This Buffalo school is breaking down the stigma around mental illness

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Buffalo high schoolers are breaking down the stigma around mental illness, and raising money for those in need of help. At Leonardo Da Vinci High School, about 300 students participated in a walk to bring awareness to the cause. 

A sea of green flooded Porter Avenue this morning. The students wore green ribbons on their walk, which was held during Mental Health Awareness Month. Each student had to give a minimum donation of $10 to the Mental Health Advocate of WNY. In all, they raised $2,600 for the organization. 

Badrunnesa Tanjuma organized the walk, she said she sees people struggling with mental illness every day.

“(I see it) every single day, and I deal with it too,” Tanjuma said. “There’s stress, anxiety, depression… so many different things that we need to factor in.”

Tanjuma believes social media plays a large role in mental health issues seen in young people today. She said the stigma around mental illness needs to be broken. 

“We as students, we don’t really see it as something important, we think that it’s something that we can just put to the side and not really look at,” she said. “But it’s something that we really need to think about.”

The principal of the school was fully on board to the student-run initiative. He said every day during the morning announcements, they’ve talked about mental illness and the upcoming walk. There is a team in place for students to go for help, and because of all this attention, more kids have turned to that help. 

“They’re becoming much more confident, and corageous about talking about their issues,” Principal Gregory Lodinsky said.

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