Woodbridge High School Hosts Mental Health Awareness Night at Basketball Games

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“This is more than just a basketball game. This is making everyone aware of what is going on,” said Gabby, a basketball player and senior at Woodbridge High School.

In a pioneering initiative by Woodbridge High and in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Woodbridge hosted an inaugural Mental Health Awareness Night during the girls’ basketball games. The event marked a significant milestone as Woodbridge’s NAMI club is celebrated as the first of its kind in a Virginia high school.

NAMI’s mission is to educate, empower, and support the medically under-served persons and families with mental illness. NAMI On Campus was previously only for college campuses until partnering with Woodbridge.

“It amazing,” said Somayya Marzyie, AmeriCorps member for NAMI Prince William. “I didn’t really have this education in high school, even four or five years ago. So, the fact that they are so engaged? I think they are amazing students.”

“The girls love it,” said Jessica Taylor, assistant coach and Woodbridge alumna. “We have a lot of players that go through anxiety, depression, or know someone who does. It just helps with the younger generation to know it’s okay to talk to somebody and that you don’t feel alone.”

The event was open to the community and featured a special resource table by NAMI Prince William in the gym lobby, offering vital information and resources dedicated to amplifying mental health awareness and dismantling the associated stigmas. Club members were present to engage with attendees and provide insights into mental health support.

“It’s okay to struggle,” said senior Haidyn, echoing teammate Gabby. “We just want you to know it’s okay. You have someone to talk to and you’re not alone.”

The highlight of the night included speeches by the club’s co-presidents before each game, focusing on the critical relationship between athletes and mental health. In a show of solidarity and awareness, all participating athletes and coaches wore the “Nobody Goes Solo” shirts, a collaboration with the No Solo brand known for its commitment to mental health awareness and support to NAMI through a portion of its profits.

In a broader effort to advocate for mental health, all athletes will receive No Solo socks, symbolizing their role as mental health ambassadors. “I’m happy to have these girls supporting a good cause,” said Kyle Geck, director of student activities for Woodbridge. “It definitely means a lot to our school that they are willing to put themselves out there and willing to support mental health awareness.”

This initiative builds on previous endeavors, serving as the high school’s second mental health awareness week, featuring activities aimed at promoting wellness. These include informational tables, wellness activities in the library during lunch hours, and sessions on stretching and breathing for self-care. It’s a step toward establishing a positive climate and culture and engaging families and the community centered around social and emotional wellness.

Woodbridge High School’s commitment to mental health awareness sets a precedent, hoping to inspire similar movements across schools in the division, reinforcing the message that when it comes to mental health, nobody goes solo.

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