcy will happen sometime in 2021. In turn, validate how they are feeling now and move onto a hopeful stance.
  2. Remind kids that we are being called on to be patient.
  3. Try to live in the present. This can be especially hard with anxious children but try to focus on today and if they start to veer off into the distant future, do your best to let them know that today is what we need to focus on and again to instill a more hopeful outlook. You can also start a gratitude practice with your children, maybe before you eat dinner or breakfast have everyone share something they are thankful for.
  4. Create a floating plan of the future. Ask what your child is looking forward to in the future and put them on a to-do board.
  5. Pay attention to and create small joys and activities for your child. Maybe baking once a week a sugary treat or bread, or facetime with a friend or relative
  6. Remind your child of how resilient they are. Point out to them that even though it hasn’t been easy they have survived some pretty big shifts in what is normal at home, school, with friends and neighbors. Remind them that they have proven they can do hard things
  7. Be aware of comparing your child to other children – everybody copes differently, we can help our children learn how to cope with their own unique perspectives and responses to stressful situations.
  8. Meditate with your child. Meditation, especially with anxious children can start pathways in the brain to not get caught up in every single thought we have (we have around 60,000 per day!). Meditation can help you and your child with accepting their emotions and can help with patience, which is greatly called upon now.

Mental Health Resources

Therapy Resources

I recommend the following therapists:

  • By Light Counseling—Natalia Samman, LCSW; (720) 295-2553
  • Blue Spruce Psychology LLC—Courtney Gallagher, PsyD; (720) 336-1477
  • Center for Child and Family Psychology—(303) 871-3306; Sliding scale
  • Amy Pickett-Williams—(303) 912-9806

Robbie’s Hope

Robbie’s Hope is geared toward helping teens with mental wellbeing, offering a vast number of resources, ideas and groups surrounding mental health. Please take some time to look over the website and share with anyone you think would be interested.

Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

I wanted to remind our community that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may be intensified this year because of the pandemic and our political climate. SAD is a type of depression linked to the seasons and a reduction in the amount of light one receives throughout the day. It starts in the Fall and wanes in Spring. It zaps our energy and makes us feel more moody. SAD can affect any age group but most frequently starts between 18-30 years of age. Linked here and here are two articles, with the first geared towards adults and the second for the younger population.

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