Volunteers from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) recently spoke at Enterprise High School as part of the school’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

Tate Roberts, a graduate of EHS, and her son Aaron Roberts spoke to students about the importance of positive coping mechanisms, the prevalence of mental health conditions and the importance of supporting others.

“We are volunteers,” Roberts said at the start of her presentation. “Aaron and I don’t do this professionally. We both have jobs that we took time away from because we felt like this was such an important subject. I just want you to know that we care about you and we’re passionate about what we’re speaking about.”

Roberts said her purpose was to “change any kind of misconceptions you might about mental health conditions.”

“Notice that I’m saying mental health conditions and not mental illness,” she said. “That’s one of the things we’re doing to move things in a more positive direction in this field, calling them mental health conditions.”

She presented a series of videos regarding various topics such as “Ending the Silence” about mental health struggles. Videos featured topics such as ADD, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, OCD and how students can “be a buddy” to others with mental health conditions.

Roberts also focused on the positive aspects of mental health.

“The counselors have told me that they’ve been talking to you guys about how to be healthy mentally,” she said. “If we take care of ourselves mentally, we feel good. It’s so important to take care of ourselves mentally, because life is pretty hard. Has anybody noticed? It’s not just high school; it’s also really hard to be an adult.

“Stress is going to come. Problems are going to come, but when you have a healthy mental health outlook we can handle those (problems). If we develop positive coping mechanisms we can enjoy life and do the things we want to do.”

She advised that it’s important to develop positive habits including getting enough sleep, eating right and exercising.

“I know a lot of you guys are sleep deprived,” she said. “Sleep is a big factor in mental health. Also eating right and exercising. Our bodies were made to move. It’s really important to get out and move — even if it’s just walking a little bit further from the parking spot to Walmart.”

She also provided statistics to show just how many people deal with mental health issues. In the United States alone, one in four people experience some form of a mental health condition each year. Fearing discrimination, many do not reach out or seek help.

Every 24 hours, she said, 129 people die by suicide in the United States. Suicide is among the leading causes of death in the U.S.

“That means by the end of your day here (at school), maybe 25 or 30 people will have died by suicide,” Roberts told the students. “One is too many.”

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