May is celebrated as National Children's Mental Health Month. This year, the Hawai‘i State Department of Education (HIDOE), Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) and the Children's Mental Health Acceptance Planning Group encouraged the move from awareness to acceptance of mental health challenges and services. As part of this campaign, HIDOE partnered with DOH and KHON2 to welcome Roman de Peralta of Kolohe Kai to a few select schools where he addressed youth mental health and the realities of bullying.
Roman's tour included performances at Kaimuki High, King Intermediate, Kalihi Kai Elementary, Leilehua High and Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle, where he sang his latest song titled, “I Think You’re Beautiful.” He shared that he wrote this song to encourage self-love and to remind everyone to think positively about themselves no matter what anyone else says.
“It is important that all of our keiki feel beautiful in their own skin. Bullying does the exact opposite. That’s why I’m here today — to discourage those kinds of behaviors,” Peralta shared. “They say that one in every five kids in Hawai‘i is experiencing a problem with mental health. This message means a lot to me because I know what it feels like to be down sometimes.”
The concerts highlighted the importance of interpersonal relationships and school-based supports for students. Principal Kawahara at Kalihi Kai Elementary said, “I'd like to thank Roman of Kolohe Kai and the DOE for making the performance possible. Messages about anti-bullying remind our students to build strong and positive relationships. Learning about mental health not only creates awareness, but it also lets those who have been struggling know supports are available.”
HIDOE prioritizes social-emotional learning (SEL) and focuses on how motivation, social connectedness and self-regulation enable every student to learn and thrive. These efforts are especially important considering how often our youth have had to adapt to the ever-changing conditions of the global pandemic. The concert series left students with messages about taking care of their mental health and reaching out for help when needed.
King Intermediate eighth-grader Summer Schnidel said, "The biggest thing I learned from this assembly would be that you don’t know what someone is going through. It’s not fun when people judge you … when they don’t know what you’re going through.”
“Whenever you’re struggling, you’re really not alone in anything,” added Taylor Smith, a junior at Leilehua High School. “I hope that people start treating each other better now that they’re aware that not everyone is feeling perfect. And I hope that now people are not scared to get help when they need it.”
For more information on how you can take part in Children’s Mental Health Acceptance Month, visit health.hawaii.gov/camhd.