Positive challenges, chalk message project, student helpline and other events encourage open discussion on a traditionally difficult subject

Students at Ocean City High School are taking part in a series of innovative activities designed to raise mental health awareness. The events, which include the school’s 3rd Annual Chalk Message Project, span a two-week period and culminate on World Mental Health Day, Tuesday, October 10, 2017.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 20 percent of the country’s youth, ages 13-18, live with a mental health condition, and half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14. These conditions range from anxiety and eating disorders to major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

“The only shameful thing about mental illness is the stigma attached to it. Those who suffer with this sort of disorder often feel isolated and hopeless. Our school’s activities will enhance our students’ understanding of mental health and give them crucial skills, support and resources to deal with any challenges they encounter,” said Superintendent Kathleen Taylor.

Ocean City High School’s program began with a ‘14 Days to Positive Mental Health Challenge.’ Students signed a pledge to complete a different daily activity – from a social media sabbatical to creating lists of long-term goals — designed to boost mood, build resilience and increase happiness. Other events include a Youth Helpline, Hip Hop Yoga, and a celebration day with healthy snacks, information sessions and relaxation games designed to release stress.

Positivity Chalk Message Project – October 3, 2017

The highlight of the school’s Mental Health Awareness program will be the 3rd Annual Chalk Message Project. This extension of the “You-Are-Loved Chalk Message Project,” which got its start as a suicide prevention initiative on college campuses, encourages students, teachers and faculty to create uplifting chalk messages of hope and kindness on the school’s walkways.

“By providing these opportunities for students to talk about mental health issues, our school is working to break down the barriers that exist between help and those who need it,” Dr. Taylor continued. “We will continue to look for ways to expand the depth and breadth of our mental illness awareness programs for the benefit of all our students.”