Don’t despair, help is out there for mental health

Since elementary school, students have been practically bombarded with the ideas of positively reinforcing good mental health. From “Be a bucket filler!” to Rachel’s Challenge, these ideas have surrounded students practically since birth.

Photo illustration bt Maeve O'Boyle

Students have always been encouraged, whether by parents or a cheesy video in a Health class, to talk to their counselors if they need help. But, it isn’t that easy.

For someone with a mental illness, getting help is seemingly impossible. However, counselors are much more accessible than one would think. Although there aren’t many outreach programs, there is a lot happening behind the scenes at the high school in an attempt to aid students in need.

If a student has a mental health issue, they have more options than they think to receive help at school. One way to reach a counselor is through filling out an orange slip in the guidance office. Once a counselor receives a slip, students are often seen as promptly as possible.

Counselors also receive notice from teachers, parents and fellow students who have noticed any odd behavior from a student. They can hold meetings with students, and sometimes even parents can join.

Typically, counselors only engage in therapy sessions with a student in crisis situations, or for single visits. If they believe there is a further issue, then they often communicate with parents, or refer the student to an outside source.

Among these resources is an on-site clinical counselor, employed by the school district, who is in the building one day a week. Although she isn’t always in the building, she is professionally trained to help students with mental illnesses.

The school district has a social worker who visits the building a few times a week to help with students that are struggling with their mental health. He comes in and talks to the counselors, and can then work with students as well.

And, most recently, the school has purchased Grit, a therapy dog. Grit’s purpose is to relieve student stress and to improve moral. He is just one of the many resources the school, and district, provide to aid students’ mental health.

Although there is an abundance of resources at the school that a student can use at any given time, they often don’t know how to reach them. With all of these resources, every student should feel that they can be helped. However, the problem is that most students struggle to seek this help.

Making the first step towards getting help can be very difficult, and in order for students to get this help, they need someone to reach out to them. The school hosts a plethora of assemblies aiming to dissuade students from drug use or other dangers. However, there is hardly ever any outreach to students with mental health issues.

In order to enable students to reach out, there needs to be more done to alert them of all of the wonderful resources the district provides for them. If students aren’t aware of the help that’s out there for them, they won’t know to seek the help.

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