New “Mind Matters” Club Making Huge Strides in the Community


The Huntingtonian

Sofia Shklovsky '23, Guest Contributor

Mental health struggles can be extremely stigmatized in our society. Because things like anxiety and depression are invisible afflictions, they are often brushed off as lesser issues. However, struggles like these are surprisingly common among high school students. In a study from 2018 by Polaris Teen Center, they determined that approximately one in five teens ages 12 through 18 struggle with their mental health. 

So why have St. Luke’s students refrained from addressing these types of issues? This year, sophomores Macy Millones, Maggie Laguzza, and Eoin Mueller decided to take initiative to try and stop the stigma around mental health by starting the Mind Matters Club. 

Millones shared that her desire to start the Mind Matters Club grew out of her own battle with anxiety, as she wanted to create a space for students to learn about the mental health problems that they or their classmates may face.  

“I wanted to start this club because I personally struggle with generalized anxiety disorder, and I wanted to create a place where people could educate themselves and become allies for those struggling or advocates for themselves,” Millones said. “Maggie and I came up with the idea and decided to roll with it. From there, Mind Matters was born.”

According to Millones, this year presented a unique opportunity to discuss mental health because most everyone can relate to a feeling of loneliness created by quarantine and isolation.

“During quarantine, I realized more than ever how difficult isolation can be,” Millones said. “If physical isolation can make me feel so alone, I want to make sure no one ever feels that mentally, and if they do, they know they have a community to support them. SLS needs this club because in a high-demand school environment, it is essential to acknowledge that it is okay not to be okay all the time. We can ‘unmask’ the stigma together, and in turn, create a more inclusive and understanding community.”

Club members and leaders have established “stopping the stigma” as the main goal and message of Mind Matters. Reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and encouraging more open conversation here at St. Luke’s is what the club strives to accomplish throughout the upcoming months. 

The club founders emphasize that, whether you are an ally or you personally struggle with your mental health, this club is a safe haven so that you may feel supported and know you aren’t alone. The club has already accomplished many things in the SLS community and has expanded to include many members and become a significant voice in the Upper School. Throughout the last couple of months, the club has had opportunities to hear from a few speakers, including some SLS faculty members. They spoke with Ms. Olsen, the Director of Counseling Services, hosted Mr. Goetz to lead a meditation, and joined a zoom meeting run by the Pre-Med Club when they hosted the Program Director of the Psychiatry Residency at Mount Sinai Hospital. In addition, the club has expanded its voice in the Upper School by sending out a “Friday Feels” survey and response to eating disorders.

“As the club was just getting off the ground, we began by figuring out what everyone wanted to get out of the club,” Millones said. “It was really inspiring to see that so many people in the community wanted to find ways to be an ally for those struggling with their mental health, as well as wanted a safe place to come together.” 

Clearly, the club members have worked hard in the last few months to put their message out there. Throughout the last month, the club has been active and outspoken within the SLS community, as May is National Mental Health Awareness Month.  In fact, to honor this important month and raise awareness, the club filmed and edited a video featuring members of the SLS community, students and teachers alike. This video includes personal anecdotes, messages of support from allies, and the general affirmations to “Stop the stigma” and that “Your mind matters.” 

Last week, the video was sent out via email to all St. Luke’s students and faculty, and was also shown in many advisory meetings. It is a significant public step in raising awareness about mental health and its prevalent effects, as students will be able to watch their peers work towards stopping the stigma with bravery and vulnerability. The club strongly believes that seeing others share their own experiences can be hugely supportive to people who previously felt alone. 

“I feel inspired by the dedication many of the club members show,” Millones said. “Whenever I leave the meetings, my heart is full; I love getting to see so many people passionate about something that is so important.”

Have you had a chance to speak with the founders of St. Luke’s new club? Be sure to check out the Mind Matters Mental Health Awareness Month video to hear some of these personal stories given by students and faculty members.