Since October of 2016, Brooke Lawson has worked as Hamilton Southeastern Schools’ Mental Health and School Counseling Coordinator. Over that time, she has continued her passion and commitment to the social, emotional, and mental health needs of students and school staff in the HSE Schools community.
Lawson was born and raised in North Manchester, Indiana, a small town near Fort Wayne. She received her bachelor’s degree in youth-adult and family services with a minor in child development from Purdue University. After finishing her bachelor’s degree, she went on to attend IUPUI, where she completed her master’s in school social work. From there, she began work for a community mental health center in central Indiana.
“I spent about 6 years working in school-based community mental health,” Lawson said. “I started out as a mental health therapist in a school in Washington Township working at an elementary and middle school.”
Following her time as a mental health therapist, Lawson later moved into leadership positions. “I was the Clinical Director of the Youth and Family Services, where I oversaw mental health therapists and life skills clinicians that worked in schools all over central Indiana,” Lawson said.
Lawson has lived in Fishers since 2009. When she saw the job posting for her current position, it was one she felt she could not pass up. “When I say this is my dream job- it truly is a job that I love, and am really passionate about,” Lawson said.
Many things often inspire people to enter their chosen profession and for Lawson, a combination of good and bad experiences with counselors brought her into the mental health field. “Kids go through a lot growing up and they need an adult and someone to support them,” Lawson said, “so I wanted to be the person that I didn’t feel like I had as a child.”
In addition to the mental health field, Lawson specifically chose to work in schools because of the impact she believes they can have. “I really believe that schools place such an important role in children’s lives,” she said. “Our kids spend eight hours a day in the classroom, and so I think it is a really important place to reach and support children.”
Schools often are the first step for students when seeking mental health resources. Lawson’s advice for students who are struggling is to talk to their most trusted adult at school. Whether that be a teacher, coach, or school counselor, Lawson says there are people ready to support.
“Our school staff care a lot about their students,” Lawson said. “And so being able to tell an adult at school that they are struggling, and they might need some support is important, and it’s also important that adults in our school know how to get students to the right person to support them.”
An important piece of the mental health work happening in schools now Lawson credits to the citywide Stigma Free Fishers campaign. In 2016, Fishers began an initiative called #StigmaFreeFishers to combat the ever-evolving stigma surrounding mental health. Its message is one Lawson believes is relevant to everyone. “We all feel difficult emotions and we all struggle in some way or another,” she said. “So, the Stigma Free Fishers campaign works to normalize that for people, and to also normalize the fact that sometimes we just can’t handle it all on our own.”
NEIGHBORHOOD: East Fishers
FAVORITE LOCAL RESTAURANT: Sunrise Cafe
FAVORITE FISHERS PARK: Brooks School Park
FAVORITE LOCAL BUSINESS: Blue Peppermint, The Hot Room, and State of Grace
FAVORITE WAY TO SPEND A SATURDAY: Working out either at the Hot Room or home in the morning and then spending time with my family, usually watching my kids play sports.
Laura Masoni is the Public Relations Intern for the City of Fishers. She moved to Fishers from Greenwood in 2010. Her favorite activities include traveling, rowing at Eagle Creek, and going to concerts in Downtown Indy. In her free time, she loves to hang out with her friends and listen to podcasts & music.