Blue Valley West students attract dozens to ‘Break the Silence’ mental health event

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- For two hours, a steady stream of moms, dads and teens of all all ages kept filing into the Blue Valley Center for Advanced Professional Studies in Overland Park.

Seeing the huge, enthusiastic crowds put a huge smile on the face of 17-year-old Makenzie Lake, a senior at Blue Valley West High School.

Thursday night she and two classmates devoted their evening to educating people about a serious issue researchers estimate affect millions of Americans: mental illness.

“It’s a very serious issue and we just want to break the silence," Lake told Fox 4's Robert Townsend. "We want people to prioritize and maintain their mental health. We want to make mental health issues something people throughout the community can talk about at any time and not be afraid. I’m so glad all of these people showed up tonight."

Lake and her friends held a two-hour “Break The Silence Wellness Fair” at the CAPS Center in Overland Park. Dozens of parents and teenagers got a chance to talk with professionals at educational booths designed to help individuals, couples and families cope with stress, anxiety, depression, suicide and other mental health struggles.

Attendees also got a chance to participate in fun activities designed to help them reduce anything that would affect their mental stability.

“We wanted to propose lots of solutions that would help people with whatever they were struggling with honestly. Whatever works is amazing,” Lake said.

“They talked about yoga here," said Wendy Talley, a Johnson County parent. "They talked about eating right and exercising, and they gave us things that we can do that might help us. Also, we’re finding mental illness does not just affect adults, but many kids too, and I don’t think many of us realized how prevalent it was."

According to research from the National Alliance On Mental Illness, currently 21 percent of our nation’s youth and nearly 44 percent of adults in America will experience mental illness in a given year.

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