Morneau creates mental health programming for Wilton students
A week of mental health education and awareness programming created by Wilton High School junior Julia Morneau will take place in all four Wilton public schools Monday, May 7, through Friday, May 11.
Julia has been planning the awareness week since last July with Assistant Superintendent of Special Services Andrea Leonardi and each of the school principals.
“It definitely has been a lot of work, but I love what I do and I am so thrilled that Wilton schools are working to break the stigma,” she said.
Through the mental health awareness week programming, Julia said she hopes to “educate students and bring awareness to each school.”
“I want kids to know that it is okay to talk about mental health and mental illness, and that mental health disorders affect people all around us,” she said.
“After seeing the results of the Dr. Luthar survey, I was even more concerned about the mental health of students … and I really hope that they will benefit from this.”
Different activities will take place at Wilton’s four schools during the awareness week. For example, Julia said:
- Miller-Driscoll second graders will watch the Disney film Inside Out, the message of which is that “we can’t live without joy and sadness.”
- Cider Mill students will sign a stigma-free pledge and observe National Child Mental Health Awareness Day on May 10 by wearing green.
- Middlebrook students will recognize celebrity or their accomplishments in the face of mental health struggles each day of the week.
- Hundreds of student-created art pieces aimed at educating and raising mental health awareness will be hung in Wilton High School’s main lobby and students will take and go over surveys about mental health and illness in their homerooms.
Julia said her own struggles with mental illness inspired her to create the programming. When she was six years old, Julia was diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety and depression.
“I have, and still do, face many challenges due to the lack of education and stigma around mental illness,” she said. “I struggled a lot with peer relationships and academics, but the help I received from my parents, teachers, therapists and more helped me become the person I am today.”
Julia said she has overcome many academic obstacles, thanks to the help of her teachers, and is now “passionate about medicine” and spreading mental health awareness and education.
“I have a younger brother in third grade [who] struggles with similar things I did,” said Julia, “and I don’t want him to feel the same way that I did when I was put down and excluded because of my mental illnesses.”
Last year, Julia started her own foundation for mental health called Little Minds in February 2017 and launched a website, littlemindsct.com, that summer.
“I started my foundation because of the lack of education and awareness towards mental health in the community, and so that kids know they are not alone in their challenges,” she said. “I completed extensive research about each mental health disorder because I wanted my website to also be a resource that people can go to to receive accurate information on each mental illness,” she said.