Meridian’s new mental health advocacy club

Members of the Mental Health Advocacy Club placed flyers throughout the school to inform the student body of their presence.

Arwen Baker

Members of the Mental Health Advocacy Club placed flyers throughout the school to inform the student body of their presence.

At the closing of the first semester, Meridian’s fourth hour English III honors class had a project to create change. Their goal: establish a mental health group.  The students planned out how they would execute their ideas with tons of research and evidence. The students ended up creating Meridian’s very own Mental Health Advocacy Club.

“It [mental health club] was something that they were already considering,” said Christina Wherley, the teacher for English III honors. “The students are really passionate about it.”

The students in the group have tons of plans for the school to promote mental health awareness. Some students feel not many people truly understand the toll that school can have on their mental health. The Mental Health Advocacy Club hopes to bring awareness to students’ mental health.

“There’s a really big stigma around mental health and what people think it actually is,” says Zoey Hayes, leader of the club. “People have a really big misconception of that, they don’t think it’s as big of a problem as it is.”

Hayes feels that more people need to come together and push for mental health awareness. The group had a meeting on Jan. 16, where they discussed what advocacy is and how to bring awareness to mental health issues. They discussed what they can do to accomplish a few of their main goals.

“Right now our mental health club is focusing on getting a room that kids can go to whenever they feel stressed or can’t really handle the day,” says Crystal Sheumaker, a member of the club.

Sheumaker has always been a strong believer in mental health issues and is familiar with the struggles lots of people go through in today’s society. She feels that having any sort of mental issue or disorder is a completely normal thing for students and adults alike, and more people need to speak out on the issue. Sheumaker has many ideas of what should be put in place to educate students on mental health and to help them with their mental health throughout the school day.

“We’re thinking about getting peer counseling, getting someone who’s trained to help walk through some of our peers’ problems that they’re facing,” said Sheumaker. “We’ve been planning on setting up things where we can teach coping mechanisms and skills to help with mental health issues for friends, family, and even yourself. This is a big issue, especially in today’s society and it needs to be focused on, especially for young adults.”

Many members of the club feel that this group will have a huge impact on our student body. Members like Sheumaker and Hayes feel that a lot of people are struggling and that it’s time to stop ignoring it.

“I feel like there are already a lot of people that have an open mind about it,” said Hayes. “It’s just them taking that next step up and attending the meetings and take that extra step to go farther than what they think they should. Right now we don’t have the resources, so the purpose of the Mental Health Advocacy Club is to fundraise and to get to our ultimate goal of providing better resources to people that don’t have them.”