In the Active Minds’ Fall Student Survey, almost 90% of students reported experiencing stress or anxiety as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This statistic is high yet not surprising, seeing how much has happened in the past months. It can be easy to forget that there are individual people behind this statistic, each with their own experience and story. At my high school in Lenox, Massachusetts, we wanted to highlight these stories.
For a while, our chapter bounced around the idea of bringing an Active Minds speaker to our school. However, as a small chapter at a small high school, we do not have the financial means that many other Active Minds chapters have. So, although we always wanted to capitalize on all the resources that Active Minds provides (which is a lot!), we couldn’t always afford these options. That was until we heard about the Flourish Arbonne Grant.
When Active Minds told us that the Flourish Arbonne Foundation offered grants for an Active Minds Speaker to come to high schools, we jumped at the opportunity! My chapter immediately applied and was, fortunately, awarded the grant. With this funding, we were able to bring Kai Roberts to our school.
Kai’s positive influence was immediate. “Kai’s impact at Lenox Memorial was seen right from the start as students were actively involved in his presentation from the get-go,” wrote our vice principal. “We also had some students come forward that we had not heard from asking for help who mentioned Kai gave them the courage to ask.”
Students appreciated his honesty. He targeted mental health head-on and, coupled with his music, taught students that it is okay to not be okay. His impact reminds us that, as mental health advocates, one voice can inspire and push students to get the help they need and deserve: one voice can create change.
My school adjustment counselor wrote, “I have heard from parents and students since Kai spoke, some seeking mental health services for the first time, and several teachers felt more comfortable and inspired to begin conversations in their classrooms about how students were feeling.”
In just one day, the conversation about mental health at my school was revolutionized. Students began to reach out for help, and teachers started having the tough conversations on mental health that needed to happen. I even had one teacher who dedicated a whole class period to discuss how she can support us through these difficult times.
We are incredibly grateful to Kai, Active Minds, and the Flourish Arbonne Foundation for giving us this opportunity to promote Active Minds’ mission. When students are having a difficult time and going through their mental health struggles, they will be reminded of Kai’s story and remember that it is okay to not be okay and that it is okay to ask for help.