Strikingly bold and articulate, Jessica Lifton from Wilmington, MA outlines the case for improving understanding of mental health education in schools for middle and high schoolers. She appears in front of her district school board with a prepared speech that, in less than three minutes, nearly leaves her audience speechless. Drawing on her own experience, she expertly encapsulates everything that is wrong with how youth mental health is approached in her community (and beyond), providing attainable solutions as to how to fill the gap.
In short, Jessica is our latest mental health hero.
After enlightening the board with startling facts about her own school:
“The Wilmington Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 12.5% of students reported having hurt or injured themselves on purpose in the past 12 months. That is about 100 in this very building.”
A leading cause of drug and alcohol abuse is as a coping mechanism for anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and other mental illnesses. If someone doesn’t know they have a mental health problem, they may turn to drugs to self-medicate…this might be why some of the 32.2% of Wilmington’s high school’s freshmen, sophomores, and juniors reported having used alcohol in the last 30 days.”
She tackles the state of mental health more generally:
“Considering that depression is one of the leading causes of chronic illness in the developed world, it astounds me that we have yet to arm our students with arguably the most important tool to help direct them through their lives: that is, to give them insight on their mental health.”
And through her own experience with anorexia, anxiety, depression and surviving daily suicidal ideation, Jessica makes a case for mental (brain) health education to be present in school:
- “If there were at least two assemblies every year addressing mental illness and coping skills for it, and more curriculum surrounding mental health taught in health classes, I know there would be at least one other person who would not have to miss three months of school.”
You are strong, Ms. Lipton — brava!!
Watch the full video here: