Area students collaborate in ‘You Be You’ campaign to improve mental wellness

OLATHE, Kan. -- Teens from five area schools gathered together Thursday to share ideas on how to improve mental wellness among their student bodies.

Rising suicide rates among teenagers remain a concern among mental health professionals and students at schools. That's why Bernstein-Rein advertising joined with the Greater Kansas City Mental Health Coalition and Jewish Family Services to launch "You Be You," a teen mental health campaign.

"We want to see parents talking to their teens about mental health and wellness and doing mental health promoting activities like physical education, detaching and decompressing from screens, talking to one another. Going for walks, reading a book. good activities," said Sarah Link Ferguson, the coordinator of the Greater KC Mental Health Coalition.

Students from five different schools shared ideas about how they try to spread a message of self-acceptance through social media, assemblies and other positive programming.

Some teens say it's important that kids feel comfortable and safe within their school.

"I feel like sometimes as teens we`re told that you can get over it. 'Oh, it`s just like senior blues,' or, 'it`s just a quick high school rush.' But I feel like it`s a serious problem that people deal with. We are not sure who to go to because it`s so often brushed off," Irene Gatimi, a senior at Olathe North High School, said.

Gatimi's school created a kindness and acceptance garden. Others use posters, T-shirts and stickers to spread a message of love and caring. Only through increased sensitivity do these folks believe that mental distress can be recognized and prevented.

Schools involved in the event came from Olathe North, Turner, Valley View and University Academy.

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