Wellness Center at Santiago?


off the internet

Maddy Dacosta, Staff Writer

At the University of Utah, a “cry room” was recently created for students to visit if they ever need a good cry before a huge final, and that made me question why something similar isn’t implemented in high schools.  As I researched the idea, I discovered a few lucky high schools do have a classroom with a wellness center for students to visit to receive help for any issues they may be having mentally. In this era, kids are more sensitive to certain topics, but there are common issues that we should start talking about more openly, such as anxiety, depression, and, more broadly, mental health. A wellness center can provide assistance during a panic or anxiety attack and can also provide students an area to simply calm down.  There are also people that you could talk to about anything or anyway you may be feeling.

Stated powerfully in the professional opinion of the Santiago High School Intervention Counselor, Mrs. Sullivan, “…A room that students could go to so they could self-regulate themselves… they just need a space…” She made a very good point that kids should learn how to “self-regulate” and deserve to have a safe place to do so–that way, issues can be easier to manage at school. Anonymously, I interviewed some students and asked their opinion on opening a wellness center on Santiago’s campus.  The feedback also included some favoring, though sobering responses: “…I’ve been wanting to talk to someone,” “I would love that,” “Finally somewhere to go other than bathrooms.”.

The other responses were similar, but there were two who opposed the idea of a wellness center; they both felt like they wouldn’t use it because they would feel too vulnerable in front of their peers. However, if a wellness center were to be on campus, it would open eyes and help the subject of mental health become easier to discuss and to be understood by teens.

But questions still exist: Where would it be?  While interviewing, Mrs. Sullivan and Mrs. Niles, a Language Arts teacher at Santiago as well as an advocate for mindfulness, they both said it would be “ideal” if it could be built on top of the counseling office. “…use some space that we already have that’s not being utilized to have it quicker…”, Mrs. Niles suggested during the interview.

Who would work there? While interviewing Mrs. Harris, an Assistant Principal at Santiago, she responded that it could be “… the certificated or classified staff that we already have..”

How would you ask your teacher permission to go there? I discovered the other high schools with wellness centers had hall pass-forms that students could fill out. We could keep forms by the door that students would be able to use to excuse themselves. A wellness center would not only help students feel better, but it could also bring up attendance scores; since students would be getting the help they need, it would encourage them to get out of bed in the morning and face the day without fear of a panic or anxiety attack.

I hope this raises awareness and encourages others to campaign for a wellness center at Santiago!