Mental Health Council

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BVN's Mental Health Council holds a meeting at the student services office and discusses their plans for a "mental health week" before finals where clubs involved with mental health are planned to organize various events to help students de-stress.

Starting this week, the leaders of Sources of Strength, Impact of Words, Spoken Word Poetry, Zero Reasons Why, Student Council and the Hacky Sack club are coming together to form a new Mental Health Council.

The council will be a way for the clubs to collaborate and work on bigger projects for the school. It also hopes to spread awareness among the student body for upcoming mental health events. 

BVN social worker Lisa Summers, is in charge of the new council. The idea of a mental health council was introduced to her by Dr. Ostroski and inspired by the mental health councils at Blue Valley West and Blue Valley Northwest.

“The one thing that all of the students keep saying to me… [is] that we’re trying to make a change [in mental health] at Blue Valley North [but] we didn’t have any way of sharing information or collaborating if we needed to,” Summers said. “So, that’s where [Dr. Ostroski] came up with the Mental Health Council and we kind of took it from there.”

After deciding on the council, Summers reached out to student leaders from the different mental health groups at North to see if they would be interested in joining the council.

Of these students were junior Emme Mackenzie, president of the Spoken Word Poetry club, as well as senior Taylor Roty, a member of Sources of Strength.

Mackenzie said she was excited when she first heard about the council and was glad to represent the Spoken Word Poetry club.

“What we do in the club: the poetry, the writing, the performance, it’s all in itself very therapeutic, I would say,” Mackenzie said. “It’s a place where people can share their emotions, their stories, and I think having that outlet and letting others know that that’s available to the students would really help with mental health in general and being able to connect with others and let out all of those feelings.”

The Mental Health Council will also provide a way for students to have a greater say in the mental health measures taken at the school, as opposed to solely administrative actions. Mackenzie said this was important in order for the right steps to be taken.

“We’re the ones going through all of the emotions that you feel during high school and there’s no way for teachers to compare how they feel to us, because they went to school 20 years ago,” Mackenzie said. “They were in our position a long time ago, and things have changed. And so I think it’s important for us to be the ones to vocalize our own emotions, because we all go through the same things to some extent.”

Roty said she was excited to see how the Mental Health Council at BVN will collaborate with other schools in the Blue Valley District to create a larger impact.

“With the Mental Health Council, we can see what’s working at other schools, so we can also help with our school, and so we can get more opinions and ideas from people from other schools that will help affect everyone all together,” Roty said.

Roty also said that with the pressures faced by high-schoolers today, a Mental Health Council was important to help teens deal with their struggles.

“I think in high school, all the stereotypes and having to look one way or the other [contributes to problems with mental health]” Roty said. “… I think social media is also a factor too. People are getting more away from their morals and more [towards] what their group is doing. And I think that’s hard, because then people feel like they don’t fit in and they overthink and then they just get stressed and depressed.”

Although the Mental Health Council is just emerging, Summers and others on the council hope that the council will continue to grow in the future to incorporate more clubs and voices into the discussion.

“If I’ve noticed nothing else about kids since I’ve started working here, they come up with fantastic, fabulous ideas,” Summers said. “So I think it’ll be very, very interesting to be a part of, or the smallest part of, just watching this whole thing unfold.”