Addressing Mental Health

The year 2020 had an immense impact on society and lockdowns severely altered the mental health of teens and adults worldwide. In recent years, Greenville High School has taken notice of the mental health decline and is taking action by creating the Greenville Mental Health Advocates- a group committed to promoting positive change in the mental health of students and faculty. 

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Protection (CDC), over a third of high school students experienced poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Greenville High School is combating the issue by introducing the Mental Health Advocates, led by school psychologist Samantha Zimmermann. Founded in 2020, their goal is to build community in the school, raise awareness about mental health issues, and teach students coping skills. Mrs. Zimmermann said that the students decide themes every month, such as a “Gratitude Event” and “February Self Love” to promote mental health in a fun and positive way around school. Zimmermann encourages students to give their input on what they believe is working about mental health awareness in school and what needs to be improved. 

The real driving force behind the Mental Health Advocates are the group members. Former member Olivia Ruso joined to help other people. Ruso said, “The group is not very structured like other groups and is more student run.” The Mental Health Advocates group has grown each year since its inception and has adapted its efforts to what the students believe is important in the world of mental health. 

Each year the group attends the Mental Health Matters Day held in Albany, by the Mental Health Association in New York State, to learn about mental health policy and engage legislators. Advocates across New York State came together to rally for mental health workforce funding, and mental health in schools for veterans and for military families. Many people shared their own personal stories surrounding mental health. Ruso attended the most recent rally to advocate for mental health days in school. “The rally was very interactive, I actually spoke at it,” Ruso said. “I spoke about a personal experience regarding a family member who was in and out of facilities due to multiple different mental health issues.”
The Greenville Mental Health Advocates will continue to combat mental health issues and advocate for the students of Greenville High School who may need guidance to help improve their mental health. “The goal of the group is to create a stronger community at Greenville High School, one that supports mental health and really embodies our vision of a place where everyone learns, teaches, and belongs,” said Zimmerman, noting that this is the mission statement and overall goal of the school district.