Is Montgomery County doing enough to highlight the importance of mental health issues?

Andrea Anaya, Reporter

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The Board of Education announced that this past October would be MCPS’ Mental Health and Wellness Awareness Month. Throughout the month, high schools across the county conducted activities during the school day to educate students about healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with stress and other mental health problems. MCPS has made it their mission this year to emphasize the importance of student mental health and to diminish the stigma around it.

This past weekend, I participated in a mental health and wellness panel alongside students from across the county as well as counselors and psychologists. Although I was pleasantly surprised to hear about the many resources other schools had access to, I was also at a loss for words over what to say for Kennedy’s efforts to prioritize mental health awareness and destigmatization I was left with the question: are we doing enough as a school?

The county has suggested that changing the demographics of counselors will increase the likelihood for students to reach out for help. Currently, Hispanics/Latinos and Black/African-Americans make up 60.6% of the county’s population. Essentially, hiring a more diverse faculty offers students the option to speak with counselors that come from a similar background. However, I think that has very little to do with it.

The change of attitude towards mental health starts with us as a whole school. Useful mental health tips are not reaching students and flyers on the walls are not reaching students; a step in the right direction is having meaningful conversations with peers, family members, and counselors about mental health.

In regards to what is next, Kennedy sophomore Ingris Mendoza suggests that “having a place where students can go and get some quiet time or having a counselor available at least once a week so they can hear about what we have going on will help.” Students want to talk about their problems, and I think that combating poor mental health is a matter of whether adults are genuinely willing to listen and provide us with consistent and useful feedback.

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Is Montgomery County doing enough to highlight the importance of mental health issues?