By Emma Shoemaker, Clarion Staff
The past year at Kennedy High School, many Seniors have been working on Civic Empowerment Projects, also known as CEPs. This includes Seniors forming small groups within their classes working alongside other Seniors that aspire to make a difference in the world with a similar focus. The CEPs range from helping to decrease the homeless population in Sacramento to protesting against Police Brutality. In Mr. Williams fourth period, our group partnered with a group in William’s sixth period to place a focus on raising awareness for mental health and to increase the resources regarding mental health that are available within Kennedy.
According to an article by Mental Health First Aid, within the US, just 41 percent of people who had a mental disorder in the past year sought professional help or care. Many students may not realize that the counselors on Kennedy’s campus are not only on campus to assist with class adjustments, but are here to talk to students about more serious matters as well, such as mental health issues. The counselors can help students with problems they are facing within their life and do what they can to assist the students or refer them to a counselor or therapist that would be a good fit for a specific student. Also, Kennedy offers access to an educational psychologist for academic issues that students may be facing.
The majority of students at Kennedy do not have access to mental health resources and many lack awareness of mental health issues and mental health education. Although Kennedy does not have enforced mental health education, there are a variety of resources on campus that students can take advantage of. This year, another CEP group organized a presentation of the organization NAMI which spreads mental health awareness. A representative from NAMI came to Kennedy to speak on mental health issues and to spread mental health education to Kennedy Students.
Many Students do not have the appropriate amount of mental health education to know when it is time to seek professional help or may be worried about a friend or a loved one that may need such assistance. This may affect attention in school, the quality of schoolwork, along with a student’s overall demeanor within school. Within our CEP group, we spread flyers around Kennedy’s campus providing various mental health hotlines and resources that students can utilize in the event of a crisis or if an individual or student is worried about their personal mental health or the mental health of a loved one.
In the near future, the mental health CEP groups hope that Kennedy will have mandatory mental health education for a day or two each year for all students on campus. This would allow for students to better understand the emotions they are feeling and to know if it is time to get assistance from a professional. In the meantime, Kennedy students should do their best to spread awareness of mental health issues within Kennedy’s campus and to their loved ones.