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NMAA unveils mental health initiative to help students

One of the coronavirus pandemic’s lesser-known complications is the emotional toll it has been exacting on isolated high school students.

The New Mexico Activities Association on Monday announced an initiative that it hopes will help struggling students with their mental well being as the NMAA announced a Mental Health Awareness Campaign for the 2020-2021 school year.

The organization that oversees high school athletics, and activities, in New Mexico said it recognizes a need to increase the attention given to mental health among all New Mexico students.

“Now, more than ever, it’s so important to promote the mental, social and emotional well-being of our students and direct them to the resources they may need,” said NMAA executive director Sally Marquez in a news release.

The initiative began on Monday, with Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales, himself a former coach in the state, throwing his full support behind the NMAA with a prepared video message on the NMAA’s Twitter account.

“I’m proud to partner with the New Mexico Activities Association on this mental health awareness campaign to ensure we are doing all we can for each other,” said Morales.

Each day this week through Friday, the NMAA is going to post on its social media platforms various video messages from students, coaches, and health professionals. And for the remainder of the school year, the NMAA will designate “Wellness Wednesdays” as an opportunity to continue to promote mental health awareness.

Each of these posts will be accompanied by the Crisis Line phone number (1-855-662-7474) along with the hashtag #YouMatter. Some of the topics will include how to handle stress, recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health issues, suicide prevention, and breaking any stigmas associated with mental health.

Marquez said the NMAA wanted to speak to kids directly, especially those who don’t get direct support from a qualified provider.

“The focus on mental health awareness combined with the return to athletics and activities will go a long way in developing the well-being of our students,” Marquez said.

The NMAA’s platforms include, Twitter (@_NMAA), Facebook (New Mexico Activities Association), and Instagram (AllThingsNMAA).