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The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

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Mental health fair raises awareness

MENTAL+HEALTH+MATTERS+-+The+Jackson-Reed+Mental+Health+Department+organized+a+fair+in+honor+of+Mental+Health+Awareness+Month%2C+with+various+informational+activities.
Edith Corrigan Conaty
MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS – The Jackson-Reed Mental Health Department organized a fair in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, with various informational activities.

On May 29, the Jackson-Reed School Wellness team hosted a fair in the atrium at lunch in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month. There were information tables, posters, activities, and resources available for students to get engaged. 

Since January, the team has consistently set up a bi-weekly table in the atrium at lunch. The tables correlated with each month’s specific mental health awareness topic, such as alcohol awareness in April where they had students try on “drunk goggles” to understand the impairment that alcohol causes. For self-harm awareness month in March, the team provided self-care tools, such as stress balls and aromatherapy, and discussed data regarding self-harm. 

Behavioral Health Coordinator Lacey Maddrey stated that the goal of the tables was to “let students know who [the team is], what services are available to them, and how they can access them.”

In May, the team transitioned to weekly tables that culminated in the end-of-month fair on May 29.

The Ruling Our eXperiences (ROX) club created various posters for the fair to empower girls. “We wanted to portray anything that has to do with mental health, so we put posters up about body positivity, body image, how to cope with stress, and healthy relationships,” said freshman member of the ROX club Sofia Bautista. 

9th-grade counselor and ROX leader Chandini Gupta emphasized that promoting mental health for girls is extremely important. “Data shows that self-esteem and confidence drop significantly in middle school and high school. It’s important for students to have mentors,” she said.

The ROX club also painted a banner for a bilingual table at the fair, “so that the Latino community knows what this month is about,” said bilingual social worker Luis Morales. 

Other tables at the fair promoted various aspects of mental health. One focused on mindfulness, where students were given a piece of chocolate and were asked to close their eyes and pay attention to the various notes and flavors of the candy. A drawing table contained coloring papers to introduce relaxation techniques, and a staff resource table provided therapy resources and self-care ideas for educators. 9th-grade social worker Tina Johnson highlighted that “mental health is something that anyone can implement, whether it’s a student or adult within the building.”

The mental health department at JR collaborated with Live Long DC, a DC nonprofit that addresses the opioid epidemic, at the event. The nonprofit’s table had informational pamphlets, wristbands, and pop-its. “What we’re promoting is wellness, healthy neighborhoods, and healthy lives,” said one of Live Long DC’s community mobilizers, Jimmie Hamilton. 

Throughout all of the tables, students were given ice cream if they could relay a fact they learned. Along with the ice cream, freshman Clover McCrary explains that she was motivated to visit the fair to “learn about what I can do to check in on people.” 

Next year, the School Wellness team plans to continue bi-weekly tables, as well as send out mental health facts in the daily announcements, in hopes of engaging more students and letting them know that they are supported.

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Edith Corrigan Conaty
Edith Corrigan Conaty, Managing Editor
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