WOOD COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - A local school district is going out of their way to address one of the biggest issues in our society, mental health.
Lake Local Schools is stepping up and speaking out about the topic on the world mental health awareness day. It's a discussion school leaders say we need to have, one they were brave enough to tackle together.
"This has the potential to be as impactful as anything we've done here in the last 20 years," said Superintendent Jim Witt.
More than 300 people gathered at Lake High School Wednesday to start talking about mental health. A topic that hits close to home for the district's band teacher.
"You always think it's somebody else's kid that's going through it and you feel bad for them, but when it actually hits you it's very difficult," said Rick Brimmer, Lake band director. "It made it very difficult sometimes to even come to work."
Brimmer shared the story of his daughter who is dealing with mental illness, but he wasn't alone. Other school staff shared their journey with mental illness.
Together they hope sharing their story will open the door for change, to begin talking about mental health, supporting each other and seeking help.
"We try to help navigate this especially the teenage years are very difficult, and they need all the help that we can give them," said Brimmer.
"We know that there are kids that are hurting," said Witt. "We know that we have adults who are hurting and dealing with issues and this awareness and education we're hoping can touch those people or touch some people to help others as well."
The district brought in more than 20 different community resources for families. This is all a part of their ''Project: Change" initiative that began this year and students say it is changing the school's culture.
"Just based off buying the spirit wear and you know coming to the lunch and talking to us I can already see the change happening so it's very important," said Juliana Moreda, a senior at Lake High School.
School leaders said this is just the first step, they plan to continue to make mental health a priority.
Superintendent Jim Witt admits they took the idea for their mental health awareness event from Sylvania schools, but it's something every school should be addressing.