Mental Health Awareness
The grade 12 Girls’ Healthy Active Living Education class organized a Mental Health Awareness Week at Hamilton District Christian High.
What started out as an idea was made possible by a generous grant they received from the Suicide Prevention Community Council of Hamilton (SPCCH). Many students in the class had personal connections to mental health, and it stirred a passion in their hearts to follow through with this project. Their goal was to use the money to make mental health an important conversation in our school.
Many class periods were spent in the computer lab brainstorming ideas for activities that were attainable based on available resources, and that would be the most beneficial to our school community.
Their vision was to create a spirit of togetherness while keeping the momentum going after the week was over. Using the hashtag #HDLetsTalk, students hoped that their initiative would engage a wider audience.
“Too often, people think their mental illness is something to be ashamed of. We need to create conversations about these issues so that people aren’t suffering in silence. Our goal for this week was to open the doors of acceptance in our school and generate a safe and supportive place for people to be themselves.” Meghan VanDyk, grade 11 student
At the start of the week, students led seminars about depression, anxiety, eating disorders, peer pressure, and body image for grade nine classrooms. The goal was to inform and educate students about various mental health issues. The grade 9 students were very responsive to the topics and actively engaged in discussion. The grade 12 class also distributed healthy snacks during lunch, handed out awareness bracelets and organized a dress-down day with money raised going back to the SPCCH.
Their most successful event was during the Wednesday lunch hour of that week when volunteers from St. John Ambulance came to HDCH with Therapy Dogs. The purpose of inviting the Therapy Dogs was to help relieve stress, increase social engagement, and bring a little bit of joy to our campus.
Standing back and watching students connect with each other over their love of animals was a really incredible thing to witness!
“We received an outpouring of support from parents and the community, who helped spread the word about our initiative at HDCH. It was amazing to see friends, family, and total strangers come together to raise awareness about this important cause.” Meghan VanDyk
Let’s keep the conversation going!