West Orange HS senior Marley Dias attends mental health roundtable at White House

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — West Orange High School senior Marley Dias joined with other young women who are working to impact their communities in the area of mental health to participate in a roundtable discussion at the White House on March 30. Dias discussed the Green Ribbon Week initiatives held at West Orange High School and Roosevelt Middle School.

Domestic policy adviser E. Susan Rice and Gender Policy Council Co-chairperson Jennifer Klein hosted the roundtable at the White House with young women leading their communities in improving mental health. Participants were joined by the leadership of several national girl’s advocacy organizations. With the toll COVID-19 has taken on youth mental health, the young women shared their stories and insights with members of the administration, who reinforced their commitment to the Unity Agenda outlined by President Joe Biden. The 2023 budget will include $829 million for increasing the mental health workforce, expanding coverage and reducing costs, as well as addressing the impact of social media on young people.

Dias gained notoriety in 2016 when she began “1,000 Black Girl Books,” a campaign to add more diversity to school reading lists. The initiative took hold internationally and Dias, who authored “Marley Dias Gets it Done and So Can You!” in 2018, went on to receive several accolades, such as: being named to the Forbes “List of 30 Under 30” in 2018; being named to Time Magazine’s “25 Most Influential Teens List” in 2018; being featured in a live-streamed roundtable discussion with Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama in 2018; leading “Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices,” a Netflix series where she served as host and producer; and being nominated for an NAACP Award in 2021.

Dias and her mother, Janice Johnson Dias, founded the GrassRoots Community Foundation, whose mission is to “engage and unite for community health; fund and provide technical support to community health initiatives; develop models that are low cost, high impact, evidence driven and context specific; work with girls, their families and community members to create health solutions; investigate and collect data to inform policy and practice; and advocate for health programs and policies that benefit women and girls.” GrassRoots partnered with WOHS and the town’s middle schools to promote mental health initiatives during Green Ribbon Week in 2021.

Dias’ journey will continue as she heads to college in the fall.

“I am incredibly happy about my acceptances to Harvard, Yale and Duke University,” Dias said. “I have been thinking about and working towards college for so long, and I’m grateful for the support I’ve received along the way. I am interested in areas of study that help me become a better changemaker, such as government, philosophy, politics and economics.”

Photos Courtesy of WOSD