Mental Health Advocacy Club Aims To Support Cleveland Students


Clarion photo chs.mentalhealthadvocacy Instagram

The Mental Health Advocacy Club set up this board in the student services center

Throughout the 2021-2022 school year there has been a push to increase mental health advocacy in the Cleveland community.

Some of this has come through district-wide efforts such as extra off days for students and teachers, and increased access to school administration, however a student-led club has recognized a need for efforts that are more specific to Cleveland.

Cleveland junior Fiona Sherwood, a co-organizer of the Mental Health Advocacy club, said of the club’s goals, “the club’s goal is to connect students to the administration and teachers to open more of a dialogue around what Cleveland is doing well and what Cleveland can do better around supporting students’ mental health.”

Cleveland health teacher Camille Adana agrees that there is a need for more connection, “I really really think this is the number one focal point that needs to happen”, said Ms.Adana. She also expanded by saying, “I think they would be on board, but it has to happen in a very deep emotional way, or otherwise they’ll just see it as a club.”

The club is partially inspired by similar ones at Franklin and Ida B. Wells, which shows that the need for that connection spans district-wide.

With those goals in mind, the club has begun its efforts to make a difference in the school community.

“We’re starting with some smaller projects, like getting out bulletin boards with resources, fliers, starting a newsletter to kind of spread the word, and then we’re also trying to connect with administration around implementing more connections for resources, so kind of through raising awareness with the students but also connecting students with administration and teachers,” said Sherwood of the club’s efforts to accomplish its goals.

Since this club is community oriented, it will need support from students and staff to accomplish these goals. Sherwood believes that students can help by being open minded and engaging with resources like social emotional learning day, and teachers by amplifying existing resources and being more understanding of students’ needs.

Ms.Adana also strongly believes in the student-to-student aspect of the club, saying “kids need kids, obviously knowing they have a go to adult is great, but they really need to feel safe when they’re dealing with vulnerability and being really honest about emotional health, so I think that’s beautiful”.

Many members of the club have experience working with that kind of vulnerability through YouthLine, a teen-to-teen support line meant to assist young people experiencing crises with finding help.

The ultimate goal of the Mental Health Advocacy Club is to lead the community to engage more with mental health resources, and the most direct way to help with that is to join. The group aims to meet the first and third Wednesday of every month, and more information can be found at chs.mentalhealthadvocacy on Instagram. They are open to anyone in the Cleveland community, and are planning to continue spreading awareness through the 2023 school year and beyond.