Mental health is becoming a growing issue among teenagers. Many organizations are working to create awareness around the importance of mental health and providing resources to those who struggle.
A group of students at Nikola Tesla STEM High School in unincorporated King County near Redmond are doing their part to help.
Philip Rickey and other students in his class are working with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on its upcoming NAMI Eastside Youth Mental Health Conference on May 4.
What first began as an English project, Rickey and his other team members said has now turned into something more.
“We ourselves are very passionate about this topic, we know people who have gone through mental health issues in the past, and still contact them to this day,” Rickey said.
The conference’s purpose is to educate families, mental health providers and educators on mental illness in youth. Conference attendees will be informed on the early warning signs and symptoms of mental illness in youth and made aware of available resources to help manage and treat mental illness in young people.
Rickey said his team members have worked with NAMI to make the event as effective as possible.
“We sent fliers around different schools, interviewing teens about their personal mental health experiences and contacting the principals of different schools to raise awareness of this event,” he said. “Our goal is to help and inform teens and young adults, to help them and hopefully connect with them and to let them know that they are part of a greater collective of people that know what each other is going through.”
Daksha Magesh, another student working on the project, has worked with NAMI in the past and has a passion for mental health.
“Mental health is really important, especially to kids our age and we’re glad it’s getting more recognition now but we know more needs to be done,” she said.
The students have been helping plan the event for about three weeks. Despite a lot of moving parts and getting organized, the students have enjoyed planning the event.
“It’s been so much fun,” Magesh said. “It was great to share ideas on mental health and it feels good to know that we can reach people.”
Sue Hogeboom, a volunteer with NAMI, has been working with the students.
“We are very fortunate the Tesla STEM students reached out to us to help with this conference,” she said. “We are so impressed with their interest and motivation and hope to continue a relationship with them and other Tesla STEM students.”
The NAMI Eastside Youth Mental Health Conference will host Jerri Clark, founder of Mother’s of Mentally Ill as the keynote speaker. The conference will also have workshops covering a range of topics including the early signs and symptoms of anxiety in elementary school-aged youths, how to navigate the system, a youth panel with students from Tesla STEM, suicide prevention, sexual identity, a legislative update on youth mental health and more.
The conference is free and will be held at Sammamish Presbyterian Church, 22522 NE Inglewood Hill Road.
“These students have done so much. They’re helping to spread the word and ending the negative stigma around mental health,” Hogeboom said.
For more information about NAMI or the upcoming conference, visit nami.org.