A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Parkdale tackles mental health together

On May 3rd, Parkdale held a Mental Health Awareness program where students gathered ainthe gymnasium to talk about how they feel and think in a safe environment without judgement.  

According to World Health Organization Globally, depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents. Mental health can affect the human body mentally and physically, and this event aimed at avoiding or repairing these issues.

Among a number of guest speakers was Shannon Nash, a survivor of sex trafficking, who spoke of her battles with  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in hopes of preventing others from falling victim.

“I hope students understand that they have the ability to prevent this from happening,” Nash advised. “That they have the mental capacity to be aware of their surroundings to have positive self esteem to have positive and good mental health so they can make better choices.”

She advised students to have positive thinking, to write in a journal and to confide in trusted people to get help.

The assembly also had many stations aimed at helping students identify warning signs and fight against mental illness. One station in particular,  Stress Relievers 101, featured a the speaker who taught students many techniques to help ease their minds, including exercising or the ABC technique, which stands for…  Even before the stations started, a zumba class was held to help students feel more relaxed.

Assemblies like this are used to inform students about the resources they have to help them.It also helps students feel support from peers and teachers.

The assembly helped me be able to vocalize the way I felt better,” said a Parkdale junior who attended the event but wishes to remain anonymous. “Even though I still struggled a bit to do so but it has certainly improved.”

 Historically, mental health has been kept hidden because many people were afraid of what others would think and how it could affect people’s opinions of and reactions towards them.  However, as society progresses, the stigma of mental health is lessening.

“People have the misconception that if you have a mental health issue that you are automatically crazy or psycho,” said another speaker Ms. Sandra Powell, Parkdale’s Parent Engagement and Community Liaison. “But now people are being more open about it and they have more information.”

Although only roughly 80 students attended the event, there are multiple 24-hour resources that can be used for anyone struggling with their mental health.  

For more information If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 800-422-0009 or text TEEN to 839863.