MYC Youth Mental Health Awareness
CHRISTOPHER: Hi, I’m Christopher Jones, I go to Northside College Prep.
MICHELLE: I’m Michelle Morales.
ANOUSHKA: My name is Anoushka Lal and I’m a member of the Mayor’s Youth Commission. The Mayor’s Youth Commission is a group of teens all over Chicago who are very passionate about city policy, who are specifically interested about the public health in Chicago.
CHRISTOPHER: To me, mental health is just like any other health and it’s just as important as any other health. I feel like mental health is a way of, like, securing social well-being, having a sense of inclusivity and feeling welcomed, important and valued in your community.
MICHELLE: I would say mental health, it like, means everything to me.
ANOUSHKA: COVID changed all of our lives. The way that I think about it, I think of life before COVID and after COVID, in the sense where we were all isolated, remote for months. For a lot of us, that negatively impacted our mental health.
CHRISTOPHER: Transitioning from the pandemic and having, like, one and a half years of being almost confined in the house, you know, it definitely took a toll on many high school students.
MICHELLE: It took that pandemic to make me realize how much mental health meant to me, because during the pandemic, I was just, like, isolated by myself and my house. I was just in my room all day and like, that is just made be alone with my thoughts.
ANOUSHKA: It’s extremely important that we understand that there’s unity in dealing with COVID, that all of us are collectively going through this experience that none of us should have to deal with. Mental health can often take the backseat when it comes to the way that we lead our lives and that often debilitates us. And I think that, you know, making sure that we have a healthy mental health system and that we have the resources, we have the people, that we feel safe.
MICHELLE: Growing up, my parents never talked about mental health, and it wasn’t until high school that I learned that, like, it’s a thing that you should be talking about, your emotions and stuff.
CHRISTOPHER: Schools definitely should have the kinds of resources to be able to tell when students need help. The club that I’m a part of is Thinking Out Loud. It’s a mental health advocacy club that I founded last year that aims to help students find a sense of well-being socially, mentally and develop good connections with peers and teachers through, like, stimulating activities and workshops.
MICHELLE: I’m part of my mental health club at school, which is called Thinking Out Loud. The people I met, made me realize that there’s people to reach out to.
CHRISTOPHER: My biggest advice for someone who’s struggling with mental health, but is hesitant to seek help is to know that you’re not alone. There are so many people going through the same thing as you, no matter how much your environment might want to say that you’re not.
MICHELLE: It helps me a lot to know that I’m not alone in this, you know, dealing with mental health.
CHRISTOPHER: I’ve definitely found my community that is very accepting.
ANOUSHKA: There are so many resources in Chicago, like we said, from Unspoken to MyChi, MyFuture to NAMI, to Brave Space Alliance to Thresholds. Additionally, steps you can take at school, you can start your own mental health club. That’s something directly that you can do.
ANOUSHKA: A peer created club that talks about mental health and makes your school a safe and equitable and inclusive safe space for students. Just talk to your friends. Ask them how you’re doing because you never know how someone’s feeling from the inside. And, just a simple, “how’s your day been?” Or, “how are you really feeling? Is there something I can do to help you out?”
ANOUSHKA: That really does a lot for anyone who’s feeling a bit down or anyone who just wants to talk. And, most importantly, make sure that your mental health feels right to you.