Student creates first mental health club at Bishop Shanahan High School

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Friday, June 2, 2023
Student creates first mental health club at her Pa. high school
Allie Hathaway is breaking the stigma surrounding mental health by building one of the biggest clubs on campus.

DOWNINGTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "Last year, after a really tough loss in lacrosse, I remember just, like, walking off," said Allie Hathaway, "And, I had, like, a mental block and I just couldn't get over it."

Hathaway, now a graduating senior at Bishop Shanahan High School, decided she wanted to start a club to address mental health among her peers.

"I remember thinking, like, if I'm going through something like this, there's got to be other kids at my school who are going through something similar to what I had," she said.

At the start of the school year, Hathaway went through the process of creating the Mindset Matchup Club. She needed 30 signatures from classmates to get it approved, but shattered that threshold with about a hundred.

The club met regularly during the school year to discuss their own mental health, hear from guest speakers, and perform group activities like planting flowers. They also created the Affirmation Station, where students could write positive messages in marker for their peers to read.

Student athlete Pete DeMaio, new to Bishop Shanahan, was able to make new friends and improve his outlook on sports as a member of the club.

"I've had my own, like, little rough patches with sports from the mental health side and wondering, you know, am I really good enough? Should I be playing this sport?" he said. "And I think that this year was probably one of my best years from, like, an off-field standpoint."

Bishop Shanahan's Principal, Dr. Robert Moran, thinks the club has been a tremendous compliment to the mental health services already offered by the school.

"We have teachers who are trained, but I think it's particularly effective and powerful when it's peer-to-peer," said Dr. Moran. "It's become one of our biggest clubs and I think one of our most impactful clubs."

In the future, Hathaway plans to play lacrosse at Seton Hill University and will study nursing. Now that she has experience with mental health, she thinks it may be possible to incorporate that into her healthcare career.

But more immediately, she is feeling bittersweet about leaving the school and club behind.

"I know every single person here wants to make sure the club thrives next year," she said. "I just, like, hope it continues to have a direct impact on everyone's lives."

To learn more about Bishop Shanahan High School, visit their website.

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