FEATURES: Staff Writer Victoria Venegas researches the mental health resources offered to students at East.
“We are a place that tries to offer help” with “limited conflict” says the senior counselor. Their doors are always open and what you say is confidential. The only time they have to report something is when someone is in danger. So if you are are a harm to yourself, someone else, or a threat. Last year the Colorado Health Institute, saw the highest number of recorded deaths due to suicide, 1,175. According to the CDC, “As a result of suicide and homicide trends, suicide replaced homicide as the second leading intent of injury death among those aged 10-19 years in 2011, with the number of deaths due to suicide exceeding homicide. In 2016, suicides numbered 2,553 while homicides numbered 1,963.” The rate has been increasing and frankly that is concerning.
A trend that is present with increased stress is when students are transitioning in their life. For seniors it can be in January and May. January is when seniors are hearing back from their colleges and there is no certainty for the future. Do they keep going? What if they don’t get accepted? Questions like this can really get to them. In May they are preparing for a completely different change. There won’t be anyone telling them to get to class or to get up in the morning. Their life in now in their hands.
As for freshmen it’s moving into a completely different place. They come to a school of 2,500 students and it can be easy to get lost in all the commotion. Many of them start of the year with referrals. An underlying factor that everyone may be able to relate to is finals. The dreaded cramming, thinking you’re going to fail and can’t come back from it because you worry about your grade percentage. We also got to bring up the holidays. Days are getting shorter, the sun isn’t out as much anymore. We have more days off of school. We can focus on our life, and that can be a great and a huge relief from all the stress in school.
But having that free time can also resurface memories and sometimes those memories are painful. It can mean remembering about the death of a loved one, for instance. There’s also getting in with the “bad crowd,” which does not necessarily mean bad people, but rather bad influence. On a study conducted by Colorado Healthy Kids students in high school were asked what they think about how many of their peers drink alcohol. They thought 78% used it when in reality it was 18%. So even if we look down on these small amount of people they still deserve help if they need it. That is something available at East high school. Two school health professionals, Lauren Dodge and Theresa Tcerwujcik, have dedicated to helping students with substance abuse.
The group meets and discuss their issues, as well, offering individual classes depending on their severity. Aside from group discussion they also educate classes, primarily PE and body works, about the dangers of drugs. Many are surprised about the impacts that marijuana has on the growing brain. Among the leading substances used are alcohol, vape, and marijuana respectively. Ms. Dodge voiced her opinion about how social media has impacted the generation.
How perception of harm misperceptions have been “normalized.” Dr. Curtis, a school psychologist, also believes that our generation has been the “guinea pigs.” She also recalled about how “on average kids will take 37 selfies to get that perfect one to post.” And students can feel pressured to make themselves appear perfect online, since it stays forever. Wherever this pressure comes from, and students need to vent they can always turn to these professionals at school that offer help.