North Reading High School: A Case for Integrative Health in Schools

Starting in the 2014-2015 school year, North Reading High School administration implemented integrative health practices as a measured step to educate students on self care and provide them with tools to help themselves in times of crisis and calm.


The program, championed by Justin Mattison, the School Psychologist, and Jessica Buckley, the School Adjustment Counselor, started humbly. After a talk given by our founder, Nada Milosavljevic, at a Harvard Medical School conference, Justin was compelled to implement the practices laid out in her research with a targeted group of students who have found the need for anxiety and stress management. Nada reviewed the protocols with the North Reading High School team and they tailored the program that fit the scope needed to foster success.


Through acupressure, essential oils, yoga poses, and sound therapy, these students have learned how to oversee their health in class and at home. As the program has prospered, students and administrators alike have encouraged the expansion. Leading up to the end of the year, the program originally targeted students who have found the need for anxiety and stress management but was soon expanded to the entire senior class.


Like any new program, funding can be an issue. But, that’s where Sage Tonic wants to help. A portion of our sales go back to schools like North Reading High and we’re committed to education and growth of integrative programs for teens. These young adults are a vulnerable population navigating a host of life challenges. Skills that foster resiliency and long-term wellness are critical tools in the process.


Here are few of the stories from North Reading HIgh School that highlight the importance of access to integrative practices in schools:


“One girl I work with in particular, who has language issues, can’t express herself in any sort of way and was reluctant to do this approach,” said Justin. But, she came up at the end of the program and said, ‘Mr. Mattison, I hope you know this has made a difference for me. I can feel the difference.’ [These results] also showed up in her data, as far as reporting less stress and anxiety.”


The best part about this program? It caters to students who have a diverse set of needs. “What I like is that the kids really have ownership over it. It is very empowering,” says Nada, “They pick which sensory treatment they like best, and they can build it into a personalized program.” Justin followed up saying, “Students are actually using these tools in class, so who knows what we’re preventing because they’re actually using them in the moment and using them as a preventative tool as well.”


This success isn’t only beneficial for the students, but for the staff as well. Jessica highlighted, “We have students now who will say that they just need a break from class and they come into my office, and they will just sit down and use a couple of skills for ten or fifteen minutes and be able to go back. It’s nice because if I’m working with another student who might be in crisis, that other student can identify what they need for themselves and go back to class when they are ready.”


As the program continues to grow, we look forward to following its success. Stay tuned for more stories like this one, spotlighting the importance of integrative practices in our schools.

Nada Milosavljevic
Nada Milosavljevic

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