Ridge Junior Students Lead Mental Health Expo

Ridge Junior Students Take Lead on First Mental Health Expo
Posted on 05/07/2019
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Photo of students at mental health expoAll that Ridge Junior health teacher Matthew Abshear takes credit for in the school’s first-ever mental health expo is sharing the idea and then turning his students loose.

“I told them let’s do something different and they ran with it,” he said of the event, which was designed to raise awareness about mental health issues and lessen the stigma associated with them. “At my age, no one ever talked about mental health, so the main idea was to get students talking about it and gaining a deeper level understanding for what people might be facing.”

Each of Abshear’s classes hosted a different segment of the all-day expo, presenting their research on one of 13 different topics, ranging from depression and eating disorders to PTSD and anxiety. Other Ridge students visited the Innovation Hub and had the freedom to visit the booth(s) that most interested them. This included their choice of expert visitors from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Solutions Counseling and Beckett Springs - another idea from Abshear’s students.

Student Kody Kelly presented his findings about depression in a way that would assist his peers in recognizing the signs among their friends. For students who may have been there actually seeking help, they were also given the option to scan any one of the QR codes on display to get information digitally.

“We are here to raise awareness and fix the dark cloud associated with mental health illnesses. All of us can make a difference,” said Claire Vaillancourt, whose role as the manager included welcoming visitors and helping them navigate through the expo.

The expo aligns with Lakota’s commitment to increase students’ access to quality mental healthcare by identifying a partner at every school through its partnership with MindPeace. Ridge Junior welcomed its partner, Solutions Counseling, this school year, giving students direct access to a therapist at school. Click here to learn more about Lakota’s partnership with MindPeace and its network of mental health providers.