While quarantining at home during the coronavirus pandemic, Genesis Magpayo’ 21 and Lillie George’ 21 hit upon an idea that would soon become a full-fledged organization. Magpayo and George are the founders of “Mental Note,” a group whose goal is to spread awareness and end the stigma that surrounds mental health through works of literature and art. “Mental Note,” which launched in August 2020, focuses on a monthly theme specific to a mental illness. People can submit their work and content using that theme as their focal point. The group uses their Instagram page and dedicated website as their main social media platforms to publicize their work.
“Historically, mental health is something that has not been talked about often, so [the stigma around it] dates back a long time,” LT psychologist Rich Daniels said. “People with mental health disorders or difficulties, a lot of times, were seen as outcasts in society or people who were lesser than. I think it’s just taken society a really long time to identify that these are difficulties that a lot of people deal with and that there shouldn’t be a stigma around talking about it. People should be praised and encouraged for seeking support and trying to support others as well.”
Both Magpayo and George have personally experienced mental health issues and observed the negative impact these can have on themselves and others. At the same time, the founders have seen how art can provide a positive outlet for someone who is afflicted by an illness affecting their quality of life.
“Art is a constant source of therapy and a way to really express my feelings in a tangible way,” Magpayo said.
It was these experiences that led to “Mental Note,” which is the first student based newsletter that discusses mental health and is publicized throughout the LT community, Magpayo said.
The name “Mental Note” came about because George believes it is important for people to do a “mental check” every now and then and to address and to find the support they may need. Since August, “Mental Note” has attracted a steady following and now has 20 plus writers, editors, photographers and directors on their team. They are currently working to publish the second round of content relating to the theme of turning points and trauma.
“There are so many people experiencing the same thing as you are and feeling the same things,” Magpayo said. “I think that’s something that’s really crucial and something we need today because we are so engrossed in our own thoughts and our own feelings that we don’t really take a step back and realize that everyone else is going through the same things.”
At the very least, the forces behind “Mental Note” hope that it will offer a peek into a previously hidden illness and a new perspective—via art and prose—on what it means to be afflicted and struggling, art editor Sadie Madden’ 21 said. The group is actively seeking to grow its membership and has posted a google form on their website for anyone who may be interested in joining their team. Anyone who submits content to their website can choose to do so anonymously.
They use their Instagram handle to promote pieces from their website and have recently been posting tips to support students struggling with back-to-school stress.
“In our community, it’s no secret that teens are stressed out more than ever and a bunch of that is because of school and a lot of [the] pressures we have,” Madden said. “How many people do you hear a day at LT complain about how tired they are all the time and how stressed out they chronically are and anxiety issues and issues with depression? You can’t throw a stone without hitting someone who’s dealing with their own struggles.”