Creating a safe space

SHS has many mental health resources available to students


BC2M members painted SHS’s rock for Bullying Prevention week. Photo contributed by BC2M

‘It’s Real: College Students and Mental Health’ is a new program at SHS formed by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). It focuses on getting seniors ready for the mental transition from high school to college.
ASFP provides the curriculum for SHS to present to the seniors. One of the things it teaches seniors is how to handle their mental health and how to find support.
“They create a mental health action plan,” SHS social worker Jorie Depalma said. “I think it really helps them to stop and take like 45 minutes to an hour to just really think about their mental health.”
It is presented through an informational presentation during iPass that is an hour long. Seniors sign up by using a QR code where they choose the date that they want to attend. Sign ups are open for the rest of the school year. The QR code can be found on fliers around the school. There are no commitments, meaning students can go to as many meetings as they want.
Depalma believes that transitioning from high school to college can be very stressful. She thinks that if a student starts to struggle with their mental health then it can affect their academic success in college.
“When you have such a huge transition, going from high school to college, it is a time that can really be stressful,” Depalma said. “And if you’re not proactive and not already thinking ‘these are the ways I’m going to take care of myself’ (or) ‘these are the people I’m going to call if I’m really struggling’, then it can really impact someone potentially in a really negative way.”
She tries to encourage seniors to attend one of these meetings. Around 30 seniors have already attended one.
One of the seniors that attended the meeting, Aryssa Ramos, believed that it helped with creating strategies to handle mental health lows.
One of the examples she said that they learned was to create “happiness boxes.” A happiness box is a box to store happy things and memories. The meetings also taught her who and how to find support when going to college and knowing the signs when mental health starts to decline.

Students wrote ways to make SHS a more welcoming place for Bullying Prevention Week, which C3 members turned into a poster. Photo contributed by C3

Depalma and Ramos both believe that this program can help students even if they are not planning on going to college.
The program can still provide skills to seniors to use after graduation. Ramos believes that there are more people now that struggle with mental health and this program can help.
“I recommend it to everyone in iPass to watch it cause it was good of knowing the warning signs of your mental health getting low,” Ramos said.
This program isn’t the only option for mental health support at SHS. Other clubs, including C3 and Bring Change to Mind also provide support to any student who needs it.
C3’s main goal is to create a safer place for everyone at SHS. They work with Depalma to decide what issues should be targeted.

The BC2M sign consists of student-written reasons to live. Students wrote responses during Mental Health Awareness Week. Photo contributed by BC2M

To make SHS a safer place, they host trainings to teach people how to help someone if they are in a bad spot if someone has been sexually assaulted. They have guest speakers come in and give presentations about providing these resources and how to help. Club members can attend these meetings but they are open to any students.
Junior Hailey Hickman, president and founder of C3, believes that bringing awareness to these situations will make them less frequent.

Students attend QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) training in September 2021. The training focused on suicide prevention. Photo contributed by C3

“I’ve seen and heard a lot of people in rough situations where like sexual assault happened and it sent them down a really bad path,” Hickman said, “and I don’t want to see that for a lot of people.”
Bring Change to Mind is another club at SHS that focuses on students’ mental health. They try to bring awareness to mental health and change throughout SHS.
They help students by teaching them how to reach out for help and how to cope with their own feelings.
KC Wells, president of BC2M, thinks that SHS students think the club is useless and that the club is not actually doing anything to help. Since it is only the second year for the club, it has not made any immediate changes.

Wells believes that it is not about just changing the schools but also changing the environment.
“I think it is important to change the environment that students are in and make sure they are taking care of themselves first,” Wells said.