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Wayland Student Press

The student news site of Wayland High School

Wayland Student Press

The student news site of Wayland High School

Wayland Student Press

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Eric Daddario presents about mental health awareness during Winter Week

Credit: Jane Tardif
Students gather in the auditorium to hear mental health speaker Eric Daddario give a presentation as a part of Winter Week. Daddario shares challenges he has faced and highlights the importance of prioritizing mental health.

On Tuesday, Jan. 30, Wayland High School hosted mental health speaker Eric Daddario as a part of Winter Week. His presentation was organized by the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) club, along with WHS wellness teacher Scott Parseghian. All students were taken into the auditorium during two separate sessions, the first one being for underclassmen and the second one being for upperclassmen, to hear Daddario speak about the importance of mental health. With five years of experience with public speaking, Daddario delivered a speech about the importance of reaching out for help and shared personal experiences about people around him who have experienced mental health struggles. His presentation was meant to inspire those struggling with their mental health to reach out for help.

“I’m on a football coach Executive Board and one of the football coaches was raving about Daddario, so I reached out to [Daddario] and [scheduled] a presentation,” Parseghian said. “It’s [crucial] that these speakers resonate and make connections with students, which [I believed Daddario could do], so we gave it a try.”

Throughout Daddario’s speech, he encouraged students numerous times to think and picture themselves going through hardships that they are bound to face at some point in their lives. Not only did he paint a visual picture for how hard it can be to struggle silently for some, but he also visually showed this when he asked for a volunteer to demonstrate how exhausting physical weight can be. Throughout his presentation, he repeated the mantra “it’s OK to not be OK,” which was the focus point of this presentation. Daddario assured students that there is always a helping hand for them, whether that is a guidance counselor, parent, relative teacher or another trusted adult.

“I think it was a good reminder to all of the students to check in with their friends about mental health,” junior Cate Ellenbogen said.

WHS students gather in the theater to listen to Eric Daddario share his life experiences in hopes to inspire those struggling with mental health. Daddario shares his stuggles and experiences as a means to inspire those to reach out for help. (Credit: Tasha Janoff)

Daddario also shared some of the mental health challenges he encountered throughout his life. Daddario shared a story about a friend who struggled with substance abuse as a form of coping with the hardships in his life. His friend came to him for help, which Daddario emphasized is the first step to take. From there, his friend, along with the support of Daddario, went to his family and got the help he deserved. According to Daddario, being vulnerable is the first step to healing.

“The goal of [bringing in Daddario] was to bring awareness to prioritizing your own mental health and knowing that it’s OK to ask for help,” senior and SADD leader Giovanni Sebastianelli said.

Daddario also spoke about how judgement can hold some people back when they are trying to get help, as some people can be preoccupied as to what their classmates or friends might think of them rather than getting the help they need. He stressed the importance of moving past that fear of judgement and reaching out to a trusted adult to get the help the person needs.

“[What I want students to take away from this] is that you are surrounded by trusted adults and if there’s anything [bothering you], hopefully you will now go to somebody,” Parseghian said.

To end the presentation, Daddario told the audience the story of what happened to his brother. His brother struggled with social anxiety and had a long struggle with his mental health. To relieve the pain he felt everyday, he started drinking. This led to him getting into vaping and then hard drugs, and Daddario explained how he saw his brother’s life start to unravel and break. His brother went down a dark path, ultimately resulting in an overdose. Daddario repeats that not saying anything about his brother was the biggest mistake he’s ever made and he warns the audience to refrain from repeating the same mistake he made.

For several students, Daddario’s presentation shed a light on the importance of mental health and how students can receive the help they deserve if they are ever struggling with their mental health.

“I’m glad I came and I think it was a great Winter Week event,” Ellenbogen said. “I’m also a part of SADD, so I was particularly interested and passionate about this event.”


To see more Winter Week 2024 content, click here.

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About the Contributors
Tasha Janoff, Staff Reporter
Tasha Janoff, Class of 2024, is a first year reporter for WSPN. She does both spring track and is also a captain of the indoor track team for WHS. Outside of school, Tasha enjoys baking, traveling and spending time with family and friends. Contact: [email protected]
Jane Tardif, Staff Reporter
Jane Tardif, Class of 2025, is a second year reporter at WSPN. She plays on the high school's field hockey, ski and lacrosse teams. Outside of school, she enjoys being outside and spending time with friends and family. Contact: [email protected]
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