Bring Change to Mind, a student club that seeks to promote mental health awareness on campus, partnered with the Diversity and Inclusion Council to host the fourth and final Community Conversation held on May 14.
Director of Diversity and Inclusion and Instructor in English Rachel Myers led previous conversations that explored black, Jewish and Asian identities. The recent discussion focused on mental health awareness at Hotchkiss. Members of the community submitted anonymous letters to share their stories, which were read by a volunteers.
The discussion was one of several initiatives organized by Bring Change to Mind and the student-led Diversity and Inclusion Council in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month. Senior Gill Duquette helped start the club, which is the first high school program in northeast under the auspices of the national Bring Change to Mind organization, she said.
Events included a film screening to introduce students to the School’s health counselors and demystify misconceptions about the counseling process, a community-wide hand-painting of the Mental Health Awareness Month ribbon, and a bulletin board in Main Building, where students posted notes about what mental health means to them. Guest speaker, Dana Drost, Class of 2007 and graduate of Wesleyan University, also shared his story and recovery of mental illness and substance abuse with students.
“Students get very stressed at Hotchkiss, and no one addresses it, said Duquette. “I think there’s a lot of stigma around mental health and we wanted to create situations where students felt comfortable talking about it,” she said. The group also created a relaxation room where students can decompress and unwind.
Council member Priyanka Kumar '19 added, “We want to make sure that students know that it’s okay not to be perfect all the time and to be reminded of the support they have in this community. Last year, the council conducted research with the School’s health center and instructors in human development to determine how to stimulate conversations about mental health within our community.
“With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, we saw it as the perfect opportunity to host activities that could involve the whole school and generate conversation and support about mental health,” she said.