Mental Health: Poly BC2M

Senior Zoe Tzivas starts a Poly chapter of Bring Change to Mind, an organization looking to open dialogue about mental health

Every individual who speaks out inspires another. And another. That’s how we’ll end the stigma around mental illness. That’s how we’ll Bring Change to Mind,” reads the official Bring Change to Mind website.

Poly’s Bring Change to Mind (BC2M), a student-run club, looks to provide a safe environment and opportunities for open dialogue between students about the importance of mental health. Its role is to transform many preconceived notions about mental health and give a voice to those who are isolated and struggling with their psychological well being. 

“In my 23 years working at Poly, I have [got] to know and provide support for many Poly students experiencing mental health challenges. Yet I know that there are a considerable number of students who I don’t reach because they don’t feel comfortable asking for help or worry about the stigma of seeing a mental health professional. The quarantine exacerbated my concern about students feeling isolated and alone in their struggles,” said Karen Ezra, a Poly BC2M faculty adviser, and school psychologist.

From the perspective of a current BC2M member, Gabrielle Perry said, “As a person who has had their fair share of not properly responding to my own needs due to a lack of acknowledgment of mental health issues, I understood how important it was to destigmatize it in a school environment. We cannot fix a problem if we don’t acknowledge it’s there. The pandemic only intensified our need to create a space like this considering a large number of us had lost the one thing that ensured stability in our chaotic teenage experience: social interaction”. 

“Our mission statement encompasses exactly what we want to come out of BC2M “In the midst of the chaos that surrounds us, we need to know that we can rely on our community more than ever. Our goal is to encourage dialogue and to raise awareness, understanding, and empathy. We strive to end the stigma around mental health and to create a much-needed supportive environment at our school, focusing on emotional health and wellbeing. It’s important to remember, especially during this time of social distancing, that you are not alone,” said Perry.

In the spring, Ezra spoke with some students who were interested in psychology and asked about their interest in forming a club at Poly that would help encourage open and honest conversations about mental health issues and let students feel empowered to support each other.

Senior Zoe Tzivas, who is interested in majoring in psychology in college, did research on her own after reaching out to Ezra and came across the organization Bring Change 2 Mind. She was influenced by other student-led organizations in high schools across the country, the result being BC2M. 

“Our goal is to de-stigmatize conversations about mental health and to offer a safe space in our community to have those important conversations. Also to learn more about how to care for each other and ourselves in these trying times,” Tzivas, President of BC2M, said.

1 in 5 young people suffer from a mental illness. Not having stable mental health can obstruct at-home life, personal relationships, and school studies. BC2M promotes productivity and tries to zero in on how choices are determined, along with how situations are handled and coped with.

After their first successful meeting, Ezra said, “…students spoke with each other about the ups and downs of the start of the school year. The feedback we received was positive and the students seemed genuinely appreciative of having a space to talk about mental health.”

Regarding future plans of Poly Bring Change to Mind, Ezra said, “Over the course of the school year, we plan to run public awareness campaigns about various mental health issues and will invite the student community to participate in events which we hope will be both informative and engaging. We strive to reduce the stigma of mental illness by normalizing talking about mental health. And, most importantly, we want to help students know that they are not alone.