I think we can all agree that this back to school season is nothing like any of us have ever seen before. While we all are struggling with our new found reality and adjusting to our new schedules, it is still important to acknowledge that September is National Suicide Prevention month.
This year, for obvious reasons, taking the time to reflect on not only your struggles, but those struggles of the people around you is extremely important. This is untouched territory, and along with the usual stress that comes with being a high school student, our new found reality can be quite overwhelming. Here at WHS, we have an abundance of outlets students can turn to if they are struggling in any aspect of mental health.
Librarian Mrs. Cellucci is a known advocate for mental health here at the high school and highlights some of the library’s programs. She also works to integrate aspects of wellness into curriculum.
Mrs. Cellucci says, “Supporting student wellness is an important aspect of the mission of the library – to create a welcoming, safe and inclusive space for all students.”
Grants have been an impactful aspect of integrating programming for mental health. Over the years, the grants have supported diverse speakers, authors, artists and poets. Over the past two years, a grant helped to form a student group within the Teen Advisory Board called Mind Matters. All students are welcome to join this initiative.
Through Mind Matters, students have created a Stress Less Space (unfortunately, not available this school year), added positive messaging and suicide hotlines to the bathrooms, hosted a Soundbath – sound healing meditation, co-sponsored wellness days with STUCO, among other events. All students can access a helpful app: Mindmatters APP which helps with awareness of mood and offers coping skills.
Another important program through the library is the Poetry Power & Expressive Arts Club. This is a club that centers on holding space for each other while expressing thoughts and creating art on issues such as mental health and social justice.
While this year is certainly different, therefore changing the way in which programming is available, Mrs. Celluci states “there will still be ways to engage in these events and programs.”
It’s also important for students to know that there are a variety of places they can go to if they find themselves struggling this school year.
“If students are looking for support at school, please start with your School Counselor! Your School Counselors are trained and ready to talk with you all about a variety of topics, not just college and scheduling. Additionally, there are several mental health staff here at WHS, ” Mrs. Glenn from the CSS Program shares.
Mrs. Glenn is also available to support through the same program. In addition, she also provides a variety of other people here at WHS that are here to help.
“If students are looking for support at school, please start with your School Counselor! Your School Counselors are trained and ready to talk with you all about a variety of topics, not just college and scheduling. Additionally, there are several mental health staff here at WHS. All students have access to our School Adjustment Counselor, Mrs. Leabman-Colo (AKA “Mrs. LC”) and she is located in the small hallway across from the School Counseling suite. Students are also welcome to check in with Mrs. Glenn or Ms. Balacco from The CSS Program if you are looking for more support. Mrs. Glenn is located to the left of the former School Store on the 2nd floor in the B Wing. Ms. Balacco is located in the School Counseling suite. There are also three School Psychologists at WHS that can be available to you for support. Mr. Provencher works with the STARS Program and he is located to the right of the former School Store on the 2nd floor in the B Wing. Mrs. Weikert is located in the small hallway across from the Counseling Suite. Mrs. Goodrich is located across from the former School Store on the 2nd floor, in the B Wing. Please know that there are several people ready and able to offer support to you during your time at WHS. We are always just a visit or an email away!” Mrs. Glenn explains.
When asked to provide tips for coping with the new normal this school year Mrs. Glenn was adamant about staying in tune with yourself. “As we all come back to school and get back into our routines, please check in with yourself! Ask yourself the following questions: How am I doing? What is going well? What do I need? Who can I ask for help? And do not forget to take care of yourself! Focus on the things that you can control: getting quality sleep, staying hydrated, eating well, moving your body, and taking deep breaths. Focus on one thing at a time.”
While this back to school season may feel new and strange, it is critical to acknowledge that we are all in this together. For me personally, it is not how I imagined senior year to start off; however, it’s what is necessary to keep us all physically safe and healthy. With this being said, don’t neglect your mental health.
Check in with your friends and make sure to value your well being. Most importantly, don’t hesitate to reach out to anyone mentioned above as they are all here to help us be the best versions of ourselves.