High school senior creates committee to combat pandemic stress, improve mental health

Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 5:49 PM EST
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PORTLAND, Mich. (WILX)- St. Patrick High School in Portland found through recent studies that the pandemic has increased anxiety and depression in students.

One senior student created the ‘Mind Over Matter’ committee to help combat pandemic-related stress.

“I heard a lot of the teachers saying that the morale is really down in the school and I really took that and listened to that,” said senior Emma Schuerer.

Scheurer founded the Mind Over Matter Committee when she was working on her capstone project. Teachers were looking for ways to help the community, and Scheurer’s idea sparked more interest- including the interest of school counselor Jenny Garcia.

“The mission is to promote kindness and positivity and bring more mental health awareness,” School Counselor & Mind Over Matter Group Advisor, Jenny Garcia said. “[We want] to try and take away that stigma of mental health and just build more morale.”

“It’s really about helping people realize, ‘hey, it’s a hard time right now.’ We can still do fun things. We can make memories and have fun still with all this going around,” said Scheurer.

The group holds monthly meetings to plan activities to de-stress the students.

“We did a fall decorating contest to bring life to hallways, the teachers voted on it and the winners were able to smash pumpkins as a stress relief,” Garcia said.

“[We also] had a relax day, a whole day helping kids on how we can cope with [things] when we’re stressed,” said Scheurer.

With the new health order in place, the group got creative in order to host virtual events.

“Right now, we’re talking about gratitude,” Garcia said. “Students, families, teachers and staff, they write down something they are grateful for, take a picture of it and [then] we’re compiling it into a video.”

Both Scheurer and Garcia told News 10 that the events have been a success.

“It’s really cool. Even with masks, you can’t see smiles or see emotions but during the whole thing I’ve heard laughter, and you can just feel they are smiling under the mask,” said Scheurer.

“We’re noticing it’s building morale in the school,” Garcia said. “I know with one of our events, students that don’t normally hang out with one another were helping each other. We’re really building that community here.”

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