Student of the Month works to help parents talk to teens about mental health

The KCRG-TV9 Student of the Month has made it her mission to make others comfortable talking about mental health.
Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 7:17 AM CDT
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MARION, Iowa (KCRG) - The KCRG-TV9 Student of the Month has made it her mission to make others comfortable talking about mental health.

Linn-Mar High School Senior Sanya Oli is involved in a variety of activities, from swimming, to serving as captain of Science Olympiad team, to being the Iowa HOSA President - a group for students interested into going to health care.

One of the groups she’s made a big impact with is the Mental Health Matters Club.

“Adults frequently believe that we know what’s best for students, however this group has been incredibly unique that they help guide what would work for them,” said Jessica Deahl, a student assistance counselor at Linn-Mar High School.

It’s all with a goal to make a difference. Sanya said she saw the pressure her classmates were under and wanted to help.

“Being in all these activities, I realized I was seeing a common theme among all students, and that was just being very anxious about the future, and being nervous about day-to-day activities, dealing with substance abuse, dealing with depression, dealing with so many problems among all students,” she explained.

This year, Sanya worked so that all student IDs have mental health crisis hotline stickers on them. New IDs will have the numbers printed right on the card.

“I wanted to take a more preventative approach with it,” Sanya said. “I didn’t want it to be something that when it’s at its worst stage, then it’s being talked about.”

Sanya also researched and gave a presentation to around 600 Linn-Mar High School freshman parents, and at the Hiawatha Public Library. She shared information from Linn County that she learned while doing an internship on mental health advocacy.

“A lot of parents came up to me and said that they were very grateful that I was sharing this information because they really want to know how to support their kids,” Sanya said.

She plans to help others her whole life, something she learned from her parents.

“My parents are immigrants, so from them, I learned a lot of my values of hard work and making an impact wherever you go, no matter how big or small,” Sanya said.

She is making an impact, even where it can’t be seen, beyond her time as a student.

“I know that beyond the parent presentation, and the stickers, her legacy is going to last within the group, and beyond her graduating in the spring,” said Deahl.