“If You Really Knew Me” Seeks to Create a Sense of Community

Each Tuesday afternoon, right after school, a small group of City High students can be found in the Opstead gallery, sitting in a circle, providing support to one another.

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If you really knew me.jpgEach Tuesday afternoon, right after school, a small group of City High students can be found in the Opstead gallery, sitting in a circle, providing support to one another. These students are members of City High’s newest club, “If You Really Knew Me,” which aims to provide support to students dealing with anxiety through discussion and relationship building.

“High school students are definitely stressed out, especially sophomore year, because everybody is starting to take all the AP and honors classes,” Miranda Livingston ‘16, club founder, said. “So all that pressure is really being shoved on students.”

Livingston got the idea to start the club after hearing about a similar club, at West High School. She says that the club aims to create a sense of community to help other people dealing with issues similar to hers.

“As someone who has dealt with a lot of anxiety, and mental health issues and that stuff, I know that it can be kind of hard and you don’t really realize just how many people deal with that stuff,” Livingston said. “We kind of just wanted to create a group where people can come talk about that stuff, and just create a sense of community, like a bunch of other people are dealing with this stuff.”

Faculty sponsor and guidance counselor Tara Kolker says that she believed there was a need for a group like this.

“I think any counselor in the building, and a lot of teachers would also agree that we see a lot of kids come in and out of City High who deal with different mental health issues. Whether that is anxiety, or depression, or they may be dealing with something like cutting,” Kolker said.  “Just different coping skills that they don’t have right now, a lot of kids who just need some support in that area, and I think they need a safe place to go where they know that aren’t the only person dealing with this, and I wanted to get that started, so that kids do have that opportunity to have a place to come together, and get support from others, and make a difference in the community, where they are raising mental health awareness.”

Club members can talk about things that are going on in their lives, and discuss it with one another. In addition, the club is trying to raise awareness to increase membership, and to raise awareness about mental health issues in the community.

“Our huge goal is just promoting acceptance and awareness of mental health issues, and I think that will make a big impact in the long run,” Kolker said. “They are working on the NAMI, which is the National Alliance for Mental Illness board, right now to bring some new things to legislature, so I think that’ll make a huge impact nationwide.”

I think they need a safe place to go where they know that aren’t the only person dealing with this, and I wanted to get that started, so that kids do have that opportunity to have a place to come together, and get support from others”

— Tara Kolker

One of the projects the club is working on, is a music video, based upon the one by Safetysuit, will feature their song “These Times” and will have students holding up cards, talking about their issues. The song discusses how life can be difficult, but we can make it through, and the club decided it was a really powerful and important message that they wanted to spread.

“The song is about how times are tough, but you can get through them, and we found the video really powerful, and we wanted to recreate it,” Livingston said.

The video will be remade by students in the club, holding up signs talking about what they are dealing with, and then the video will be shown in homeroom.

Julieta Rangel ‘16, club member, says that the community has helped her, and is what she believes is the most important part of the club.

“We want to build a strong relationship with other students, and I think that’s really important,” Rangel said. “Especially when you are dealing with other things during school like work.”

Kolker agrees while increasing awareness of mental health issues within the community is important, having a community that kids can go talk to and feel comfortable talking with is really the whole point of the club.

“Right now, when we get together, we’re working on making the group more well known to the school, so trying to figure out what they can do to increase membership, and once we have more members coming, what our plan is is to work on different uplifting activities,” Kolker said. “Where students if they are going through a hard time at home,have different tools in their toolbox to deal with their mental health needs in a healthy way.”