News Article Details

Teen of the Week: Red Land student shines light on mental health issues

The Sentinel - 10/1/2018

Oct. 01--Hannah Kline admits she was "very shy" in middle school, but slowly progressed to becoming more involved in clubs at St. Theresa School.

A somewhat shy student coming to Red Land High School from a small, private middle school, Hannah Kline made a declaration to her parents, Heidi and Ronald Kline of Etters: She was not going to let Red Land change her ... she was going to change Red Land.

"Now, I can see that I have changed Red Land, but I think that I have allowed this school to change me for the better, too," said Kline, now a senior.

That idea is most evident in Kline's work in helping to launch the school's chapter of the Aevidum club.

Aevidum means "I've got your back," Kline said.

She said the idea for the club was founded at Cocalico High School in Lancaster County after a student suicide, and it has since spread throughout the state. Its goal is to reduce the stigma around mental health and promote awareness of suicide and mental health issues.

"It's a hard topic to try and work on because you can't really see the progress you're making, but I definitely think we are having an impact," Kline said.

The club isn't large, but it has been rewarding to see its members open up to each other. A lot of the students come to the club because they have friends who deal with depression or anxiety. The club teaches them to be supportive and to learn how to pick up on signs that may require the assistance of an adult.

Club meetings typically feature speakers and discussions, but club members also work to create a positive environment in the school through making gift bags and writing thank you notes and messages of encouragement.

"If I can do something to make somebody's day or if I can make somebody smile, then I'm going to do it. This club has definitely helped give me opportunities to do that," Kline said.

There have been challenges in getting the club started because it is such a difficult subject, but it's worth it when another student finds someone to listen to them.

"There are a lot of people who are carrying weight that we don't see. It's been so neat to see them open up about that, and how we can work with that and help them," Kline said.

Kline has also been a member of the Friendship Club in which members become buddies to special needs students and participate in activities both in and outside of school, including Special Olympics.

"It's a good time, and I met a lot of really nice people through that," she said.

Given the clubs, classes and activities that have revealed a love and skill for working with people that Kline said she never knew she had, it isn't altogether surprising that her career plans include helping people as a nurse. She hasn't decided what specialty she may take on, but she knows there are a lot of options in the mental health field.

And that brings her conversation back around to Aevidum and its mission to bring awareness to issues involving suicide and mental health that she said has touched everyone.

"It has shed some light on it, and that's something that needs to happen because it's not something to be ashamed of. If people are ashamed of it, they're not going to get the help that they need," she said.

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