HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - WHNT NEWS 19 continues Taking Action to keep the conversation about mental health awareness and suicide prevention at the forefront. We're partnering with the Huntsville Hospital Foundation for the SPEAK initiative, which stands for Suicide, Prevention, Empowerment, Awareness and Knowledge. Our latest effort is the Happy Box Project.
Just like grown-ups, kids deal with a lot of stress. We asked a few New Century High School students and SPEAK Ambassadors to give us some examples.
"I have been depressed before and you don't really want to be around people when you're depressed," describes 11th grader Sierra Arbogast. "You don't feel like talking to anybody."
"One of my friends, she had a bad uncle," says 10th grader Jayden Gautreaux. "That was the thing that happened to her. Other friends, it's stress and family issues and they can't cope with it by themselves."
It's important for young people, and all of us really, to have healthy ways to cope. That's where the Happy Box Project comes in.
"They can take items from their everyday life that help them cope whenever life seems too heavy," explains SPEAK Coordinator Anna Manning.
Manning says it's about helping transform your mindset from a negative to a positive place. Here is a picture of the box Manning made and posted on social media:
"It's not just necessarily something that brings back a good memory, but things that actually take them through that coping period," says Manning. "For example, one student posted a picture of headphones because whenever he's really stressed, he listens to music. I hope everyone will take the time and create a happy box."
Manning also says that now is the time to do something positive and preventative.
“Mental health is not mental illness," explains Manning. "There’s a difference. In the media, we talk about mental illness, but we forget that we all deal with mental health. We all need a mental health check.”
WHNT NEWS 19 encourages you to make your own happy box! When you do, share it with us. Post the picture on social media - Facebook or Instagram. Use the following hashtags: #happyboxproject #speakhsv #suicideawareness. Make sure to tag WHNT NEWS 19 and the Huntsville Hospital Foundation.
Here are some guidelines that can help you make your own happy box:
- Grab a box and fill it with things that bring you peace and comfort when you are having a down day.
- Choose items that help you remove yourself from the present chaos in your day and bring you a little bit of calm.
- These items should not be trigger items or things to brag about.
- Encourage everyone you know to make one too!
Note from Clarissa McClain: This is my happy box that I keep at my desk at work. It has a picture of my family. I love them with every fiber of my being. I also threw in some bags of Fritos, because they are one favorite snacks. I also put post-it notes with uplifting Bible verses. I also decorated the inside flaps, so when I open the box, I immediately get that relief and reminder to shift my thinking.