Mental Health Awareness Month Kicks Off at Morning Ex

Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in the U.S. since 1949. Every year during the month of May, organizations and individuals join the national movement to raise awareness about mental health and work to end the stigma and silence associated with it. Upper School Counselor Kirstin Williams was determined to support this cause.

To help kick off this important month, Williams decided to sponsor an Ending the Silence Morning Ex and invited Project Director for Youth/Young Adult Expansion Initiative Emily Fagan from the National Alliance on Mental Illness Illinois to speak to the Middle and Upper Schools. During her time on the Heller Auditorium stage, Fagan talked about mental health conditions, stigmas surrounding these conditions, the prevalence and rise of mental health conditions in students at this age and warning signs of mental health issues and encouraged students to speak to a trusted adult if either they, or a friend close to them, started displaying any troubling signs. Finally, Fagan related her own history of struggling with a mental health condition. Through this incredibly personal and poignant sharing, Fagan lived the idea of “ending the silence” in front of the watchful eyes of the students in the audience. She explained that only when people are free and feel comfortable discussing this topic can society move past the negative perspectives associated with mental health conditions and work towards healing.

Williams commented, “Before coming to Parker, I worked in acute mental health care settings with children, adolescents and their families, and I have seen firsthand what happens when our young people are experiencing a mental health crisis. The reality is that we are currently living in a time when mental health crises among young people are increasing at an alarming rate, and Parker is not immune to these trends. One of the main causes of this increase is the stigma that prevents young people from seeking the help and support they need. I believe that if we can come together as a community to not only increase our understanding about mental health, but also create an environment where individuals inside and outside Parker feel supported and encouraged to get help and support, we could change a life and potentially save a life. This belief inspired me to launch the Suicide Prevention Walk at Parker this past September and bring programming that honors Mental Health Awareness Month this May. My hope is that we can demonstrate more compassion, empathy and understanding so people will no longer have to suffer in silence.”

Joining Williams and Fagan, the Morning Ex Committee shared with the community, “Following the presentation, we encourage you to help fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for policies that support the millions of people in the U.S. affected by mental illness.”

We encourage anyone who may be struggling to follow this link and take advantage of any of these resources by clicking here, visiting, calling 800.950.6264 or texting “NAMI” to 741741.

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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.