By: Zoie Olsen
As the New Year starts, it is important that you take your mental health seriously and find ways to improve your mental health. Mental Health Awareness Month, also referred to as “Mental Health Month” has been observed in May in the United States since 1949, reaching millions of people in the United States through media, local events, and screenings. Mental Health Awareness is represented by a lime green ribbon. The color is also used for childhood depression, mental illness, and mood disorders. Some counties decorate streets, houses, and local businesses in May with green ribbons to show awareness.
Mental health is a broad term that includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood to adolescence, all the way through adulthood. Being aware and sensitive to mental health is important for many reasons. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five Americans have a mental illness. So, if you or a family member are suffering from mental illness, you can see that it is an extremely common issue.
As a part of the school district’s initiative to build awareness, the Warren County School District will be holding a competition throughout the month of February to help spread awareness of mental health.
The Squire sat down with Eisenhower’s Assistant Principal, Mrs. Sobkowski, to get an inside scoop on the competition. The guidelines for the competition state that high school students can design posters and the winning students’ poster will be turned into a full size billboard that will be displayed around Warren County. Middle school students will have the opportunity to design mini posters and the winning poster will actually be turned into a larger poster and hung all around the school of the winning student. For judging purposes, all entries need to be submitted to the principal by February 28. Mrs. McElhaney and students are going to create an online survey for students to vote on which submission they feel is the best. The winning billboards will be sent to Mrs. Kari Swanson, M.A. CPRP, who is the Director of Psych Rehab and Blended Cases at Beacon Light, and made into five billboards stationed around Warren County. In addition, Mrs. Sobkowski will buy donuts for the Middle School and High School winner(s) at Eisenhower.
When asked how she thought the school district and community could benefit from this contest, she explained that Mental Health Awareness is essential with today’s students, as many suffer from anxiety and depression as well as other mental health disorders. It is important for students to feel comfortable asking for help and referring friends for help before things get too difficult to manage. Mrs. Sobkowski would like all students to know that they can always go to the school counseling office to see Mrs. Golab if they feel as if they are in need of assistance. Students can also refer friends to the Student Assistance Program (SAP). There are SAP folders in all classrooms, which allow students to begin the process by filling out the form and turning it in to the guidance office. There is also the “SAFE 2 Say” app, where students can anonymously report concerns. Mrs. Sobkowski was a counselor at WAHS for 19 years, so she is a great resource to also help if a student would like to speak to her.
The Squire would like to thank Mrs. Sobkowski for giving us more information about the competition. For more updates on the Mental Health Awareness poster and billboard competition, listen to announcements during advisory, and watch the W-IKE News Show on Fridays.