Giving voice to vulnerability

Mental health has been on everyone’s mind recently. An email from Ms. Ross two weeks ago informed us of a recent suicide by a student in our area. An event like this is a reminder that we should cherish those we love and never be afraid of seeking help for whatever personal struggles we all may be going through. The effects of a tragedy like this are wide reaching and long lasting, and our thoughts are with his family and school community. As the email said, “traumatic grief can often flood over us when we least expect it.”
In order for our community to heal, we should be willing to discard the taboo that surrounds mental illness and talk openly about our struggles. It’s easy to feel uncomfortable talking about such a heavy issue, and it can be tempting to carry on as if nothing happened. However, events like this happen because people feel they cannot share the burden of what they’re going through. But it should be encouraged to be vulnerable and reach out for help.
As Ms. Ross outlined in her email, there are a number of resources available to students within our community. Deans and teachers are always available to talk to. Dr. Wasson, Ms. Bek, Ms. Bracken and FJ, who make up the school counseling team, have helped many of us with issues big or small. Peer Support is a great resource for students who want to share their issues with others their own age. Those who want to share anonymously can call or text Teen Line, a crisis hotline with teen listeners. But discussions don’t have to be limited to these resources; as a community, we should be receptive and open to listening to each other.
Depression is the predominant cause of illness for people aged 10 to 19, according to a United Nations study. Evidently, more people are struggling with depression than we would otherwise know, so it’s critical to adopt an attitude of kindness and compassion.
We all have a greater responsibility to be there for our community. This can be expressed in different forms: checking in from time-to-time on friends, smiling at people in the hallway, inviting someone to eat with you at lunch.
Part of becoming a more receptive student body is recognizing that we all have strengths and weaknesses. It’s easy to identify our strengths but often harder to come to terms with our faults; nobody is perfect, everyone has their flaws.
In an environment as stressful as ours, it can be easy to put our mental health aside as we focus instead on fulfilling our academic and extracurricular duties.
As important as it is to celebrate ourselves and be confident in our abilities, understanding our weaknesses will undoubtedly help us become stronger. One of these fragilities is our fear of being vulnerable in the eyes of others.
Many of us feel that sharing our feelings is a sign of weakness and that we will be judged if we voice our emotions, even when there are resources around us. But again, we must realize that opening up about our feelings is a sign of strength in and of itself.
For those of us who may not be feeling lost or alone, we must also remember the people that are. Just because you are having a good day doesn’t mean the person across from you is. If you’re having that good day, that should be more of a reason to be a resource and a shoulder for someone else to cry on.

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