Beginning in the fall of 2019, Insley C. ’21 and Nathalie M.K. ’21 sought to carve out a space in the Lakeside community to discuss mental health. After many months of work collaborating with the administration and the school counselors, they formed the Mental Health Advocacy Committee. Consisting of a combination of fourteen students and faculty members (three adults and eleven students from all grades), the committee’s goal is to “destigmatize mental health culture on campus” by increasing awareness and normalizing discussion around this topic.
When asked about their motivation behind undertaking this task, both Insley and Nathalie began talking about their own lives and family: “Nathalie and I had been talking about mental health, like mental health experiences in our families, our friends, and ourselves. We decided that there was no real group that was talking about it. There was no centralized group on a topic that was super important to every single person.” So they sought to form one themselves.
After their initial idea, they played around with forming a club, eventually shifting their focus to the models of the Service Committee and Student Government. They wanted to create a group with representatives from all grades and a group where no one person would be responsible for others’ mental health. The committee now works to enact change in the whole Lakeside community, working on multiple projects that they are planning to announce following Winter Break.
In the past year, their goals have ranged from sparking respectful discussion to amending Lakeside’s Wellness curriculum, both at the Upper School and the Middle School. They want to emphasize the importance of being educated and empathetic about mental health to help those in our community. MHAC had also planned a half a day’s worth of activities, including workshops and anonymous testimonies, for Student Sponsored Day (along with the GIVE club) last spring until the event was canceled because of the pandemic. This has also extended to pushing for more workshops that all students can participate in throughout the school year. Now, their group is focused on changing the everyday language that we use, helping students during online learning and the pandemic, and connecting students to counselors.
As Nathalie, Insley, and the committee continue to plan and reach out to the community. They ask that students fill out their surveys and begin to look for more information from them (there is even a website, created by Ethan D. ’22, on the way!).