Events to help students with issues of Hope, Awareness & Courage
By Jim Newell
School, sports, family, friends, peer pressure. Today’s society is a hectic, stressful menagerie of activities and high school students can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the anxiety of trying to deal with every situation.
The North Oakland Community Coalition is starting a new M;NDful series of workshop events to help students deal with the stress and insecurities in their lives.
“The semicolon is a symbol of ‘There’s always another tomorrow, there’s always more to come. It’s not over yet,’” said NOCC Executive Director Tonya Hamilton.
Every workshop will have a different focus. The first event will focus on positivity and is from 7-9 p.m. June 28 in the meeting room at Friendship Park, 3380 Clarkston Rd. A professional guest speaker will focus on self-care and growing positivity to promote mental health and wellness.
“We’re going to take some time out, take a breather and focus on the positive things we have in our lives,” Hamilton said. “Kids are stressed, and we know that they can have better coping mechanisms.”
The events are free but limited to the first 40 high school students who register. Register for events at www.noccmi.org.
“Our goal is that they will become quarterly events all focused on high school students just being able to take some time to reflect and focus on themselves and their own mental health,” Hamilton said. “It’s really open to any high school student who wants to come.”
Future events could include a journaling workshop and how to “use journaling as a way of self-reflection and a coping mechanism,” Hamilton said. “We’ll do a series on healthy food choices, healthy snack choices. Things that kids can grab and go when they’re having more stressful times, like finals.
“We’re planning on doing a yoga event to work on physical ways we can reduce our stress and anxiety. Every event will be a little different, but we’re hoping that M;NDful will be something that the community will recognize as a way to give kids something to look forward to as their time out,” Hamilton said.
The two goals of the events are to lessen the stigma around mental health issues and provide students with resources so that they can contact someone if they or a friend need information and help.
Hamilton emphasizes that the events are for any student dealing with stress and anxiety – teens don’t have to be diagnosed with a mental illness.
“The goal is to have everyone feel welcome and attend these events. Maybe a student is doing really well but a friend needs help,” she said.
“We’re going to talk about not only the ways we can support ourselves, but our friends, too. If these kids are willing to talk and willing to recognize the signs that they need help, for themselves or others, we need to make sure they have those resources.”
“We want to teach high school students how to deal with things as they come up. We actually have data (from the NOCC annual report) from the high school that tells us how much our students need this kind of support. So, we need to fill it,” Hamilton said. “We realize there are many people who fail to get help because of the stigma surrounding mental health.
NOCC provides critical education and programs related to underage drinking, youth substance use and mental health to encourage a responsible community where healthy decision making is valued and where individuals and families thrive.
“The mission of the coalition is really to work on substance misuse with our youth, families and community. We understand that mental health initiatives play a big role in protecting our youth from future substance abuse problems,” Hamilton said. “We need mental health support. Every community does.”