Lafayette has many resources for students who are struggling during the pandemic. In addition to Mindfulness Monday events organized by the Counseling Department and open to all students during the time before class on Mondays, many clubs and organizations, such as LHL and the Lafayette Uplifting Club, have been meeting to engage with students and continue the conversation about mental health at Lafayette.
“The LHL organization is hoping to restart officially for the 2020-2021 school year some time during the 2nd Quarter. However, student club leaders and members have been maintaining connections and working together throughout this crisis in a variety of ways,” Klawiter said.
Senior Tessa Clark, an LHL co-leader, said the club is in full swing and planning events for the future as well as bringing awareness to crisis lines.
“Lately LHL has been trying to spread awareness for different resources such as the Crisis Text Line, 741-741, and we have been trying to maintain contact throughout the group by sharing our own coping mechanisms. With virtual learning we have been struggling to find ways to connect with students, but we have some events underway that we are very excited about,” Clark said. “Things like LHL need to be more accessible and prevalent today because kids are stuck at home in their brains without their usual distractors. It is so important to be conscious of how you’re feeling mentally in order to feel well and perform well in school. While we are social distancing, we need to be making sure that we are emotionally connected to ourselves and others,” Clark said.
At LHL’s most recent meeting, member’s discussed coping skills for online learning as well as a giveaway raffle for those that attended the meeting.
The conversation about mental health and the stigma surrounding it has been in progress at Lafayette since its opening, however, it became a real focus of the students and staff when the school was rocked by the loss of two students by suicide in a very short time span in late 2014.
“In August 2015, two students approached me about starting LHL. Together with Mr. Klawiter, we embarked on a journey to destigmatize mental illness and prevent suicide.” Meyer said, “Last year [Elizabeth] Overcash took a lead role in the club, and with Flex the number of students meeting blossomed. It’s important we continue conversations about mental health.”
In addition to LHL, there are other options for students who are feeling alone to reach out to at Lafayette. One example of this is the new Lafayette Uplifting Club. Senior Shanita Ross formed the group as a way to help students create a more positive mindset when facing the challenges the pandemic has brought.
“Quarantine in March was very hard for a lot of us. I saw the visible toll it took on our mental health during quarantine, so I really wanted to take that time to figure out a way we can support each other, hence [the] Uplifting Lafayette club. I hope this club becomes a powerful tool to help each other. I want this club to drive the message of peers helping peers because we really cannot see enough of it,” Ross said.
Junior Zakee Branch is vice president and hopes the Uplifting Lafayette brings hope to those struggling with mental health issues during this time.
“COVID has made a lot of our lives terrible, and we are adapting very well, but some of us aren’t. We want to bring happiness and joy into people and give people something to relate over. Mental health is a big issue especially in the teen community,” Branch said. “We have had suicides at Lafayette from people we pictured as ‘happy’ but they were hurting. We’ve lost so many talented, kind and special people to suicide. Find help from friends, parents and counselors. Don’t go through it alone. Some people find that talking about the problem isn’t the way to go, but talking to someone just may save your life.”
Uplifting Lafayette also offers anonymous help to anyone who feels they need to reach out to someone.
“You can reach out anonymously and we’ll send you support based on our experiences. Understanding each other helps us feel more connected and valued. We understand that it is incredibly easy to tell you to just talk to someone, but we encourage you to take that step because you are definitely not alone. Please remember your voice is just as important as the next,” Ross said.