Local high school student founds school's first club focused on mental health awareness
DOWNINGTOWN, Pa. - A student-run club is raising awareness on mental health to support fellow peers and faculty at a local high school.
Allie Hathaway is the founder of the Mindset Matchup club at Bishop Shanahan High School in Downingtown.
"It was never really talked about until now and I just feel like breaking the stigma earlier in people’s lives is something that could make a difference later on," said Hathaway.
The 18-year-old senior plays lacrosse and wanted to create a safe space for students to open up and support one another.
"Being a student athlete is just so tough sometimes, but that’s why I started it so that we all have a place where we can all go together," said Hathaway.
Hathaway collected over 100 student signatures to launch the first ever club at her high school focused on mental health. In its first year, there were nearly 100 active students who participated.
"It really is kind of a perfect storm of things that created this mental health crisis in America," said Dr. Robert Moran, Principal at Bishop Shanahan. "To see our students rising up to do something about it, like I said, really has been inspiring."
This week the school held its first ever mental health awareness week. The Mindset Matchup club organized themes for each day taking into account every single person.
"Little gestures of kindness I think go a long way and the club makes it a point to extend that not just to students, but also to faculty and staff and administration," said Dr. Moran.
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One of the highlights is the Affirmation Station where participants are invited to take a moment to stop by, reflect and jot down a positive affirmation.
"We had one of the announcers from the Sixers come in and talk about mental health. We went to a farm and took care of horses, and it’s just been something that took off this year that no one was really expecting," said student Peter Demaio. "The journaling, that’s something that I still use, and that was one of the first meetings we had. So seeing seven, eighth months later and I’m still doing it now has been really helpful."
Hathaway is graduating and plans to pursue nursing in her future. She’s hopeful the club will continue to play a positive role in young people’s lives.
"Don’t be afraid to reach out to people. I know that’s like the first thing people struggle with is they’re scared to reach out, and I feel like just realizing that so many people are in your corner fighting for you, and so many people have your back no matter what you’re going through, that’s such an important message kids should realize," said Hathaway.