Spreading Mental Health Awareness with Kailani Higgins


In the beginning of the pandemic, our entire society was flipped upside-down. Everything was online-behind a screen-and this had a great effect on everyone. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “The Covid-19 pandemic triggers 25% increase in prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide” with young people and women being affected the worst. The loneliness and fear from being quarantined for two years, along with losing loved ones, has invited a sense of disorder into our lives. Now that businesses and schools are opening up again, it is of great importance that we as a community step up to provide a safe space for each other, especially since we are lacking that care in our health services. The World Health Organization states that “For much of the pandemic, services for mental, neurological and substance use conditions were the most disrupted among all essential health services reported by WHO Member States. Many countries also reported major disruptions in life-saving services for mental health, including for suicide prevention.” WHO enhances the point that our society should be more open and accepting of the problems that we all go through within our day-to-day lives until those people are able to get the professional help that they may need. Luckily, we are making steps to improve the current conditions of the stigma around mental health through individuals stepping up and telling and taking the time to learn and educate others on the topic.

Recently, ACP sophomore Kailani Higgins spoke to the CUSD Governing Board and shared her opinions on the importance of mental health during the citizen comment session of the meeting. Kailani has currently been in Speech and Debate for two years, which has been a ton of fun for her and helped flourish the confidence to speak at events, such as the board meeting. Outside of school, she plays piano, guitar, and sings. She also tutors elementary school kids in her neighborhood and volunteers at a local nursing home. When asked about her passion for spreading mental health awareness, she shared that, “I’ve had a lot of struggles with mental health in the past, and in the recent few years, it has become evident to me that it’s common-too common. Seeing just how many of my peers suffer from the same difficulties as I do, I felt that it was very important for us to have resources for mental health in schools.”

Kailani encourages exploring therapy as a beneficial resource for those who want to learn more about mental health or even just want someone to talk to and understand their conflict. “I do my best to help show [students] in the direction of other resources (like our school counselors and social worker) or talking them through it.” According to Kailani, a lot of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics on suicide are extremely high, and other articles would agree with the CDC on that fact. “I don’t think I would say there is one specific article or even just a few that I would point people in the direction of if they need help or advice because different things work for different people,” Kailani remarks.

She wishes to normalize talking about mental health struggles and be more understanding and empathetic toward other people, as well as the education system hoping to include better resources that are applicable to both staff and students. “I hope that the outreach will remind my peers that they aren’t alone, and I want the adults around us to make sure we feel that way.”

With more people speaking out about the relevance of mental wellness, hopefully in the near future, we’ll be able to see more people be observant and aware that we are all on the same page, be it a student or a parent. Not everyone has the privilege to get the support they need, so it makes it even more impactful that our Knight community is there for each other, no matter how big we get. With everything that has happened and is going on in the world, having a strong support system is incredibly healthy, especially for teenagers who are at the mindset where they are close with their friends and in the process of internalizing and understanding their inner conflicts. As a teenager myself, what made me feel the most comforted above anything else wasn’t always academic validation or earthly possessions, it was my friends being there for me in the depths of my darkest thoughts. Don’t hesitate to check in on someone when you feel that something is off with them because it makes a huge difference knowing that someone is paying attention to your wellbeing and cares about you.