Mental health is just as important as physical health, yet so often its one of the first things compromised in our day to day life. How many times have we stayed up to the wee hours of the night finishing those emails instead of just closing the computer and getting 8 hours of sleep? Or forgoing exercise or yoga because we just ‘don’t have the time’. Mental health refers to the health of our brain, which also happens to be one of the most important and complex organs of our body.
What if we called it Brain Health? Would we make more of an effort to rest our brain, feed it positive thoughts instead of negative thoughts and prioritize activities such as meditation, yoga – even therapy – to try and have the best brain health possible?
Local non-profit organization, the Josh Anderson Foundation, is working hard to change the culture around mental health for teenagers through its student-led club program, our minds matter. Our Minds Matter clubs utilize a peer-to-peer method in which trained youth develop and lead activities that encourage social connection, reduce mental health stigma, and build coping skills among their fellow students. The goal is to create an environment in which those who struggle seek help and find a way forward. Currently the Our Minds Matter program is in fourteen high schools in Northern Virginia and is seeking to expand in order to reach more teens with critical skills and knowledge around their mental, or brain health.
Why it is important to have programs like these in our schools that help students prioritize their mental health? Because our teens need this support now more than ever. Suicide has grown to become the second leading cause of death for young people ages 15-19. What’s more is teenagers’ brains are not fully developed and therefore they are more likely to respond irrationally and impulsively to life’s challenges.
We can all agree that no young person’s life should be lost to suicide. You can help support the Josh Anderson Foundation’s mission at its upcoming fundraising event, the 5th Annual Joshua Ball, on Friday November 2nd. Virginia State Senator, Creigh Deeds will be sharing his remarkable story. Senator Deeds has been widely recognized for his work on mental health reform following his son's death by suicide in 2013 and most recently, Senator Deeds sponsored the new Virginia law that mandates mental health education in public schools.
To purchase tickets, sponsor the event or donate, please visit the following site:
Thank you for helping to prioritize Mental and Brain Health!