Fairfield City Schools focusing on students’ mental health

Published: May. 9, 2023 at 12:19 PM CDT|Updated: May. 9, 2023 at 12:21 PM CDT
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FAIRFIELD, Ala. (WBRC) - We had a powerful time of listening and learning from students at Fairfield High School during their “InFocus” meeting.

“InFocus is a group where we do mental health in the school - we promote good mental health because it’s a stigma around mental health,” 10th-grader McKensie Fenil explained.

Fenil went on to say, “So that it wouldn’t be a whole group of peers suffering in silence and not getting any help when there is help for them.”

Emily Herring is the Mental Health Coordinator for Fairfield City Schools. She told us this was the first year for the program, and she was looking for leaders to start it off.

Herring says, “I started in August recruiting students who I knew were leaders, but in different realms of the school. So, we have students who are in band, students who are athletes, students who are in SGA.”

Herring reminds us that her position is possible after the Alabama lawmakers passed legislation right before the pandemic, putting mental health coordinators in schools across our state.

She’s encouraged by how much her students are taking responsibility here.

She says, “Students are able to come together and lead the mental health efforts for our district, and they are able to come together and think what do their peers need - how can we support the people in our community and in our school district.”

Herring says, “One in five people have a diagnosable mental health disorder, so we know people impacted by mental health. We are all affected by mental health, and we want to make sure people feel comfortable talking about that.”

Jeremiah Hudson-Davis is a senior and football player, and he opened up to express how much the group has helped him. He talked about the pressures men face in showing their vulnerability, and his gratitude for everyone in the group providing a safe environment for him and others to express themselves.

Herring says, “When a student like Jeremiah talks about it’s hard to be vulnerable, but here I am talking about these things, here I am making my voice heard - that’s what changes our community.”

Hudson-Davis will be graduating, but the group is in good hands with Fenil and others. She knows how vital this is for making sure people are getting resources that are available.

”So that it wouldn’t be a whole group of peers suffering in silence,” Fenil said.

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