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Mental Health Support Student Experiences at SHS

Scappoose High Schools Student’s Experience With Mental Health Support Provided Through the School

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Mental Health Support Student Experiences at SHS

Aurora Stanley

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Mental health has become a heavy topic in recent years among U.S. high school students, as we gain more knowledge of mental health, and see more dramatic cases of it students have began to become aware of the age old epidemic.

It is the problem we never talk about, that we are too uncomfortable to mention, but we are seeing it again and again, with no evidence that it will go away. And as we see it we see our friends, maybe a sibling or a cousin or even just a random kid struggling in the cafeteria, we want to help. Nobody wants to see someone suffer, but what can you do. Yes you can be there for them, and you can recommend seeking professional help, but you cannot see into their brain and right hormonal balances, you cannot swoop into their life and solve every problem. At most times you are close to powerless.

In the 2015-2016 report from Columbia Community Mental Health it is shown that, among students seeking counseling, mental health as a reason has steadily climbed between 2010 and 2016. Medication use, hospitalizations and suicide attempts have also increased. And we see that even in our own community. Our school has attempted to combat it, and for many the reaction is mixed. Some who have had school treatment feel helped, but many also feel ashamed by it.

Nichelle Hutchison, a SHS Senior was has been diagnosed with anxiety and depression says “For two years I was in a thing called ‘girls group’, which was a system set up for girls with mental illnesses at SHS. I stopped going half way through sophomore year because I felt like it was impeding my school work. I don’t really feel like those meetings helped me. It just made me feel cast out.”

But there are also students who like Nichelle suffer from a mental illness, but instead of feeling cast out by the help felt that it helped them and made their lives exponentially better.

A SHS Senior who wished to remain anonymous is quoted saying “ I have Severe Depression Disorder, Generalized Anxiety, and Severe Social Anxiety. This is my second time in the system at SHS, there is a professional licensed therapist who comes to the school twice a week for appointments. This absolutely helped me. I have to say if it wasn’t for that I probably would still be in a very dark place if not even in high school at all, I probably would have dropped out by now. I know teachers hear about kids talking about it, but they don’t ever say anything. They just let kids continue being sad or upset, and they don’t report it and I think that could really help the problem at SHS.”

With mental health just now coming to the forefront of national conversation it is expected for schools to follow suit. Scappoose has counselors who go through mental health support training, and teachers are given lectures over how to recognize stressed students and are ‘mandatory reporters’. But that isn’t necessarily effective. Things like Girls Group, which was most likely conceived with the best intentions, can shame girls. The school district can tell teachers to report things, but it doesn’t mean they will. Scappoose seems to be progressing, but only as needed. Not enough to support everyone who actually needs it.

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