MHS Students To Host UNMUTE, Storytelling and Sharing Information on Mental Health Issues

Montclair, N.J. – Silence is the enemy when it comes to getting support for our mental health.

The Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence (MFEE) has partnered with The Jed Foundation and Jared’s Fund to bring JED High School, a comprehensive mental health initiative designed specifically for teens, to Montclair High School. Learn more on Thursday March 25, 2021 at 7pm for “UNMUTE: We Don’t Need to Keep Silent About our Mental Health.”

This virtual event is open to students, caregivers and community members interested in learning more about the initiative.

2020 Jared Fund Fellows, Genesis Whitlock, Elias Benchekroun, and Jack Rodriquez-Vars who will host the event.

The Jed Foundation is one of the country’s leading organizations protecting teen emotional health and suicide prevention. Their high school program, JED High School, partners with schools to assess their needs and capabilities, and works to develop strategies to strengthen their mental health, substance misuse, and suicide prevention programs and systems.

The need for the JED program has never been greater. Montclair High School students, like their peers across the country, face a range of mental health challenges – and the social isolation caused by the COVID pandemic has only exacerbated teen stress.

Masiel Rodriquez-Vars, MFEE’s Executive Director, notes, “The time for JED is now. Our teens are hurting, and we must build school cultures that proactively support them. We are inspired by the commitment of new MHS leadership, including principal Jeff Freeman and Assistant Principals Mirta Alsina and Reginald Clark, and by the tremendous student energy around these issues. For example, MHS sophomores Justin Comini, Marin Furer and Cesca Caldarella, recently created an End the Stigma Club and, of course, Jared’s Fund Fellows continue to highlight mental health issues through their summer fellowships.”

Jared’s Fund provides MHS students and recent alumni with fellowships to address the stigma of mental illness. Three 2020 Jared Fund Fellows, Genesis Whitlock, Elias Benchekroun, and Jack Rodriquez-Vars, created a podcast that highlighted BIPOC voices who struggle with mental illness. They will host the March 25th event and share insights gained from their project.

Jared’s Fund co-founders, Ken Zimmerman and Jackie Baillargeon, are excited to support this initiative.

“We believe strongly in the power of young people to engage with a national leader like The Jed Foundation and the leadership of MHS and MFEE to address the deep mental health challenges faced by so many students. We have incredible ingredients for making MHS the leader in addressing mental health needs of its students.”

March 25th will be an evening of storytelling and information sharing that highlights the urgency and hope for mental health support at Montclair High School. In addition to hearing from students, attendees will learn about the initiative from administrators and representatives from JED.

Register for the event at: and donate to support program implementation of the JED initiative at MHS:

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