Weston High School Students Shine Light On Mental Illness

Wicked Local Weston
September 2015

The dark tunnel of mental illness is inescapable in today’s society. Even those who haven’t suffered firsthand have friends and family members who have, and often dealing with such disorders is nearly as bad as the conditions themselves.

Recognizing this issue, three Weston High School students – Manny Eagle, Isabelle Faller and Monique Moon – have set up Reaching Recovery, an organization aimed at bringing hope to adolescents fighting mental illness.

One goal of the organization is to educate people about the problem and give them an understanding of the importance of helping those who are affected. They students are also raising money to purchase stuffed animals to bring to adolescent patients in mental health facilities, along with a note reminding them that recovery is possible.

In addition, they plan to donate to organizations supporting research on mental illness and to hospitals where mental illness is treated.

Eagle came up with the idea earlier this year. “I realized that going through treatment and recovery could be better with the sort of thing we’re trying to do now.”

When he reached out to other students to ask if they would join him in his efforts, Moon and Faller stepped up to the plate.

Depression is the most common mental illness among adolescents, Eagle said. “But there’s also anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and eating issues.”

According to Faller, these problems are more readily acknowledged today. “For example, in the past, it was believed that people with schizophrenia were possessed by the devil. So these conditions were hidden from view, not talked about.”

Treatment today is more easily available, she added, but there are still problems with it. “Psychology is not an exact science, and it’s not a simple diagnosis,” she said.

Moon concurs that there’s a lot of trial and error. “Balancing medications can be very tricky. And, in therapy, you have to find someone you’re really able to share with.”

For his part, Eagle asserts there are many stereotypes of mental illness that are “completely and utterly false. That’s why we’re trying to educate.”

The three teens are working with Walden Behavioral Care in Waltham and McLean Hospital in Belmont.

“There’s a lot of hospital policy around patient confidentiality,” Moon said, “and we’re trying to work past that to see if we can get inside to visit.”

Meanwhile, the group is hoping to solicit donations through their website (reachingrecovery.com) or their online store, where they sell notecards featuring artwork by Moon.

“As we’ve seen the suffering caused by mental illness,” Eagle said, “we’re inspired to fight back with hope. We want everyone who is struggling to know that recovery is possible. The path will never be easy, but it will always be worth it.”