Straight Talk Task Force Tackles Difficult Subjects in Monthly Presentations

All schoolyear long, the Straight Talk Task Force has been bringing free monthly presentations to SCASD parents, caregivers, and community members covering topics like depression and anxiety, drugs and alcohol, sexual abuse, self-harm, healthy relationships, and more.

In April, SHAPE America’s Teacher of the Year in health education, Melanie Lynch, tackled the high stakes topic of body image in her Straight Talk presentation at Mount Nittany Middle School. On May 17, 9 through 12 grade students in My Mental Health Matters, a new club at State High, presented May’s Straight Talk session. MMHM is a student-formed club that aims to erase the stigma attached to issues surrounding mental health.

All schoolyear long, the Straight Talk Task Force has been bringing free monthly presentations to SCASD parents, caregivers, and community members.

The Straight Talk Task Force mission statement: We strive to raise our children to become strong, confident, happy adults. The Straight Talk Parenting Series presents educational programs that help parents, caregivers, and community members to recognize, understand, and deal with potential problems that can surface during a child’s developmental years. Be proactive. Learn the warning signs. Learn how to help our children before the problem affects them, impacts their school work, or influences family relationships.

The Straight Talk Task Force is made up of representatives from the Jana Marie Foundation, Youth Service Bureau, Communities That Care Partnership, and State College Area School District administration, faculty, and staff. Sessions have covered topics like depression and anxiety, drugs and alcohol, sexual abuse, self-harm, healthy relationships, and more.

In April, SHAPE America’s Teacher of the Year in health education, Melanie Lynch, tackled the high stakes topic of body image in her Straight Talk presentation at Mount Nittany Middle School. Lynch’s approach to the talk was similar to her approach to teaching health class: address underlying issues in depth rather than focusing on the symptoms that arise when those underlying issues get out of hand. In her televised Straight Talk presentation, Lynch discussed how the media has created unrealistic expectations for the body and how the evolution of technology has shaped how young people view themselves and their peers.

Lynch discussed how negative body image can plant the seed for disordered eating, depression, and anxiety, and encouraged parents to move toward positive messaging that steers clear of numbers. Her message was to encourage health consciousness for the sake of self-care rather than to strive for a specific image.

On May 17, 9th through 12th grade students in My Mental Health Matters, a new club at State High presented May’s Straight Talk session. MMHM is a student-formed club that aims to erase the stigma attached to issues surrounding mental health. Under the guidance of high school counselors Patty Devecka and Suzanne Lyke, Jana Marie Foundation’s President Marisa Vicere, and State High alumnus Shawn Bainbridge, members strive to bring awareness to common feelings of doubt or helplessness and most importantly, to let students know that they are never alone in the State High halls.

The students responsible for forming MMHM were moved by troubling results from the most recent Pennsylvania Youth Survey, which reflected alarmingly high rates of depression and suicidal ideation. A recent Town and Gown article featured the club. Their presentation covered the importance of mental health awareness from a student’s perspective. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.