LUTZ, Fla. — Mahika Anand had seen enough anxiety and stress in the halls of Steinbrenner High School.
So the senior and her friends decided to do something about it.
"We decided that mental health is something we really needed to bring awareness to, especially since (the stress of Covid) was taking a toll on a lot of people," says Mahika.
Spearheaded by the school's DECA club, "You Matter Week" was a student-run embrace of any student dealing with depression, anxiety, ADHD, OCD and eating disorders.
Resources and videos were provided for kids. Joyful supportive walls of positive affirmations went up, as did a wall highlighting celebrities who have spoke or written about their own mental illness.
The idea was to destigmatize needing, and asking for, help.
Not only did the school's administration embrace the student-led initiative, teachers approved a "No Homework Day" to give the Steinbrenner student body a collective mental break.
"This came at a perfect time," says school psychologist Katharine Wiles. "Students want to be heard, they want to be acknowledged. They want us to know how difficult it is for them."