Benjamin Rose and Shreyul Patel couldn’t help but worry about friends and classmates last year as they read headlines that warned about the impact of quarantine and isolation on kids’ mental health.
Even before the pandemic, the two Lambert High School seniors noticed friends and peers struggling with stressors. And oftentimes, they saw that students were afraid or uncomfortable talking about those stressors with others.
Patel remembered, a few years ago, one of his close friends eventually broke down and told him about a serious medical issue his dad was going through that was causing him and his family a lot of stress. It dawned on Patel later that his friend had been holding onto the weight of all of that stress for days before finally talking about it.
“No one should have to keep their emotions trapped inside of them like that,” Patel said.
With so many students attending school virtually or waiting at home in quarantine, Rose and Patel realized, now more than ever, they all needed to start talking to each other more.
“We saw how the pandemic exacerbated some of the mental health issues that were previously neglected,” Rose said. “And while some people were doing things to help combat such issues, we realized that a more community-centered peer-to-peer approach was necessary.”
That was when they created Let’s Talk More, a card game meant to spark in-depth conversations between friends and students.
Each of the cards in the deck has a short phrase or prompt that Rose said they hope will help players to open up more and even make new friends with those around them.
For example, one card says, “One thing I can do today to make my life better is….”
It is meant to help players share more about their lives and any problems they may be facing by thinking about solutions to those problems.
On the other hand, Patel said the cards are also meant to help students take pride in themselves and talk about their accomplishments or even discuss certain people in their lives who they love or help them to feel confident.
Another card says, “I look up to…. for their ability to….”
“So they could answer with maybe a peer mentor and then talk about how this mentor has shaped their life and has benefitted them,” Patel said. “And then that could lead other people in the discussion to ask more questions about that.”
Patel said these discussions could potentially help kids to fully embrace themselves and others. By having these conversations regularly, too, they both hope that players can learn how to open up more even in day-to-day lives.
Rose said the game could be especially helpful for students now since many came back to campus this school year for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
“We thought this game would be a really good way, when people start connecting again, to learn more about each other,” Rose said.
For now, Patel and Rose said they are still testing the card game out with small groups of students, getting feedback together to refine and better the cards before officially releasing them for sale in the next few weeks.
They are working closely with school leaders and counselors at Lambert to make them available for students at the school for one-on-one counseling sessions and more.
Patel said, however, they eventually want to see students bringing their own decks to school to play with friends and classmates, finding a place in the media center or a hallway to sit down and have those in-depth conversations.
Seeing success in testing groups, the two students have started thinking about other card games they could create to help students in other ways.
They have already begun work on a deck that contains more academic discussion prompts, which ask students what strategies they use to study or manage time. Patel and Rose are talking with school counselors to help create the new deck.
Rose said they are both looking forward to creating new games and potentially bringing Let’s Talk More to even more schools in Forsyth County and beyond.
“We’re very excited,” Rose said.
For more information, visit www.letstalkmoreshop.com.