Student Council holds first Mental Health Week

GJHS students participate in various events through the week centered on mental health and mindfulness


Marie Calkins

Dr. Melissa Carris leads a mindfulness and meditation presentation in Mr. Whiteford’s room with students after school.

Grand Junction High School’s Student Council held a Mental Health Week Nov. 9-17. 

STUCO’s goal for this mental health week was to bring awareness to the issue and encourage students to get together, recognize mental health struggles within the school, and support students to get help. 

“Mental health is very important, and we wanted to do something about it. We thought it would be a good time, just because we don’t have anything else going on and it is a super important issue that many teenagers are dealing with,” said GJHS freshman and STUCO member Cooper Teske. 

STUCO put together several events – including a mental health presentation done by STUCO, a showing of the movie “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” on Nov. 10, a “Train of Thought” display in the hall on Nov. 11, a mindfulness activity led by Dr. Melissa Carris on Nov. 15, and an engaging speech by youth motivational speaker Dr. Laymon Hicks on Nov. 16. 

The showing of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” brought awareness to teenagers’ real struggles with PTSD and depression. STUCO also donated a dollar to The House organization for every person that came to the movie, and doubled it. 

The House is a Grand Junction based organization that houses homeless teens and helps put them back on their feet, which is beneficial to their overall mental health. 

The idea behind the “Train of Thought” was to have students write down their thoughts and turn them in to be displayed on a “train” in the hall, it gave awareness to the issues that the peers around them everyday face. 

Carris’ mindfulness activity allowed students to learn about healthy coping mechanisms, breathing techniques, and even gave them a chance to meditate as a group.

Hicks’ speech aimed to motivate students to strive for their goals, keep going, and support the people around them. He encouraged students to get the help they may need by saying phrases such as “Get up, get out, go get it.” and “If you fall down, get back up.” 

Mental health is seen as a very important issue by many at GJHS.

“Every day in my teaching practice I encounter kids who are impacted negatively by mental health issues. We have a lot of kids who are suffering and struggling here and a lot of adults too,” GJHS teacher and STUCO advisor Mark Wilson said. 

Personal mental health is diverse, it can mean different things to different people.

“Mental health to me is having a sense of hope that things are going to get better, having that knowledge that there are better days ahead, or that life is good for you personally and will stay that way for a very long time,” said Teske.

“Mental health means to take care of yourself so that you are able to be helpful to others,” said GJHS sophomore and STUCO member Abby Kearl said. 

 GJHS sophomore and STUCO member Dermot Lynch said, “To support our peer’s mental health we should be more accepting, include everybody, try to just talk to someone that seems down, check in on your friends and the people around you.” 

“Ask people simple questions like ‘Hey, how are you?’ and just let people know that you’re there for them,” Kearl suggested. 

GJHS offers many resources for students and people to get help.

“Our counselors do free counseling sessions, we also have the resources on the back of our IDs, such as the Safe to Tell line and a couple of other resources,” said Teske.