By Selena Bass – September was Suicide Prevention Month. In the state of Florida, suicide is the 14th leading cause of death overall, the third leading cause of death for 10-24 suicide and the second leading cause of death for ages 25-34.
Under the leadership of Principal Battest, Edward White High School students, faculty and staff COMMANDED their Mental Health, Thursday, September 28, 2023 with a Youth Mental Health Summit. The goals of the event led by the Mental Mob, a student leadership cadre, focused on promoting mental well-being were to: 1) increase mental health literacy; 2) promote healthy coping skills; and 3) promote the 988 3-digit suicide prevention number. This youth-driven event was co-created with students across grade levels from beginning to end. The day began with 988 chants with the Ed White cheerleaders and Mental Mob and a panel of mental health community experts along with student leaders. The students swayed with the sounds of the Ed White Band and DJ Pierre. Over 150 students, teachers, staff, and community members participated in the event. Principal Battest and the Mental Mob team, shared key messages: You are not alone and there is strength in asking for help. This messaging was emphasized with a Public Service Announcement (PSA) video developed by The Partnership for Child Health, Voices Institute, DJ Marvelous Light Foundation, United Way and LSF Health Systems. The video, Give Healing a Chance, includes the narrative of Darnell and Cheryl Deas, Jr. and coping strategies shared by talented local students.
The panel included:
Katrina Taylor, Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) Director of Behavioral Health
Darnell & Cheryl Deas, Executive Director, DJ Marvelous Light Foundation
Therapist Tony Baker, MTB Therapists
Therapist Nigeria McHellon, New Perspectives Behavioral Health, Inc.
Gregory Pittman, Daniel Full-Service Schools Director
Students Leaders; Armani and Darien
Therapist Stephanie Jackson, Family Foundations
In the afternoon the students led interactive break-out sessions with students. The Color of Life (painting activity); Pieces of Life (Jenga); Make a Move (dance and yoga); and Uno Numero Connections (Connect 4 and UNO) all emphasizing positive coping strategies. The event was supported by the Resiliency in Communities After Stress and Trauma (ReCAST) grant focused on Health Zone 4 received by the Partnership for Child Health. The Resiliency in Communities After Stress and Trauma (ReCAST) Grant Program is a federal grant program designed to assist high-risk youth and families who live in communities that have experienced trauma due to civil unrest or other community adversities led Jocelyn Turner. The event coordination was led by Dr. Selena Webster-Bass with the Voices Institute in collaboration with community partners; The Blue Zones, Inspire to Rise, Center for Children’s Rights, Jacksonville Humane Society, Hanley Foundation, DJ Marvelous Light Foundation, Daniel, New Perspectives Behavioral Health, Inc.