Mental health fair aims to decrease stigma

McHelp event at Huntley shows the community what resources are available.

The mental health fair was open to all District 158 families and held in the Commons at HHS.

M. Curry

The mental health fair was open to all District 158 families and held in the Commons at HHS.

By Megan Curry

Talking about mental health has had a negative stigma associated with it for years, especially among high school students. As a result, District 158 has partnered with Mchenry County’s app, McHelp, to help end the stigma. 

On Jan. 24, Huntley High School hosted its first Mental Health Resources fair, which involved agencies from all around the county and beyond. Some are located right in the heart of Huntley, and others are in areas such as Arlington Heights and Schaumburg. The event was open for all students, families, community members, as well as anyone else interested from surrounding districts. 

There were over 20 booths present, including service animals, resources for people with autism, domestic abuse help, and social workers from police departments. There were also services for students who needed additional resources whether it be individualized help, therapy sessions, and even tutoring resources as well. 

Behavioral Perspective Inc. is one of the many autism services that were present at the fair. Their goal is to provide independence for their clients by providing social skill development, independent living services, and communication skills. They also offer services for students who want to go into this field. 

“After the high schoolers graduate, we hire therapists, [students] just have to have a high school degree. We do all the training,” BPI representative Kelly Kruk said. “It’s a 40 hour training session. So if anyone’s looking to get into this field or work with kids with disabilities, it’s a great way to start right out of high school.”

One of the other services there was Canines 4 Comfort, an animal therapy organization that trains dogs to be emotional support and therapy dogs. Their services work primarily with individuals, including veterans and adolescents, with PTSD, anxiety, and depression. They offer many care events that students can get involved in as well. 

“We have about four core events that we have each year and we could always use some extra arms and legs at those events,” Canines 4 Comfort representative Lisa Wernli said. “Most of them involve dogs so if they love dogs, they can come on out and help us.” 

Another service present was the Family Service Association of Greater Elgin, which offers services that help families and young adults navigate through the modern world. Their services give students the opportunity to have control over their health, body, and mind. 

“We provide individual therapy and group therapy, [and] school-based therapy,” FSA representative Tyra Benson said. “So more intensive programs and we also are contracted to do mobile crisis response, whether that’s in the community to hospitals or to schools as well.”

The fair provided families with many organizations to help them get the assistance they deserve. Many of these organizations provide great resources for everyone in the Mchenry and further areas. The fair was a huge success for the businesses, the community, and the school.