Teens spend the day getting mental health tips, coping skills

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DELPHOS — After five young people died by suicide in the last year in
Delphos, Jefferson High School Principal Chad Brinkman received
numerous calls from concerned parents and citizens.

“They all
wanted to know what we could do to help our young people deal with what
is going on in their lives,” Brinkman said. “We have a lot of teenagers
trying to tackle adult problems and we need to give them the coping
skills they need. We want to be proactive.”

After researching and
calling local and area organizations that offer mental health support,
Brinkman put together a Mental Health Awareness Day. All Jefferson High
School students attended sessions on Friday dealing with alcohol,
depression, opiates, stress, family dynamics, teen dating, self-esteem
and suicide.

The 30-minute sessions allowed presenters to talk
about difficult subjects with the teens and offer answers and coping
mechanisms.

Bethany Gibson, who has been hired as a counselor at
the high school, talked to students about her childhood and how she,
against all odds, stopped the cycle of addiction and abuse for herself.

“My
mother was supposed to join me today to talk to you but she had a
relapse on Monday and was ashamed to come and talk to you,” Gibson
began. “She was raised in home with addiction and abuse. She was put in a
closet, beat with hangers and extension cords and molested by her
uncles. ‘What happens in this house stays in this house. If you tell, it
will be worse,’ was how it was when she was younger.

“Those same
people raised me after my mother left and went to prison but it was
different. My grandfather, for whatever reason, stopped drinking and he
would occasionally yell at me and my grandmother would flinch, but he
never abused me.”

Gibson found herself questioning what happened, why her mother felt the way she did and why she did the things she did.

“That’s
how I became a counselor,” she said. “That’s also how I became the
parent in my and my mother’s relationship. She moved into my home with
my two children. I gave her a key, I gave her a car and she had to stay
clean and get a job. I had to kick her out because she couldn’t do those
things and I couldn’t have her around my girls.”

Gibson stressed
how she had broken the cycle for herself and her children and asked each
student to come up to the board and write down something they were
experiencing and wanted to break the cycle on and not pass down to their
children.

SHY AA (Seek Help You Aren’t Alone) founder Zach Ricker
also spoke to the students about depression and anxiety and his brush
with suicide.

“You are not alone and there are people around you
who love you and will help you if you reach out to them,” Ricker said.
“It’s hard because you want to protect the people around you and you
think people will judge you. We all deserve to wake up with happiness
and joy and to live up to our potential. We all have a purpose and
impact others’ lives.

“I’ve turned a weakness into a strength. If
you feel the way I did, find people to help you and who can get you the
resources you need.”

The school will also offer a free,
confidential whole-health mental screening for students, with parents’
permission, on Nov. 14.



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