By Isabella Petroni
FRAMINGHAM – One of my friends spent time at McLean Hospital for a good portion of her high school year.
Another student I knew had a hard time juggling his academic and athletic workload that he too spent time in a hospital.
On the day of my Confirmation, the seat next to me was kept open as the boy, who should have been there, killed himself.
Mental health is spreading in our community like a disease.
Mental health is no secret. It has always existed, but in my opinion, it has increased in the last decade in Framingham.
While the Framingham Public Schools have held discussions on this issue, no action has been taken from it.
During high school, I knew students who were depressed, cut themselves, or taken drugs or alcohol to deal with self-esteem issues.
Sadly, I have known individuals who have tried to kill themselves and some who succeeded. One attempt is one too many.
It seems reckless and dangerous that this problem has not been taken care of already. The media hardly covers it. The City and the School District has done little to help.
The amount of suicides and suicide attempts during my four years at Framingham High School is troubling, and that doesn’t even include the middle schools, the other high schools or the colleges in our city dealing with the same issues.
As chair of the newly-formed Framingham Youth Council, I’m urging the City and School leaders to focus on the roots of the problem and identify action items to implement now, not years from now.
Let’s not just have conversations, but take actions.
One of the root causes is stress and perfectionism, coupled with the fear of failure.
Many of us, unfortunately, know someone who will struggle with an issue of mental health in our lives.
The Framingham Youth Council will have its next meeting on Sunday, September 22 at 2 p.m. at the main Framingham Public Library.
There is also an agenda item to invite the MetroWest Health Foundation to attend a future Youth Council meetings.
I watched an intelligent, wonderful person struggle with mental health issues during my high school years. I don’t want anyone, not any friend, any loved one, any person, to have to go through the same kinds of issues, without support from our City.
Judging by the statistics, I will not be the only individual in the City to experience a friend with mental health and stress issues.
I encourage City, School, and Community leaders to engage with our new Youth Council to work on the issue of mental health.
Isabella Petroni is a 2019 Framingham High School graduate and a freshman at the University of New England. She petitioned the Framingham City Council earlier this year to create a Youth Council. She was elected chair of the newly-formed 13-member Framingham Youth Council this summer.