Red Cross Club hosts mental health panel follow up, continue discussion about topic

Emma Elliott, Staff Writer

Following the mental health panel hosted in Rezac Auditorium, Red Cross Club members decided to host a smaller, more intimate mental health talk in the little theater to bring more in-depth attention to the topic.

The event, meant to be more along the lines of a group discussion rather than a speaking event by a professional, aimed to continue the conversation on the serious topic of mental health disorders, coping methods and how to support yourself and those around you.

“We thought that a small group might be more helpful with talking about mental health and those issues that are sometimes hard to talk about in front of large groups of people,” Clancy Livingston, Red Cross Club sponsor. “I would like to see issues with mental health, especially those that are common among teenagers, be something that can be talked about, like something that doesn’t have to be kept secret and hidden.”

According to Livingston, students approached the idea with the desire to keep the event student-led, with him to support the group. Planning took place for nearly a month.

Over the course of the hour, students who both attended and hosted the meeting sat in a circle on the stage while sharing food and personal struggles and stories.

“[The discussion of mental health disorders] is personal to me,” Forest Efken, senior, said. “It’s hard to reach out and get help. So for the longest time I was waiting to make that move in the school and present it and getting more people available to help in breaking the stigma, and so I just got fed up waiting. So I thought you know what, I’m going to start something and it’s not going to be perfect…but it’s something.”

With students sharing their own battles with difficulties such as anxiety and depression disorders, they were offered a chance to have an important discussion about healthy ways to reach out to adults, alternatives to self harm and how to find strength through all of the struggles they face, all to a group of quiet, tentative listeners — not without jokes and laughter being thrown around at the appropriate times, of course.

“The number one thing we hope kids take away from this is that there is hope for kids with mental health disorders,” Elizabeth Kim, junior, said. “We also hope for the creation of a more positive unity between all of us.”