MILL HALL, CLINTON COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a pair of students came up with a unique way to shed light on the issue at their high school.
Lela Vanartsdalen and Ashton Peters are Central Mountain High School students who organized a schoolwide walk for mental health awareness in youths.
“We got the idea actually from a school in Scranton that did somewhat of the same thing and we brought the idea to the administration. We then moved on with the planning,” said Ashton Peters, event organizer.
It took months to prepare, and was scheduled last month but got canceled due to bad weather.
“We were so excited for it last time. I’m glad it actually got canceled last time and we were able to do it on a nicer day so we all can enjoy the sun,” explained Lela Vanartsdalen, event organizer.
The two were ecstatic to see so many students walking and supporting the cause.
“It was an amazing feeling like seeing everyone smile and come together for this,” Vanartsdalen stated.
“I saw lots of kids that were happy and proud that we were doing something like this and seeing tears on the teachers’ faces was really nice too,” Peters stated.
The pair have both lost loved ones to suicide, so shedding light on these issues hits close to home.
“About 4 years ago my friend Simron Thomas, she was 12, she passed by suicide,” Peters explained.
Since then they’ve both been advocates for mental health and want their peers to know there are resources to help.
“It feels a lot better when you have a group of people knowing you aren’t alone,” said Vanartsdalen.
“We need to bring more awareness out to them and to tell people that it’s okay, to not be okay,” Peters stated.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
The students are excited to start planning next year’s walk and hope this is the first of many mental health events at their school.