Villa Maria students focused on positive mental coping skills during a talk given by Kristen, a student speaker from Minding Your Mind. The speaker told the girls about her own struggles with mental health, both in her family members and herself, and shared her efforts to gain understanding and healing.
Minding Your Mind is a nonprofit that works to end the stigma associated with mental health issues, moving away from a crisis-based response to prevention through education. Kristen, who did not use her last name, presents her talk as part of the organization’s Young Speaker series.
The speaker urged the girls to practice positive coping skills in much the same way they would practice a sport or musical instrument. She encouraged them to have “difficult conversations,” and recounted how she worked with many therapists before finding the one that she was able to work with and trust.
Villa Maria students are also taking mental health initiatives on their own, forming a new school club called Villa’s Minds Matter. The club is a student-led organization designed to provide adolescents with mental health education, resources and support.
“Our goal is to empower students to educate one another, and their communities, and to create a culture of peer support within their schools,” says club president Ella Fratamico. “The club is open to all students: those with mental health conditions, those with a family member or friend with a condition, or students who are interested and want to know more about mental health in general.”
Club officers — presidents Ella Fratamico and Rachel Watmuff, vice president Ella Dudley, secretary Julia Fratamico, and group moderator Mrs. Hashagen — plan to have activities that will enhance awareness about mental health and create a supportive environment around school, as well as provide an environment for students to relax.
They hope to reduce the stigma of mental health issues on campus through peer-led educational activities and a support group. They will also help members of the school recognize early signs of mental illness.