Starting the conversation about mental health in high school

Crescent Valley

Polly Lisicak, Practicum Contributor

Oregon State Students go to a local High School, Crescent Valley, to discuss mental health with students

Five Oregon State students and their faculty advisor involved with Active Minds, an organization that focuses on changing the conversation about mental health on college campuses, branched out into the community and brought that conversation to local high school students at Crescent Valley High School.

“We were asked by CVHS school counselor who is from trillium family services to come talk to high school juniors and seniors who are learning and aware of mental health and the stigma associated with it.” Said President of Active Minds, Rae Madison.

Crescent Valley’s lunch period began at 11:15 a.m., and so did Active Minds conversation with the students. Active Minds members sat with Crescent Valley’s High School Counselors for the remainder of the lunch period and informing a few high school students, who came in during that time, of what Active Minds is and what they were planning to talk about in the classroom that day.

The session took place during a Personal Relationships class of about 25 students. Rae Madison began the session by giving a presentation on the background and goals of Active Minds and opened up the floor for questions before moving on to more in depth discussion.

“We also had four of our members share their own story about their personal struggles with mental illness or experience with a close friend or relative because we all are affected by mental health.” said Rae. “We informed them about how prevalent mental height is for their specific age group and worked on giving them some ideas and facilitate next steps on how to advocate and create change at their school by interacting with their peers and engaging students in ways that allows them to at least start listening.” Rae continued.

The students of the Personal Relationships class were able to voice their questions, experiences or frustrations they’ve had revolving around mental health. One student speaking up and saying “I think people will try to convince themselves that they’re fine. When the people around you doing the same things as you seem fine, it’s easy to assume that you should be too and that what you’re feeling isn’t a real problem.” Questions and concerns continued from the students.

Active Minds Chapter directly works with OSU’s CAPS, Counseling And Psychological Services. Bonnie Hemrick, Active Minds Faculty Advisor and CAPS Mental Health Promotion Coordinator, says “It’s really important to start the conversation earlier rather than later. Although it’s important to have the conversation in college, mental health starts very young. The earlier we can get that message out, the more we can reduce the stigma and encourage the conversation.” Bonnie says they plan to continue working with the highschool and finding more ways they can be branching out and present in the greater Corvallis Community.

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