Austintown Fitch High School students raise awareness among peers about mental health issu


AUSTINTOWN, Ohio -
A local group of students are trying to make high school a little easier for themselves and their peers.  The group of Austintown Fitch High schoolers are participating in a nationwide campaign known as The Storytellers, which is sponsored through the organization To Write Love on Her Arms.  They students' goal is to raise awareness about mental health issues and foster community within their school.

"I have always been someone to help somebody, but I have struggled with some things," said student David Matheny.  "I am gay and that was something hard to do here."

However, through the Storytellers campaign, David Matheny, along with other students, are trying to create an atmosphere, on campus, where all students feel comfortable sharing their own story.

"We want to create an environment that you can say what is bothering you, what is causing you stress so that you can get it out essentially rather than hold it in and let it bubble up to the point where you can't do it anymore and resort to something like suicide," said Matheny.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among adolescents.  The Storytellers campaign was launched in 2011 to help change those statistics.  Under the leadership of teacher Steven Ward, the group has sponsored awareness events and is currently leading the national campaign in donations, which will be used to get students help they need.

"So many students stay in silence with themselves.  They think their stories are so burdensome to other people that they wouldn't be understood, that people would look at them differently and it is important for us as a classroom, me as a teacher to kind of be a beacon for these kids to say you are not alone in this," said teacher Steven Ward.

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