Mental Health, You, and Our School Community: Mental Health Awareness Month at Ramapo

Sarah Chagares, Editor in Chief


            If you were suffering from an injury that affected your ability to function, would you visit a healthcare professional? How about if you were suffering from an emotional issue that affected your ability to function? Would you similarly seek assistance from a mental health professional? If not, why not?


            May is Mental Health Awareness Month and is the perfect time to consider your mental wellness. In a pre-pandemic survey, it was revealed that about half of Americans will suffer from mental illness during their lives (“Mental Health”). The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified mental issues, especially for young adults, who have struggled with anxiety, isolation, fear, and other emotions. In fact, one survey showed that 56% of young adults have suffered from “symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder” (Panchal). So, if you are suffering, you are not alone.


             The Ramapo High School community has endured many difficult challenges during the pandemic. In addition to coping with the pandemic and its many negative effects, our community has lost a student, a coach, and a recent alum. Mrs. Jasmen Mantashian, the Student Assistance Counselor at Ramapo, has observed that “[o]ur mental wellness impacts how we recognize, express, and regulate our emotions as well as cope with the difficulties in our lives.” 


            Notwithstanding the ubiquity of mental health issues, a major hurdle is the stigma surrounding mental health and mental health treatment. Too many sadly view mental illness with prejudice and consider it a weakness. That may cause others to hide their pain and refuse to seek help. Mrs. Mantashian notes that “dedicating the month of May to increasing awareness [about mental health] can help reduce the stigma and reach those suffering in silence.” So, Mental Health Awareness Month is about improving your mental health as well as the mental health of all in our community. Mrs. Mantashian emphasizes that while “[m]ental health matters everyday or every month,” May is “a time to slow down, pause, and dedicate a few minutes to having real and meaningful conversations about support, services, resiliency, and our responsibility to prioritize the mental health of our community.”


            Ramapo has many excellent and confidential resources for mental health services. Mrs. Mantashian and the guidance department are supportive and caring places to start for all in our school community. Mrs. Mantashian encourages: “It’s never selfish to prioritize your needs. If we do not prioritize our mental health, we are unable to be the best version of ourselves.” Indeed, why wouldn’t you seek help if you have a need, regardless of whether it was physical or emotional?


Nirmita Panchal, Rabah Kamal, Cynthia Cox, Rachel Garfield, “The Implications of CVOID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use,” KFF, 2021.


“Mental Health.” Gale Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2019. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, 2020.