- Thoreau Park Elementary School
Mental Heath Summit Brings Awareness, Education to 500 Students
October 13, 2022
Parma City School District believes all students not only deserve a top-notch education, but also a safe space to learn and grow with all the support needed to succeed.
Mental health and creating an inclusive environment for all students have been a priority for us every year.
PCSD proudly hosts an annual Mental Health Summit to help give our students tools to become Mental Health Ambassadors, but this year’s summit was bigger and better than ever thanks to a very special partnership.
Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers, along with the Kevin Love Foundation, teamed up with PCSD for the summit, which was held at Rocket Mortgage Field House on October 10 – World Mental Health Day.
Students from each of our three high schools along with almost 20 other school districts in Northeast Ohio were invited to learn about important mental health topics and how to be a Mental Health Ambassador at their schools. In total over 500 students attended the day-long event.
Marian Armstrong, Parma Senior High counselor, has organized the event each year but said this year was truly special. Kevin Love, Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio, and Quest Diagnostics each donated $5,000 and Cuyahoga County ADAMHS Board donated $1,000 to make the event possible. Students also attended a Cavaliers pre-season game after the event.
“I never would have never imagined we would have an event like this when I first started planning the summit,” she expressed. “I am so grateful for Kevin Love and the Kevin Love Foundation, sponsors, presenters, volunteers, students, and staff. To be able to see this event make an impact on so many students is truly incredible, and I am forever thankful.”
In the past, the event has only been held for PCSD students, but with mental health being such an important topic, Armstrong wanted it to be open to any school that wanted to send students.
“We aren’t teaching them to be therapists or counselors,” Armstrong shared. “We are teaching them how to recognize signs of a mental health crisis, how to be a trusted peer, and how to get help for someone in need. My hope for students is that they take away the importance of us needing to take care of each other.”
Students attended several workshops during the day that covered topics like suicide prevention, mental health 101, anxiety and depression, stress, and healthy relationships. The Kevin Love Foundation also provided a newly created Social Emotional Learning curriculum that was used at the event. Several guest speakers presented to students and there was even a special question-and-answer session with Kevin Love.
Other presenters and supporters of the event included: Reilley's Angels - therapy/service dogs, Cleveland Clinic, Life Act, Recovery Resources, NAMI of Cuyahoga County, The Harris Project, The Journey Center for Safety and Healing, Youth Yoga Project, CSU Counseling department, SADD, and LGBTQ+ Center.
Elijah Breschini, an eleventh grader at Parma Senior High, said the event was very exciting and really interesting.
“The healthy relationship session was one that really impacted me because of all the stories the lady was telling I have seen happen and it really hit home,” he described. “I think this is a great thing the district offers to students. It has been nice seeing everyone talking to each other and having nice conversations - it wasn’t something I was expecting at all.”
He added that mental health is a serious topic and nothing to joke about.
Lily Eichenmiller, a ninth grader from Valley Forge, said the Mental Health Summit was a great way for students to learn how to help others who don’t have anyone else to go to.
“Talking about mental health is so important because it makes sure that no one is feeling bad about themselves and lets them know there are people they can open up to and will listen,” she expressed.
Eichenmiller is active in VF’s Hope Squad, which is an extracurricular activity in which students select student leaders who they find trustworthy and can go to if they are struggling with their mental health.
“It makes me feel good to know that people feel like they can come to me and can open up to me,” she shared. “I am here for them and will talk to them about anything they are feeling.”
“I would recommend to anyone who wants to help other people and who is interested in learning about the signs of mental illness or the signs of people who need help to come to this,” Eichenmiller added. “Mental health is something everyone should learn about and be aware of.”