Students strive to end the stigma surrounding mental illness



FARGO, ND (Valley News Live) – Mental health is at the forefront of many discussions and concerns for families. The conversation continues following the sudden and unexpected deaths of students in the valley.

“People don’t think it’s that important… when in reality it affects every aspect of your life,” said Jake Svenby, senior at Concordia.

“We’ve been trying to get this message across for decades,” said Laurie Dahley, assistant professor of social work at Concordia.

Concordia students spent the morning handing out free lunches and mental health information kits with resources for those in need of help. Senior shared their own struggles with anxiety

“Mental health and overcoming that stigma is huge for me because I feel like there isn’t enough education about mental health,” said Georgia Wachtler, senior at Concordia.

She and others have said that the most important thing we can do to end the stigma surrounding mental illness is to talk about it.

” What are the signs ? What can you do to help someone who is suffering from this mental block or mental health problem? Said Wachtler.

“Put the topic on the table, there is nothing so scary that you can’t talk about it,” Dahley said.

West Fargo Public Schools Support and Wellness Coordinator Dawn Miller said she has seen a change in recent years, with schools providing more direct mental health support to their students. West Fargo Colleges and High Schools have licensed therapists available in the building.

“You don’t have to leave school anymore, drive across town, find an opening… all of those things are obstacles,” Miller said, “Now we can offer this service directly to the school for the children who need it most. “

Svenby hopes to one day work with high school students and give them the help they need.

“Students, teachers and parents are starting to realize that in order to be successful you need to make sure you have good mental health,” Svenby said. it’s just to make them more efficient.


FirstLink is a service available 24/7 for listening and support, referral to resources / help and crisis intervention. FirstLink can be reached by dialing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (2-1-1) or via text line 898-211. Service is available throughout North Dakota and parts of Minnesota.

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