Q&A with Cheryl-Ann Weekes, Mental Health Specialist & Global School Counselor
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Cheryl-Ann Weekes has worked as a counsellor with the teen population since 1997. We're eager to learn from her expertise in social emotional counselling, mental health, and university counselling during our Mental Health & Well-being Workshop in November and wanted a sneak peak of what we'll learn (CIS members can learn more and join us).
Here's a short Q&A to find out more:
Tell us about yourself
My purpose is to support and encourage young people with compassion and to encourage and allow them to express their emotions and opinions in a safe space.
I began working internationally in 2010 and have lived and worked in schools in many countries—from the Dominican Republic, to Jamaica, Ethiopia, Thailand, Egypt, and the Ivory Coast. I love the opportunity for individual conversations with my students about coping strategies for dealing with stress, anxiety and organization.
I started Weekes Enterprise, LLC because I'm passionate about the need to normalize going to therapy and discussing mental health with educators, students, and parents. I'm committed to having consent conversations with my students as a way to educate them about what it means to give and ask for consent and respect the boundaries set by others.
When and why did you begin conducting workshops on consent and boundaries?
Informally, I have talked with students about consent and boundaries since I lived and worked in DC in the mid-2000s. But when I moved to Ethiopia in 2014, it was the first time that a school allowed me to create and facilitate consent lessons for my students.
I'm passionate about these two topics because I believe that improving our knowledge in these areas teaches my students how to interact better with each other by helping them to examine their current behavior and beliefs.
What do you consider the biggest challenge facing educational institutions and students right now relating to mental health and well-being during student transition from secondary school to university?
Teaching students the tools needed to adequately deal with stress, anxiety and depressive episodes and encouraging them to seek out the appropriate assistance.
Although most universities have a counseling office that offers therapy and other services, most undergraduate students are not aware of or willing to seek out these services.
The stigma attached to seeking therapy is still a big barrier for them. A lack of knowledge about mental health and limited self-awareness also contributes to their reluctance to seek out help.
A lot of people think resilience is a skill or an ability some people have instead of something you can develop with work and consistency.
Another challenge is showing students how to practice appropriate self-care as an avenue to continue to develop resilience. A lot of people think resilience is a skill or an ability some people have instead of something you can develop with work and consistency.
Key takeaways we can expect from your workshop session:
- Consent must be given, not assumed
- Talking about consent teaches students about agency, their voices, and their behavior
- These conversations are important for the entire community because they positively affect school culture and student behavior
- Setting boundaries protects our well-being and improves our relationships
- Sexual harassment occurs in many forms
Name three practical ways that your workshop session will motivate your audience to take action when they return to school?
By giving them the appropriate terminology to have consent and boundary conversations
By giving them tips on how to respond to boundary violations
By giving them ways to engage all stakeholders in these conversations
What quote or piece of advice inspires you today and why?
’I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’—Dr Maya Angelou
I use quotes a lot in my counseling practice with my students and I love Maya Angelou. They are posted on my bulletin board in my office. This quote reminds me to always treat people with kindness and compassion, to build bridges and form connections with students and colleagues, to listen without judgment, to be gentle with my corrections even when I am frustrated and to apologize when I make a mistake even if it was unintentional.
CIS members can join us to learn more from Cheryl-Ann and other experts at our
Mental Health & Well-being Workshop
Learn how to embed a positive culture and create psychological safety for your community of students, staff, and faculty. You’ll be guided by experts in the field as you explore ways to empower and actively engage your community as they face everyday and emerging challenges.
The sessions will be available on-demand in the weeks following so you can catch up or view again at your own convenience.
Join us to learn more from Cheryl-Ann and other experts at our Mental Health & Well-being Workshop on 22–24 November 2022 | Virtual
Explore many more posts containing perspectives and guidance on aspects of mental health and well-being related to international education
Our school members can access resources related to mental health and well-being via the CIS Community portal > KnowledgeBase > Child protection & well-being
- Student well-being