Let’s Talk! Centennial’s first mental health club: The SO Club

Marjorie Hsu

Students now have a place to go just to vent.

English teacher Linda Jones and some of her students have founded a new club at Centennial called the SO (Student Outreach) Club. Meetings will provide a time where students can come in and get things off their chest and connect with others, like a support group. The members hope to help others not feel so alone during challenging times, and open discussions of a rising problem among teenagers – mental illness. There first meeting will be 8 a.m. Wednesday. March 20 in Jones’ room, G-59.

Junior Fiona Lyle said the idea for the club started during a weekly Socratic seminar that Jones dubs Rhetoric Fridays. Lyle said, “We bring up a topic that we would like to discuss, it could be controversial or just a discussion topic. Then, we bring in notes or research about it. One Rhetoric Friday that we did was on mental health and the stigma around it.”

A typical Friday in Ms.Jones class!
Credit – Marjorie Hsu

Lyle added, “It brought us into this discussion about how students don’t have enough resources, or people aren’t educated enough about mental health, or when to know you need help.”

When asked what they hoped the club could provide for Centennial, Junior Livi Weidmann said, “We’re aiming it for it to be a safe space for everyone to talk about what they are going through.” She added that because it’s more personal, some trust is required in others when sharing conversations, but that respect and confidentiality is prioritized in the safe area.

Junior Renata O’Campo added, “We also don’t feel like there is any club at Centennial that specifically addresses mental illness and suicide prevention.” She further explained that during the Socratic seminar “we realized that there is stuff we can do to help change what’s going in on our lives and the lives of teenagers today.”

Lyle explained that part of the unhealthy habits  “Mental health in our generation, a lot of the seriousness of it has been undermined pretty much because of all these things that we have. Like our social media, and our ability to joke about it in a way that’s not really healthy.”

She added, “I think it’s important to have this club because a lot of people don’t know when to get help or know who to talk to because people don’t make it out to be as serious as it should be.” This ties to the anonymity that technology has given people to cyberbully one another. But, it has also served as an outlet for many to cope with negative emotions by expressing their feelings through online posts.

Junior Megan Strickland said that another reason for forming the club is because “I think people in our generation don’t talk about it and they avoid the conversation because it’s a sensitive subject. I’m not going to lie. I think that schools don’t really educate how much people actually go through this. . . they put so much pressure on students these days that is has become so much more prevalent than people realize.”

Members have different and exciting ideas for the club such as a future meet up at Cafe au Lait, having fundraisers, and guest speakers to raise awareness. That way students who could not attend prior meetings could meet up in a nice cafe environment. In addition, fundraisers could go to organizations that aim to prevent teen suicide or depression such as the Will to Live Foundation that spoke to Centennial on Mental Health Night.

If you are situationally or emotionally struggling with something at home or at school, you can get help no matter how small the problem may seem. Reaching out to a loved one may help you not feel so alone. And, talking to your counselor or a trusted adult can help you find resources in dealing with something challenging. By opening the talk about mental illness, it can help others know that what they’re feeling is valid and that there is a way to improve circumstances, even if it’s little by little.

Below is a document listed with many sources for those struggling with mental health or resources from pregnancy to abuse and more.

Teen & Adult resource listing – Mental health