Speaker visits Pascagoula High to advocate for change in mental health discussions

Singing River Mental Health Summit is opening the discussion around mental health.
Published: Oct. 27, 2023 at 5:50 PM CDT
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PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - Talking about mental health can be challenging.

That’s why Singing River Health System created the High School Mental Health Summit, to open that discussion in a raw and real way.

Local high school students were able to listen to 23-year-old motivational speaker Emma Benoit. A young woman who once stood in the halls of high school feeling alone, anxious, and depressed. These feelings eventually led her to attempt to take her own life when she was only 16-year-old. A story she now travels around and tells thousands of students, hoping to help at least one of them. Then, Benoit said it would all be worth it.

“Sharing my story has been nothing but helpful for me,” said Benoit. “It’s been really a form of therapy for me in a way, getting to use my experience and sharing what I’ve gone through to help others recognize that they’re not alone.”

Benoit said that the words “anxiety” and “depression” carry weight. She believes sometimes, these words can be tossed around and lose their weight. She said we must try our hardest to hold onto what they truly mean.

“That old saying ‘Sticks and stone break bones but words don’t hurt’ is wrong and harmful rhetoric because words hurt and they hold a lot of weight and power,” said Benoit.

“When you’re struggling with your mental health, having those words to identify those feelings is so powerful.”

One student in the audience today while Benoit spoke said she is now inspired to take action against her own mental health struggles.

“I just know that I have to get someone to talk to, deal with those struggles personally, and fix my feelings,” said Career Technical Institute student Tori Williams.

Benoit said the best plan in getting help is having someone you trust to be able to share your experiences and feelings with.

“I just encourage people, if you’re feeling alone, feelings stressed out, feeling depressed, please reach out for help,” she said. “Know that you’re not alone. And really learn how to articulate what you’re feeling and dealing with. Because doing so will only help other people help you.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts and/or ideation please call or text 988 for help.

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