Students’ Assembly Gets Online Boost

TODD KRAININ PHOTO Aaron Moore, a mental health counselor speaking on behalf of To Write Love on Her Arms, tells a packed gymnasium of Imperial High School students about the need to talk honestly about their feelings of pain and depression, Friday in Imperial.

Depression, drug use, suicidal thoughts, family issues: all can be hard to discuss, especially when they’re personal. But to help its students become more comfortable with talking about problems before they escalate, Imperial High School staff presented as its special guest Friday Aaron and Michelle Moore of To Write Love On Her Arms, an organization that started online as a MySpace and Facebook group, where most teens converse with each other.

“To Write Love on Her Arms is a nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide,” according to the organization’s vision statement. “TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.” Often fears of beginning the tough dialogue in the first place are what prompt many teens to never talk about what’s bothering them.

“Our belief about it is suicide, depression, addiction, those are the things people don’t talk about,” Aaron Moore said. “There’s a kind of stigma that you shouldn’t talk about those things. “Our hope is to help create openness, a willingness, to talk,” he said.

The married Florida couple said they both graduated from seminary, and Aaron is a former youth pastor as well as a currently licensed therapist. Michelle Moore will be licensed come June.

“The point here is it’s OK to not be OK,” Michelle Moore said. “You just have to talk about these things, and it’s OK to do so. “We’re just trying to help the school continue to create a community where these students can talk about things without fear of having that stigma put on them.”

The Moores’ presented To Write Love On Her Arms’ vision, as well as advice and statistics, to the entire IHS student body, which had come together to form a paper chain with a link made by each teen. Knowing that they’re not alone is what the Moores want all teens to understand, no matter the situation.

That same message was given to teachers and parents in separate meetings throughout the day. “We’re trying to give a few pieces of encouragement,” Aaron Moore said. “There’s such a fear of talking about it. “It’s not about knowing the right answer,” he said. “It’s about being there talking about it and seeking those answers.”

Article Reprinted Courtesy of Imperial Valley Press