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Community Dialogue Seeks to Normalize Mental Health Discussion

By Lyanne Wang, Staff Writer

// Following a series of grave incidents posted on social media, many individuals were forced to face something seldom talked about yet experienced by everyone: mental health.

   The Acalanes High School Wellness Center and the Bring Change to Mind club (BC2M) hosted a conversation surrounding mental health on Sept. 10 during lunch with the hope of undoing stigmatization while creating a safe environment where students would feel encouraged to share and listen to personal experiences.

   Preceding a meeting held two weeks ago on racial issues, the lattermost dialogue placed an emphasis on talking about preconceptions around mental health and their impact. 

   “Having these discussions create an open dialogue surrounding mental health where people are able to educate themselves, share their experiences, and learn from others and feel safe in doing so. Just being able to talk about difficult topics is progress in destigmatizing mental health,” one of BC2M’s leaders and senior Emily Ingram said.

   The meeting attracted a total of 46 students from all grades. While many chose to speak out, others felt more comfortable simply listening to the conversation.

   “Listening is one of the most important things when talking about anything but especially when discussing mental health,” sophomore Tess Gundacker said. 

   To navigate through the delicate discussion, mental health professionals from the Wellness Center occasionally chimed in.

   “These conversations are facilitated by Wellness staff so that together, we’re creating a container for true dialogue that centers student voices,” Wellness Intake Specialist Casey Sasner said. “We hope to share information, create connections, and make traditionally difficult conversations easier to navigate.”

   Ultimately, student leaders of BC2M pushed the meeting forward. Conversation topics varied from discussing recent incidents to the overall desensitization of mental health. Despite the wide range of the conversation, nearly all subjects brought up resolved back to one main theme: the importance of opening a community dialogue surrounding mental health.

   “It is important that we broaden our understanding and our acceptance of mental health and its complications in order to strengthen our connection as a community and with the outside world. A world where talking about your mental health is more normal is beneficial to everybody,” Ingram said.

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