AFS students take steps everyday to build a sturdy sense of self in themselves and others. Grace ’23 is a leader in mental health at AFS. After organizing a successful mental health panel last year, she decided to do it again. She coordinated panelists comprised of both high school students and psychologists. The event flyer read; Let’s dismantle the stigma surround mental health in our communities. Stigma affects not only the number of people seeking treatment but also love ones and the number of resources for proper treatment. Stigma can feel like an overwhelming obstacle for someone who struggling with a mental health condition.
Students and faculty members share their reflections on the incredible and moving evening.
“I think it was really powerful to see my classmates talking about mental health and how the pandemic affected them. Mental health problems are so stigmatized in our community that we avoid talking about it. So the panel was a great opportunity not only for the panelists but for everyone watching to think about their mental health.” Sophie ’23
“I enjoyed talking with my peers — something that I noticed is that a lot of people are hurting and this was a great opportunity to voice it.” Jabril ’23
“The experience was very positive in that I got a chance to share my experiences with a large audience, which felt really validating. It was also very comforting to be able to sit with a large group of other people that had experienced similar things to me.” Colin ’24
“The panel section was brilliant! The questions provided a base for students to really break down their experiences and talk about the struggles from them.” Shania ’23
“This panel felt particularly powerful because of the rare opportunity to hear from both professionals working to help youth who have vital messages to contribute and the youth themselves who have been through so much and have their own wisdom to share. Both groups held important clarity and shared compelling next steps for our whole community to consider.” Sheila Pai Upper School English Teacher
“The mental health panel was something I didn’t know I needed, and I am so glad we can talk about not being okay because people need to understand there is nothing to be ashamed of in regards to mental health. Everyone deals with it whether they realize it or not, and we need to continue to shed light on that and further conversations about it. It was amazing having professionals come in and reassure us that mental health matters and that there is no reason to feel guilty about reaching out for help. I was so appreciative to be a part of the student panel, because I got to share my mental health story, and hopefully it provided comfort for any that needed it. It was great seeing how much power the students at AFS hold as Grace was able to plan and execute that whole thing to perfection. Again, I am so grateful for the reassurance the panel provided and I hope to see more opportunities surrounding mental health in the future.” Jeremiah ’23
The panel is available to watch here.