Throughout my time in high school, I have learned that mental health is not a goal, object, or buzzword but rather an active practice. Taking care of your mental well-being requires self-awareness, patience, and reflection. It may sound daunting, but there are plenty of tools that can help.  

Our generation has been faced with extreme challenges to our general mental health—for example, Covid-19. During the pandemic, the majority of us found ourselves isolated from our friends and family, spending unprecedented amounts of time locked inside by ourselves. Without our support systems, many people (especially kids and teens) experienced depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. As a result, many teens’ mental health never fully recovered.  

Thankfully, in today’s day and age, we have more access to mental health resources and less stigma than ever around mental health challenges. That’s not to say conversations about mental health aren’t still stigmatized. But we now have more access to support.  

Coming out of the pandemic, I saw the toll that it had taken on not only myself but on my peers and friends as well. Upon this realization, I decided that not only did I want to arm myself with as much knowledge as possible about taking care of my mental health, but I also wanted to help others. That’s when I began to volunteer at Teen Line.  

Teen Line is a peer-to-peer crisis hotline, meaning anyone under the age of 20 can call in and receive mental health support from someone close to their own age. At Teen Line, a person can call in with virtually any issue and receive help from a teen trained in mental health topics from breakups and bullying to suicide and child abuse. While volunteering at Teen Line, I talked to so many people from a diverse set of backgrounds and experiences, and I soon realized that the mental health epidemic facing our generation was worse than I thought. 

So, I decided to apply to be a co-facilitator of NASSP’s Student Leadership Network on Mental Health. As co-facilitators, we compile resources and give presentations on mental health topics such as school stress. The network is accessible to any NHS or National Student Council member to join, discuss mental health concerns, and hopefully take away some good strategies and resources that help us manage our mental health.

This network is dedicated to open conversations, with students from across the country (and around the globe) sharing their own perspectives while also learning about mental health and self-care. Conversations such as these are vital to the maintenance of our mental health. When we talk to others about how we feel, we can find a community of people with similar experiences, while also working to understand the experiences of others. In that way, not only do we destigmatize mental health, but we also gain perspectives on how other people have worked through issues that we might be facing ourselves.