One staff member on Tahquitz High School campus is working hard to empower and support students. She created a campaign called “It’s okay to…” where students would write on a post-it note to tell students it’s okay to cry, be yourself, etc. She created the campaign to show students that they weren’t alone in the way they were thinking or feeling.
Jessica Oakes, Tahquitz’s Marriage and Family Therapist, created the “It’s okay to…” campaign to let students know they have the permission to be human. Oakes said she has received over 200 responses from students and staff demonstrating that everyone feels upset or down, but encouraging everyone that it’s okay. Oakes created a wall in the office and is pleased to find someone reading the responses each time she walks by.
“I see students gathering around the wall and reading the responses and having conversations with people about how they can relate,” said Oakes. She said she has received a lot of positive feedback from students and staff alike saying the wall has been a motivating factor for them.
Oakes explained that she hopes this campaign has made students more aware that they aren’t alone and given them confidence to talk about their experiences and realize that many people around them can relate. The original goal was to help with bullying, and after creating the campaign she realized how tolerant and accepting students were of each other. “It’s been a wonderful experience,” said Oakes.
Oakes said this campaign was to build on the success of the Mental Health Fair that was held on campus in December. She is working on creating an event every month to help increase awareness of mental health and where students can find resources in the community. The second Mental Health Fair will be held at Tahquitz from March 3rd.
“The greatest thing that came from this campaign is that a few students who were inspired by the wall created a video with their own wall of ‘It’s okay to…’ stickers,” said Oakes. She said what started off as a wacky idea in her head has become an indicator of student’s expression.
Thank you Jessica for creating the conversation around mental health awareness and reducing the stigma around it!