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By Tehreem Khan
Recently, the Townsend Harris High School Guidance Department held its second annual Mental Health Fair, in honor of Mental Health month. A total of eight organizations, including the Condom Availability Program (CAP) through The Office of School Wellness, Thrive, NYC Well, Generation Q, Child Center of New York, and Queens College Psychological Center presented to provide resources and educate students on various aspects of mental health. According to the Guidance Department, approximately 400 students attended the fair, which included not only resources, but food and giveaways.
Mental health overall refers to a person’s emotional, psychological and social well-being. Guidance counselors Colette Magnan and Sara Skoda, co-organizers of the event, commented on the importance of this particular fair: “[The Guidance Department] believes the fair is important as it raises awareness of personal and emotional issues that adolescents face daily but may not always feel comfortable to discuss.” A good way to combat that, they continued, was to educate students about the various resources that are available locally. “Informing students of [these] resources is an impactful way to empower our student body,” they said in a joint statement.
A major goal of the fair, held on May 25, was to “destigmatize the notion that Mental Health is something that should be hidden or ashamed of,” a goal that junior Tandeep Sawhney believes that the Guidance Department met. “There has always been a certain stigma to mental health that can be accompanied by shame and unfair judgment, and I think the fair did a really nice job at addressing that issue,” she commented.
Junior Sam Diaz felt the fair was very informative. “I liked that each set up had a different aspect of mental health,” he stated. “I remember seeing one about depression, and another about relationships, and it was interesting to see these different aspects all relate to mental health.”
Overall, the Guidance Department believe the fair was very successful. “We strongly believe in the importance of taking care of not only our physical health but our mental health as well,” the counselors said. “It determines how we think, feel, act, handle stress, and make choices.”
They concluded with this reminder for all students: “Knowledge is power and self-care is of the utmost importance.”