Mental Health Matters


Adrianna Pizzuta, Writer

Senior, Breona Pizzuta, was recently awarded the highest award a Girl Scout can achieve, the Gold Award, a 100-hour service project awarded to girls who have developed and carried out lasting solutions to global issues. Breona’s Gold Award aimed to address the issues of mental health in adolescents at school since she noticed that workload, competition, and pressure causes a great deal of stress on students. The rigorous academies at Cranford High School which induce the most pressure do not offer programs that address the issues of mental health, and there were no student-led mental health programs offered at school. Breona, who is going to college for Computer Science, used her plethora of experience with leadership positions in order to take charge of a topic that concerned her, while involving her preferred field of interest. Breona is President of Girls Who Code, president of Computer Club and Computer Science Honor Society, president of Model United Nations, and Vice President of the Class of 2023.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. A month dedicated to raising awareness about mental health. Breona strived to break down the stigma around mental health, provide support, educate the public and advocate for policies that support the millions of people in the United States affected by mental illness. As a Girl Scout Ambassador, Breona was tasked with the challenge to complete her Gold Award, based around creating a project to make the world a better place through multiple requirements, over 100 hours of service work, and approval by the Girl Scout Heart of New Jersey Council. 

Her general focus was student stressors and pressures that lead to negative feelings and declining mental health. She created a program, website and curriculum that would be passed on to other schools with helpful techniques and lessons that have been proven beneficial by mental help professionals such as counselors and researchers. She ran multiple sessions of her program during lunch helping students build coping mechanisms and resilience. The meetings were open to students in all grade levels. Breona was inspired by the stressors she experienced as an AP student balancing multiple sports and extracurriculars and utilized her research and personal experiences to help build a program fit specifically to Cranford High School. I had the pleasure of attending multiple sessions where I learned a variety of things. The first meeting consisted of introducing the students to the Mental Health Matters website, an overview of the course, where students can find mental health resources/emergency resources, and a coloring destressor. The second meeting educated students on how to find wellness and balance in their lives along with Gratitude Meditation and creating a Mind Glitter Jar. The third meeting included  teaching students healthy mindful practices for relaxation, as well as journaling and yoga. The fourth meeting discussed time management tactics and how to deal with the stress of deadlines and incorporated creating a Time Tracking Sheet. The fifth meeting aimed to educate students on how to cope with stress in healthy ways, introduced the students to healthy breathing exercises, as well as a drawing of what the effects of stress look like in teens. The final meeting educated students on how to think positively about themselves and others and taught them how to use affirmations in everyday life along with the creation of mental health bracelets.

Additionally, she used her Computer Science expertise to build a website from scratch. Her website includes information about the program, mental health statistics and resources. The website can be viewed by using the link: .  She hopes that her project reaches further than just Cranford High School, and she is encouraging other schools to adapt and run her program. She consistently advocates for the importance of mental health and continues to help build awareness about mental health and ways to positively deal with stress.