Mental Health Awareness Week at Downey High School

Katherine Portillo, Photographer

The week of March 9-13, Downey High School will be hosting its first ever Mental Health Awareness Week. The main idea of this week is explaining mental health and why it is ok to talk about it, along with demonstrating coping skills. During the week, student generated videos will be displayed as well as announcements. This event is being put together by the students and headed by, senior, Sade Neri.


This week at Downey High School will focus on specific topics each day of the week. Monday will be an introduction to mental health as a whole, while Tuesday will be focused on anxiety disorder. On Wednesday, the day will be dedicated to eating disorders and Thurday will be all about the ideation of teen suicide. Finally, Friday will focus on gratefulness and mindfulness. 


Along with these topics, the school will host activities such as an art and writing workshop and music therapy, on these days in correspondence with the topic. These activities will allow students to explore different coping mechanisms along with learning more about this growing topic of mental health.


Friday, an all grade assembly will be hosted by Sade Neri. This assembly will be a student run assembly, including speeches from students addressing their views on mental health and their personal stories involving the topic. Along with speeches, there will be multiple presentations and videos in regard to this matter.


Bringing awareness about mental health to students in high school is important due to kids being at a crucial time in their life. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth in the U.S. According to Mental Health First Aid USA, half of mental disorders and illnesses begin by age 14. Only 41% of the people experiencing this will seek help. 


The hope for this week is to try to ensure those suffering from this research, that there is hope and there are people who truly care. It is also meant to teach the students a few coping mechanisms to help. Research shows the number one person a teenager wants to talk to in times of crisis is another teenager. Sade Neri, a student at Downey high and mental health activist is doing everything she can to help release the current stigma around the topic.


In addition to initiating the Downey High School Mental Health Awareness Week, Neri has also proposed Bill-AB2221 which would require a school district that maintains any grade 9-12 to establish a peer support training program at each school site.  It would also provide needed support to high school students by increasing mental health and peer support services on campuses and be administered by school psychologists, counselors, or other qualified administrators. This bill was the second winner of the There Ought to Be a Law contest.