Dimitri Donas ’23 & Jesus Garcia ’23
You are never alone. Though it is among the most cliché statements regarding mental health, it is also a statement that the Chaminade High School community holds near and dear to its heart. This phrase has a multitude of connotations that we, as Chaminade men, must understand if we are to support one another through any adversity that we may face.
Dr. Christopher Fisher ’07 has made it his mission to console and support those struggling with mental health. Fisher earned his B.S. in psychology from Arizona State University, his M.S. in education in clinical mental health counseling from St. John’s University, and both his M.S. in clinical psychology and doctor of psychology degree from Nova Southeastern University. He is now a licensed psychologist at Northwell Health, working with patients who struggle with mental health.
Fisher is also familiar with daily life at Chaminade, having walked the same halls as the students he spoke to this past October.
When Fisher entered Darby Auditorium for his presentation, he began in a typical fashion, by asking the students how they were feeling that morning. The student body unanimously responded with a dull, “good.”
Fisher then explained how “good” is often the default—but sometimes misleading—response to this question. In a statement that would become the recurring theme of his presentation, Fisher explained that it is completely acceptable not to feel “good” all the time.
Fisher then shared experiences from both his occupation and his life as a Chaminade student. In an eye-opening account, he told the story of a patient who had survived a drug overdose. According to Fisher, the man had little emotion in his voice as he described how he felt as if everyone in his life had surpassed him in success. Fisher related to his patient’s feelings due to his own past rivalry with his brother, an experience that he also recounted in his speech.
After more discussion regarding his patient’s struggles, Fisher asked the man where he had gone to high school. Astoundingly, the man said that he attended Chaminade. This revelation proved to be a breakthrough in the men’s conversation as, after discovering this commonality between them, the patient broke down—unfolding everything that had afflicted him and led to his current predicament. This story, highlighting the significance of brotherhood between Chaminade men, challenged current Chaminade students to contemplate their own roles in the Flyer community. Fisher continued to elaborate on the importance of the Chaminade family, describing one time in high school where he was up late working on a project. He had left the assignment to the last minute, and he felt increasing pressure as it got later into the night. Eventually he called one of his friends and discovered that his peer was in the same situation. Again, the discovery of a shared bond and the chance to speak with someone helped to alleviate the stress that a young Fisher felt at the moment.
As a Chaminade family, we must remember to look out for one another as brothers. As Fisher informed students, the smallest actions can have the largest impact on others—for better or worse. A harmless joke told by one student may have a deep impact on someone. We never know what someone else is going through internally and, therefore, we should always be conscious of what we say. By the same token, it is the responsibility of the upperclassmen to establish a culture of positivity and support through-out the building. The attitude that they convey will set a tone for the student body as a whole.
The essence of Fisher’s message is that being a teenager can be stressful at times, and that it is okay to not be 100% “good” all of the time. There is always a network of people ready to give their support.
If you are not feeling okay and you need to talk to someone, you can always reach out to a Chaminade staff member or confide in a friend. The Flyer family is always here, and you are never alone.