Congresswoman Lauren Underwood hosts mental health roundtable at Neuqua


Lucas Lombana Arias

Representative Underwood shakes hands with students as the roundtable concludes.

Last Monday, April 18, 2022, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood visited Neuqua Valley in order to host a roundtable with selected students to discuss a growing concern over mental health. The US Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, was also present at this event. 

This event comes after several incidents related to mental health issues occurred in Indian Prairie School District during the 2021-2022 school year, including several mental health related deaths. This increase in mental health awareness led to the district creating initiatives such as Health Moves Minds and Social Emotional Learning (SEL), and students going to school board meetings to voice their ideas.

With all these initiatives in place and still very few results seen, Rep. Lauren Underwood and Dr. Murthy wanted to speak directly to students for their ideas.

“Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago has seen the number of children admitted as a result of suicide attempt [increase] from two to three a month, to two to three a day,” noted Underwood.

12 Neuqua students held an open forum to talk about their experiences with mental health problems. These students brought up a variety of topics to the Congresswoman and Surgeon General, generally citing the competitive academic environment of a top school like Neuqua, social pressures to present themselves a certain way, and drug abuse. 

“At Neuqua, there’s a lot of academic and social pressures” and “a lot of pressure to keep it up for 7, 8 hours a day” says Logan Carlson, junior.

“No one is untouchable” reminds Danny Appel, Senior, who also talked about his personal experiences with suicide attempts in his family. 

With suicide rates higher than ever before, Dr. Murthy and Congresswoman Underwood made sure the school, the administration and the government know that they need to work together to fight this epidemic.

“Our job is to provide resources, but there is still a gap and people keep struggling,”  acknowledges Underwood. 

The Representative and Surgeon General both noted that they are going to take the lessons that the students brought up for future initiatives to address mental health struggles.