Bringing Change to Mind at Pres


Zoey Towner

As a part of the the Pres community, students are challenged to work hard and push themselves.  When setting foot in the hallways, you often hear the words “stress” and “mental breakdown,” casually thrown around by students, who are in  the thick of a demanding education. Yet, rarely do students ask for help or support in dealing with these issues.

And that’s where the problem lies.

The stigma around mental illness inhibits students from openly discussing what is affecting them.  When talking about issues particularly with the stigma of mental health at Pres, junior officer Erica Barandica says “It’s something that’s not even discussed amongst your closest of friends because there is such a strong stigma.”

Ms. Tufnell, adds that this stigma is a large reason why students aren’t reaching out for help with mental health issues. She says, “People might be afraid to explore whether or not that’s something that they’re struggling with, because they’re afraid of being seen as different or their parents not understanding, or their friends not understanding. ”

And that is exactly what Bring Change to Mind , a new club at Presentation and a chapter of the Bring Change to Mind Organization, hopes to eliminate.  According to club officer junior Tori Curtis, “the goal of the club is to erase the stigma around mental health so people don’t approach it in a negative way.”

Officers of the club as well as Ms. Tufnell, a club moderator,  know the struggles of the issues Pres students are facing, as well as the issues with the mental health conversation at Pres.

“When you think about it, the first thing most people will say is stress. As correct as that answer is, there are larger issues that get shoved under the table. There are students who are often dealing with anxiety disorders, bipolarity, learning disabilities and much more.”  says junior Sarah Ungerer, an officer of the club. This definitely rings true, as stress is often a general term students use to mask their true issues and feelings. In this environment of overachievement that is the Bay Area, students feel the need to push through the “the stress” to be the best, creating a toxically competitive and stressful environment.

“I think it’s great when we have these girls that get some of the greatest accomplishments,” says Curtis, “But it creates a pressure that I’m not doing that , that I didn’t do this… I feel like it’s the expectation to do something. And the problem is we put that on ourselves.”

Bring Change to Mind strives to educate students on different issues ranging from various mental illnesses to self-esteem, and much more. “I think the powerpoints specifically will help educate people on how to handle a friend with something , to realize how many other people [deal with mental illness],” says Curtis.

The club will also host  some fun and stress-relieving activities, such as service dogs, self-care kits, and mental health-related art. While the club has similar goals to S’well, Ms. Tuffnell believes the more regular meetings will allow students to dig deeper into all aspects of mental health. The club will also be led by students rather mentors, which Ms. Tufnell hopes will make the club more comfortable. But the officers also want to make it clear the purpose and limits of their club.

“We’re not a support group, we’re an education group,” says Ho. “We can’t give you therapy, we can’t give you counseling. But we can give you resources so that you can go and pursue that on your own and find the path that’s best for you.”

As for the long-term goals, the club hopes that  the Pres community will have a better understanding of mental health, and that the conversation will become normalized. “It would be amazing to make people realize that there shouldn’t be be a stigma” says Curtis.

It seems that this club is a much-needed answer to the problems students are struggling with at Pres, with over 200 signing up on club day. With its passionate leaders and motivation to  change the mental health conversation at Pres, Bring Change to Mind hopes to build a more accepting world for mental health.