‘Positive Action Team’ at Dexter high prioritize mental health

Published: Apr. 14, 2023 at 5:49 PM EDT
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DEXTER, Maine (WABI) - Youth across the U.S. have undoubtedly gone through many changes over the years.

That’s why Dexter Regional High School put a pause on their daily school activities for a Mental Health Day.

Sydney Fogler is a senior and was one of the students involved in the school’s Positive Action Team and brought the idea to Dexter.

“We get together as a school, we have a little bit of a meeting in the beginning to talk about some of the importance’s of mental health,” said Fogler.

Some students, like senior Fred Beem, said they enjoyed starting their day on a positive note and realized the importance of checking in with themselves.

“I think it’s important because a lot of people don’t like expressing feelings and it’s a good way to relieve stress,” said Beem.

Fogler sought different ways to make a larger impact on her community alongside friends.

It was more of an observation of what was lacking for the youth when it came to knowledge of resources available.

“We talked about the issues we were seeing in the community and ways that we could possibly do something to help it and improve our schools and our town,” said Fogler.

Activities included gym activities, ping pong, a Prevention Café and ended with a student versus staff basketball game.

The community health coordinator from Northern Light Mayo Clinic, Bree Clayton, said mental health has been an issue surrounding high school students for a while and she’s happy to be a part of newer efforts.

“In the 2019, the Integrated Youth Health Survey stated 32% of students had felt so sad or hopeless in the last year that they stopped doing their usual activities,” said Clayton.

She understands it’s hard taking that first step.

“It’s scary to take that first step, especially when you don’t know some of the resources around here,” said Clayton.

They partnered with Penquis, Partners for Peace and more to host a table of information to students in the Prevention Café.

Although Fogler will be graduating soon, she hopes the Mental Health Day remains a tradition and youth in her community are always heard.

“A lot of the time, people don’t respect the feelings of teenagers because we’re still young and they don’t think we’ve been through enough,” said Fogler. “It’s so important that you talk about it and continue to talk about it and it’s so amazing to be a part of.”