Wellness fair encourages student mental health awareness

Megan Blunk is a disabled athlete who was injured in a motorcycle accident. Blunk, a once-future Olympian in basketball, had her goal put to a quick end. Despite all this, she kept fighting.

Hoda Aboueich was sexually assaulted by a family friend in sixth grade. She constantly struggled with mental and physical trauma, as well as thoughts of suicide that routinely consumed her. After finding the inner courage to tell someone, Aboueich realized there is no shame in getting help and bettering oneself. She is a speaker for ASHA International, an educational program that informs others about mental health issues and attempts to remove related stigmas and stereotypes.

Both of these speakers will join dozens of others for Lincoln’s Wellness Fair on Dec 5. The fair is an extended FLEX that will feature student- and volunteer-led breakout sessions on a variety of wellness-related topics, including social, physical and mental health. 

Senior Emma Howard, the student organizer for the event, is excited to bring in speakers to share their own stories.

“Our biggest goal is to destigmatize talking about and being aware of one’s own mental health,” says Howard. “The best way to do that is to hear real stories from ordinary people.”

Many students at Lincoln deal with or have experienced anxiety. After the loss of speaker Hanna Kane’s grandmother, she constantly felt alone and couldn’t find a way to get rid of her anxiety. After continually attending support groups, however, Kane finally feels she is in a stable place in her life. She hopes to be a role model for students suffering from anxiety and depression that want to seek help but don’t know how. 

Being able to recognize and support students with mental health in schools is important. According to the Armstrong Center for Medicine and Health, 20 percent of children and youth have a diagnosable emotional, behavioral or mental health disorder, while 10 percent of young people have a mental health challenge that is severe enough to impair how they function at school. 

The Lincoln staff, recognizing the issue, resolved to let students take the lead on the planning and organizing of the fair. 

Lincoln’s school psychologist, Jim Hanson, believes the Wellness Fair is very important. “High school is challenging academically, socially, and emotionally,” says Hanson. Sometimes it’s draining physically as well. Learning from peers and adults about ways to take care of yourself and to take care of family and friends is very important.”

Nurse Mary Johnson also appreciates the event, and hopes it will be an immense benefit for the students’ mental health. 

The variety of topics should have something to benefit everyone,” said Nurse Mary, “either in their current health practices or the in the knowledge gained for future change.”