At 9:00am, Wednesday, June 15th, students from all St. Thomas high schools are being encouraged to walk out of their schools and meet up at Pinafore Park in a show of support for those teenagers who have mental health issues. To quote their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Mental-health-walkout-StThomas-1239510019423304/)
“Walk out for all the high schools in St. Thomas to raise awareness for mental health and to show no one is ever alone”
Recently the Woodstock community has had five teenagers take their own lives and the schools in Woodstock took part in a similar walkout last week.
School administration may not condone the walkout and could probably suggest something else that perhaps could be done on school grounds but it seems the walkout will take place regardless.
It is sad but true that these shows of support for those suffering from mental health issues will probably not make a difference in the overall scheme of things, but if taking part in this means that one or two students feel as if they are not suffering alone, then it surely is a good thing.
While mental health issues, in general, are becoming public and accepted, no more “You can’t have depression because you are smiling” comments and so forth, teenagers are probably the most at-risk demographic. Take the life of an average teenager who is already having to deal with their hormones going wild, their bodies changing as well as the pressures of high school.
Throw into that already turbulent vortex a mental issue such as Anxiety, Depression, Bi-Polar, ADHD and a host of other very common problems and these teenagers are going to struggle.
If you add outside forces such as bullying, both physically and on-line, and it is clear that the school social workers and student support staff are run off their feet.
It seems that too often a teenager at first glance is a trouble maker, lazy, distracted or simply acting differently to most peers but too often these students are dealing with the sort of pressures that put some grown-ups on stress leave. There are times and situations when the school is the only place where a student feels safe, warm, and among friends.
Regardless if the walkout on Wednesday is well attended or not, hopefully, public awareness of teenage mental health issues will be raised and it will make a difference, even if it’s for just one person.