It’s Not Just in Our Heads

From sudden school shutdowns to the pressures of social media, young people are dealing with a lot these days. As conversations about mental health become more common, there’s a growing sense that many of our personal struggles might not just be all in our heads. What’s mental health? What impacts our mental health? How can young people find support? How can we support others?

In the winter of 2020-2021, CUP collaborated with Teaching Artist Stephen Kwok and public high school students from Life Sciences Secondary School to investigate this issue. Students created art therapy activities, surveyed community members, and interviewed key stakeholders working on the issue.

The team gathered what they learned and created It’s Not Just in Our Heads, a booklet that teaches others about mental health, how it impacts our daily lives, and how to support others that might be struggling with their mental health.

Students premiered their final project virtually through a public debut presentation, where they presented their booklet and shared their creative process.

Get your own booklet here!

See more photos of students in action here!

Watch a video of the students creative process below!

What People Are Saying

“I really enjoyed all the drawing activities and hearing everyone else talk about their mental health, because it felt like I wasn’t alone in this.” – Sabina Aktar, Student

“My favorite part [of the CUP program] was the conversations because you get to hear stuff from other perspectives. Sometimes you kind of make this biased idea or you have this idea based on only your experience. So it’s good to hear where other people are coming from and seeing from the inside out or the outside and it just seems to make it more realistic and not so one-sided or so personal.” – Azia Francis, Student

“One of the things that I’m taking away from this project is the awareness of how many people are in the world trying to make a better world with whatever is going on and how many people who look like me and are trying to do good.” – XZavion Rivera, Student

“This project was really well done. I see  a new strength in all of [the students], and a connection that’s amazing.” – Cecilia Gual, Parent and Family Coordinator, Life Sciences Secondary School

“This is amazing work! Particularly the design work is top shelf. I haven’t seen that kind of design work from a lot of other groups that I work with.” – Linda Tigani, Senior Director, Children, Youth and Families, Mayor’s Office of Thrive NYC

Funding Support

Major Support for this program was provided by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and Council Member Ben Kallos.

Special Thanks

Dr. Dianah Cantres, Nicole Hamilton, Parker Johnson, June Song, Elijah Thomas, Linda Tigani, Dr. Wenimo Okoya, Ashley Zaharakis


  • CUP
  • Teaching Artist
  • Stephen Kwok
  • Project Lead
  • Fielding Hong
  • LIfe Sciences Secondary School 
  • Students
  • Sabina Aktar
  • Rosemarie Alubankudi
  • Gabriella Chavez
  • Bisma Ejaz
  • Nishat Fiza
  • Azia Francis
  • Nadia Islam
  • Alaa Mady
  • Ayah Mady
  • Naomi Maldonado
  • Ada Johnsen-DeWeese
  • X-Zavion Rivera
  • Principal
  • Kim Swanson

  • Parent Coordinator
  • Cecilia Gual