When Emily Entwistle started high school four years ago, there was one sorority that stood out to her.
“It was a little bit of a shock. It was like a reality check,” said Entwistle, now a senior at Bernard Heights High School.
She’s talking about the Safe Promise Club, a student-run group affiliated with the Sandy Hook organization that works to prevent school shooting bullying and raise suicide awareness.
“This is the world we have to live in and this is what we have to prevent on a daily basis,” Entwistle said.
Active shooter drills, cyberbullying, and mental health issues are all too familiar to many teens.
“When I’m at school, every time I go to a new classroom, I think about where I’m going to go and how I’m going to get out,” said Quanah Aquino, a fourth-grader from Bernardo Heights.
However, they often feel that their voices as stakeholders are being ignored. To change that, Congressman Peters and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm hosted a roundtable with students.
One of the students’ suggestions was social media literacy education for adults.
“I think social media plays a huge role in mental health and suicide issues, and it’s something that our generation is very familiar with in its unique aspects, but our parents probably aren’t as familiar with.” Entwistle said.
Another student asked for more educational resources for parents about mental health.
“Many people are really afraid to talk about their feelings and the mental health problems they may be experiencing, and they keep everything to themselves, which can lead to suicide. ,” said fellow senior Miriam Labib.
Suicide rates among youth and young adults ages 10 to 24 have increased by at least 7%, according to the county’s latest statistics.
“We want to make sure we have the appropriate support in place to avoid such tragedies in the future,” said Congressman Peters.
Peters and Palm say they are open to all suggestions to improve mental health services in schools. Meanwhile, students say they’re grateful someone is finally listening.
“I really appreciate that they were able to see a teenage perspective,” Entwistle said.