The School Newspaper of Franklin High School

Active Minds Club: Breaking the Stigma

February 15, 2023


fhs.activeminds via Instagram

Homemade valentines made to display around the town common.

Did you know that 50% of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime ( Do you know someone who has struggled with their mental health throughout the pandemic? 

With the gravity of the hardships everyone faced during quarantine, the pandemic has amplified the mental health struggles of people around the world. 

At Franklin High School, the Active Minds Club is working towards starting the conversation about mental health in the school community and de-stigmatizing the way people approach mental health. A handful of seniors have worked with Ms. Briggs (adjustment counselor) and Ms. Hess (wellness teacher) to start Active Minds this year.

The KyleCares banner is now hanging at the Franklin High School entrance!
(fhs.activeminds on Instagram)

Active Minds’ Mission

Students started this club with the hope of raising awareness and starting the conversation about mental health. At FHS, mental health is affecting a lot of students, and unfortunately, this topic is often looked down upon. We want students to feel comfortable talking about their experiences without judgment and stereotypes being thrown at them. 

Faith Ellin (a club officer) mentioned how people respond to others seeing therapists: “It’s such a normal thing, and people react so poorly.” Faith also expressed the value in speaking more openly about mental health to develop the conversation. She says, “speaking about [mental health] is so important because it can save someone’s life.” 

Also, when talking about mental health, and asking for help, “there is a stigma that you’re identifying a weakness, but it’s not that. It is actually a strength to be able to ask for help and to say ‘I need to talk’,” said Ms. Briggs. 

Active Minds is working towards just starting the conversation about mental health. Taking care of our mental health is extremely important, and it affects most of us personally or by relation to others, so why not talk about it?

We need to take our mental health as seriously as we take our physical health.

— Ms. Briggs

Faith took a different perspective on what she hopes this club will accomplish. She says, “I want this club to teach people to be more considerate of others … I know people say a lot about how you never really know what someone is going through, and I think that this club will help really shine light into that.” 

Although “the conversation has increased,” Ms. Briggs says as she articulates the struggles of reaching out for help, “it is still really isolating, which is surprising.  I think it is surprising how alone people really feel still.” 

Active Minds wants to emphasize and show FHS that no one is alone in their struggles. There are people here to support you and listen to you. 

“Let’s get the word out there and let the rest of the student body see just how many of us are in this together” (Ms. Briggs). 

If you are in a mental health crisis, and need someone to talk to, call 988. It is open for anyone who needs support all 365 days of the year, 24 hours a day. (fhs.activeminds on Instagram)

About The Organizations

Active Minds at FHS is directly affiliated with KyleCares, which was founded in 2019 and wants to promote open conversations about mental health challenges and suicide prevention, especially for high schoolers and college students. This organization is named after Kyle Johnson and was founded by his family. Kyle was a freshman at Bridgewater State University when he took his life. He struggled with OCD, anxiety, and depression. 

“It opened the Johnsons’ eyes to say, ‘What else is happening for high school and college kids?’,” says Ms. Briggs. 

Jim Johnson, Kyle’s father, helped bring the Active Minds club to FHS when he talked to the peer leaders at Franklin High School last year about his family’s organization. This conversation about mental health touched many students, and it inspired them to start the Active Minds club. 

“It made me have a self realization,” says Julia Spanek (a club officer), speaking about the positive effect Jim Johnson’s speech had on her and how a club of this sort could help FHS. 

In a broader sense, this club is also connected to Active Minds (the organization). In 2003, this organization was founded by Alison Malmon, who was a junior at University of Pennsylvania when her older brother, Brian, took his life. When she realized how preventable her brother’s death was, Malmon decided that she wanted to change the way people approach or converse about mental health. Active Minds targets ages 14 – 24 because 50% of mental health issues begin by age 14, and 75% of them begin by age 24 ( 

On the Active Minds website, Alison Malmon says, “stigma and shame were preventing students from reaching out.” One of the most crucial missions of Active Minds is to encourage folks to seek help early. 

“Once I got help and I started talking to more people I realized that I was not the only person feeling that way,” says Julia when talking about how important receiving help can be in one’s life. 

Hopes For The Future

Support and communication are the two most important aspects of mental health. Ms. Briggs encourages everyone to “let people know we are the troops, call them in when you need them!” 

“This club could encourage students to talk and notice how talking can create growth within yourself and improve your happiness,” Faith suggests. 

Communicating and speaking about mental health and raising awareness about the topic will do wonders in de-stigmatizing mental health struggles. We hope for Franklin High School to become a place where “you might still get judgment for a lot of other things, but mental health won’t be something that you get judged for.” (Julia Spanek) Active Minds hopes to continue to work on these goals as this year progresses and as the club continues to grow over the years.

I just want to normalize the conversation.

— Faith Ellin

Julia and Faith mention that even though the majority of the club is seniors, and they won’t be able to see what this club evolves into, they have high hopes for the future of this club. 

Julia says, “I hope that this is an organization and a club that grows to encapsulate people from every single grade and every single walk of life. I want it to be the not popular people and the popular people and the people who do theater and the people who are in music and the people who do art and the people who do sports. I want it to be everyone; I want every group of people and students to be represented because mental health affects everyone.”

Active Minds wants to help create an environment where kids realize that school will always be a place where people can find support for their struggles, even if they don’t have it at home. Julia acknowledges that “not everyone has those resources at home, but school is a place that everyone will come to.” 

“I think recognizing just how many people out there are in support of this will help to start to change the culture within our schools,” says Ms. Briggs as she expands on the school’s future with Active Minds. 

Coming Up! 

Active Minds is planning to set up a table in the cafeteria the week after February break, so stay on the lookout for that!

If you are interested in helping create a more open and welcoming environment for mental health conversations in our school, join the Active Minds club! The club meets every other Wednesday in room 122. It is a safe space for everyone

“If we use this club in the right way, it could be a huge and helpful tool for so many people” (Faith Ellin). 

The KyleCares banner is now hanging at the Franklin High School entrance! 

If you are in a mental health crisis and need someone to talk to, call 988. It is open for anyone who needs support all 365 days of the year, 24 hours a day.

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