Through the introduction of a new event hosted for Paly parents and students, the Paly Sources of Strength organization is ambitious to bring to light an integral element of recognizing the importance of mental health: the relationships between students and their parents and/or guardians.
“Parents are one of the primary people that students communicate with upon experiencing some sort of up or down. They are our caregivers and we see them at home, but sometimes we struggle with expressing how we truly feel to them when it comes to talking about mental health.”
Senior Nura Mostaghimi
Sources of Strength’s Paly Parent Night on Feb. 28 took place at the Media Arts Center on campus. The purpose of Parent Night is for Sources of Strength peer leaders, the organization’s members, to share their stories and spur the needed conversations between parent and child, according to Mostaghimi.
“Parent Night is to encourage parents to create spaces for open dialogues with their students about well-being and mental health,” Mostaghimi said. “The Sources of Strength Parent Night is intended to model story-telling behaviors from Peer Leaders in the Paly community and answer any of their questions about their stories or the program at large. By having different classrooms set-up for parents to come by, we hope that they leave the evening feeling inspired and motivated to talk about such important topics with their child more.”
Sources of Strength peer leaders organize and run the event, according to Mostaghimi.
“From helping book the venue, to creating presentations to share with the parents, (students) will be at the center of this process to ensure that their voices are heard by a receptive audience,” Mostaghimi said. “The Peer Leaders and Steering Members of Sources alike will collaborate in sharing their stories in the different spaces and will have opportunities for parents to converse and discuss amongst themselves and ask questions of the presenters.”
At the end of the night, both parties should have gained new perspectives on the challenges that arise in student’s lives and the involvement of health in these aspects of a student’s life.
“We believe changing the narrative in the home setting is one of the first steps to making a large-scale impact on de-stigmatization of mental health in the community and beyond,” Mostaghimi said. “This event happens once a year, but as our student group grows, we would love to see more Parent Nights happening throughout the school year.”
Senior Noor Navaid, another Sources of Strength steering committee member, said Parent Night is an important event that allows parents to offer new ideas that students may not typically consider.
“Hosting events such as (Parent Night) (is) important for the Palo Alto community, in my opinion, as they allow for growth of interpersonal connection amongst community members.”
Senior Noor Navaid, another Sources of Strength steering committee member
“Personally, I’ve had great conversations with some of the parents who have attended (Paly and Gunn’s) Parent Night and have maintained connections with them past the event, which exemplifies the effectiveness of (the) community building this event offers.”
In a setting where one can be vulnerable and comfortable sharing their personal experiences, both Navaid and Mostaghimi say that individual growth should be the main take-away of the night.
Navaid said, “Not only will students learn more from parents, but parents will actually be able to get first-hand perspectives of their children’s peers as well. ”