The negative attitudes and beliefs surrounding mental health is a very prominent issue around the world, however the Bring Change to Mind (BC2M) club at Mt. Vernon High School (MVHS) is doing their best to break that stigma in our community. BC2M is a national organization that aims to open a dialogue about mental health and create new social norms regarding the stigma surrounding mental health.
At Mt. Vernon High School, the Bring Change to Mind club is spreading awareness through school-wide conversations and activities. The club educates students on different topics such as, academic stress, testing anxiety, conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and others, all while taking the pressure off of students, creating a sense of inclusion and acceptance.
The BC2M president, Mikayla Reeves, has used her personal connection with mental health to help lead the club. She expressed, “I chose to help lead the club because I know how difficult it can be to cope with these mental health challenges. Being a leader lets me reach out and help others who are going through things like I am. I have always loved supporting my fellow peers as I know it’s hard to open up about these issues and even harder to talk about them. With BC2M, it makes it possible to talk; we are a safe space.”
One of many impactful school-wide activities was the “BC2M Sparks..” club activation week. Each day of the week showcased what Bring Change to Mind has sparked within the school, the different themes included: BC2M Sparks Conversation, Sparks Hope, Sparks Love, Sparks Courage, and Sparks Action.
For the action piece, many students and staff pledged to #EndtheStigma, by writing their name on paper hearts during lunch. The large amount of students who pledged to end the stigma surrounding mental health shows how quickly BC2M is working to spread awareness.
The BC2M club advisor, Mrs. Joana Goff, stated, “As an advisor, what I hope to do is to have students change their conversations around mental health by educating them on what that could look like within themselves and how to reach out to someone if they recognize that they are experiencing some of the symptoms of a mental health condition. I also hope to give all students a safe place to come if they just want to be supported, heard, and to know they are not alone in the things they go through.”
In the future, BC2M is hoping to expand to middle school, starting with the 8th graders, to help with the transition from middle to high school become a less intimidating and more supportive experience for them. The high school has several activities set up for 8th graders to support their transition, however, this is just one more important way to keep that conversation going.
Goff has conducted meetings with the club at least once a week because she believes that it is important for students to have what she called a “safety net” to discuss things that they would not normally discuss due to the fear of being ridiculed. Her meetings are a place where students can connect with each other and enjoy each others’ company in a safe space.
Mrs. Goff continues to conduct these meetings via Zoom to ensure that these important conversations are still being held. BC2M holds weekly meetings and will continue to hold them throughout the rest of the school year.
Goff stated, “We are still putting things together to share with our community to help everyone navigate through the many adjustments we are facing and have faced already.” These meetings are open to all MVHS students and staff.