School Counselor Miss. Lori Stasinski began a project to spread awareness for Mental Health Awareness Month. She explained that she became a school counselor because mental health is a huge part of her life, and she wants to advocate for people who are going through mental health issues.
“I want to bring awareness that it’s normal. More people go through it than most people think. This project was not only to make [students] aware that May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but so students can understand they’re not the only ones going through it. There are other people who are either going through it, know someone who is going through it, or are completely supportive and are there to help,” Stasinski said.
Stasinski is working to make students aware of the importance of their mental health, and emphasize that there are people all around that understand what they may be going through. She has experienced many of the same feelings that students may be experiencing now.
“I know exactly how people feel when they, especially teenagers, are trying to get through the school day. When you have so much going on in your mind, it’s hard to concentrate. You’re at your desk; you’re trying so hard not to cry, even though that’s all you want to do; you have this crazy anxiety; your heart’s racing, all just to actually try to function and do well in school. I know depression can feel like one of the loneliest feelings in the world, but honestly, there’s always someone there that’s gonna really care about you and that it’s that you matter to them.” Stasinski said.
Stasinski believes mental health should be focused on and treated just as any other injury or disease should be. The only difference is that mental health is not always visible.
“It’s like if you broke your arm. Yes, you can see when someone broke their arm, but you can’t see mental health [disorders]. People have a harder time accepting that they’re there. Some people have a hard time explaining how it feels to have to have any mental illness. Because, you know, when you have a broken arm, or you have a broken leg, you can say, ‘There’s pain here; there’s pain there,’ but when it’s like logical pain, you can’t see it. It’s not tangible. It’s more abstract,” Stasinski said.
Mental health is something that should be focused on throughout the year, not only during Mental Health Awareness Month. Counselors are aware of how you feel and are available to talk to throughout the entire school year.
“I know when students think about counselors, sometimes they just think scheduling or they think academics, but when we go through the grad school program to become counselors, it’s very heavy on mental health and helping students get through certain situations,” Stasinski said.
The project that she started consisted of creating bulletin boards of artwork and poetry that demonstrated how it feels to have a mental illness. These bulletin boards were displayed in a high traffic area of the building to ensure that all students were able to see them.
“I kept reaching out to the student body at Lake Central through mass emails saying, ‘Hey, if you are artistic, or if you want to write a poem, or draw something simple, show either what it feels like to be to have a mental illness, or show support that you’re there for people who have mental illnesses that you’re there, to understand them that you’re not judging them.’ Since it’s the end of the school year, I wanted to make it as simple as possible,” Stasinski said.
Although the school year is ending and counselors are extremely busy, Stasinski still managed to put together something to promote mental health awareness month. The bulletin boards of artwork were intended to promote the idea that you are never alone, and there is always someone that will be there for you.
“It’s okay to feel the way you’re feeling. I think the biggest thing that I want everybody to know is that you’re not alone. You feel like you’re alone sometimes. But there are signs everywhere that you are not. You’re never alone. There’s always someone you can talk to,” Stasinski said.