Mental Health from the Perspective of BIPOC Student Activists

By The Root of Our Youth Tara Duong, Diya Kumar, Diya Anoop, Phia Endicott, Marlo Duong, Malavika Santhosh, Zana Stewart, and Molly Reagan
Guest Bloggers


Clockwise from top left: Tara Duong, Diya Kumar, Diya Anoop, Molly Reagan, Zana Stewart, Malavika Santhosh, Marlo Duong, and Phia Endicott

Without tangible mental health support, students—especially BIPOC—have been left to fend for ourselves throughout remote learning. In an attempt to remedy the emotional damage caused by the abrupt closing of schools, the recent switch to hybrid learning has ironically been handled in the same haphazard manner, with the causes of these mental complications remaining unaddressed.

Our education system teaches students that academic success holds greater value than our health. We’re in a position where we must suppress our mental and emotional needs to survive. When the pandemic hit, we suddenly had the time and space to express ourselves freely, leading us to recognize the severity of our struggles and the damages imposed by the education system.

While the school environment has its faults, isolation has made the management of mental health and academic success increasingly difficult. Numerous elements of in-person school cannot be recreated online, such as connecting and collaborating with peers, and effective communication with teachers. There is little to no opportunity for teamwork, a skill we’ve been conditioned to depend on since primary school. We were taken out of an environment rich in support and dropped into seclusion. Read More

Podcast – Fernell Miller of The Root of Us on What Students Need Now

In our podcast, we interview policymakers, partners, and thought leaders to spotlight education policies, research, and practices so that together we can create a brighter future for every Washington student.

In this episode, League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman asks Fernell Miller, Founder and CEO of The Root of Us and a physical education teacher in the public school system, what she is hearing from students during this historic time, what it was like for her to navigate school as a Black student, and what she would like to see schools prioritize as the 2020-21 school year begins.


  • Take The Root of Us survey here.
  • Watch the student “I Can Return to School When…” video here.
  • Read our recap of the July 21, 2020 Virtual Rally for Students and Families.


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