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North Vigo club working to end stigma of stress, mental health issues
Tribune-Star - 9/16/2022
Sep. 16—Sixteen Terre Haute North Vigo High School students went for a walk after school Thursday, making their way along a path that went through a wooded area of the campus.
They chatted, encouraged cross country runners and enjoyed the sunny and warm late-summer weather.
The group was taking a mental health walk, something they hope to do at least monthly as part of the school's Bring Change to Mind Club (BC2M), now in its second year. The North club is part of a national organization.
Sadie Osburn, club secretary and North junior, said the goal of the walk was for students to take their minds off any stress in their lives and to focus on being happier.
Club members hope to show other students it's okay to have mental health issues and to struggle with stress. The group wants other students to know, "We're here for you. If you need us, we're here," Osburn said.
Taylin Johnson, North student and the group's treasurer, also believes having the club is important to bring awareness to mental health. "It's like a big thing for me because a lot of people I know have mental health issues." One of her friends died by suicide in late 2020.
"It's important to let people know they are not alone," Johnson said.
Actress and activist Glenn Close co-founded the national, nonprofit organization Bring Change to Mind in 2010 after her sister, Jessie Close, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and her nephew, Calen Pick, with schizoaffective disorder.
BC2M is dedicated to encouraging dialogue about mental health and to raising awareness, understanding and empathy, according to its website.
The goal "is to break the stigma of mental health and promote a positive mindset about mental health," said Amanda Higgins, English teacher and club co-sponsor along with Valeri Kershaw.
In addition to regular meetings, the students are being asked to participate in at least three after-school events and one community event each semester. "We want them to be positive role models for mental health," Higgins said.
Kershaw, also an English teacher, believes it's an important group to have in a high school "because more and more, kids are stressed out between still dealing with the pandemic, workload of high school and navigating everyday life. I think the club will be a great benefit for kids to watch out for one another and learn how to keep track of their own mental health."
The group started off small last year, but this year, Higgins anticipates at least 50 members and she hopes to see a diverse group of students involved.
North's club also has some grant money and other resources that will enable it to do more activities this year.
According to Kershaw, the club "is an encouraging group as well. They do a great job peppering the school with uplifting signs, stickers, etc. The club seeks to empower teens with good examples of mental health: admitting when they need help and encouraging those who seem down to seek help or to use mental wellness strategies."
Last school year, the club participated in a BC2M Indiana summit at the Indianapolis Colts Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center and it will participate in another summit this fall. Last year's event included speakers, breakout sessions, therapy dogs and stress-relieving activities.
The North club also will have speakers, which last year included Mark and Tiffany Baker as well as Christina Crist of Team of Mercy.
It hopes to have more QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) suicide prevention training session offered by Team of Mercy; some members were trained last year.
The North group also hopes to collaborate with other local high schools that have or are starting BC2M clubs.
The group receives $500 in funding each year from the national BC2M organization, and it also will receive grant funding this year from the Vigo County School Corp. Project Aware program.
Each member also receives a free subscription to Headspace, a meditation app.
Among the reasons students may be having mental health issues is the pressure they put on themselves to excel and be perfect, Osburn said.
Johnson believes social media has a huge impact on mental health. "There's more options to bully people," she said.
Other walkers Thursday included senior Noah McCullough and junior Grant Brownfield.
McCullough said he wanted to be part of BC2M because "mental health is a big thing for me. I like making people's day better and checking on them," he said. "I'm not the best at checking in on people so I'd like to get better at that."
For more information on Bring Change to Mind, go to: https://bringchange2mind.org/amplify-change/.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue.
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