Starting off on a Positive Note

McGwire Ishikawa, Reporter

     The smallest reminder can go a long way in improving someone’s emotional state. As a way to promote positive well-being, the Student Alliance for Mental Health and Wellness Club (SAMHW) hosted a lunch activity on Nov. 27 called “Give One, Take One.” The event started off with club members writing inspirational quotes and daily reminders on flash cards. Students and teachers could then take a message for themselves and also write one to place back into the booth for others to take.

     “This project is mainly to share words of encouragement to students and staff around campus. I know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed with school work and other activities, so as a club, we wanted to offer a place for students to de-stress,” said SAMHW president Senior Megan Ogasawara.

     In September, SAMHW participated in the “Out of the Darkness” walk for suicide prevention. One booth had their own version of the project, which inspired the club to bring it back and share it with the school. “We know it’s a smaller scale ‘cause it’s a Wednesday, but we’re hoping to do things like this on a larger scale to promote mental health,” said AP Psychology teacher and SAMHW club adviser Douglas Muraoka. “We knew that this being the start of a long weekend, we weren’t going to see a big crowd. So definitely a bit more pre-planning and a little more set up beforehand, it’ll improve the next event.”

     “Give One, Take One” allowed some members to interact with other students within the school. To improve school participation next time, the club plans to host the event during both lunches. “I’m glad that students are so receptive to it, they respond well to the call, and they’re responding well to the activity,” said Muraoka. “As long as people know that there’s people to talk to, it goes a long way to promoting a good mental well-being. Feeling that you are closed off and feeling that you’re unable to talk to people leads to really negative thoughts and possibly negative outcomes.”

     Aside from spreading positive messages, another goal of the project was to promote the club and help people understand what it is about. The main intention behind SAMHW is to allow people to be aware of and improve their own thoughts and feelings. “I feel like some people think that the SAMHW club isn’t for them because they aren’t going through any serious problem. But I want to share that the club isn’t always about getting support, but also giving to others who might be going through a hard time,” said Ogasawara. Vice President Senior Phoebe Kwan added, “I think it’s just a really good place to go to for mental support and to help others understand their (own) mental health and bringing our school community together and improving its mental health.”

     Members in this club are able to give support to their peers and gain support from others. They are also able to gain more understanding of mental health. “Through being a part of this club and going through the training, I practically became more (knowledgeable) about mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and depression. The class also taught me to be more compassionate towards others,” said Ogasawara. Muraoka added, “Ultimately, we want to create a safe place for students to share and express their feelings in a nice, safe environment (that’s) non-judgemental (and) non-critical — especially how and why the club was formed.”

     SAMHW will continue to sponsor activities in the upcoming school year. These include a “candy cane giveaway” for Christmas, as well as a collaboration with Red Cross Club during second semester.