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Shen Creates ‘You Matter’ Mural to Promote Mental Health and Student Unity

%22It%E2%80%99s+sometimes+hard+to+see+somebody%E2%80%99s+internal+battles%2C%22+Shen+said...++%22You+don%E2%80%99t+always+see+it+in+their+face+or+hear+it+in+their+voice...+%5BThe%5D+invisible+and+sometimes+imperceptible+weight+that+someone%27s+carrying.%22+Photo+by+Nick+Buford-Hullum.
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Shen Creates ‘You Matter’ Mural to Promote Mental Health and Student Unity

"It’s sometimes hard to see somebody’s internal battles," Shen said... "You don’t always see it in their face or hear it in their voice... [The] invisible and sometimes imperceptible weight that someone's carrying." Photo by Nick Buford-Hullum.

"It’s sometimes hard to see somebody’s internal battles," Shen said... "You don’t always see it in their face or hear it in their voice... [The] invisible and sometimes imperceptible weight that someone's carrying." Photo by Nick Buford-Hullum.

"It’s sometimes hard to see somebody’s internal battles," Shen said... "You don’t always see it in their face or hear it in their voice... [The] invisible and sometimes imperceptible weight that someone's carrying." Photo by Nick Buford-Hullum.

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Students entering the BHS atrium this year may notice a large banner plastered on the wall above the attendance office.

The words “You Matter” are painted across the banner with a heart and ribbon painted in suicide awareness colors. Hundreds of colorful post-it notes surround the words, each scrawled with a message.

Senior Jing-Jing Shen created this ‘You Matter Mural’ and posted it on Oct. 17 to promote mental health and student unity.

“[The mural is] essentially an art project that the whole school was invited to participate in to address mental health and suicide prevention,” Shen said.

The post-it notes covering the mural feature inspirational messages, quotes, drawings and even proverbs in other languages.

The idea first arose in early September.

It took about a month to make… I went around every single table during lunch, talking to people about it and encouraging people… I thought the results were really cool and I hope others will feel the same way.”

— Senior Jing-Jing Shen

“I have been talking to guidance counselors and Mr. Srithai about doing something more in addition to the [mental health awareness] assemblies,” Shen said. “It took about a month to make… I went around every single table during lunch, talking to people about it, and encouraging people… I thought the results were really cool and I hope others will feel the same way.”

Most people are affected directly or indirectly by mental health issues.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 20% of children ages 13-18 live with a mental health condition, and suicide has been the 3rd leading cause of death for people ages 10-24.

“[I] lost a close friend last year,” Shen said. “Just a couple months before that, the lead singer of my favorite band, Linkin Park, passed away from suicide. It was sort of an awakening moment, like we need to do something, whatever we can.”

“It’s sometimes hard to see somebody’s internal battles,” she added. “You don’t always see it in their face or hear it in their voice… [The] invisible and sometimes imperceptible weight that someone’s carrying.”

Junior Joe Spero, who came up with the phrase “you matter”, helped inspire the project.

“‘You Matter’ [is] the perfect slogan because it’s two words, it’s short and it gets to the point… it’s just a slogan of… warmth to comfort the student body,” Spero said.

Near the beginning of the school year, Spero and Shen spoke at a suicide prevention assembly along with junior Anna Ward on behalf of the school’s new Mental Health & Wellness club.

“It’s a really good group of [about 10-15] people who want to make a difference,” Spero said.

The creation of the mural and the committee is part of the district’s initiative on mental health. Several times in Sept. and Oct., 3rd period classes were extended for teachers to educate students on mental health. More mental health assemblies are planned throughout the year.

In the future, Shen hopes to do more to raise awareness on mental health and encourage others to reach out for help.

“Beachwood has hit some significant strides [in advocating for mental health] for the students, [but] it by no means ends here,” Shen said. “We made some progress and we’re definitely going to make more.”

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Shen Creates ‘You Matter’ Mural to Promote Mental Health and Student Unity