WESTFIELD, Ind. — During their visit to Westfield High School on Wednesday, First Lady Jill Biden, along with Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, spoke with students and staff about the importance of mental health services within schools.
According to previous reports, the first lady arrived in the Indianapolis area on Wednesday as part of a number of back-to-school events across the country. Biden, along with Dr. Murthy, highlighted the importance of mental health resources for schools and how federal programs have supported mental health resources throughout Indiana and throughout the country.
When they arrived, Biden and Dr. Murthy met with a group of students from the Westfield High School chapter of the Robbie’s Hope organization, a student organization centered around suicide prevention. The students spoke with them about the group’s mission and what they are doing to spread mental health awareness among students at Westfield High School.
During the visit, the first lady and the surgeon general also participated in a roundtable with school officials to hear how the school, district, state and federal government work together to support mental health needs for students. The roundtable was hosted for Biden and Dr. Murthy to get more information on how mental health services can be improved at the federal level for students and the community at large.
During her remarks, Biden said in her classroom, there are still some students who are wrestling with anxiety and feeling isolated. Biden teaches English and writing at Northern Virginia Community College.
As a teacher, she said that she has worked with students to create a community within the classroom, expressing the importance of sharing their own stories and their own experiences.
Biden praised the Robbie’s Hope organization, stating that when she heard about what they were doing at Westfield, she had to come and visit. She also praised the work President Joe Biden and the current administration has been doing to invest in young people’s mental health.
The first lady said Indiana has been a great partner in the federal efforts to help young people in this mental health crisis.
“It’s not the policy details or legislative wins,” she said. “…It’s okay not to be okay and you are not alone. You shouldn’t have to face the rough edges of the world by yourself.”
As the surgeon general, Dr. Murthy said that the goal is to tear down the “terrible stigma” surrounding mental health, especially for youth, which he stressed is a significant public health emergency in the United States.
While traveling across the country, Dr. Murthy said he has listened to the concerns of students, who told him about what is driving the mental health issues, including social media, bullying and the “unrelenting pressure” within the country’s culture. He said there is a lot weighing on young people, which helped cause him to release multiple mental health advisories over the last two years.
Dr. Murthy spoke about the investment that the administration has given for mental health in schools and communities through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. He also spoke about the implementation of 988 as a crisis line for individuals to call or text as a resource for individuals to speak with trained behavioral health counselors.