Over 60 Issaquah School District teens, parents and staff members came out to Issaquah’s newest high school, Gibson Ek, on Saturday to discuss an issue that they felt should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind — mental health.
Saturday marked the kick-off of the 2018 series of State of Mind conferences. Now in their fifth year, the conferences are sponsored by Swedish Medical Center and organized by the Issaquah Schools Foundation in partnership with the city of Issaquah’s Youth Advisory Board and Influence the Choice — the Drug Prevention Alliance for Youth.
The conference included four breakout sessions on a variety of hot-button topics, such as body image, stress management, healthy relationships, the stigma of mental illness and the opioid crisis.
Josh Cutler, a behavioral health specialist at Swedish, gave the keynote address, titled “The Choice Point.” Cutler analyzed the way our thoughts and feelings contribute to our behavior, and brainstormed ways in which students can choose actions that contribute to the kind of person they want to be. Cutler explained that as a response to negative thoughts and feelings, sometimes it can be tempting to choose unhealthy behaviors.
“Sometimes when this stress really gets going, people can resort to drugs, alcohol, other risky behaviors and try to numb this stuff out,” he said.
The next conference will be held March 24, also at Gibson Ek. To register, visit www.healthyyouthinitiative.org. Gibson Ek is located at 379 First Place SE in Issaquah.