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Sherman '20 Speaks on Mental Health at the 2019 Awareness Conference

Last month, Lucas Sherman '20 traveled to California to speak at the "Awareness Conference." The annual event hosted by Living Hope Church holds a conference on a pressing issue of the time, and this year's topic was on Mental Health and Suicide. The conference had speakers from all over the spectrum of mental health and suicide prevention. Those who had attempted suicide, suicide survivors, communication pathologists, and more. 

Seattle Academy Lucas Sherman '20 Speaking at the 2019 Awareness Conference

Lucas Sherman '20 speaking at the 2019 Awareness Conference.

Lucas spoke about his experience losing his mom to suicide and how that lead to co-founding his nonprofit, The Other Six, for which he has worked with other Seattle Academy students Taylor-Corrine Benton '20 and Aki Eisenman-Shoda '20.

 

Aside from founding The Other Six in 2016, Lucas and his peers Aki Eisenman-Shoda '20, Zach Cohen '20, Ben Heymann '20, Olivia Levitan '20, Issac Allnutt '21, Yonase Geleta '21, and Sam Schimmel '18 have formed the student-led Suicide Prevention Council at SAAS. They partnered with Forefront Suicide Prevention and a support group to become certified instructors. This allows them to talk to other teens and deliver the Forefront Suicide Prevention LEARN Training including to our 9th graders. They also teach about the importance of connecting friends who are struggling with resources for all types of mental health, not just suicide.

In May 2019, the Suicide Prevention Council spearheaded the first-ever Health and Wellness Week (May 13 -17) at Seattle Academy. Throughout the week, there were varying types of activities including a student-led open forum panel of mental health professionals where students submitted an anonymous questionnaire for the panel to discuss and answer.  

Seattle Academy's Health curriculum unit includes many Open Sessions with Upper School Counselors where they discuss stress vs. distress: when stress is healthy and motivational vs. unhealthy (and how to cope with it). Aside from students practicing Positive Self-Talk, they also discuss stigma and how it might affect someone's willingness to seek help, as well as how we can combat it by talking about mental health, being accepting, legitimizing mental illness as exactly that: illness that is treatable, not an inherent weakness. Class discussions include how labeling emotions can be a really difficult/helpful step toward determining how to deal with them (am I angry? or am I sad about something and it is manifesting as anger?)

Health faculty and Upper School Mental Health Club advisor Hannah Gorman, who is working with the students on the Suicide Prevention Council stated, "it is incredibly inspiring to work with this council because every single one of them is so passionate and committed to ending suicide. They have a deep understanding of the mental health issues underlying suicide, and they are constantly grappling with how best to address those issues. I'm not sure I've ever met a group that is more organized and driven to support a cause, particularly one that so many people are uncomfortable even speaking about. They are having a much bigger impact on the SAAS community than I'm sure they are aware." 

 

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