Varsity student-athlete heightens awareness about importance of mental health

As president of her school’s chapter of Bring Change to Mind, Metuchen High School senior Leah Wentnick is taking an active role in the national nonprofit’s mission to encourage dialogue, raise awareness, and increase understanding about mental health.

Wentnick addressed more than 300 high school student-athletes during the Sept. 24 Soccer for a Cause Charity Festival at Metuchen High School.

“Your mental health always needs to be your top priority,” Wentnick said during a gathering of 20 Middlesex County varsity girls soccer teams inside the high school’s football stadium. “If you are struggling and need help, you are not alone. There are many resources you can reach out to from a crisis text line to 988 to a school counselor.”

Wentnick directed the student-athletes and coaches participating in the event to a table outside the football stadium where crisis cards, a list of mental health resources and additional information about mental illness could be found. She is a starting back on Metuchen’s incumbent conference tournament finalist girls soccer team.

“Leah is to be commended for having the courage to heighten awareness about mental wellbeing,” said Senator Patrick Diegnan, who attended the charity festival. “Leah’s powerful message is paramount year-round, but especially this week as we recognize National Mental Illness Awareness Week. Hearing words from a peer resonated with the student-athletes in attendance, who gave Leah a loud round of applause.”

Wentnick has been invited to make a presentation on Nov. 16 to the Greater Middlesex Conference’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council, whose membership includes one representative from each of the conference’s member schools.

“Your mental health is everything,” Wentnick said. “You matter and you have a place in this world and every one of you are so loved and cared about. If you are struggling, please reach out.”

If you are having thoughts of suicide, need mental health-related crisis support, or are worried about someone else, please call or text 988 or visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline chat to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

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