Advanced Peer Counseling organizes mental health awareness event

Students sign pledge to combat stigma


Sawyer Nicoll/Talon

Students pledge to combat stigma at an awareness event about mental health sponsored by Advanced Peer Counseling.

In an attempt to raise awareness about mental health, Advanced Peer Counseling organized a campus-wide event during the week of Oct. 4.

Senior Megan Johnson and junior Amber Arquilevich, alongside Oak Park High School counselors Janet Svoboda and Julie Ross, played key roles in organizing this event. The event took place at lunch by the Pavilion, where peer counselors distributed bracelets with the phrase “Strength & Hope,” and the National Suicide Hotline Prevention phone number. Students were also encouraged to sign a poster dedicated to ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. 

“In the community that we live in, a lot of people do have diagnosed mental health conditions, but they don’t talk about it because people joke about it. They joke about having depression or they joke about having anxiety and they make [a false impression] of this disorder that people actually have,” Johnson said. “It makes people afraid to talk about it and acknowledge it and makes them feel shameful.”

About the importance of these events, Arquilevich also mentioned how mental health is not discussed and how these events have the ability to change that.

“I think it is very important because it is something that is very prevalent in high school, but is not talked about. It is important to take care of yourself and put your mental health as a top priority just like school or athletics. It was important to let people know that there are many resources available to them, because it is not something that is well known,” Arquilevich wrote to the Talon. 

Several OPHS students attended the event organized by APC at lunch and signed the poster.

“Megan and I thought it was very successful. We do think that students were exposed to the issue and are more open to talking about it — which was our main goal,” Arquilevich wrote. 

In the future, APC is planning on hosting an event for Awareness Week which will impact even more students.

“I think it’s important to have events like this for students to know [about mental health] and even if they do know, to be reminded of our peers because we can all be there to help each other,” Johnson said.