For students across the country, this pandemic school year reinforced the importance of focusing on mental health. At Ames High, seniors Tatum Lillibridge and Jamey McCalley serve as student leaders of the Ames High Mental Health Club after first joining the group a year ago.
“[Last year,] I was learning so much about how I can be a resource to someone who was struggling with their mental health,” said Lillibridge, noting how she initially got involved. McCalley echoed that sentiment and recognized that mental health is wide-ranging. Together, they found ways to talk about mental health.
Each month, they created a flyer that highlighted mental health components and previewed what the club was working on and talking about. Ames High teacher and staff sponsor for the club, James Webb, noted how amazing these two students have been leading this effort. “They facilitated an ongoing, open conversation between club members on the importance of mental health, organized events (movie night), and tracked down donations to create weighted blankets.” The weighted blanket project was the second banner initiative that made significant progress this year in addition to the Green Bandana Project.
Mental health training to earn the green bandana took place for a small group on Friday, May 21st at Ames High. More importantly, Lillibridge and McCalley laid the groundwork for the student leaders next year. The Green Bandana Project is a suicide prevention training that provides students with the necessary skills and resources to help peers who may be struggling with their mental health. Once a participant goes through a structured mental health training session, the green bandanas are to act as a visual representation of students’ support for one another and their ability to help others. Although they will have to wait for next year, McCalley acknowledged that “It would be really powerful to see a lot of green bandanas in the hallways to show how much people support each other.”