(Illustration by Saulal Albert)
Orange County School of the Arts

The emerging importance of mental health clubs in high schools

Mental health has become a prominent topic nowadays, especially mental health revolving around teenagers. It is important that teenagers who suffer from mental health issues address their mental health in a safe way and with others they feel comfortable around.

I reached out to one of OCSA’s mental health clubs and interviewed them about mental health and how their club provides a safe environment for teens with mental health issues. Rosiana Falzon is a senior at OCSA who is the founder of her club, “Mental Wellness.”

 

What’s the name of your club and what’s the meaning behind the name?

Falzon: Mental Wellness Club. We wanted our club to be about overall mental wellness and mental health.

 

What is the general premises of your club?

Falzon: Our goal is to provide a safe and all-inclusive space for OCSA students to discuss issues concerning mental health.

 

What sets your club apart from other mental health clubs?

Falzon: While we are informative, we are largely discussion based and we talk about our lives and our experiences with mental illness. We also read recent articles about mental wellness in the world and in different cultures, discuss stigma, and mental health in health care systems. We try our best to be all-encompassing.

 

What do you hope to accomplish with your club?

Falzon: Our number one goal was raising awareness to OCSA students about mental health, which with all the pressure of OCSA we think is very important

Raising awareness through the people who come to our club or even know about our club will hopefully let people know that it’s okay and important to talk about mental health, and that it’s something that’s important to everyone, hopefully decreasing some of the stigma at OCSA about mental illness

 

Do you offer advice to others? If so, what kind of advice?

Falzon: When people ask for advice, we offer it as best as we can. For example, we’ve discussed broaching the topic of mental illness to friends, codependency, managing stress, etc.

 

What, in your opinion, is the most overlooked aspect of mental health?

Falzon: Other than mental health itself, most likely its prevalence.

 

What is a common misconception of mental health?

Falzon: People with mental illness are crazy, only adults, always violent, are weak or stupid, or are rare — all of which is false.

 

Why do you think people are afraid to speak up about their mental health issues?

Falzon: I actually wrote a research article on this.

“The main barriers to the mentally ill seeking treatment are economic, physical, stigma surrounding mental illness, and most importantly, lack of education and awareness,” was my thesis.

As to being “afraid” to speak up, stigma and accessibility are the main big ones. Even if you speak up, you might not be accepted if the people in your life aren’t educated about mental illness. Even if you speak up, you might not be able to afford treatment or have access to treatment depending where you live. So why speak up at all? And then there’s the issue of how do you know when to speak up? How are you supposed to speak up when you don’t really know what mental illness is and can’t recognize the signs in yourself?

 

Why is it important to have mental health clubs at high schools?

Falzon: It’s important to have mental health clubs at high schools because as child mental illness becomes increasingly prevalent, and as our education system continues to barely cover mental illness, high school students have to learn to educate themselves. By the time I learned about anxiety and depression, let alone Major Depressive Disorder, I was already drowning in it, and finding out that what happened to me could happen (and likely has already happened) to so many people gave me the impetus to start this club. Educating people about mental illness, teaching people to recognize the signs in themselves and in others, and letting people know about the resources which are available to them will give them the power to help themselves or others who may be struggling.

So the next time you’re considering creating a club, why not make a mental health club?

 


 

If you are experiencing a medical or psychiatric emergency, are in danger, or are feeling suicidal, call 911 immediately.

Suicide Hotline: 800-784-2433
Immediate Medical Assistance: 911
Crisis Call Center: 800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863
Crisis Text Line (U.S. only): Text HELLO to 741741
Youthspace Text Line (across Canada): Text 778-783-0177 from 6 p.m. to midnight daily.

The Trevor Project (24/7 Hotline for LGBTQ Teens): 1-866-488-7386

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