Suicide Prevention Month: Oak Heal Outreach Team tackles mental health

September is National Suicide Prevention Month… when we honor those lost to suicide, educate on this leading cause of death, and inspire others to help save lives in their community.

There is a lot of negative stigma surrounding mental health… and the
Oak Heal Outreach Team wants to eliminate that.

“Tell students within our school and our community that it’s okay to have bad mental health days and just bring positive awareness,” said Oak Hill High School senior Lily Zukowski.

The outreach team hosted a ‘whiteout’ at their recent football game with positive affirmations on the shirts, and they didn’t want them to be self-oriented.

“Like ‘I or me,’ we opted for stuff the audience would see, like ‘you are beautiful,’ ‘you are strong,’ ‘you are important,’ Oak Hill High School senior Katherine Dyer said.

OHHS has student resources, from two social workers for crisis management, coping skills, a clothing pantry, tier three services for those who are high risk and need someone to talk to — and can be referred to Tiffany for school-based therapy.

“Being a normal teenager is a lot for anyone to handle, let alone someone who’s at that 14-year-old age range and then transitioning to try to make something out of theirselves,” said Project Aware in-school therapist Tiffanny Gray.

The outreach team is all about connecting with others.

“We were even able to reach out to local businesses who are in support of it and they wore white shirts around the community, and it was just amazing outreach, getting our voices heard to those who might need it,” Dyer said.

According to Lily, speaking up is very important because sometimes she struggles with her own mental health and we all do at one time or another.

“It’s a lot of things that teenagers are struggling with nowadays,” Zukowski said. “Really important to bring awareness to that because if we don’t then when you’re an adult you can struggle with it and then you don’t know how to cope.”

When it comes to suicide prevention…
“Help is out there, they’re not alone, we’re in this together and every voice is heard,” said Dyer.

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