Hundreds of boxes filled with mental health support, resources assembled for CPS students

Volunteers gathered at Nicholas Senn High School Monday to assemble boxes filled with items aimed at improving students’ mental health.

The boxes contain lists of resources including suicide hotline numbers; a “you are so incredibly loved” wrist band; statistics about depression and suicide; a deck of cards with 52 reasons to live; and a handwritten message reminding the box owner they are loved and not alone.

CPS students, teachers and administrators helped fill about 400 boxes, which were created by Find Your Anchor, a nationwide suicide prevention organization founded in Chicago.

Ali Borowsky created Find Your Anchor to spread awareness about mental health and suicide prevention.

“I’ve personally struggled, and through my mental health journey, I felt that mental health care often felt corporate, sterile and clinical,” Borowsky said.

Find Your Anchor partnered with CPS to assemble and distribute boxes to high school students across the district. The group will provide the district with 1,000 boxes to hand out during the school year, including the 400 assembled Monday.

Since Borowsky made the first box in 2012, her organization has given out 40,000 boxes to schools and groups across the U.S.

“These boxes are a way to remind someone that they are not alone and to give them information on how to find help,” she said. “If we’ve saved one life, that’s worth all 40,000 boxes.”

Jaylin Yanez sits at a table writing personalized notes to go into “Find Your Anchor Boxes” at Senn High School at 5900 N. Glenwood Ave. on the North Side, Monday, Aug. 15, 2022. | Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Jaylin Yanez sits at a table writing personalized notes to go into “Find Your Anchor Boxes” at Senn High School at 5900 N. Glenwood Ave. on the North Side, Monday, Aug. 15, 2022. | Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Anthony Vazquez, Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Jaylin Yanez, an 18-year-old student with Pathways in Education, helped assemble boxes. They also spent time writing messages to add to the boxes.

“It’s OK you can still do it under these conditions. You’re so strong and loved. Take it one day at a time,” Yanez wrote on one note.

“These boxes are helpful for someone who doesn’t have anyone to talk to and don’t know where to ask for help,” said Yanez, who plans to work in mental health.

Mental health care should be more available and accessible, especially for young people, Yanez said.

“Mental health affects everyone differently. Everyone has their own struggles. And they should know that seeking help does not mean they are weak,” she said.

During a discussion following the box assembly, CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said mental health care will continue to be a priority for the district.

“I want our students to see our schools as a place where they feel that they can talk to someone,” Martinez said. “I want them to know that if they are struggling with something, they can talk to someone and know they aren’t alone.”

The National Suicide Prevention Line can be reached by calling 1-800-273-TALK, and the Crisis Text Line can be reached by texting HOME to 741-741.





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