UKnight for Minds leads community mental health conversation


Photo courtesy of Mount Prospect Public Library

Mollie Kearns, Editor-in-Chief

On May 10, UKnight for Minds took part in a “Mental Health Matters” event at the Mount Prospect Public Library (MPPL), hosted by the Village of Mount Prospect Human Services Department. Beginning at 5:30pm, there was a resource fair with different organizations and providers throughout the community to provide information about their services. From 6:15-8:00pm, there was a Q&A and series of speakers giving presentations on various mental health matters, especially at a school-age. 


UKnight for Minds is the only school in District 214 with a student run club focusing on mental health awareness, and co-presidents senior Sammie Gonzales and junior Karla Heinking feel it is especially important to have open conversations about mental health especially following the pandemic. Heinking feels that even with the toll it took on people, the pandemic allowed society to talk about different issues, mental health being one of them. 


“After seeing that they aren’t alone in it and that a lot of people have been struggling … the conversations have definitely increased and are more productive,” Heinking said.


Heinking and Gonzalez both also believe that at a high school age, preserving mental health is vital to student success and healthy relationships. Given that so many students at Prospect take high level classes, UKnight for Minds aims to be a resource for students to prevent burnout and feelings of isolation.


 “A lot of the students at Prospect, especially the ones who take higher AP classes, think that they can’t struggle, but struggling is a part of being a better person and helping your mental health to ask for help,” Gonzalez said.


From her personal experience in taking AP and honors classes, Heinking has experienced this mindset of having to be strong in order to maintain grades. Yet, she and Gonzales do not believe that students should sacrifice their mental health just to have an A in a class or not speak up when a person is struggling.


“There’s definitely a culture around sticking it out and being able to do everything you can and having that responsibility and burden,” Heinking said. “It’s almost like a badge of honor that you’re able to handle everything even though you might be really struggling without asking for help … asking for help is one of the most brave and courageous things you can do for yourself.” 


At the MPPL event, Gonzalez and Heinking led a presentation on mental health at the high school age. They highlighted how the club is an available resource in the Prospect community, along with what the club does and avoids when having conversations about mental health. 


“I really hope that this event promotes more healthy, two-sided conversations between students, teachers, administrators and adults about mental health,” Gonzalez said. “I hope it promotes more of an understanding that mental health is so important and even if it isn’t always physical, it needs to be taken care of and needs to be continuously supported in order for students to thrive.”