Perry High School (Pittsburgh Public) spent their first year in Stand Together ‘taking a bite out of stigma’ by using cookies to entice their peers to learn more about stigma and mental health and substance use disorders.
The students created a trifold board that read, ‘That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles!’ with facts about stigma, including the definition, examples, and how students could help their peers who may be struggling with a mental and/or substance use disorder. Suggestions they shared included pledging to end stigma, stopping the use of stigmatizing language, educating each other, and speaking up by being an ally.
The students also gathered statistics and reviewed the information they learned at the workshops to place on notecards. They would use these as prompts to start a conversation about mental health and stigma with their peers.
When the student approached the table, they were directed to learn about stigma by looking at the poster and then answer a question. Participants were interested in the cookie, of course, but also engaged in conversation about the facts on the notecards. This project was a great way to raise awareness. Students selected a notecard of their choosing and were offered a cookies for participating, whether or not they answered correctly. Some of the students had some really great answers-they even got rewarded with a bonus cookie!
Students and staff alike participated in the event. Some of the students reported having more of an open-mind when they encountered their peers whom they didn’t know. They learned a lot and were challenged to look at things differently. One ST team member remarked:
I enjoyed learning about mental health. It was educational. I felt encourage that our school can be better by spreading more knowledge about stigma!
The group held their activity three times this spring. The first year is always the hardest, but they showed us that will a little passion and commitment from a small group of students, change can occur. Students responded well to hearing from their peers; you never know the impact you could make on others just by talking about mental health.
Thank you, Perry for ‘taking a bite out of stigma.’ We look forward to working with you again next year!
Written by Danyelle, coordinator
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