image is of an event poster for FEEST's mental health panel

Image is of an Event Poster, created by Student Organizer Elyssa! 

This spring has been full of excitement for the FEEST team! In addition to tabling weekly at the schools we are in, hosting on-campus events for students (Like our popular “Anger for the Sake of Our Freedom” workshop, “Get to the Sauce!” a TV/Movie watch & discuss party, and much more!) we also hosted 2 mental health panels in the Seattle Public & Highline School District! 

In Seattle, we were honored to be joined by:

Deaunte Damper (he/him) Vice President on the Board at  Washington Therapy Fund

Jacquell Malvar (she/her) Executive Administrator & Program Manager at Washington Therapy Fund

Katie Mahoney (she/her) Senior Manager of Programs at NAMI Seattle

In the Highline School District, we were honored to be joined by: 

Jenn Truong (she/her) Counselor at Tyee High School

Michael Provenzano (he/him) Counselor at Evergreen High School

During our time together, Student Organizers facilitated a panel discussion to learn from these experts in their respective fields. We entered the space and broke the ice with a fun interactive scavenger hunt! After students grounded us in their lived experiences of mental health on campus. Below is a quote from Rainier Beach Student Organizer, Nico!

I am here today because I care deeply about the mental health of my fellow students. Nobody should have to suffer alone, and it breaks my heart to see so many struggling. That’s why I decided to join FEEST’s mental health campaign for students. We’re here to build power and organize for systemic change in schools, and that starts by building relationships with decision-makers. It’s not just about talking about the changes that need to happen, but actively advocating for them. We need to examine how some of these needs are not being met to help students. 


Student Organizer @ Rainier Beach HS

After this grounding, Student Organizers gave a landscape analysis of the current state of mental health on campus. Major points covered the effects of the COVID19 Pandemic, the shift to online learning, the impacts of returning on campus, and the lack of mental health professionals at school that are also from Black & Brown communities to support students when something heavy comes up. 

Seattle Student Organizers then went on to ask our panelists 3 Important Questions:  
  • In valuing your personal and professional knowledge, how can we work together to achieve holistic healthcare that incorporates culturally affirming mental health?
  • What is your advice on how to normalize and destigmatize Mental health through our campaign?
  • We have 3 primary campaign goals. 
    1. Culturally Affirming Social-Emotional Learning 
    2. Increasing the # of therapists and ensuring they have similar lived experiences to students 
    3. Wellness rooms for students to leave class to take a break when feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or in need of rest and space 
  • What is your perspective on these campaign goals? 
Highline Student Organizers asked our panelists 5 Important Questions:
  • What is the difference between a therapist and a counselor in school? What can they do and not do?
  • How do you know when someone is in a crisis? How do you help them if they don’t ask for help?
  • How do the panelists improve mental health in schools and what recommendations do they have for us to improve mental health?
  • If you were in our position, what would you do to make this campaign grow/stronger?
  • Why does stigma toward mental health exist and how can schools break the mental health stigma?

The discussion that followed was rich and full of insight from not only our panelist but also our students and their follow-up questions. We are so thankful to have the opportunity to hear from, share, and be listened to by all of these amazing people! Thank you so much Deaunte, Jacquell, Katie, Jenn, and Michael!

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Youth are in the lead at FEEST because we know that change is not effective unless those most impacted by health inequities are the decision makers. Support youth leadership by donating today, OR sign up for our newsletter to get the latest from FEEST!

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