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Mental Health Matters with Miss Washington

For Maddie Louder, mental health and de-stigmatizing what it means is a pathway she felt called to conquer. "It's ok to struggle with your mental health…. I struggled with anxiety during [high school], I noticed major changes in my friend groups [and] how I interacted with other people," said Maddie Louder. Maddie was able to seek professional support through a therapist and noticed the changes in talking through her mental health and what that can do for her wellbeing. This inspired Maddie to help others experiencing similar mental health struggles and support them. "I was sitting across from my therapist when I realized that I'm not the only one out there who goes through mental health struggles, and I want to be able to help other people overcome whatever mental health struggles [they're going through]," said Maddie Louder.

In the spring of 2021, Maddie reached out to our MTSS Team (Multi-Tiered Systems of Support) to see if she could talk with students about mental health and how to cope with it. The MTSS Team hosts student-led mental health campaigns in the spring, such as comfort kits, a hashtag campaign called #youmatter, to a 21-day challenge with prizes that help students think about ways to normalize and build coping strategies for mental health.

Although the campaign had just been completed when Maddie reached out, our MTSS Team knew they had to get Maddie into the classroom to speak with our students about mental health. She recently got the opportunity to talk with three middle school leadership classes in the Kent School District during Wellness Week and how we can normalize and build pathways to overcome mental health struggles.

Maddie provided points of advice on coping with mental health struggles. "I like to use the analogy RULER (recognize, understand, listen, emotional, regulation)," she said. "I first recognize my emotions [and what I'm feeling], second is understanding where that emotion sits in your body, third is listening to what those emotions mean and taking a step back, and lastly is emotional regulation, which is using coping skills to help us feel at peace with those emotions," said Maddie Louder.

In her presentation, Maddie also outlined examples of coping mechanisms that students can use to work through their mental health struggles:

  • Mindfulness and Meditation
  • Exercise or move your body
  • Talk to someone you trust or seek professional counseling
  • Plan to do a fun activity with a friend
  • Set social media to the side
  • Practice positive affirmations

Maddie completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Oklahoma City University in 2020 and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology to continue serving others experiencing mental health issues. She recently competed for the title of Miss America last month on Thursday, December 16.