Spotlight on Mental Health: Strategies for Support

By The Tower Editorial Board

The Tower (Grosse Pointe, Michigan)

Adding crisis hotline cards in the bathrooms at South sheds a necessary light onto issues that are typically kept in the dark. In a school where excellence is expected and struggling is infused into everyday life, these cards are a first step towards providing a safe environment for students.

Before the cards popped up, there was no steady acknowledgement of mental health among students. The reality is, the South and Grosse Pointe communities have lost far too many people to suicide over the past six years. While the sense of camaraderie and togetherness of the school skyrockets after we lose somebody, it seems to disappear after a few months. If we acknowledged mental health more consistently, it could create a safer environment for all students.

Administrators do a commendable job providing grief counseling when we lose a student or community member, however, it is not enough. There should be some sort of preventive measure that increases awareness and sense of community before it’s too late.

For instance, in years past, Project Smile has created positive posters and cards that they scattered throughout the school. The reassuring and comforting phrases could provide struggling students with one of the only positive messages they hear all day. In addition, the cards put on lockers by Project Smile that read “give this to somebody who … ” could spark interaction and support between peers.

More positive and inclusive activities like this should be implemented at South throughout the school year. Some ideas are to create a safe space where students can go to de-stress throughout the day or to create specific events once a month that are centered around mental health awareness. The school could utilize Link Crew or other school groups to set up these events.

In order to maintain the academic excellence South boasts, mental health issues among students need to be addressed.  With highly-ranked academics, sports teams and extracurriculars, South is a place where students can be overcommitted.  However, their struggling is sometimes envied and coveted by other students; it is almost a battle of who can do the most.  This stressful mindset can be detrimental and should be addressed more frequently.

To resolve this tension, we could organize time management sessions before or after school where students are taught how to handle all of the pieces of high school concurrently. Also, there are many de-stress events held on college campuses that might be beneficial here, like bringing in puppies during midterms or finals week.

However, student actions are as equally important as administrative changes.  High school is a notoriously gossipy and cliquey part of life, which often causes internal turmoil. Each student comes to school with a unique set of circumstances that cannot be seen on first glance, and it is easy to judge somebody before getting to know them.

Next time you open your mouth to spread a negative rumor about somebody, we challenge you to think about the plethora of circumstances that are unknown to you and think about how you can impact their day. You control what type of message you send; you choose whether your words are supportive or destructive.

In addition, being conscious of social media’s effect on others is important in today’s society.  Before posting, think about whether you would say those words to the person’s face or whether you are just hiding behind a screen.  Instead of scrolling past, pay attention and remember the impact your responses can have.

Between administrators and students, each individual controls the type of message they send.  It is vital to strive for a more inclusive environment for all students so that South can be a not only excellent, but comfortable and safe place for everybody.

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (www.wantnewsforteens.com).

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