On Friday evening, December 7, the SMLeads program welcomed Andrew Onimus from "Minding Your Mind" as a guest speaker.
Launched this fall by the St. Mark's Dean of Students Office, SMLeads offers a series of developmental opportunities open to students from all Forms. Stacey Lee, associate dean of students and director of residential life, is heading up the program.
"Minding Your Mind" is a nationally renowned program begun in 2007. Its mission is to provide mental health education to students and schools and its goal is to reduce the stigma often associated with mental health issues.
On Friday evening, Andrew Onimus (pictured at right) shared his personal story with the St. Mark's audience, including his journey through recovery. Eighty students and several faculty and staff were in attendance.
"It is important that we give our student leaders the tools to recognize, address and help others and themselves get the support they need," said Jennifer Taylor, director of counseling services at St. Mark's, who helped facilitate the presentation.
Andrew did an amazing job connecting with our students about the challenges of living with mental illness," continued Taylor. "He encouraged our students to look for warning signs in themselves and friends and to have the courage to ask for help and talk to someone about how they are feeling. Andrew reminded our students that there is always someone who cares about them- teachers, counselors, advisors, parents and coaches- no matter how dark things feel, there is always someone who cares."
In addition to mental health, SMLeads focuses on a variety of other issues, including sexual harassment, the health impact of vaping, citizenship, and the building of public speaking and facilitation skills in all students, not just student leaders.
"This series is open to all because we must intentionally ensure we are doing things to develop SM students for lives of leadership and service," says Stacey Lee, "regardless of whether they ever serve as an elected or selected student leader. "This is a foundational part of what I see for our bridge to focusing on residential life as we build off the initiatives of [strategic plan] SM2020."