Superintendent Winfried Feneberg
114 Cougar Court
New London, NH 03257
For Immediate Release
Monday, March 11, 2019
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Former New Hampshire Chief Justice John Broderick Gives Talk on Mental Illness at Kearsarge High
NEW LONDON – Superintendent Winfried Feneberg is pleased to share that former New Hampshire Chief Justice John Broderick visited and discussed mental illness with students at Kearsarge Regional High School last week.
The former Chief Justice spoke to students at an assembly on Thursday, March 8, in which he shared his experience as the father of a child who struggled with mental illness. He encouraged students to end the stigma surrounding mental illness, to seek help if they are struggling and to help loved ones with mental illness access the resources they need. New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald also attended the assembly.
“Mental illness is a health problem, not a character flaw or a personal weakness,” Broderick said. “It’s not your fault, and there’s plenty of help available. You don’t need to suffer.”
During the assembly Broderick shared the story of his son, who struggled with depression, anxiety and panic attacks as a teen and in his twenties. His son turned to alcohol as he grappled with mental illness, and it wasn’t until he was an adult that his family discovered mental illness was the driving force behind his alcohol use problems.
Students were acutely attentive throughout the assembly, and a couple dozen approached the former Chief Justice to share their own experiences after the discussion.
“His talk resonated deeply with students, and it was great to have such a respected state figure visit the school and address such a difficult — often taboo — subject,” Superintendent Feneberg said. “Mental illness affects many students, their families, and the Kearsarge communities at large. Our district continues to take significant steps to respond to the social-emotional needs of students. We provide a variety of resources and trained staff to address mental and behavioral issues that affect student learning in our schools.”
In addition to classes offered to students at Kearsarge Regional High School that educate students about mental health, the school has a student support team comprised of three school counselors, a school psychologist, a school nurse with a psychiatric background and a school social worker who is also a licensed drug and alcohol counselor. Each one is available to meet with students individually and in groups. Kearsarge Regional High School also collaborates with community based services, referring students and families when appropriate.
A Riverbend Community Mental Health therapist also visits the school once a week to meet with students individually, and local psychologists have also made themselves available to meet with students at the school.
The district continually seeks to expand its mental health support initiatives, and provides faculty with opportunities for training to support student mental health through organizations including NAMI NH and the Office of Student Wellness. The school also connects students to a variety of groups that spread awareness about mental illness, including Dover Youth to Youth, the Capital Region Substance Misuse Prevention Coalition, and the Greater Sullivan Substance Misuse Prevention Workgroup.
The former Chief Justice has visited approximately 360 New England schools over the last three years as he has sought to spread his message to young people.