Raising Awareness & Reducing Stigma

So, you may not know this, but, in addition to my private practice, I work at a school. From my ten years in schools, I have watched numerous adolescents deal with mental health issues and well-being. On one hand, I have had to speak to them about keeping themselves safe by not sharing details of their experience with people. On the other hand, I have felt ashamed of having to tell them to keep their personal struggles private. If they had a physiological illness, they would tell their friends and get more support (of course, the line between physical and mental health is often unclear).

Then, a friend I trained with, who also works in a secondary school, mentioned that her school did a great event that was really inspiring and thoughtful. Her school was encouraged by the #Time to Change campaign. That, along with this article got me thinking: http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2014/dec/03/teachers-talk-men...

I recently suggested, in light of this, that we look at having a day or series of events to raise awareness and reduce stigma around mental health, illness, and differences. Thus far, the response from staff I've spoken to has been positive. The art, music, and theatre departments are keen to get involved. We also want to have an incredible speaker give a talk to students and staff, as well as lead workshops - again, with students and staff, either together or separately. It looks like we can get funding to bring someone in and also have them work with other schools we have a relationship with.

So, with the funding we'll have, we could fly someone in from really anywhere, cover their expenses, and pay a fee. This would be next winter or spring, most likely. Any takers or suggestions for someone who could speak to and work with young people and adults around these issues? It is a great opportunity to make an impact.