Elizabeth Einig contributes to Kennedy Forum, brings awareness to mental health issues
Elizabeth Einig is not your average Conant student. By her senior year, she has already been named to the Daily Herald Leadership Team, worked as an intern for the Kenneth Young Center for Mental Health, earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, earned the Cook County Sheriff’s Youth Service Medal of Honor, and was named Schaumburg Youth Volunteer of the Year.
This past December, she contributed to the Kennedy Forum, an organization founded by Patrick Kennedy that tries to ensure that mental health is treated the same as physical health and brings awareness to mental health issues. Elizabeth shared her experience as a facilitator with the Conant Crier.
Crier: What topics did you discuss at the Forum?
Einig: The discussion was centered on young people, mental health, and addiction.
Crier: What kind of steps did you take to prepare for this?
Einig: Two years ago, I helped create the mental health awareness day, and that was the basis for a lot of thoughts. I thought a lot about how we could change the atmosphere in our school.
Crier: What made you passionate about mental health?
Einig: The mental health issue is close to home. I’ve seen firsthand the horrible effects of mental health issues on my friends and family.
Crier: In what ways did this experience impact your view on the issue?
Einig: We got to hear from many speakers besides the panel that I was on. It was truly eye-opening. There were leaders that had done so much with technology and mental health. One person created a textline for immediate help. Another talked about trauma and revolutionary ideas regarding mental health. It was really cool to see the 1,000 people in that room supporting this issue.
Crier: Did this experience have any impact on your future?
Einig: I really like neuroscience, so I’ve always wanted to do research with mental illness, but I also like the public policy aspect of it.
Crier: What kind of suggestions do you have for people that are going through mental health issues?
Einig: Atmosphere of support and compassion is important. One in five people under the age of 18 have a mental illness, and half of mental illness start before the age of 14. There seems to be a lot of shame and stigma along with it, and more times than not, we shut out people that are struggling with mental health issues. People should know that there is always help available. If you have someone that you trust, don’t be afraid to reach out. Talk to your counselor; they are open and willing to help. Don’t be afraid to get out there.