By: Angela Sheu
On Sept. 10, the Saratoga Area Senior Coordinating Council (SASCC) and Counseling and Support Services for Youth (CASSY) hosted the SASCC Health Fair on the LGHS front lawn in an effort to raise awareness for mental health.
The annual event returned following a two-and-a-half-year hiatus due to the pandemic. It previously focused on senior health and resources for elders, but this year’s return centered mental health resources for individuals of all ages. Attendees could receive free flu shots and participate in a raffle for donated prizes including a TV, iPads, FitBits, and other rewards. In addition, Glazier Rolls provided free ice cream at the event.
KCAT Community Storytelling Host Lissa Kreisler MC’ed the event, as well as various guest speakers from the community. Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian said, “it’s great to…walk up, drive up, know that people are going to have these conversations up front, the way they’re meant to be had.” Tylor Taylor and Marico Sayoc represented SASCC and CASSY, respectively. Sayoc affirmed that, from programs at the high school to organizations supporting seniors, “no matter where you are in that life cycle, we’re here to support you.”
Reflecting on the role of mental health on campus, LGHS principal Kevin Buchanan said, “it should not be some kind of secret that we don’t want to open up and talk about because when you do open up and you talk about it, you find that many others have had similar experiences with the same types of issues.” He continued, “The strongest allies are the students themselves, educating other students to spot the signs of others in crisis, to understand self-regulation, stress-management, what not to take on, and when to ask for help.” The event featured LGHS seniors Julie Chen, Vincent Starr, and Eli Bernstein as student speakers and representatives of the peer-to-peer organization Cats to Cats. Chen, who is president of Cats to Cats, explained the program is “dedicated to destigmatizing mental health” and thus “works with the Wellness Center to provide access to resources and produce content throughout the year to promote mental wellness and foster a balanced school and student environment.”
The event featured booths from more than 40 different local organizations committed to supporting mental health. That included West Valley College, which the World Health Organization designated as the first age-friendly community college campus, as well as Reach Your Destination Easily (RYDE) which transports adults ages 65 and older throughout Santa Clara County, allowing older adults to maintain autonomy and mental wellness in their daily lives.