Stark Schools celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week

Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health (C&A’s) and its community partners are celebrating a milestone fifth anniversary of Stark County Schools Mental Health Awareness Week, May 1-5.  This year, C&A and its community partners are using this opportunity to bring positive mental health awareness to more than 53,000 students and more than 6,000 teachers, administrators, cooks and bus drivers all across Stark County.

Each year, the program continues to grow, bringing more Stark County school districts and students together to celebrate and remind the students important tips for positive mental health. All 18 Stark County school districts and 19 high schools have selected at least one student to discuss how that student views mental health through peer-to-peer videos. These students are recognized on social media and C&A’s website as a Stark County “mental health champion.”  A record 33 student mental health champions created a short video answering a question about how they view mental health, how their friends look at mental health and what they personally do to help other students around them. These champions reflect the uniqueness and diversity of our schools. The champions range from athletes, performers and students who have a passion for bringing awareness and helping to remove the stigma associated with mental health. During the past several years, Stark County’s mental health champions know that it is “ok not to be ok everyday” but there are trusted adults and fellow students to help you through on days individuals are struggling.

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Each participating school district receives a package of materials from C&A. The packages contain some items that allow for students to self-affirm, recognize and learn about mental health. People, specifically young people, assume mental health is something only certain individuals go through, but in reality, everyone faces mental health challenges in some way. A person does not always need to see a doctor to deal with mental health. Our physical health as well as our mental health are a normal part of being human.  If young students do not learn to identify mental health challenges, they are prone to a cycle of possible anxiety, stress and depression. This cycle can affect a person for their entire life, and sadly their children or peers can be affected. Understanding the importance of mental health at a young age is crucial to breaking the stigma and embracing the reality.

What does the week look like?

C&A is working with 18 area school districts to spread the message of positivity. There are activities and positive messages are for students in elementary, middle and high schools. Each school in the district will be receiving bags filled with posters and positive affirmations for students.  Schools will be displaying their mental health champions all throughout the week. C&A is posting mental health champion peer-to-peer videos from Feb. 27 to May 30 on social media channels to highlight all of the school's students. This year’s theme is “Pause.” This week is important for youth to be mindful of their own mental health, and it will be highly encouraged.

Students receive the following resiliency strategies

This year, elementary school students throughout Stark County will be receiving a poster that features elementary students. In addition, each student will be receiving an erasable bookmark. The concept of the bookmarks is for students to write a positive affirmation. Each time a student uses the bookmark, the student can read the affirmation that they wrote. If they would like to create a new message on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, the student can simply erase and replace! Principles will be reading a morning announcement each day with a positive affirmation.

Each middle school student will be receiving a positive message affirmation that may be placed on a computer, tumbler or water bottle. The positive affirmation is from Mental Health week sponsor AultCare, with the simple message, “You Matter.” This important message will help students continue to navigate the challenging middle school years by consistently seeing a simple but powerful message. In addition to the positive affirmation, students will receive a JPEG self-affirmation image emailed to them daily throughout the week or through the Remind app and principles will also be reading a morning announcement each morning with a positive affirmation.  Middle school students will see posters hung in their school too.

High school students will be receiving a JPEG self-affirmation that will be sent daily through email and/or the Remind app. Students will also watch the peer-to-peer self-care videos created by students all across the county. This is an important part of the week as students view that each of them shares the same strengths and challenges even though they may not know each other or may be rivals on the athletic field or other school sponsored competitions.  Each school will get a chance to listen to their peers discuss how they view the importance of mental health. The high school students will see a unity poster of each school’s mental health champion hanging in their school.

Each student will receive a special treat – The Ohio State University Head Football Coach Ryan Day taped a powerful two-minute message for all students.  C&A received a special video from Coach Day discussing the importance of physical and mental health. The students will also view a countywide unity video on mental health starring their peers.  If the peer videos were not inspiration enough, Coach Day’s inspiring and powerful message should spark the minds of high school students.

Talking about mental health and understanding how to maintain your own mental health is important for student success and more importantly life success. The mental health champions are student representatives from each school that have been selected to create videos discussing the importance of mental health week and representing their school on a poster.

This week would not be made possible without our community partners – AultCare, Stark Mental Health and Addiction Recovery, State Farm agent Michael Dougan, Q-92 and community mental health partners CommQuest Services and Pathway Caring for Children.

C&A is thrilled our Stark County School Districts view the importance of presenting a week for students to engage in positive mental health. Raising the awareness on this topic can help so many students change their conversations with friends and families.

Life is about
Difference between
Change yuor thoughts
Good Things
Start where are
You matter 3.5 x 3

Dan Mucci is the author of this blog post. Mucci, C&A’s Mission Advancement Director, has more than 20 years of writing experience. To learn more about the services the agency offers, visit , call 330.433.6075 or email