Mental Health Matters: SHA Holds Mental Health Awareness Week


According to the CDC, more than one in three high school students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in 2019, which is a forty percent increase since 2009. Living amid the Coronavirus pandemic combined with facing the numerous stresses of high school and daily life, it is even more likely that a high school student can struggle with their mental health.

A Week of Awareness and Empathy

The week of February 7th, Sacred Heart Academy held a Mental Health Awareness Week to share information and spread awareness about mental health. Mrs. Mazzariello, Mrs. Panzarella, the SHA Peer Connectors, and many others in the SHA community planned and participated in this Mental Health Awareness Week. SHA was decorated with helpful posters containing positive messages and information about mental health. A wall next to the cafeteria was dedicated for students, faculty, and staff at SHA to put up notes with their own kind messages to the SHA community written on them. Peer Connectors spoke on the daily morning announcements to briefly inform the school about different facts or statistics on mental health, as well as some simple ideas of how we can improve our mental health each day, such as through complimenting a fellow classmate or practicing acts of self-love and self-care.

The SHA Peer Connectors created a video that was shared to the school on Thursday of this Mental Health Awareness Week, which exhibited how SHA supports all students who are facing mental health struggles, reminded us that we are all loved and cared about, and showed that it is okay and normal to seek help for mental health.

SHA Peer Connectors with Mrs. Mazzariello and the Friday Assembly speaker, Carli Bushoven

Friday Assembly with Speaker Carli Bushoven

SHA’s Friday Assembly on February 11th was centered around the topic mental health – specifically, the negative effects that can be caused by avoiding getting help regarding oneself mentally. Mrs. Bushoven gave Sacred Heart Academy the opportunity to learn about the story of Madison Holleran, her sister. Madison was an extremely successful and hardworking track and soccer athlete as well as a strong student. Madison took her life in 2014 as a freshman in college.

The Madison Holleran Foundation was created in honor of Madison herself: a talented young woman whose life had come to a end much too soon. The Madison Holleran Foundation has the purpose of what Mrs. Bushoven emphasized to SHA at the Friday assembly: spreading awareness about mental health and suicide prevention as well as supporting survivors of suicide or those whose loved ones have taken their own lives. Mrs. Bushoven discussed the importance of not only seeking help for mental health if we ourselves need it, but also assisting others in getting care mentally when we see signs that another person is struggling.

The Stigma Around Mental Health

Nonetheless, with the conversation of mental health awareness often comes the stigma regarding suicide, self-harm, and seeking professional help mentally such as through seeing a doctor, finding and talking to a therapist, or being prescribed medicine for mental illness. People who have self-harmed or attempted/committed suicide as well as people who have suicidal thoughts can be seen in society as being weak, attention-seeking, or even “crazy”. However, it is crucial that society learns to understand that people who struggle with their mental health deserve to receive the resources needed to prevent them from attempting suicide or participating in any harmful behavior. Some people who express that they are having a difficult time with their mental health may receive a doubtful response such as: “You’re just overthinking.”

“Everyone goes through it.”

Just because struggling mentally is common does not mean you do not deserve to seek help to improve it.

In society, people who have the courage to share the fact they are struggling can end up being doubted that their mental health is “that serious,” yet when the same person ends up harming themselves – or even worse – taking their own life, people then say, “I wish I saw the signs.”

Something about that does not make sense.

We as a SHA community, as shown through Mental Health Awareness Week, can work to end the stigma regarding seeking help for one’s mental health. Especially in the time of a pandemic where there is an immense amount of stress and uncertainty in our world, we must stand in solidarity with each other, and support those who are struggling with open ears and compassionate hearts. People who are going through challenging times mentally should be able to share their feelings without feeling judged or ignored. We should listen to our peers and other people we know in order for them to feel cared for and truly wanted.

Takeaways from Mental Health Awareness Week

SHA’s Mental Health Awareness Week undoubtedly informed countless students, faculty, and staff members about the importance of mental health awareness and the stigma around it. Although this week has passed, we should continue to strive through each day of our lives both inside and out of SHA to be more open-minded about mental health and accepting of those who struggle with it.

If you are struggling with your mental health:

Although you may not notice it, there are many people around you who genuinely care about you and want you present in their lives.

You are loved and appreciated.

It is normal to struggle, but you do not have to struggle alone.