Wayzata School District groups work to shine light on mental health awareness

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The Wayzata High School student-led group HEART, which stands for Helping Every At Risk Teen, hopes to remove the stigma surrounding mental health. The group’s members include, from left to right, marketing managers Sandy Sugi and Priya George, vice president Layne Burdette and founder Bharat Pulgam. (Photo by Community Blueprint)

The Wayzata High School student-led group HEART, which stands for Helping Every At Risk Teen, hopes to remove the stigma surrounding mental health. The group’s members include, from left to right, marketing managers Sandy Sugi and Priya George, vice president Layne Burdette and founder Bharat Pulgam. (Photo by Community Blueprint)

Two groups working within the Wayzata School District continue their efforts to open up the conversation around mental health.

PARTNERS for Healthy Kids, a family services collaborative, and HEART, a student-run group, share the common goal of promoting a healthy discussion when it comes to conversations about depression and other mental health issues.

“I think the stigma is still large,” said Donna Marget, who works in the school district’s special services department and helps with PARTNERS for Healthy Kids.

PARTNERS, formerly known as the Communities in Collaboration Council, is one of 47 family service collaboratives in Minnesota. The groups were formed after state legislation was approved in 1993 in an effort to encourage collaborative partnerships and avoid duplication of services between schools, public agencies and other organizations serving kids and their families.

“We have priorities that we are asked to focus on, and in each community it’s a little bit different,” said PARTNERS coordinator Margy Herbert.

One of PARTNERS’ focuses in the Wayzata district is mental health – from early childhood education through high school – and includes intervention and early identification services for students and school-linked mental health services. In addition to school district administration, parents and high school students, PARTNERS collaborates with cities within the district, local police, YMCA, Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners, the business community, libraries and Hennepin County.

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