Utica High School junior discusses mental health on DPTV livestream

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published May 7, 2021

 Utica High junior Sophia Meguid was part of a panel of local students who discussed mental health and suicide awareness on a Detroit Public TV program called “Please Listen: Students Talk About Mental Health and Suicide Awareness” April 28.

Utica High junior Sophia Meguid was part of a panel of local students who discussed mental health and suicide awareness on a Detroit Public TV program called “Please Listen: Students Talk About Mental Health and Suicide Awareness” April 28.

Photo provided by Kristin Sokul

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — A Utica High School junior had a chance to be on live television with other local students during a Detroit Public TV program called “Please Listen: Students Talk About Mental Health and Suicide Awareness” April 28.

Sophia Meguid was one of the local students who were involved in the discussion. The live event included a question-and-answer segment, during which audience members were able to share their own thoughts and questions with the panelists.

The program streamed online April 28, and it is available for on-demand viewing at wellbeings.org/events/dptv.

The students involved in the panel were Meguid; Bailey Parker, a junior at Bloomfield Hills High School; Eli Herrmann, a junior from Community High School in Ann Arbor; and Frank Jermaine Blackman Jr., a senior at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School.

Meguid said the panel focused on a few major topics that the panelists hoped would help others.

“We are looking to address our concerns related to mental health and/or suicide, which result from what we see or experience in ourselves or our peers. Such issues range from anxiety to substance abuse, and they have unmistakable impacts on the different spheres of our lives. We are hoping that, by communicating these struggles and some potential solutions with adults, we can build a partnership aimed at tackling the mental health struggles of today in order to improve our well-beings for tomorrow,” she said in an email interview.

Rates of suicide have continued to rise, and for years, suicide and mental health issues were subjects that people chose to avoid. The conversation on the show is aimed at breaking down the stigma and misconceptions surrounding mental health and addressing the needs of young people today.

Meguid said that her life would not be the same if she hadn’t entered the conversation about mental health.

“I am so fortunate to have been afforded experiences that have transformed my perspective and have uprooted my understanding of what it actually means to live. This is majorly thanks to what I have learned as a teen with the enlightenment from my high school’s Student Mental Health Committee, of which I am a member. As an example, I have realized that many situations that we find ourselves in, including our relationships, self-image, job and lifestyle, have ties to our mental health,” Meguid said.

She said people can notice these connections and better understand and empathize with others.

“It is because of my changed paradigm that I know just how it is crucial for all people to join the conversation about mental health in their communities, since a true look at the world inside their minds will open their eyes to the world around them,” she said.

She said that, throughout the course of her life, she has faced ups and downs with her mental health, just as many have.

“I also have witnessed other people in my life, from peers to mentors, struggle to confront the states of their mental health. This can even be seen when one is in a good place with their mental health but does not know how to keep it that way. Whether having met it during one’s own challenges or having seen it cast on others, the stigma surrounding mental health is riveting. It presents a crisis of the utmost importance for our society today because mental health is not optional, and the consequences of one’s battles with it send ripples long into the future,” she said.

Nancy Buyle, the school safety/student assistance consultant for Macomb Intermediate School District, said she has worked in the areas of crisis response and mental health for more than 30 years and has always had a special passion for mental health — and especially suicide prevention.

“I have seen people grow and heal from deep despair and have seen first-hand how people can tap on their resiliency to grow through their mental anguish and become strong and mentally healthy people. Healing through pain is so much easier if there are individuals willing to listen and not judge,” she said in an email interview.

She said there are many benefits of having students speak on this issue.

“Often, students believe that adults do things to them that adults believe they are doing this for ‘their own good’ and students may not agree with this. That is until or unless they are a part of the conversation and solution. When we can be open and vulnerable enough to hear what the students think and learn what they feel about certain things, we will be amazed at the wisdom they present. I have seen, over and over again, the great ideas that youth have to solve complex issues. Further, when we involve the youth, they are more invested in the outcome and more likely to do what it takes to achieve that outcome,” she said.

Rich Homberg, president and CEO of Detroit Public TV, said this topic is even more important during a pandemic.

“With so many pressures on the lives of students these days, exacerbated by the isolation and anxiety caused by the pandemic, there could be no better time for the Well Beings Detroit event to shine a light on suicide prevention and the mental health of young people. We decided to turn the microphone over to the students themselves in order to hear their voices, understand what they are feeling and let them tell us what they need us as a community to do to help them and their peers,” he said in a prepared statement.

For more information on the project, visit wellbeings.org/dptv.

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