For young people with mental health concerns, school can be a negative space. Individuals with mental health concerns, like anxiety and depression, can come up against stigma from their classmates, and maybe even the faculty. There’s much that can be done to change the stigma that can be a part of schooling. We’ve mentioned before that learning and talking about mental health can be a powerful way to reduce stigma. Luckily, there are people working within schools to make change from the inside out.
One program that the SOVA team has had the opportunity to learn more about is the Stand Together initiative. This Pittsburgh-area program is working in local schools to decrease stigma associated with mental illness and substance use disorders. The middle and high schoolers participate in workshops to “reduce negative attitudes, beliefs, and social distance between youth with behavioral health challenges and their peers.” The Standing Together website it full of wonderful resources related to mental health, including an awesome blog! Check out their website and let us know what you think! Keep an eye out for future articles (including staff interviews) about the Stand Together program!
In what ways could your high school benefit from an initiative like this? If you’ve graduated already, how would your high school experience been different without stigma?