St. Mary’s students observe Mental Health Week

Deb Moldaschel
St. Mary's High School students are pictured during Mental Health Week, on purple day (in recognition of eating disorders) from left: Sydney, Jacob, Emily (Student Council President), Mckenna, and Megan.

The Student Council at St. Mary’s High School wanted to plan a Mental Health Week observance last school year, but according to Emily Weiss, Student Council President, they couldn’t figure out when and how they wanted to do it. Because they were not busy making plans for Homecoming early this fall, it seemed like the perfect time to put a plan together. A plan they carried out for Middle and High School students (grades 6-12) in school last week.

“We know that mental health is a very big deal, especially for teenagers,” said Weiss. “We wanted to bring awareness to it and let students know what mental health is and how to deal with different mental health issues. The pandemic is also affecting many people's mental health.”

High School Counselor Ann Christensen said the Student Council did a fabulous job providing awareness to students, staff, and administration, during Mental Health Week. “Posters and mental health facts were placed around the school to provide awareness,” she said. Students dressed in certain colors to represent five different mental health topics. The Student Council chose topics they thought would be most impactful and teachers discussed topics with students in their classrooms and told powerful personal stories.”

“Besides dressing in the colors, we were planning to have speakers come in,” said Weiss. “But with COVID-19 going on, we didn’t want to bring anyone into the building.”

Weiss and Christensen said it is very important to continue discussing mental health in homes and schools. They acknowledged mental health is often a hard topic for people to talk about and it is important to remember there are people you can talk to who are trained to help.

Weiss said to provide information on mental health, each day an introduction was read to let people know about the different conditions, a definition was given along with signs/symptoms to recognize, treatment and resources, and a Bible verse was read to provide encouragement. “And, our counselor, Mrs. Christensen, spoke at our weekly prayer service on Friday,” she said.

The dress up day themes and colors for the week were: Monday - green for depression; Tuesday - purple for eating disorders; Wednesday - yellow for suicide; Thursday - orange for ADHD; and Friday - blue for anxiety.

“One of the goals for this week was to provide hope and support to our students,” said Christensen. “We have to remember we are all going through a lot of changes right now related to COVID-19 and we need to take care of ourselves and each other. Not only is St. Mary’s a school, we are a family where we need to always show each other love and support.”

Christensen said Weiss was instrumental in planning the event. “We spoke multiple times a day to make sure everything was ready to implement,” she said. “Emily provided information daily for me to share with the students that she felt would be important for them to hear from a student’s perspective.”