Wheat Ridge High School students to focus on mental health issues during ideas festival

DENVER -- Sometimes new ideas come from unexpected places. A group of current and former students at Wheat Ridge High School are hoping to prove that by organizing an ideas festival at their school to look at the issues surrounding mental health and how it impacts young people. They say right now there aren't as many conversations around the issue as there should be.

“There was a middle school teacher that committed suicide last year,” Caitlyn Hess told Anne Trujillo on this weekend’s Politics Unplugged. “But the counselors were just like, ‘If you want to come talk to us come talk to us.’ There weren't any actions being taken when it comes to the student body.”

The students say last year the student council at their school started a suicide awareness week that really opened a lot of eyes. They want to see programs like that continue on.

“What is it that most adults don’t get about being in high school right now?” Trujillo asked.

“I know in my personal situation, my mom is a high school teacher and in her mind she understands a lot of what I’m going through,” Annika Ugander said. “In some cases she does, but for me personally, high school is very different now than it was before. We have a lot more technology, we have more social interaction, and I think that’s something not all adults completely understand.”

Ash Abbott says the pressure to succeed is also a source of stress.

“Obviously success is something that should happen and the push is good, but sometimes the push can be much, sometimes the push can be not enough or not suited to that student’s needs,” Abbott said. “So I think the peer pressure and graduating high school and figuring out what you’re doing the rest of your life is just really really tough.”

Politics Unplugged airs Sundays at 4:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Denver7.

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