By: Lucy Trapani ’23
Award-winning actress and women’s activist, Blake Lively once said “The most beautiful thing a woman can wear is confidence.” How can you wear your confidence as a powerful woman to succeed and lead? According to Robin F. Goodman, who writes on the New York University Child Study Center Website, “Girls’ self-esteem peaks when they are 9 years old then takes a nosedive.” That is why Jenna Mclaughlin and I felt early intervention and confronting these issues are very important.
Our mission is to teach young girls how to overcome self-doubt and empower not only themselves, but those around them as well. Our meetings are centered around a specific topic each week that will help provide girls with a strong foundation to empower themselves and succeed. In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, this week’s topic was Mental Health Advocacy. Jenna Mclaughlin and I invited Serena Charbonneau to speak on various topics surrounding mental health advocacy for this week’s Girl Empowerment meeting. Serena is a student at the University of New Haven and will be receiving her degree in psychology this spring. Since the age of 15, Serena has considered herself a mental health advocate. She took part in several different school programs and community activities to help spread awareness and educate others on mental health. Serena provided us with an eye-opening conversation and answered some of the member’s questions surrounding the topic. Serena discussed several different mental illnesses that people commonly struggle with such as anxiety, stress, depression, eating disorders, etc. Along with these important topics, she listed several ways to help those struggling around you, such as hotlines to call, signs to look for when struggling, places to donate, and many others.
As Serena explained in her presentation, mental health affects our day-to-day lives- how we feel, behave, and think. Mental health is important from the earliest stages of our lives to the oldest stages as it can affect nerve cells within the brain and lead to further brain processing and behavioral issues. Raising awareness for mental health helps let individuals who are struggling know that they are not alone and provides them with the ability to cope healthily. Serena provided us with an inspiring, eye-opening presentation about mental health advocacy.
You can find more information on her @misssouthernnewengland_serenac on Instagram. If you are interested in the Girl Empowerment Program at The Cambridge Matignon School you can view our website: https://www.girlempowermentprogram.org/ or https://www.instagram.com/girlempowermentprogram/ . The Girl Empowerment Program at Matignon will continue to hold meetings and pursue our mission of providing young women with the tools necessary to succeed and lead.