During the pandemic, a lot of Ridgewood High School students began to feel the impact of home quarantine. Mental health became a great issue in all grades as students felt they were continuing the same routine every day without much change in their lives. Audrey Shin, a senior at Ridgewood High school and Vice President of RHS, realized this mental health decline. She believed “a lot of students had this general consensus of feeling heightened mental health symptoms like stress.” By discussing this matter with her fellow classmates, she was able to conclude that there needed to be an effort to help those feeling this way. Audrey’s biggest goal was to enable individuals to open up about their struggles. She especially wanted to implement this plan in September to raise awareness for suicide prevention.
This project was initiated with the help of Stigma Free, a nonprofit organization based in Bergen County that focuses on spreading awareness about mental health. Stigma Free was kind enough to allocate a part of their federal grant to Ridgewood High School. Thus, the RHS students were given stress balls, stickers, and pencils. Brochures with further information about mental health were also distributed. What all these objects had in common was their color: lime green. This color represents mental health awareness and is a reminder for students that they are not alone. Audrey believes “normalization is not about just screaming to other people about mental health matters. What’s important is opening up and creating conversation to allow individuals to seek for more information on the issue.” Hopefully, this project has allowed students to see just that.
Graphic: Vivian Yuan