Wyandotte high school program helps stop mental health stigma

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Using technology and a lot of heart, Zack Grew has out together the website for teen task force here at Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte.  

This is my name, so if I click on me you can learn a little bit about me and my experience with mental health and the problems I have been through.  

The reason for the new group? Making sure no student feels alone during a tough time in their life.  

"I lost my grandmother to an opioid addiction she had," Grew said. "That was a really hard time in my life and I didn't have anyone in my life that I could go to. So I just feel like it's my responsibility as a human being to make sure no one else is going through a hardship or they feel they have to do something completely awful to get rid of these problems."

Sadly, that's happened a few times here in Wyandotte.  Two students died of suicide.  It was a wakeup call for the district led by principal Tom Kell and his team of social workers and counselors. 

"We had a couple rough years and I've noticed a big increase in mental health concerns with kids and a big decrease in the services that are available, especially in Wayne County," said Maria Sutka, social worker.

So the school looked within and helped train these teen mentors to be on the lookout.

"I tried to educate the school about mental health as well," said Hannah Gripp, a teen mentor. "And let them know that no matter what they're going through, that we are here for them and we are a resource at our school."

"I grew up in a couple rough neighborhoods," said Owen Helfrich, a teen mentor. "I've been in and out of drama and all kinds of things. Not too much but I could definitely relate to almost anyone or anything. So I am there for a lot of people and I have a lot of friends that call on me and I have a lot of people I call."

The counselors have seen a difference-the biggest being the fact that students are looking out for each other.  Literally.  

"These kids are the eyes in the ears of the school," said Derek Hoffman, a counselor. "If they see a kid who looks down in the classroom, down in the hallways, we can pick them up and say come join us one day at lunch. Play Uno, play Jenga, talk about getting involved in something at the school and something that is going to make their high school experience a better one - and life overall better."

Through the games, the talk, the lifting of spirits, the Wyandotte community has built a resource to take care of its most important resource.  It's future.  

"We're human beings, we have to look out for each other," said Grew.

For more information go to https://www.rhsteentaskforce.org/