North Harford student joins Mental Health council; social media spreads awareness

Evan Kuzemchak, Social Media Coordinator

Trigger warning– mentions of depression, anxiety, suicide, eating disorders, and other mental illness 

     “I’m in the social media subcommittee. I send a few posts related to our monthly theme to our committee leader and go to about 3 meetings per month,” says Noa Blanken, sophomore about her seat in the Harford County Public School’s Mental Health Council. “We have 3 sub-committees within our main committee,” outreach, social media, and video. Within the sub-committees, Blanken “works to spread awareness and change the conversation regarding mental health.”

     Blanken says that “some meetings are like group therapy sessions,” where members can “talk, vent and often discuss [their] own mental health.” The committee still takes to “discussing the monthly theme and upcoming events.” Blanken says that the council plans “on taking on the topics of depression, anxiety, suicide, self-harm, eating disorders, and other mental illnesses.”

     Blanken says that “joining this committee gives [her] so much motivation to be a better and more positive person.” Blanken has learned “about what is acceptable and what is not, regarding mental illness,” Blanken says “calling someone schizophrenic because they are acting a little ‘different’ or ‘crazy.” is an example of what she has learned is not acceptable

     Those considering joining should, according to Blanken, “We are all best friends and it’s so nice to have something in common with people.” Blanken states that even if someone “doesn’t want to or cannot join” they should still go “check out our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter,” – all platforms the council can be found @hcpsmhzone.

     On the committee’s linktree there are multiple resources starting from the suicide lifeline number all the way to how to get motivated to do school work. At the top of the page, it says “these resources are for you, it’s okay to need help. You matter!” reassuring those who need that small push to reach out. Not only is this an outlet for teens but for adults and children too, a recent post on the committee’s social media shows ‘communicating empathy to children’, even vouching for children with trauma and how they present their feelings differently.

      According to the Maryland Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) ”for 2013-2015, 21% of Harford County residents have been diagnosed with depressive disorder, compared to 16.1% for the state.” adding on “18.2% of high school students reported that they have seriously considered attempting suicide. While approximately 96% of Harford County residents are insured, there is a notable lack of mental health care providers to meet community needs.” This shows there are even more reasons for Blanken to continue her help in spreading mental health awareness so the community knows everyone is getting the help if they need, when they need it.