The Friends Select Wellness Program, now in its fourth year, engages the school’s community and the general public about mental health and other wellness issues. It is spearheaded by Molly Patterson, Ed.D., the middle and upper school learning specialist, Natan Gottesman, Ph.D., the school psychologist, and Chris Singler, upper school director. The program provides information, strategies, support, and resources to students, faculty, and families in the Friends Select community and beyond. Through speaking events, presentations, and participatory activities, the program increases awareness of issues that can affect student learning and well-being. Potential issues that impact students may include mental health challenges, learning styles, peer relationships, social media and Internet use, academic pressures, and the college application process.
2019-20 Wellness Program Events
The Stressed Years of Their Lives, with Anthony Rostain and B. Janet Hibbs
Monday, September 23, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
The Wellness Program presented adolescent mental health expert Anthony Rostain and family therapist B. Janet Hibbs, authors of The Stressed Years of Their Lives: Helping Your Kid Survive and Thrive During Their College Years. They discussed their recently published book, which is intended to help students and parents cope with the stress and anxiety associated with college.
For more, listen to the authors’ recent NPR interview.
About the Authors
Anthony L. Rostain is professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. His clinical focus is “lifespan neurodevelopmental psychiatry,” which includes patients of all ages with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Tourette Syndrome, Learning Disabilities (verbal and nonverbal), and related social learning disorders. He treats patients at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where he is co-director of the Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Psychiatry Service, and at Penn Medicine / Behavioral Health, where he is medical director of the Adult Development Disorders Unit, which includes the Adult ADHD Treatment and Research Program.
B. Janet Hibbs
B. Janet Hibbs is a recognized authority on family issues, with a focus on parent-child and partner relationships. After watching her own college student struggle with mental health, she worked with Anthony Rostain to help him. They then wrote The Stressed Years of Their Lives, a guide for parents of college students who want to help support their kids’ mental health. Her combined academic, clinical, and commercial writing backgrounds blend seamlessly in engaging public and professional talks. Her presentations draw on 25 years of expert clinical experience treating individuals, couples, and families, and she provides effective strategies for coping with the many issues—including stress—that parents and students face. Dually licensed as a psychologist and family therapist, she holds the highest credential in the marriage and family therapy field, as an approved supervisor for the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.
As an ongoing foundational aspect of the program since its inception, Natan and Molly meet with small groups of upper school students throughout the school year for “Wellness Lunches.” At these lunches, issues such as mental health, academic successes and struggles, stress and stress management, navigation of upper school expectations, and time management are discussed.
The Wellness Program is made possible by an anonymous Friends Select family.
Past Wellness Program Events
In the 2017-2018 school year, the program brought Kenneth Ginsburg to speak about his book, Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love with Expectations and Protection with Trust. This year, the program continues to expand, with events intended to increase conversation about the connections between stress, overall mental health and well-being, and academic engagement.
This past year, the Wellness Program hosted a screening and panel discussion for Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety, an IndieFlix documentary that explores the multilayered effects of anxiety on our society. This film was screened for parents and the wider community, as well as for faculty and students in the upper and middle school. In addition, speakers were brought in from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), who presented information about mental illness to upper school students, with one speaker candidly sharing her own personal experiences with mental illness, treatment, and recovery.