The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

MIHS’s New Program: Island Space

Island Space members handing out merchandise.
Jayce Madamba
Island Space members handing out merchandise.

On Wednesday, April 19, the MIHS safe club distributed lots of merchandise and “Island Space” cards which have also been hanging as posters around the hallways grabbing many students’ attention.

Island Space was a recent program, surrounded by mysterious posters and suddenly an event appeared throughout both lunches, handing out merchandise such as candy, pins, etc.

“This was a new program, so it came out of conversations among young people, counselors, and other youth groups serving organizations who saw people that were struggling, especially coming out of Covid,” R&R and adviser Chris Harnish said, “We looked at the healthy youth survey data, it’s a survey that’s given every two years here, and Mercer Island has significantly higher rates of binge drinking and using alcohol.”

Binge drinking is consuming an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period. This has a big impact on the island, and the program aims to highlight this problem. The program’s focus has four goals but their primary goal is to encourage students to strive a conversation with peers and trusted adults about how to deal or cope with the pressure and expectations, primarily learning to make healthy decisions when dealing with stress.

“Another is to understand the impact of alcohol and drug use on the young persons’ social-emotional development,” Harnish said.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, before and after the pandemic, the impact of alcohol and drug use is shown to have significantly higher rates of anxiety, depression, and sometimes suicidal ideation.

“We identify a lot of positive stuff going on here but there were two things [that] were contributing to people’s mental health struggles and an increase of substance abuse,” Harnish said. “That was a pressure to succeed and very high expectations amongst parents in the school environment.”

The MIHS Safe Club who sponsored the Island Space, is providing support to those who may be struggling with issues involving stress, depression, life choices, in order to make sure students have a good well-being life with support from teachers and staff.

“We’re working with the Highschool Safe Club to help students get resources and help them build skills around making sure they’re taking care of their well being. If they’re struggling then they know where to get help and how to better manage the stress and pressures you all have as a student,” Mercer Island Youth & Family Services Michelle Ritter said.

Island Space is continuing to raise awareness of the pressure to succeed and is hoping to encourage more peer-to-peer conversations to help each other understand the anxiety of pressure to succeed.

“Mercer Island is a great place to grow up, a great place to go to school, a lot of resources, a lot of programs, a lot of emphasis on helping young people succeed,” Harnish said.

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    Kalden SMay 18, 2023 at 2:57 pm

    This is informative article. I didn’t even know what was going on until I read this about the program Island Space.