IES and JCK Foundation defeating stigma around mental health
Looking after the mental health of your friends, and yourself, was the focus as the JCK Foundation returned to speak with IES students for the fourth time.
The JCK Foundation is an organization working to defeat the stigma around mental health. It was founded by John Tessitore in 2011 following the death of his friend John Cleaver Kelly who had both OCD and depression. Now they are working with communities and schools to improve mental wellness and resilience among youth.
It all started in Mr Tessitore’s hometown Dobbs Ferry, New York, and found its way to Sweden thanks to IES Solna’s principal Suzanne Gavin. “I was traveling to Sweden for the Avicii Tribute Concert in Stockholm and thought I should email a bunch of schools here about our work,” Mr Tessitore explained. ”The only one who answered was Ms Gavin. Three days later we held the first school visit.”
John Tessitore and his friend and colleague Kevin McMahon show genuine passion and care when talking to the students in each class. They talk about the power of friendships, how to be open to a friend, and not be afraid to be vulnerable. If you share a piece of your story, it can help another person to open up as well. It seems to work because they get a lot of emails from students afterward. “Most of the time they want to share their stories and ask for advice,” said Mr Tessitore. “It’s very powerful that they feel safe enough to open up, that’s exactly what we want.”
Running for charity The JCK Foundation will come back to IES twice a year, and in the meantime the work is followed-up in the schools. The curators are doing suicide prevention work with the staff so that teachers can see the signs and notice triggers that can open up or close a child. “If it saves one child, it’s worth it,” said Ms Gavin. “Because it could be that one child that didn’t reach out for help.”
The commitment doesn’t end there. The JCK Foundation will be running the New York Marathon in November to raise funds for their work. Ms Gavin has gained one of the spots in the race and will be running together with them for charity. Each step will be one more on the journey to improve mental wellness.