Opening Our Minds: The Mental Health Awareness Club

Opening Our Minds: The Mental Health Awareness Club

Daisy Koffler

Every American is being challenged by our world. Frontline workers are risking their lives to serve the rest of us as we fulfill our responsibilities from home. Students have been struggling  with online learning and isolation from people and activities they love. Millions of Americans are now glued to their laptops on Zoom calls for work, while others, unemployed, are seeing their paychecks disappear. 

From the COVID-19 pandemic and significant political events of 2020 and (already) 2021, our mental health has declined. 

Society is increasingly recognizing and speaking up about mental health and illness. More people are acknowledging the importance of self-care and helping to destigmatize the subject. With social media, academic stressors, and now a pandemic, teenagers’ mental health is threatened.

Although school can be the cause of much of our stress, it can also be a place of solace and support for those who want it. Juniors Bayla Leibowitz and Dora Wells envisioned this for WESS, prompting them to found the Mental Health Awareness Club for high school students. 

The club will be a space for students interested in learning more about mental health and mental illness. They will focus on researching and designing lessons that will be presented to the rest of the student body during Crew periods. Additionally, the high school club will involve middle school students through a one-on-one pairing outreach program between high school and middle schoolers intended to educate and support younger students. 


Junior Kiki Dattoma is glad to see a mental health related club come to school.


“I think it’s very beneficial that WESS is starting a mental health club considering the times we are in….I am definitely considering joining. I think it would benefit me to learn more about mental health,” Dattoma said. 

“[Members of the club can] expect to be researching, teaching lessons, [and] being in the peer program,” Wells described. 

The Mental Health Awareness Club is primarily focused on deepening students’ knowledge of mental health. 


“We just want to remind everyone that it’s going to be about raising awareness about mental health rather than a therapy group,” Leibowitz stated. 


Leibowitz and Wells observed that day-to-day life for students now is particularly straining on mental health, inspiring them to reach out to the WESS administration and discuss starting a club. 


“Everything going on today with Covid and everything going on in the world made us realize how much mental health is present in our lives and how people need to be informed. [We need] to know what it is and how to help those around you,” Leibowitz said.


Participants in the club will expand their knowledge on a variety of mental health topics. 


“[Club members will gain] information on different types of mental health…from anxiety and depression to eating disorders and self harm,” Leibowitz told. 


Wells believes it’s incredibly important to introduce these topics to younger students. 


“We really want to incorporate the middle school….We don’t even think health [class] was a sufficient education on mental health. Even getting that so late as ninth graders, somebody could already experience anxiety and depression. It’s very important to know about it so that if it happens to you it’s not so scary,” Wells explained.


The Mental Health Awareness Club will convene over Zoom every other week on Mondays during lunch. Initially, the club will only be open to juniors. Later on, freshmen and sophomores can join. For more information or questions, reach out to[email protected]or[email protected]


If you are interested in raising mental health awareness and learning how to support yourself and others, join Bayla Leibowitza and Dora Wells as they work to enrich our community at WESS!