The focus of the SHINE Initiative mission is the promotion of the mental wellness of young people, so it stands to reason that educating young people about mental illness, mental health and mental wellness is key to empowering them to become genuine lifetime health and wellness advocates.
As we’ve developed rapport in recent years with students in local and regional high schools,
middle schools and colleges, they’ve quickly demonstrated a zeal and commitment to advancing a genuine understanding of mental illness and wellness as “mainstream health issues.”
This collective enthusiasm was demonstrably evident on April 4th when the SHINE Initiative hosted its second annual Student Wellness Summit. Students and faculty gathered in the Community Room at Fidelity Bank (Leominster MA) for a series of break-out sessions featuring guest speakers.
The summit began with a poignant presentation by Abby and Mary Smargon, sisters who live with depression and who have been featured in McLean Hospital’s “Deconstructing Stigma” campaign. Later in the day, they spoke to a cluster of students about how to be a supportive caregiver to a friend who may be living with or struggling with depression.
Laura Murphy, director of Worcester State University’s Student Counseling Center, offered insight to students who will be transitioning from high school to college, and of the importance of seeking mental health services should the need arise.
Elizabeth Fessenden, a clinician from the Bridge of Central Massachusetts who specializes in Cognitive behavior Therapy, conducted a session for students and faculty on Mindfulness.
The SHINE Initiative’s Megan Sullivan (youth outreach coordinator) and Jessika Zequeira (community education specialist), conducted a session on knowing the boundaries of being a caregiver, and how and where to seek appropriate help for oneself or a friend who may be in crisis.
Schools that were represented at the Student Mental Wellness Summit were Leominster High School, Sizer School (Fitchburg), St. Bernard High School (Fitchburg), and Bromfield High School.