Our Minds Matter spreads mental health awareness


Colin Denny

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.org, Our Minds Matter.org and Crisis Text Line.org.

Colin Denny, Staff Writer

Between 2010 and 2020 rates of children and adolescent mental health concerns and suicide has significantly risen according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. To address this problem, the student-led club, Our Minds Matter, has a mission to equip teens with mental health education, resources and support. 

Starting in 2012 in Vienna, Virginia, the club was formerly known as the Josh Anderson Foundation named after Josh Anderson, a South Lakes high school student that died in 2009 from suicide. The club has since expanded nationwide and has changed its name to Our Minds Matter. CHS started a chapter of the club during the last school year and members are finding ways to spread word about the club across the school. 

“Club members have placed notes around the school with positive messages to make students smile and feel supported,” senior and Our Minds Matter student leader Alyssa Dausch said. “We also post crisis hotlines on Instagram and on notes around the school.”

My goal is to increase diversity in the club and alleviate mental health stigma, especially in communities of color.

— junior and Our Minds Matter Student Leader Tara Dixit

Club members also receive training to help peers mentally in school and in the community through a 101 lesson. The club’s four staff co-sponsors, Diane Ross, Kristinia Crawford, Theresa Giroux and Nick Thayer, support the club members as needed.

“Students learn how to engage in conversations around mental health and offer appropriate resources for their peers,” Ross, a school psychologist who is on the board of directors for Our Minds Matter, said.“[As club sponsors] we help them locate resources for club meetings, facilitate any activities or just answer questions as needed.” 

Our Minds Matter is a resource that can help people in the community and the school and leaders are trying to grow the club through the school and in the community to get more people involved. The club was developed in the spring of 2020 and currently has around 15-20 members.

“[The club] was not given a full chance to develop with the online school year. Honestly, our biggest accomplishment has been getting the club up and running.” senior and Our Minds Matter student leader Katherine Richer said.

Student members have several goals for themselves and for the club to spread information and awareness about the club. 

“My goal is to increase diversity in the club and alleviate mental health stigma, especially in communities of color,” junior and Our Minds Matter student leader Tara Dixit said. “I also want to hold a therapy dog event to provide students with emotional support and stress relief.” 

To reach her goal, Dixit and the club are planning to reach out to a non-profit organization called Summit Therapy Animal Services to include therapy animals, and she is working on getting a segment on The Knightly News to gain more interest in the club and encourage students of all genders, races and ethnicities to join. 

“I think my greatest accomplishment through Our Minds Matter was educating myself and others,” Dausch said. “I am constantly discussing the lack of mental health resources and education in the school system and how terribly mental illnesses are treated in school and the stigma surrounding them. I have always had these opinions and spoke on them, but Our Minds Matter makes me feel as though I actually have the power to do something about it, now.” 

By members talking about the club and discussing the stigma involved with mental health with peers and staff in the school mental health problems can become more of a discussion in the community. Information about the club can be found on the Chantilly Minds Matter Instagram page with a linked interest form to the club. 

“Spreading mental health awareness for high school students is important,” Dixit said. “The club sponsors and leaders are here for anyone who needs help with mental health issues.”