Walk out brings attention to mental health issues

 

The Active Minds group wrote on stones for the walk out on May 23 and junior Leah Funk shared her experience with mental illness with all who participated.

Active Minds organized a walkout on May 23 at 11:17 a.m. to bring awareness to the rising mental health issues amongst teens around the globe. 

“Active Minds is a representation of how our community views mental health and shows the steps we are taking toward bettering the school environment. We want to continue the national conversation in our specific area to become a part of a bigger movement of people taking action to support and promote better mental health for all,” junior Sofia Muñoz, a member of the Active Minds club, said. 

Throughout the event, students were handed stickers, mental health awareness pins, card holders and handbooks including information about mental health awareness with numbers for hotlines, symptoms of a person who might be suffering a mental illness, how to approach a person who is suffering from a mental illness and more. “The walk was meant to be a kick off for the group and give people the opportunity to see who else shares their connection and passion in mental health awareness. It is also to show the the whole student body that there are supporters among them if anyone ever feels alone or isolated,” Muñoz said.

Alongside approximately 70 students, the event featured messages from Emily Conrad from Black Hawk County Mental Health, a representative from the UNI chapter of Active Minds, and junior Leah Funk. They encouraged the community to be more aware of the personal struggles or those of people around them.

Having been hospitalized a few times due to her mental struggles, Funk told her story and reminded those at the event of the importance of talking openly about mental health. “Speaking in front of the crowd was actually a pretty terrifying but at the same time a very relieving experience. I was really scared that people would look at me differently or people would react in a way that would cause me to be afraid of speaking out more. But also it felt like a breath of fresh air because I could finally get the word out there and say, ‘Hey, I’m struggling, and that’s OK.’ peaking about my illness and the walk as a whole made me really hopeful that more people would reach out for help,” Funk said. 

The walkout was a first for the high school. “I personally really hope that we are getting closer to breaking the stigma of mental health. I felt so much support from the people at the walkout, and I am really grateful for that,” Funk said.

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