In the woods behind the Central Alabama High School, two teams of students have been marching for nearly a week in silent protest.
The teams are students at the school in Tuscaloosa, who are in the midst of this year’s three-day Student March for Mental Health, a campaign that encourages teenagers to share experiences and experiences with mental health illness and illnesses, and campaign awareness for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. The teams have been marching every day between 8:45 and 9:45 a.m. – set aside for students to walk for even 15 minutes each, doing breathing exercises, meditation, and other mindfulness practices. The students are marching around all four corners of Central High and taking pics and videos along the way.
“The team creates opportunities for students to share mental health experiences,” said Grace Sedwick, the team’s coordinator and teacher. “We set goals for the march – trying to get pictures of folks for mental health awareness – and then just do what we set out to do.”
Sedwick described the students as being “kind of overwhelmed,” with a sense of exhaustion, “but also excited.” Throughout the march, parents, and local students and a few faculty members watch the march in solidarity.
“[The students] wanted to do something to help create awareness, and really wanted to focus on veterans with PTSD, which can be very rare, but still people we know from our school who struggle with their own issues. They wanted to let students know that there are people who have struggled with their issues, and there are other people who have served their country, and they can talk to them.”
Beyond creating awareness, the central message of the march is that mental health, both depression and anxiety, is a subject that students should feel comfortable discussing openly. “Everyone feels comfortable talking about sex or getting pregnant,” said Sedwick. “It’s very inappropriate to touch people’s bodies or look them in the eyes, but mental health is something that’s invisible – [students] feel like they’re not supposed to talk about it, that they’re not in control. But, if you do it, you’re not stigmatized.”
Her team’s goal is to generate more awareness among students, and to bring their message to those who do not have access to mental health services. “We want to bring the word out, and let the people who don’t have access know that they need to ask for help. This isn’t something that’s just ‘cool,’ it’s life.”
This article was originally published by Georgia Straight. Read the original article.