Photo by Tucker Judkins
Online Managing Editor
The SPHS Peer Mediators hosted a mental health awareness assembly and closure night on Friday, October 28th. Nonprofit organization Active Minds collaborated with the mediators to introduce renowned speaker Dave Romano and the Send Silence Packing display.
Peer mediators started at 7:30 am Friday morning to distribute backpacks across campus and set up Active Minds booths. Each backpack represented the life of a college or high school student who had committed suicide and was provided by Active Minds for the campus-wide display of Send Silence Packing. The entire display of 1100 backpacks and Active Minds informational booths was paid for by a grant from the Matthew Silverman Foundation.
“Our goal is to open up the conversation about mental health, that seeking help is not a weakness but a strength,” Active Minds road staffer Samantha Greenhalgh said. “The display here today is really just a visual representation of students to get everyone talking.”
During the assembly, Romano, an Active Minds mental health advocate, shared his personal story. A popular athlete, Romano struggled with his self-worth and was diagnosed with depression in high school. With the help of his parents and school community, he found coping tools to focus on self-healing. Now Romano shares his experience with other students and is committed to starting conversations about mental health in schools.
During lunch, the Peer Mediators encouraged students to visit CC1 to discuss topics that were covered in the assembly. Counselors and Active Mind representatives were also available to answer any questions.
The events and activities of the day were later reviewed during a Closure Night in the counseling center. Mediators began with a game of giant Jenga to break the ice between attendees then proceeded to an open discussion and reflection on mental health.
“We heard both positive and negative responses to the assembly and display,” SPHS Mediators founder Will Hoadley-Brill said. “In [our] eyes, it was a successful day since people were discussing the issues and were having a dialogue about mental health.”