May was a busy month for the FEEST Fam! In addition to meeting with decision-makers, and hosting our annual spring fundraiser, Fresh Flavor, Fresh Vision, we also hosted Change Takes Action: A Panel on Transforming Mental Health. Our event was emceed by our very own staff member, Mari, and Student Organizer, Amelie!
We were joined by community members, teachers, parents, and students alike, and hosted a full panel of experts on Mental Health:
Image is of Change Take Action Panelists
- Tamia Mouton (she/her) – FEEST Student Organizer
- Ray Garcia-Morales (he/him) – Chief Sealth High School Principal
- Erin Okuno (she/her) – Southeast Seattle Education Coalition Executive Director
- Chelsea Gallegos (she/her) – Rainier Beach High School Social Worker
- Eric Bruns (he/him) – Associate Director of UW SMART Center
We hosted this panel because this year FEEST student organizers have been working on the ground with their peers to identify the issues that are impacting them the most as we all make the transition back to campus. After surveying students, and meeting with school board members like Aaron Garcia, Brandon Hersey, Carrie Howell, and many more, FEEST identified that mental health is the most pressing issue impacting youth’s wellbeing in school.
From surveys, listening sessions, and meeting with decision-makers and mental health experts, we identified major themes that keep happening, and are proposing key solutions:
Image is of FEEST Student Organizers Mental Health Campaign Demands
Schools need a Bigger Budget For Mental Health
Because with a bigger budget, our solutions to solving the mental health crisis at school, and everything else that we need in order to thrive, could be made possible
Mandatory Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) in all schools
We believe it’s important for students to learn ways to better comprehend their emotions, and learn coping skills
More counselors and therapists with similar lived experiences as the youth they serve
Because students need someone they can count on and relate to
Mandatory SEL and crisis support training for all teachers
To ensure teachers have the skills and capacity to be able to support students as well as themselves.
Expanded lunch and break time
Because with everything going on in school, students need more time to breathe
Wellness rooms/centers in each school
Students need a dedicated space to recharge and take care of themselves
During the panel, our emcees led us through several questions, specific to each panelist and their area of expertise!
Check out some of the questions below:
- If [FEEST Mental Health Demands] were put into place- what would change about school for you? What would be the impacts on overall student health and success in school?
- What are the challenges school administrators and staff are facing when it comes to supporting students’ Mental health?
- From your perspective as a parent and someone who works closely with families in South Seattle, what do you think are parents’ greatest challenges in supporting their child’s Mental Health?
- What do counseling and SEL systems look like in schools right now? Where do you see opportunities for growth and improvement?
- Tell us a bit about Social Emotional Learning, for folks who might not be familiar. What is it, what does successful implementation look like, and what have you learned from your research?
Following this amazing discussion, we opened the room up for follow-up questions and really dove into the importance of supporting students and their youth-led campaigns.
Change Takes Action: A Panel on Transforming Mental Health was an educational, collaborative, and fun space for us as we work towards our youth-determined goals to improve mental health in schools. We hope that everyone who attended enjoyed it as much as we did! Special thanks to our wonderful emcees and brilliant, thoughtful panelists. Thank you for your support!