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Rockford High School raises awareness about mental health

Posted at 11:04 PM, Oct 22, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-23 16:02:10-04

ROCKFORD, Mich.-- Rockford High School is raising awareness about options and resources when it comes to mental health.

It's all part of an initiative called Developing Healthy Kids that was brought forth by the high school in 2012.

Mackenzie Vallad and Brittany Hayes, who are both seniors, are doing their part to reach kids on a personal level after going through battles of their own.

"In ninth grade I dealt with depression and she dealt with an eating disorder," Vallad said.

Sharing their stories in a packed auditorium Wednesday, they expressed how alone they would feel. That often times, because of what they were going through, they felt different from their classmates. The tormenting thoughts left them unable to share what was happening with others.

"I would just cry at night," Vallad said. "All of these negative thoughts would come creeping in my head."

Thoughts that would include taking her own life. It's an issue that hits close to home in West Michigan after losing two teenagers to suicide in less than two weeks.

"Whenever I hear there's a suicide it just kills me inside," Vallad said. "I know you can get help and it does not need to go to that point."

Vallad and Hayes have both come a long way since their first year in high school. Both of them sought treatment after telling those close to them what was happening. Perhaps the key to their recovery comes in learning they're not so different after all.

"People think no one else is going through it and you're really weird or different because you're having these thoughts but you're not," Hayes said. "There's so many people around you that are going through the same exact thing."

Hayes and Vallad stressed the importance of opening up about what's happening.

"You just can't do it on your own--you need help," Vallad said.

For those who want help they can contact the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.