By Abigail Marshall
May is the established National Mental Health Month, and this year the Mental Health club at Richview, run by Ms. Dougherty, arranged an assembly in honour of it. The assembly took place at 11:15 on Thursday, May 6th. The goal of the assembly was to bring attention to mental health and provide healthy ways to cope for those struggling with mental illness.
Though the assembly was streamed through Zoom, there was lots of participation from the audience. Questions were asked, polls were taken, and more than one person participated. Given that it was a school assembly, I assumed no one wanted to be there at all, let alone actively participate, but I was proven wrong when a poll was linked and there was real participation.
The assembly was kicked off by a video of the members of the Mental Health club speaking about the club itself. What they do, past events, and why you should join. This year, the Mental Health club invited Youth Speaks to join our assembly and speak on the difficult subject that is mental health. Guest speakers Michael Aretusi and Lolita Richards spoke on their personal histories with mental illness and ways they coped. They spoke about where their struggles began, who helped them, and strategies they used to help themselves get through it.
The stories that were told were emotional and thought-provoking. Michael talked about his struggle with depression and how hard it is to want to actually help yourself get better when struggling with a mental illness. Lolita spoke about unhealthy coping mechanisms, which lead to trouble with anger management and anxiety. I think these stories were hard to listen to, but good to hear. It’s important for people going through the same kind of struggles to know they aren’t alone, and for people who have never struggled with this kind of thing, to realize that there are people who have.
In between these stories being told, the speakers talked about healthy coping mechanisms to use both in the midst of a crisis and to improve your mental health in general. These tips included implementing structure and routine into your life when you feel out of control, using grounding strategies when experiencing anxiety, and saying positive affirmations to yourself every morning.
At the end of their presentation, the floor was opened up for questions from the audience. Lots of people asked hard hitting questions, like what to do when you lose motivation for school even though you always get good grades, and how to help someone who’s thinking about self-harm. Most of the questions were given great answers, but the overwhelming response to all of the questions was to simply reach out for help. Whether it be professional or just texting Kids Help Phone, getting help can never hurt.
The assembly was concluded with resources given by the speakers, and a member of the Mental Health club saying their thanks to Youth Speaks and the attendees. The assembly was well put together, well organized, and ran very smoothly. Remember that the Mental Health club will be holding more events throughout the month, like Kahoots and Instagram challenges to bring awareness to mental health and resources are always available to students should you need them.