Spreading Compassion and Holiday Cheer

Jan 18, 2023 9:00 AM

Author: Luca Whittington, HMHI Social Media Specialist

HMHI Community Spotlight: Vynessa Campos

Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI) has been the recipient of some holiday cheer for the past several years. Vynessa Campos, a science teacher at Elkridge Middle School, encourages her classes to write holiday greeting cards for staff and patients to spread compassion, promote hope, and help our community heal. This year, with the help of her students, she was able to send out more than cards to six facilities, including HMHI and the call center that supports HMHI's Community Crisis Support Services.

"I was surprised by how many students understood the issues and had compassion for those suffering."

Vynessa Campos, Elkridge Middle School science teacher

This project started when Vynessa saw a post on Instagram about a person collecting cards to hand out to patients at a psychiatric wing in Boston. The post sparked the idea that she could rally her students towards this cause and use it as a learning opportunity.

Campos recalls a story of a student pulling her into the hallway and recounting her own mental health challenges.

"I’ve had students who have struggled in the past, and I have had family members that have a mental illness," Vynessa said. "So, with just having some personal experience with what people go through, that just hit home, and I thought I could have my students and family members write cards."

Holiday cards on display at HMHI

In the winter of 2018, the holiday card writing began. Students were receptive and eager to find ways to create a positive impact on those experiencing mental health challenges. At the same time, engaging with the topic of mental health helped the students to learn more about stigma and how to effectively push back against it.

"I was surprised by how many students understood the issues and had compassion for those suffering," Vynessa said. "I’m hoping that this puts people in a better position if they ever end up struggling with a mental illness, or if someone they know does."

mental health