Minding Your Mind

%22Minding+your+Mind%22+presentation+to+the+Freshman+and+Sophmores+

"Minding your Mind" presentation to the Freshman and Sophmores

"Minding your Mind" presentation to the Freshman and Sophmores

Amanda Mier, Features Editor

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This fall, the school has brought to the surface many issues regarding mental health at Maggie Walker. September, Suicide Prevention Month, arose with numerous online posts regarding health and safety, including a survey that passed through the grades regarding the “Cult of Perfection” at MLWGS. On Friday, September 30th, assemblies were held with speakers from the “Minding Your Mind” organization, in conjunction with the local Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation, which raises awareness and generates open discourse about teen depression and mental illness. The assemblies were split by grade level; Melissa Rice addressed the ninth and tenth graders, and Jonathan Burgwin addressed the eleventh and twelfth graders.

 

This program, “Minding Your Mind,” is intended to give a face and a personal story to mental illness to help erase the stigma. According to Shannon Colson (’17), president of the Mental Health / Disabilities Awareness Club, “The school counselors decided to bring the assembly to the school as they have become increasingly aware of the need for mindfulness within MLWGS. Mr. Zweerink suggested that the Mental Health and Disability Awareness club become involved in the assembly after meeting with … the program director for [the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation].” Leah Erwin, co-president of the MLWGS Mental Health/Disabilities Awareness Club, indicated that the arrival of this assembly, or any action on the part of administration regarding mental health, was timely: “I think students at our school in particular are pessimistic about how our culture handles mental health…I think it was important to at least bring up the discussion.”

 

"Minding your Mind" presentation to the Juniors and Seniors

“Minding your Mind” presentation to the Juniors and Seniors

As for the discussion itself, expectations and reactions were mixed. Conner Thomas (’19), who saw Melissa speak, expected “…pretty much what we got  – essentially a person explaining what they went through and how to avoid it, with a slightly uplifting ending.” Said Kate Seltzer, (’17), “I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I guess I was hoping for an in-depth discussion about factors of mental illness and where people could turn if they needed help.” Seltzer, a senior who saw Jon speak, appreciated his story of depression, anxiety, drug/alcohol usage, and finally wellness, but “I would’ve liked that story to segue more into specifics of getting help. It was a good starting point, but it was a little too specific [to his personal story] to facilitate real change.” However, overall most students valued the new perspective. As Colson put it, “It’s one thing to hear counselors stressing the importance of getting help or talking to someone, but I think the speaker resonated more with people who are going through the same thing and are experiencing similar feelings.”

 

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