WCHS club sheds light on mental health and wellness


Photo courtesy of Kai Zhou

The ambassadors of the Umttr club at WCHS pose in front of their poster on club day on Nov. 11, 2021. The ambassadors were recruiting people for their club and gave all students the opportunity to join.

By Cecilia Bernstein, Photo Manager

Almost one in three high school students experience persistent feelings of hopelessness and depression, according to the Center for Disease Control. As students confront these new emotions caused by school, social issues and other problems, solutions are hard to find. In the void, WCHS’s Umttr (You Matter) Club has stepped in, devoted to suicide prevention and mental health resources.

Umttr, an organization founded at WCHS after the tragic suicide of student Evan Rosenstock in 2013, was designed to create a compassionate culture where students feel safe. 

“We always have a lot of students who show up to our monthly meetings, which is great to see,” sophomore and club president Kai Zou said. “It is inspiring to see how many students care about the mental health and well-being of themselves and their peers.”

In addition to the club’s monthly meetings, it hosts events throughout the year, including raffles, games and fundraisers. The money earned has been donated to various suicide prevention charities, such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“All the events that Umttr hosts are always really fun since I get to show my support for the club through fun events,” WCHS sophomore and club member Aleeza Ali said. “Entering raffles is probably my favorite type of activity because I get a chance to win prizes and help a cause that I care about.”

Each monthly meeting is filled with new content for club members, who get to hear about monthly events and educate themselves on the mental health resources available at WCHS. Umttr, with recognition of the struggles of the WCHS community, has created a safe and caring space in the building.

“The ambassadors work hard to plan their meetings, and it shows when every person attending is interested in the topic,” Ali said. “I have not missed a meeting yet this year and I don’t plan to miss any for the remainder of the year.”

Umttr is a member of the Change Direction movement, a group that came together to reduce mental health stigma. Launched by First Lady Michelle Obama in 2015, the group has taken off ever since.

“Change Direction has changed the lives of so many people, and I am so glad Umttr stands with them,” Zou said. “Everyone is devoted to the same cause: caring for the mental health of teens.” 

On Jan. 9, the club brought in guest speaker Anthony Sartori to speak to the members about improving their mental health by connecting with their peers. The program lasted three lunch days, and Sartori inspired the students.

“The other ambassadors and I were really glad to get a speaker like Anthony in to talk to the members,” Zou said. “Sometimes hearing from a person like that can resonate with people.”

When Umttr was created, the founders focused on ensuring a safe and compassionate environment for students, and so far, the club has achieved this goal. Crowds of students have joined the cause, with many more expected to come.

“Umttr will always be an environment of people I know care for me and my wellbeing,” Ali said. “I will forever be grateful for the people and the club.”