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Mental health is important, too

We are writing as members of Students Empowering and Leading (SEAL), a student-led philanthropy group from East Marshall High School.

SEAL gives us the opportunity to not only better the lives of people around us, but also learn valuable lessons about life and leadership. Recently, we conducted a needs assessment to better understand the issues facing Marshall County. More than 300 people responded, 56 percent of whom were students.

Respondents felt a number of issues were important including access to affordable health care, access to nutritious food, safe housing and clean up and repair from the derecho. But overwhelmingly, the issues people identified as impacting themselves and our community related to mental health, including access to mental health services, stress, depression and anxiety. It is evident that mental health needs to be a priority.

Mental health is just as important as physical health, and when one of them isn’t cared for, it takes a notable toll. Having a negative mindset because of depression, anxiety or overbearing stress can cause disturbances in thinking, emotions and behaviors. It is important to take care of this situation as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the stigma around mental health continues to persist.

The hardest part about mental health boils down to two things: realizing you need to get help and trying to explain to loved ones the issue at hand. Young people in particular have issues expressing how they feel, which often results in bottling up the emotions and stress until it is too much to bear and becomes overwhelming.

We cannot afford to be oblivious about mental health, for ourselves and those we love. We hope you’ll take time to check on those around you. And when needed, seek support from a school guidance counselor or professional therapist who is trained to help. Our message is this — if you or someone you love is struggling because of stress, anxiety, or any other mental health concern, don’t wait. Speak up and get help. While it may be hard, it’s the best way to feel better, and it will definitely help in the end.

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Thirteen students are in the East Marshall High School Students Empowering and Leading philanthropy group.

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