Stand Together is an initiative through Allegheny County's Office of Behavioral health that exists to equip middle school and high school students to take action against the stigmas associated with mental health and substance use disorders.
Community Day School chose to participate in Stand Together this year in order to bring our Middle School community together and help students feel comfortable talking about mental health and substance use disorders. One in four youth are impacted by these disorders in a given year, so it is extremely important to start having conversations with students now and educate them on how they can stand up to stigma surrounding these topics.
Funding for Stand Together is from both the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, as well as Jewish Women’s Foundation of Greater Pittsburgh.
Three representatives from Stand Together spent two days training our eight Middle School participants and one faculty advisor on topics such as the definitions of mental health and substance use disorders, what stigma means, and how to show empathy to people who are experiencing these challenges. Our students handled the intense training days with maturity and shared their passion for educating their peers on these topics throughout the two days that we were together.
Moving forward, the Stand Together group at CDS will be planning and implementing three events that will take place over the next few months and will use the “peer to peer” model for educating their classmates. Stand Together believes that this model is very powerful and better equips students to increase education and awareness, increase social inclusion, and encourage adolescents to talk to an adult if they are concerned about their own or another student’s mental health.
Our Stand Together group is in the process of planning some fun and exciting events for their peers, and we look forward to seeing how these events impact our school community and beyond.