Mental Health Awareness Club gains exposure

Participants in the Mental Health Awareness training hold up certificates of completion.

Credit: Anna Gutman

Participants in the Mental Health Awareness training hold up certificates of completion.

Ourania Alexopoulos, Staff Writer

The contents necessary to start a club at Loy Norrix High School are one supervisor, one student and one idea. Essentially, anyone can start a club, as long as they have these three requirements. 

The Mental Health Awareness Club, or MHAC, began with 2019 Loy Norrix graduate, Isaiah Hobson. Following his desire to start the project, he worked hand-in-hand with psychology teacher Rebecca Layton to recruit members they believed would contribute.

Class of 2019 showed initiative to get this idea off the ground,” said the club supervisor, Anna Gutman, a teacher here at the high school, “I think it is so important that we are able to talk openly about mental health as a school community. When we’re afraid to speak, the stigma only builds.”

Seniors Emma Hilgart-Griff, Willa Kuttner, and Rowan Armour were some of the first members in the club and have continued to help it thrive beyond Hobson’s leave.

“Initially, our goal was to reduce the stigma against mental illness in Loy Norrix and collect a bunch of resources for teens,” Hilgart-Griff said, “[we] also went and got certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid.”

Although the certificate is not a requirement of the club members, it helps to represent the seriousness and dedication of its members. 

MHAC is set to meet every other week. Some of the main goals stated by its current members are to address the stigma, provide adequate information on mental health around the school, and give students access to useful resources.

As a community, we need to recognize that mental health conversations deserve as much attention as conversations about academics or our physical well-being,” said Ms. Gutman.

Suicide prevention is also an important matter discussed amongst the group. Following the passing of former student, Eli Verne, to suicide last September, Armour found reaching out to this club beneficial to her grieving.

“At the time, I needed an outlet and a way to cope with Eli’s death,” Armour stated, “and that led to the MHAC.”

Hilgart-Griff finished with, “This year we want to expand and bring in more members. Fifteen students will be chosen to get their own certification in Youth Mental Health First Aid.”