■ By Alex Cass / Contributed
Tahquitz High School showed its commitment to its students’ emotional well-being during the first mental health fair at the school last month.
Providing classes and programs to students to ensure academic success is only part of what The Hemet Unified School District staff does. In order to ensure students are well-rounded, the district also provides various resources and support systems for students. This year, Tahquitz’ licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) created a Mental Health Fair to help students feel comfortable talking about mental health issues.
“I see many students that have mental health needs, whether it be in the area of trauma, substance abuse, or challenges with parents, but did not know where to go or who to contact,” said Tahquitz’ MFT Jessica Oakes. Oakes wanted to create an event that raised awareness about mental health providers in the community, while simultaneously reducing the stigma around mental illness on campus.
She emailed staff and students to inform them about the Mental Health Fair, which occurred on Dec. 2 during both lunch periods. In the email she stated a variety of vendors that specialize in depression, substance abuse and emergency shelters would be available to help answer questions students may have.
Oakes said she has received a lot of positive feedback from students and the turnout surpassed any expectation she had. During both lunches, students were lining up at each of the booths to talk to the vendors. Due to its success, Jessica said she is planning on making this a bi-annual event. She has already spoken to many of the providers that were in attendance and said they would like to be a part of the next Mental Health Fair.
Thank you Jessica for connecting students to mental health providers that can offer additional support for them. This event allowed students to speak openly and access support systems that will be invaluable to them.