Mounds View High seniors organize walk for mental health

Students at Mounds View High School are organizing an event that’s aimed at destigmatizing conversations about mental health.

The first Out of the Darkness Walk is set to take place on Sunday, May 5, in Long Lake Regional Park in New Brighton.

The student-led effort includes Nate Moller, a MVHS senior and co-president of the school’s National Honor Society chapter.

“We hope to have the whole community come together as one by supporting people with mental illnesses,” Moller said. “People that have been affected by these issues.”

The walk is the main event, but Moller said that events are planned throughout the morning and afternoon, with informational booths and activities. It’s all about putting the spotlight on mental health issues and preventing deaths.

Moller is joined by other students on a committee that’s putting things together. For those classmates, the topic of mental illness is deeply personal.

“In the spring of our junior year, the senior class at Mounds View lost a very dear classmate and friend to suicide,” said Serena Chan, another student organizer, in an email. “It is important to me to raise awareness for not only that classmate, but for every student at Mounds View who has struggled with their mental health.”

It was a particularly harrowing time for the school, which was grappling with four suicides in a year. Writers in the student newspaper, The Viewer, wrote about taking steps toward communication and self-reflection early on in the grieving process. 

It was during that spring that efforts to start the mental health walk began, Moller said. In the fall, he attended a similar walk at Como Park and work on the MVHS walk was underway.

“There are a lot of mental health issues in the Mounds View Schools that need to be addressed,” he said.

The student committee has worked closely with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Moller said the organization has guidance for launching local walk events.

Entertainment at the Out of the Darkness Walk will include student musicians and dancers, he said. They worked to get business sponsors for booths and for food and refreshments. Organizations and student groups will be represented as well.

“School clubs can have a booth at the walk,” Moller said. “So they can have some fun activities for people to do, and information about their clubs and things like that.”

In recent weeks, it’s been all about logistics. That’s what Chan is working on, and she said that she’s focused on the details to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible.

But overall, Chan said the goal is to let people know that they’re not alone in battling mental health issues.

Moller agreed. Just like those articles in the student newspaper suggested, he said it’s important to put forth a conversation about mental health. It’s a group effort that the students are personally invested in.

“And also as a way to remember my friend, too,” Moller said. “He was a great friend, and I want people to know that his memory lives on. This walk is really important.”

 

–Matt Hudson can be reached at mhudson@lillienews.com or 651-748-7825.

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