The American Association of University Women, officially founded in 1881, is a non-profit organization and the nation’s leading voice for promoting equity in education for women and girls. Since its founding in 1881, AAUW has examined and taken position on fundamental issues surrounding education, as well as social, economic, and political issues.
The Southern New Hampshire branch of AAUW was established in the 1970s, and in their time as a group, the organization has hosted a number of programs concerning education and equity issues that are open to the public, as well as offering scholarships for young women pursuing college degrees in STEM.
On Wednesday April 6, I was lucky enough to sit in on a meeting hosted by the Southern NH branch of AAUW, where Souhegan’s own Sheelu and Sherrise spoke to the group about mental health in young women, especially after covid shutdowns.
Sheelu and Sherrise both spoke about how there are a number of things in adolescents’ lives that can impact their overall mental health, and that adding covid in the mix just heightened these issues.
Sheelu elaborated more on the problems that covid caused by pointing out the idea that during the pandemic, young people experienced large amounts of social isolation, and a decrease in accessibility to mental health resources (which Sheelu says are already not as good as they should be in New Hampshire.)
Fortunately, Sheelu and Sherrise both feel like Souhegan is better equipped than most schools to help students with mental health issues. This is because of the culture Souhegan has that normalizes and encourages students to ask for help, as well as the amount of resources the school has; including student services, counselors, the advisory program, as well as Sheelu and Sherrise.
However, they also feel that there is still work that needs to be done.
During the program, Sherrise said that we still need to understand that it’s just as important to keep our mental health well as it is to keep our physical health well, and Sheelu says that the impacts of the pandemic were felt across all grade levels, and that progress still needs to be made, and conversations still need to be had on how we move forward as a community.
There was not a single person who did not feel the impacts of covid, and Amherst is certainly not an exception to this. This is why conversations like this one are important to be had, and why the work that Sheelu, Sherrise, and AAUW do is all extremely valuable.
Moving forward, Sherrise says she knows that not all problems are ones that can be fixed, but sometimes listening is the best thing to do, and Sheelu says she feels the responsibility to support the future of our world, and to always show up for them.
I really enjoyed sitting in on the AAUW meeting, and learning about all the wonderful things Sheelu and Sherrise are doing at Souhegan to support the students, and create a positive culture surrounding mental health.
Thank you AAUW for inviting The Claw, it was a really valuable experience!