Greenhill School student Kelly Meng first founded Happiness Club with her friends to help classmates destress around tests and exams, but the pandemic exposed a need for something more.
“I realized the impact Happiness Club could have on other schools because I know other schools through debate, and they were always talking to me, especially during the COVID pandemic, about how stressed they were and how isolation really impacted their ability to focus and do work,” Kelly Meng said.
Happiness Club became Students for Happiness, an organization focused on bringing awareness to teenagers’ mental health and wellbeing.
“Instead of just focusing on distressing activities, now we try to focus on anxiety and how stress and anxiety can impact teenagers,” Meng said. Her co-founders include Raag Venkat and Misha Weiner.
To spread its message, Students for Happiness hosts events on mental health and wellbeing. A recent online summit saw students from the Parkland, Florida, chapter talk about their experiences after the school shooting and how school leaders addressed students’ mental health.
“Instead of just focusing on destressing activities, now we try to focus on anxiety and how stress and anxiety can impact teenagers.”Kelly Meng
“It has a big impact on not only mental health, but physical health, academic life, and social life,” said Venkat, who serves as Students for Happiness executive director.
The organization has also sought ways to serve the community. A GoFundMe fundraiser for the Austin Street Center raised $10,000 for the homeless and provided physical aids such as facemasks, hygienic products, food, and water.
“Before I got involved with Students for Happiness, I used to volunteer a lot at Austin Street, so I was very familiar with the organization. When corona hit, I couldn’t volunteer because of social distance,” Students for Happiness director of editorial Misha Weiner said. “Social media definitely helped raise $10,000 because we posted on our story for people to see it and donate, and it got momentum.”
The friends hope momentum will continue for their organization even beyond the collegiate level.
They want to take structures created to address mental health into their careers and beyond, Venkat said. “We can take these structures and implement them in some parts of our society where mental health is lacking.”
Learn More: Visit studentsforhappiness.org to see blogs and information on how to start new chapters.
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