FM mental health update


Marissa Patrick

FM students gather at the turf field to participate at a past Safe Club event.

FM has recently been in a negative spotlight when it comes to providing mental health care to students. In September of last year, an opinion article was published in, written by a past student at FM. In the article, she recalls her time at FM and the negative impact it left her with. That article put FM in a bad spot, rather than helping the school recognize what it could be doing to help its students.

Since then, FM  has gone through many ups and downs within the span of a school year, and with the passing of an FM student in the spring, there has been a great deal of discussion about mental health at FM.  This sense of loss definitely sparked a wave of passion with the entire student body, and while people were grieving, they were also realizing that they not only needed, but wanted, a change.

According to the Fayetteville Manlius High School website, the district is in the 95th percentile for academics nationally, but that high standard comes with great pressure on students. While we have so many students pushing themselves continually and striving for success, it may be tough for them to take a break and focus on mental health. That may be the result of tests coming up, involvement in many extracurriculars, or the internal pressure that students may put themselves through among other factors.

One of the ways that the district has attempted to share the opportunities and resources that are available to students was to hold various meetings for students and staff.  The principal here at FM, Dr. Ray Kilmer, held many meetings open to the students and allowed them to openly express themselves about current issues affecting the student body. In recent months, I have personally been to a few meetings designated to dialogue about mental health and any problems here at FM. 

Both times, I was the only person that showed up to these meetings. I wasn’t expecting the room to be filled completely, but to at least see a few faces willing to speak about their struggles, and what more the school could be doing to fix them. Unfortunately, there was no one there to speak up and say what others could not or were not willing to say. It pains me to see this school making an increased effort to help its students, yet many people elected to ignore it. More students were at the last few meetings, but unfortunately the sessions were still not well attended.

On my way out of one of the meetings, I took notice of the library filled with kids that could have been there but were not.  I also had to take into account the fact that two emails were sent out to 1,600 students, and there were many reminders made through the week leading up to the meetings.

In addition, Safe Club, which focuses on suicide prevention and awareness, has held meetings, not just for speaking about mental health, but also for creating events and fundraisers like the Out of Darkness Walk coming up on June 3rd.  I went to a meeting held by the club, and once again, I was the only student that showed up along with the adviser, Ms. Patrick. 

Speaking with her helped me come to the realization that students are not doing as much as they could to improve the mental health aspect at FM, even though the school is trying harder to reach students with the resources they provide. 

 Out of these experiences I came to the conclusion that a large number of students chose to ignore those messages. While we have the staff giving students resources and opportunities to strengthen our community, we don’t see many students using them. The school understands and is willing to recognize that they need to do better when providing mental health care to students, and I wish to see more students using those resources and getting involved.  A great way to create that change is to participate in activities and events planned by clubs at school like the Out of Darkness Walk that will take place on Friday. Not only are you getting involved but you’re able to meet new people, share your ideas, and most importantly create a change.