Originally submitted to Manchester Mirror May 30th, 2022
May is Mental Health Month, and this year Manchester youth are commemorating with the launch of Manchester Matters, a youth-led campaign focused on the well-being of the Manchester community and reducing the stigma around mental illness.
“With the introduction of this new campaign, it means we’re done talking about ‘some’ things. We’re going to be talking about everything,” said Alex Duranczyk, the SRSLY Manchester program director. “We will be covering topics including mental health, substance use prevention, and physical health.”
Manchester Matters was developed in partnership between SRSLY Manchester, a community coalition that promotes the health and well-being of Manchester youth, and the Chelsea Hospital Mental Health Awareness and Training program. During the initial meetings with these groups, Manchester High School youth identified three goals for the campaign:
Increase awareness/knowledge of mental health and other resources in the school and community.
Provide consistent and comprehensive information about mental health topics.
Increase the number of mental health topics that are addressed in the community.
“Throughout the first meeting students kept expressing that stress, anxiety, and depression tend to be the only mental health topics we talk about,” said Sarah Wilczynski, the Chelsea Hospital Mental Health Awareness and Training program coordinator.
“They are ready to talk about more, and this campaign provides them a safe space to do so," Sarah continued.
For the launch of the campaign, youth decided to create and display a Who’s Who board with takeaway cards at Manchester Jr./Sr. High School. The board and cards will feature school administrative and mental health staff as well as external mental health resources. The board, which is located in the hallway near the main office, is being displayed during the month of May.
“Manchester students matter,” said Duranczyk.
“We always say how resilient they are, and this campaign allows them to showcase that through awareness, and celebration. We’re looking forward to rolling out this campaign and celebrating all that is Manchester. Go Dutch!”
If you have any questions about the Manchester Matters campaign, or would like more information about the Mental Health Awareness and Training program, please visit stjoeshealth.org/MHAT or email Sarah Wilczynski at email@example.com.