October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month. Dell Rapids High School senior Sydney LaCoursiere organized an event to bring mental health awareness to the community. LaCourseire put together an event in which 112 luminary bags were placed around the football field, and fans that attended the Dell Rapids vs Flandreau football game were given a flier that talked about mental health issues.
LaCoursiere’s event came to be after thinking about a senior project and discussions with her mom.
“We were talking about how in the last 10 years our town has dealt with suicide. We decided that the best way to do this was to start from the beginning. Mental illness is what usually ends up going to suicide. It was very hard to just straight up go into that topic, but I realized that some people need to know we’re here if you need to talk.”
Now that the event on Friday has come and gone, LaCoursiere does have plans to keep bringing awareness to the students and community. She, along with help from the school, are trying to bring speakers into the school to talk about mental health to the students. LaCoursiere said she has gotten a lot of support from the school to help come up with ideas and also help bring the ideas together.
Another idea LaCoursiere has had involves training. “I don’t know if our teachers or faculty have a lot of training in these situations, but I was hoping maybe Mrs. Ruesink and I could work together and get some faculty on training, or even students that want to start to helping out and continue this so it doesn’t just end here,” she said.
According to South Dakota Prevention, one in five children ages 13-18 have or will have a mental illness. LaCoursiere hopes that the event on Friday night along with continuing awareness throughout the year will help students know they have people they can speak with to help them deal with any mental issues they may have.