For the Spanish translation of this article, see here. http://mvhsoracle.com/features/its-okay-now-mvhs-estudiantes-y-padres-colaboran-para-crear-un-progr
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 has a mental health condition. The average delay between emergence of symptoms and getting help is eight to ten years.
Two MVHS parents, Lekha Srinivasan and Junne Moy, partnered with MVHS Business, Entrepreneurship, and Math Club (BEAM) to create a platform called “It’s Ok Now” to mitigate the mental health issues currently facing the MVHS community.
“It’s Ok Now” will take the form of a website where adolescents from middle school, high school, and college will be able to better understand and deal with their emotions; connect with fellow teens; learn about treatment and counseling; and share their experiences and perspectives in a safe and welcoming wellness hub. The site will consist of videos on various topics surrounding mental health, a blog for sharing stories, and a “help” tab to direct visitors to the counseling or treatment they need, among other things.
Srinivasan grew up close to mental illness; seven members of her extended family suffered from mental health issues and were inadequately treated.
Their work with the Achievement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program has shown Srinivasan and her co-worker Junne Moy of the power of support, which shaped an idea that became the “It’s Ok Now” online wellness initiative.
“I felt that what was missing was a forum for teens to be teens and talk to one another and feel comfortable and welcome,” Srinivasan said. “‘It’s Ok Now’ is an online community for teens and pre-teens to engage in positive dialogue in and around mental wellness. The focus is on wellness as opposed to illness.”
After developing the idea, Moy and Srinivasan approached assistant principal William Blair to inquire about student groups who may be interested in bringing the initiative to MVHS. Blair connected them with the student club BEAM.
Since then, BEAM club member and sophomore Renée Remsberg has spearheaded the project and will be leading a project group within BEAM to gauge student need, advertise, and advocate for the initiative on campus. One of the first steps for Remsberg and BEAM is sending out a survey for MVHS students to fill out on student mental wellness.
“BEAM is looking to support ‘It’s Ok Now’ in field research, product development, content creation, marketing, and any other way in which we can be helpful,” said Ron Miasnik, BEAM club president.
.On the technical front, Srinivasan and Moy are in the process of designing a prototype of the website to be released at the end of November.
“The idea is to start small…Mountain View is one of the first to really take on the initiative and agree to put in resources,” Srinivasan said. “The feedback so far has been 100 percent positive. Everyone feels that there are a lot of resources on the web, but there is nothing that has the voice of the teenager.”
MVHS will pilot the initiative, but Srinivasan and Moy plan to contact Los Altos High School and Saint Francis High School to expand the program’s reach.
“I would hope that BEAM and others within Mountain View can go promote it to other schools in the area and help build an online community of like-minded students,” Srinivasan said. “It is really [the school students]who are going to execute it because it impacts you.”